Category Archives: Singapore

Everything about the place where I currently live

Thanksgiving in the Tropics

Well we thought that we would miss Thanksgiving this year.  We believed that a holiday that is usually packed with family and a feast on the table that would just pass us by. However, we ended up having a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with some of our Singapore family members. 🙂 After working all day, cousin Katelyn and her roomies at the Sail condo invited us over to have a lovely dinner with an amazing view.

We had chicken, sweet potato fries, squash, salad and pasta – it was a real feast and we loved every single bite of it. It made for a fantastic Thanksgiving in the Tropics. Thank you Katelyn and the ladies of the Sail! 🙂

Yesterday was a pretty easy day for G & P. They spent the day with Kelso – had a leisurely lunch, a little wander around the shops on Orchard Road. We then met up after I was finished work (yes I had to work on the first Saturday of our holidays! boo!). We sat and watched Kelso’s soccer game together and then headed home to get ready for Thanksgiving Dinner.

Today, we all got up and started to get ready for our departure to Cambodia in a few hours. The real holiday begins today (well for me at least!) I am really looking forward to heading back to Siem Reap. It has been a few years since I was last there and I haven’t gone around to see the temples in 9 years, so it should be very interesting to go back and see them again.

And, we’re off! Next Stop Cambodia!

 

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Jet lag? What jet lag?

It’s like they have been here for weeks. G & P have really settled into life in Singapore (and the time zone) like they have been here forever. I’m seriously impressed. I struggle so much with jet lag sometimes, but they have really pushed through and I think that after today their internal clocks must be on our SE Asia time zone. Well done!

They had a busy, busy day today. They were up bright and early by the time I departed for work in the morning and spent the early morning catching up on emails etc before venturing out to the Gardens By the Bay. It was a bit of a rainy day in Singapore so they spent most of the time in the two indoor domes that are there. The Flower Dome replicates the cool-dry climate of Mediterranean regions like South Africa, California and parts of Spain and Italy. The Cloud Forest dome that is host of the cool-moist climate that showcases plants that you would find on a tropical mountainside. They said that they really enjoyed the Gardens and ate a wonderful lunch at the bistro at the Gardens – “Pollen” (albeit an expensive one with a Tiger beer for $18!!!)

02 Gardens by the Bay, Bay South [Singapore] (Large)

From there, they crossed over to the Arts and Science Museum to check out the National Geographic 50 Greatest Photographs  exhibit. They said that they really enjoyed this exhibit and it was interesting to see the various photos – many of which they recognized and remembered seeing as it came across the covers of the magazine over the years. (The Arts and Science Museum is the white “lotus-shaped” building in the foreground of this picture.)

So – they have been to Singapore for just over 24 hours and already they have been to 2 places I have yet to visit! I’m going to have to get out and start sightseeing in my own home more often it seems.

From there, they came out to the school to join us for a last BBQ Fundraiser for the trip to Cambodia. This was a great opportunity for them to meet my friends, colleagues and fellow builders while enjoying a few drinks and some food. We spent a couple of hours just hanging out and meeting people and I also gave them a little tour of the school. I sometimes forget what a giant place our school is in comparison to what schools look like back home. It is a pretty amazing campus.

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From there, we came home to drop the car and for me to pick up some of my medication so I could head back to the doctor for some new medicine. I needed an upgrade and hopefully the higher dosage of drugs will help me to kick this ear infection before Sunday’s flight. I am really worried that flying is going to be very painful and have read online (probably not always a great idea to refer to my online “specialists”) that it can cause further complications like vertigo, ringing in the ears and worse, hearing loss! It is time to get rid of this thing and I am running out of time to do it! Fingers crossed this cocktail of drugs will do the trick.

After a quick stop in to see the doctor (at 9pm and my visit took a total of 15 or so minutes – my parents were impressed!) we walked around Holland Village and found a place to sit down and have a bit of food. It was nice and relaxed and Kelso also joined us too.

A fantastic end to a fantastic first full day in Singapore! Way to kick jet lag in the butt, Mom and Dad!

The ‘rents have landed

Like a well oiled machine, my parents made it to my house unscathed. I anticipated that their arrival into Singapore may not have gone as smoothly as I had hoped, but in the end everything was perfect. The driver we hired to pick them up at the airport was waiting for them with a sign with their name on it, a smile on his face, and a wealth of information about the history of the country to explain to them on their taxi ride to my place. My friend, Nora very graciously helped us out by waiting for my parents to be able to help them get into the condo as well. Thank you so much, Nora! 🙂

So they arrived, unpacked a bit, showered and had a bit of a snooze on the sofas waiting for me to get home. Not a bad start to a vacation at all. When I got home, we chilled out a bit before heading off to the boxing gym to meet Rey and watch us train a little bit. I wasn’t in my finest form due to my ear infection, but I think they got an idea of what this whole thing looks in real life. 🙂 It was nice to share the experience and I was really happy that they got to meet Rey too! They brought him and Hazel a little baby gift for the future boxing baby champ.

