Akira Back Singapore

I have heard good reviews of Akira Back for quite some time now but haven’t got a chance to try because in Singapore, we are really spoilt for choices. There are really so many places to go.

For my birthday this year, I decided to pop by and try what’s on their menu.

Due to the latest safe distancing measures, we managed to get a good table. The seating was wide and located in a spacious and quiet corner. I am quite sure this table would have been used for bigger parties like 5-6 people during pre-covid times.

The most popular appetizer on the menu is the cold pizza. I was caught in 2 minds whether to order the mushroom or the tuna version, so we ordered half of each. I personally preferred the mushroom one as it packed more flavour including a hint of truffle. The tuna pizza on the other hand wasn’t anything outstanding.

We gave the salmon carpaccio a try but it wasn’t spectacular. It is quite safe to just give this a miss.

Our server for the evening was Evelyn, who was very friendly and hospitable. She takes good photos as well. One of her recommendations was the Brother from another Mother. Yes, that’s the actual name of the dish. It’s basically a unagi handroll topped with foie gras. I enjoyed this a lot. The ponzo mayo gave the dish a sweet and refreshing touch.

Now we also had the atlantic black cod. If you were to ask me, this was the most filling dish. The fillets were fresh and huge. This was also served as an appetizer but I would say this could easily go as one of the mains. It came with some yuzu foam at the side which looks almost like hand soap, but you just coat a little foam on the fillet and put it in your mouth.

The main dish was actually the signature short ribs. The meat was really soft and the fats melt easily. You can feel the juices from all the fat just breaking down under your palette. It was good on its own so no sauces required. The serving size felt much smaller than the cod, so we ordered some extra sashimi and sushi, but those were nothing special.

I am not some Michelin star expert or professional food reviewer but this meal was good enough for me, and I enjoyed my dinner thoroughly. Good food makes me happy, but the company I eat with matters more.

Insaeng Selca

My friend Robin from Busybody SG recently started a new self-photography studio at Henderson Road called Insaeng Selca and I decided to check it out over the weekend.

The concept is very simple. It is a small studio space with 2 cameras. One camera allows the standard monochrome (black and white) shots and another camera is for double exposure shots. You are handed a small remote to activate the shutter and there is a small screen for you to preview each shot you have taken. There are no limits to the number of shots that you can take, as long as it is within your 15-minute photo-taking timeframe.

Once you are done with the photoshoot, there is a monitor beside the counter for you to choose your prints. We selected 3 of our favourite shots to be printed in 6R size.

From personal experience, I arrived at the studio without much ideas for the poses so my advice is to get inspiration for your poses before actually heading down for your shoot. Otherwise you may end up wasting precious time during your 15-minute photo-taking session thinking of what poses to do next. I also recommend wearing contrasting colours so that the photos will look better in monochrome.

The double exposure shots are entirely up to your own creativity. It took a couple of test shots before we managed to figure out how to get the best out of the double exposure effect and this was our masterpiece.

For bookings or more information, you can refer to their Instagram or Facebook page.

Common Man Coffee Roasters

It has been more than a year since we were last allowed to travel and I am slowly running out of things to do in Singapore. Having explored the great outdoors, from hiking in Sungei Buloh, to riding the Amazon River Quest in River Safari, to kayaking in the Kallang basin, it is time to start hiding indoors and I started by signing myself up for the Essential Coffee Knowledge class conducted by Common Man Coffee Roasters.

The class is not conducted anywhere near their cafes, but rather they actually have a classroom-styled space tucked in the old aging HDB estate at Chin Swee Road. The place is not difficult to find, just a very short walk from Chinatown MRT, past the State Courts premises.

The class starts early, at 8:30am in the morning. I was the first to arrive and was offered a cup of coffee while we waited for the other 3 participants. (There is a cap of only 4 participants for each class due to safe distancing measures.)

I had the pleasure to share this class together with a much older couple and that played a part in making this class more interesting. The older gentleman was asking a lot of questions, so the instructor couldn’t just read off the powerpoint slides. The instructor had a bit more explanations, and at the same time we got to sniff and sample the different kinds of beans.

The academy offers quite a number of different topics and courses, so I foresee myself coming back soon.

Taylor 210ce Plus

Every guitarist, at some point of his or her life, would have dreamt of owning a Taylor.

And I am going to be honest, when I am moody or down or discouraged, I cheer myself up by buying things I like.

So, one thing led to another, and one day I got the order confirmation from Swee Lee, and the next moment I had this huge box sent to my room.

Packed in a standard aerocase, with a solid sitka spruce top and Indian rosewood body, the sound is bright and warm and offers enough projection.