From there we headed to “Moosehead Kitchen” for some grub. I was really looking forward to this dinner as Kelso had really sold it to me over the past few weeks, but when we got there is was pretty disappointing. Bad service, it was so noisy we could hardly hear each other speak, and the food selection was minimal. I didn’t love it, but Kels has assured me that the lunch menu is a different story altogether, so maybe I’ll have to give it another chance (but with so many good restaurants in Singapore, I am not sure if it will get it!) I think it might be “better luck next time, Moosehead Kitchen” 😦

However, the best part of dinner was being able to hang out with my parents and my cousin Katelyn, and friend Aynsley. It was nice to catch up (as best we could over the soon-becoming-inebriated ladies dinner next to us). For that, it was worth all of the negatives of the dinner side of things as this was the real reason we were getting together anyways.

We were pretty knackered by the end of dinner and came home to head to bed. Not a bad first few hours in Singapore. Here’s hoping that they have beat jet lag a bit by staying out a little later and they can sleep through the night.

Until tomorrow, Singapore! G’night!

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Weekend Fabulousness and Phnom Penh Plans

This weekend was fantastic. You know, the start to finish, awesome kind of weekend. Friday was a nice and relaxed evening with my hubby. Saturday, I hosted what may be the first-ever Boxing Baby Shower for my boxing coach, Rey and his wife Hazel and ate tons of delicious food made by my friend Nora and her good friend Emma.

Sunday, I hosted the first-ever Bootcamp in the Botanics Fundraiser that raised over $1000 (thanks to an EXTREMELY generous donation of 100% of the bootcamp fees from all the trainers at LEVEL Fitness!!!) Amazing stuff and it was great to have such wonderful weather and an amazing turn-out.

Bootcampers before the Workout started

Bootcampers before the Workout started

And then on Sunday evening, we celebrated Thanksgiving a week early with the Canadian Association of Singapore and enjoyed a fab turkey dinner with all of our friends.

It’s been a great weekend indeed!

Now that the weekend has passed, it’s time to really start preparing for my parents arrival. There are many things on my ‘to do’ list before they get here on Thursday. Unfortunately, I am now sick with a nasty chest cold and middle ear infection! Ain’t nobody got time for that!! But I will have to take some time to rest and get better before their arrival. Fingers crossed that I’ll be back on track in no time.

But before I rest, I need to fill you in on the rest of our Cambodia plans.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

We will be arriving on the Tuesday evening from Siem Reap and heading straight to our hotel. During our 5 day stay in Phnom Penh we will be staying at the White Mansion Boutique Hotel. Again, I haven’t stayed here before, but this time the recommendation came from a friend of mine and she had many wonderful things to say. Very excited about our stay.

We’ll maybe go out for dinner or may just hang out at the hotel that evening. The next morning we’ll be heading off to some of my favourite places in Phnom Penh. A bit of shopping, eating and seeing the city is scheduled for this day. First stop – my favourite dress shop, Ambre. I love this shop and it is always my first stop. I hope that my mom finds some beautiful items as well to take home with her and I hope my dad has a bit of patience to wait for our shopping for an hour or so! 🙂

From there we will be heading to the Tabitha office for a briefing of our build with founder, and fellow Canadian, Janne Ritskes. This is a really important part of the house build as she gives everyone lots of information on the history, customs and what we need to remember while we are meeting people that have different cultural understandings than our own. Tabitha also has a wonderful silk shop where everything is hand made. Again – a little shopping is in order! We’ll follow up the day with some pool time, wandering around, sightseeing in the city and then meet up with my friends who arrived into Phnom Penh a few days prior to us for dinner and drinks.

Our next day will be much different than the day before as we will be learning a lot about the history of Cambodia and the genocide. We will be visiting Tuol Seng Genocide Museum – also known as S-21. Tuol Sleng was a former high school before the rise of the Khmer Rouge and was turned into an execution centre/prison. It was only one of at least 150 execution centres in the country, and as many as 20,000 prisoners there were killed there. From there, we will continue to learn about the genocide by visiting the notorious Killing Fields. This day will be sombre but it is extremely important to truly understand what happened in Cambodia during this time and to learn about their experiences as people of this country at that time. By understanding, we can see just how far Cambodia has come, appreciate all the work that has been done to help raise Cambodia back to the place where it once was.

Our next day will include a visit to the People Improvement Organization (PIO). I have been visiting and working with this organization for the past nine years and Kelso and I both sponsor a child each to live in the orphanage and attend school. I love this organization and all the students are so very excited to see you, practice their English skills and get to know more about you. I know that they will love to see that I have brought my parents with me – to see what they look like and how similar (or dissimilar) we may look. We are taking the kids from the orphanage on a special excursion to the water park. I know that they will absolutely love the afternoon out doing something special. That day Kelso will also arrive in the evening. It will be great to have him in Phnom Penh with us and I am sure we will celebrate his arrival with a few drinks and dinner out somewhere.

The next day will be our build day. We will be driving a few hours out of Phnom Penh to the build site and we will be building all 16 houses in one day. This will be an amazing experience for all of us and I am really looking forward to sharing in this with my parents and friends. That evening, we are usually pretty knackered, but there is always time for a little dinner and drinks to celebrate a great day.

We will then be heading back to Singapore the following afternoon. But I am sure we will try to fit in any last sights or stops before heading to the airport.

There will be lots and lots to write about and I am hoping that my parents will take a few moments to ‘guest blog’ on here to give their perspective on the trip. I am sure that they will have quite a bit to talk about and I look forward to learning how they feel, react and to watch them fall in love with Cambodia too.

Excited? You betcha!

I’m excited for a few things at the moment…. it’s a good feeling and a helluva way to wake up on a Saturday.

Cocktails for Cambodia – tonight is the night! This is one of the best fundraisers that we host every year in preparation for the House Build. It’s an amazingly easy fundraiser to run… it practically runs itself! The concept is this:

– people donate booze to the event. Friends look through their cupboards and donate what they have. We’ll take a half opened bottle of rum or a brand new one. Whatever people want to spare.

– from that, we make amazing drink concoctions and serve a new cocktail every half hour of the party. This year, because there are so many people joining for the build there will be 2 different drink choices every half hour. As you can imagine, people get silly very fast.

– Guests pay $50 for a ticket to get into the party and that includes free flow drinks and food from 7:00-11:00pm. This is literally the best food and drinks deal in all of Singapore.

Massage – we finally got paid so I’m getting a massage. It was great (and also painful at the same time) but it was much needed.

Early Morning Boxing Session – up and at ’em and finished. Have had a little ailment these past few days but got the go ahead from the Dr I could do exercise so I was back in the gym first thing today.

Mom and Dad Arrive in 13 Days! This is the part that I am really excited for. We’ve got a full schedule of events and we don’t want to miss a thing. First stop is Singapore! They are arriving in around noon on Thursday and will be picked up and whisked away to our condo (fingers crossed the guy picking them up isn’t a ding dong and actually drops them off at our place!)

The sunrise view from the balcony at Chez O'Beggs

The sunrise view from the balcony at Chez O’Beggs

They can then get showered up and grab a coffee from Starbucks just below us and chill out until I get home from work. They want to come to the gym to meet Rey and see one of my training sessions and this is the only day that we can do that because the school has made a wonderful mandatory PD day for teachers on first Saturday of our holidays. (thanks) From there, we will meet up with cousin Katelyn, a few friends and husband Kelso for dinner. 🙂

On Friday, both Kelso and I will be at work so the ‘rents will be entertaining themselves this day. Depending on their state of jet lag, I may send them off to check out Gardens by the Bay . This is an amazing outdoor and indoor display of flora and fauna. Literally one of the world’s best!

After a great morning/afternoon of sightseeing, they will head on the MRT to come and meet me at school. At the end of the day we are planning to hold one last fundraiser post PD day (beers and BBQ) for one more last ditch effort to raise some fast cash for Cambodia. We will do that for a couple of hours and then head out somewhere for our own beers and food.

On the Saturday, I will be at work all day so Kelso and my parents can hang out. Maybe a little bit o’ brunch in Holland Village (a great little eat street and shopping area only one MRT stop away from our house)

shopping_hollandNot sure what they will do with the rest of the day, maybe Orchard Road, maybe head down to Chinatown or Little India (two great places to hunt around in shops and to check out the vibrancy of some of the different cultures in Singapore). I am assuming that Kelso will have a football game too so maybe that will be a good time for them to head home for a little rest. I will meet up with them as soon as I am done work and our evening will most likely involve a number of beers and sitting down on a patio somewhere possibly down in Boat Quay area.

Then on the Sunday, we depart for Cambodia…. more to come about this part of their adventure soon! It’s already a packed first few days in Singapore! I can’t wait to have them here. Hurry up 13 days!!

Focus on the Awesome

You know… sometimes you have one of those days that you think “geeeze, could anything more happen??”. Today happened to be one of them.

But instead of complaining about how busy I was or things that went wrong or things that annoyed the F out of me… I decided that writing down the things that went AWESOME are far more worthwhile (and probably far more interesting for you to read!)

1. I sparred. – Ok, it was more of “spar play” with Rey, but I did don my mouthguard and headgear and let him give me a few love taps while I tried my damnedest to hit him. That’s the way it usually goes when I am sparring, but it felt good to try it again. Three 3 minute rounds too. I felt pretty good about it. Nevermind the part about how after the rounds were over I was so tired I could hardly move my arms… let’s just celebrate the fact that it happened.

2. I boxed with my students and they were AWESOME! How refreshing it is to have kids who aren’t complaining about being too hot, or being too tired, or being… well they can sometimes complain about just about anything. But for the last 3 weeks I have been taking a group of students on Wednesday afternoons to the boxing gym and they have been phenomenal. They have really worked their hardest to learn the skills and improve their ability. When we got on the bus after the session, I asked “Did you guys like it?” and they all screamed out a resounding “YES!” What’s not to love about that?

3. Our online Canadian fundraising page hit $14,820 today. What the what? That is fabulous!!! We still have so many more events to happen so we are looking like we might hit our fundraising goal. I see that my parents have done an amazing job of collecting donations and as always my Aunts, Uncles, cousins and family friends have shown their support. Thank you!!! Kelso has been an all-star today as well. He made a fabulous donation himself, has helped to spread the word and has gotten another significant donation from a colleague. I knew there was a reason I married him (and also for his football skills obviously) 🙂

4. My parents arrive in 16 days! The countdown is officially on. Enough said.


Four fantastic things that are awesome, ain’t so bad in a single day. Not every day needs to be a “belter” (as Kelso would say – translated to mean “amazing”). Sometimes the awesome just isn’t as noticeable as the bad stuff… sometimes you need to step back to see it.

 

 

Back in the saddle and other manic musings

I got back into my regular routine straight away this week. I needed a bit of normalcy back in my life and oddly enough what is “normal” for me now is boxing every day!

However, I have a new goal in mind… and that is to balance my life out a bit more. Easier said than done? Perhaps. Will my balance life seem just as busy as before? Quite possibly. But I am hoping that it will at least seem a little more relaxed from my perspective. Mind over matter may work in this situation because I don’t think there really ever is a time during the school year where anything is just totally relaxed.

To kickstart my “relaxation”, Singapore has really helped me out by giving us all a Public Holiday on a Wednesday. Best idea EVER!! May 1st was Labour Day and I spent the day completely relaxing and enjoying the day with Kelso. It was really nice and I was very thankful to have the day off because tomorrow (Friday) I am headed to an ISTA Drama Festival at Tanglin Trust School in Singapore for the entire weekend with 16 students.

It will be great to see what it is like as a visiting school teacher. The only festival I have ever attended was the one that I organised back in November. That was a slightly nutty thing for me to do to sign up to organise something that I myself had never seen before. Again, my friend Greg Dixon did an amazing job of capturing what the festival is all about and has created a wonderful film on the student’s and teacher’s experiences throughout the festival. He’s kind of fantastic at this whole filmmaking thing, isn’t he?

I can’t wait to see what the kids experience during the festival! Here’s to a great weekend ahead and some fantastic experiences.

Hello? Is it me you’re looking for? (and the videos you are looking for?)

Sorry you haven’t heard from me for a few days. I haven’t had internet access and have been on-call working since 4:00am Monday morning. I am currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand with approximately 85 Grade 8 students from my school. The trip has been great but extremely tiring as days are not only filled with fantastic activities, but also a ton of hormonal teenage Drama (and quite frankly enough to last me a lifetime!) 🙂 I do not miss those years at all (though sometimes Kelso may argue that I act like a teenager at times!!)

Otherwise, I have been rock climbing, abseiling, zip wiring, doing a homestay in a village, mountain biking and I’m off today to do kayaking and orienteering. Not a bad way to spend my week. I have fully recovered from the pummelling that Jemma gave me in the ring on Saturday. It took a few days for my neck to recover from a bit of whiplash from her punches but all seems to be back in order and I am already planning on my next session back at the gym when I return.

But, I do apologize for being MIA during this time. There isn’t a lot of “free time” to be able to write and post, but I have finally gotten some footage that I think you will enjoy. So without further adieu, iFS White Collar Boxing event footage is upon us! Enjoy!!

Opening Training Video

An Overview of the Night – filmed by my friend Greg Dixon

(Greg made this video to share with our school community so that is why it features me prominently. Just to be clear – our squad raised the $60,000 USD not me by myself!)

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My full fight video should be coming out either today or tomorrow as well so I will be sure to post when I have access to it!

Thank you again for all of your support everyone! More to come as and when I have internet again.  🙂

The Rumble in the Singapore Jungle

It’s hard to believe it’s all over.

4 months of training and 4 months of fundraising all summed up in one awesome night.

Jemma “The Hammer” Hooykaas truly stood up to her name. She was one fierce female who wasn’t giving up for anything or anyone. Guts, determination and a crazy strong jab made her one heck of a competitor. I was so impressed with her and her boxing. She was an all-star.

I had a fantastic cheering squad worldwide supporting me during the fight and I could feel all of their support as I stood backstage ready to make my entrance. Now, many of you may know, I do like to make an entrance. 🙂 I had my amazing fly girls with me making sure that everyone watching knew who runs the world… GIRLS!

My sister sent me this video of my family back home, watching the fight via a live stream that I set up over my iPad. I loved seeing my family getting involved and enjoying the fight with me. I wish that they could have been there in Singapore ringside to enjoy it firsthand, but it was a close second to the real thing. Check them out cheering here when they announced the winner!

https://vimeo.com/64491255

After the fight – Jemma and I were both so happy with what we had accomplished in the ring. We ended our fight with a big hug and walked down the catwalk back into the backstage area together. We chatted about the fight and congratulated each other on a great effort on our walk backstage to the dressing room. And then we had a beer. 🙂

I showered up and came out to say hi to everyone who came to support me. What a buzz!!! Everyone was so excited and it felt so great to hear all the congratulatory words and feel the hugs from all of my friends. Thank you again to everyone who came to support. It was awesome to have such a great cheering squad!!!

The rest of the night was a party and a half. We watched the rest of the matches and then went upstairs to the New Asia Bar located on the 78th floor of the hotel and has amazing views of Singapore. No better place to celebrate a great night! We enjoyed a few wobbly pops and danced the night away until the very wee hours of the morning. Fantastic!!

So… who won?

In the red corner… Keriann “K.O” O’Rourke!!!

Videos and photos to come soon! I’m departing for Chiang Mai, Thailand in the early morning for a week long excursion trip with over 100 Grade 8 students, so I won’t have too much of a chance to post as much as I would like but I hope to keep you updated as much as possible this week.

Thank you again to everyone for the amazing support! It has been an AMAZING experience and I am so proud of our fundraising and all the boxers who stepped into the ring last night all in the name of a good cause. Fantastic effort. 🙂

Day 97 – The End is Near

There are only 5 days remaining until the big event. I feel ready for Saturday, but I also feel anxious about the event. I want to keep my cool throughout the next few days and it would be even better if I didn’t allow myself to get nervous before stepping into the ring. However, these feelings are inevitable. It’s hard not to when you know that 1,500 people are expecting to see great boxing and a great show. Despite being a Drama teacher, the butterflies are always there before the curtain goes up (or in this case, the bell rings).

Deep breaths and repeating my mantra “it’s just like sparring” will hopefully help.

The next few days will inevitably generate a range of emotions for all the squad members. I am very much looking forward to when the event is over and the squad can actually get to know each other outside of the gym a bit more. Perhaps we have more in common than boxing?! *Shocking realisation!*

But a lot can happen in 5 days. We must all be careful to not get injured and take care of our bodies. I know I am very careful about where I am walking for fear of twisting my ankle (which I have a tendency to do). Eating right, getting enough sleep and drinking lots of water are other things to have to worry about. We have to be at the top of our games come fight night.

But the biggest thing that I hope that happens in the next 5 days is that we reach $50,000 USD. We are so close to achieving this – with just over $3,000 USD to get there. It would be simply amazing to hear that amount announced on Saturday night. I am already so proud of the squad and all that we have done together to get where we are. I don’t want to toot our own horn or anything, but the squad is kinda awesome 🙂

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/IFS_WhiteCollarBoxingSGP/wcbsingapore_20april2013

So – the fight looms and the end to all of this craziness is near.

Bout #5 – Here we come!

The Teacher's Rumble in the Concrete Jungle.

The Teacher’s Rumble in the Concrete Jungle.