I would think that any Taylor out of the factory would have been well or fully setup in terms of playability, but I spent just 30 minutes on it today before my fingers started to hurt. I realized by default it comes in .13 strings which is a gauge too heavy even for elephant-skinned fingers, so I am intending to bring it down slightly to .12, and overall it still feels rather stiff so I am gonna sending it for some additional touch ups.

I have previously engaged my friend Jarvis from The Guitar Spa some time back for my previous gutiars, and he has also improved tremendously over the past few years so I will be entrusting my Taylor to him to complete the setup.

I can’t wait to start playing again.

Life Chooses You

I posted this almost 2 years ago. Back then I was going through a rough patch, and that post was birthed out from a whirlwind of emotions. Reading it now may seem like a bunch of gibberish, probably sounding like some incoherent speech from a homeless drunk.

This came back to haunt me recently, and I am starting to wonder if we get to choose life, or perhaps is it the other way round.

I guess for most of us, we feel that we get to choose life.
We choose the life we want from the decisions and choices we make.
Our day to day decisions play a part in influencing and shaping our lives.

We choose the life we want.
We want to live a life of victory and success, so we develop a plan to work hard and achieve good results.
We want to live a life of fitness and good health, so we stick to a strict diet and also a regular exercise regime.
We want that new car, we want that branded bag, we want that nice watch.
We want to get what we want. We want to have nice things. We like ownership. We like control.
We like that we can control our outcome and we determine our own results.
A lot of things are within our reach, and achieving them gives us fulfillment. Having achievements brings us meaning, it makes us happy.

But as I progress on this journey on my own, for the past couple of years, my perspective started to shift.
Maybe we don’t get to choose life after all, we like to think we do, but actually we don’t.

Life chooses us instead.
To a great degree, we have completely no control.
In the first place, we didn’t even get a chance to choose whether to be born or not.
A big part of us are already pre-determined.
Life chooses your genetics and your physical attributes, as much as you would like to be a Usain Bolt, your Asian genes won’t allow you to do so.
We can’t choose our parents or the families that we are born into.
Some people get born into wealthy families whose grandparents inheritances can last for 5 generations.
Some people who aren’t so lucky, don’t get the privilege to study in good schools and some people don’t even get the opportunity to study. The fact that we can read this entry on the internet already tells us our privilege. There are probably kids who get born in the mountains or countryside and they never had a book to read, because life chooses them. They had no say, they had no control. Life chose for them to be this way.

As much as we think we can control outcomes to live the life we want, there is just so much that we can do that is the determining factor. For the most part, they are already pre-determined.

Perhaps you disagree, or maybe I am wrong,
Maybe some of us do actually get to choose the life that we want,

But whether life chooses us or we choose life,
We still must live,
And life,
Must still go on.

Desire Discipline Delight

I should have done this a long time ago. Perhaps you can call it a new found motivation, or maybe it is just a simple desire to return back to an old love.

I have had my Hanzo S for more than 2 years now but I don’t think I have even clocked more than 100km on them. I use them every year to train for my IPPT and once I have cleared my 2.4km test, I just return my shoes back into storage for next year’s IPPT.

I am almost hitting my mid-30s and I tell myself, “It is now or never.

So I guess it really is just a desire from within, for me to literally get back on track. It is a personal choice, something that I want to do for myself.

The beginning is always the hardest. Your body struggles to regain its posture, your legs try to maintain their strides, your cardiovascular system work harder to increase your endurance, and all these usually simplified with some help from muscle memory.

As we begin to practice this habit and continue training over the next couple of weeks, that’s when we reach the stage of discipline. I used to always tell myself that if I have to go for 4-days without running, whatever I have trained during the last session will be wasted. With that in mind, I end up training minimally twice-thrice a week. However to be fair, that was more than 10 years ago, I may not be able to put in the same kind of commitment now, which is exactly why discipline is so important to keep the momentum going.

Going past the stage of discipline, once you have found yourself already maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle, that’s when we arrive at the stage of delight. We love, and we enjoy what we do. Some days you can’t wait to get started, it becomes the highlight of the day.

It was once a part of me, and now it is a new beginning, and I hope to see myself through.

Vaccination 2021

Due to the nature of my previous job, I was considered as frontliner/essential worker and thus had the opportunity to pre-register for the vaccination. I remember my company’s HR submitted my name some time back around early March, and in early April, I received the SMS from MOH to book my vaccination slot.

The SMS comes with a unique code that you need to use to identify yourself online when you book your slots. A list of all the available dates and venues will populate, together with the different vaccines available: Pfizer and Moderna.

The queue for the Pfizer options are significantly longer as you will notice majority of available slots are for Moderna instead. However one thing I did was to keep refreshing the page at various times throughout the day and as people change/postpone their appointments, you will see the earlier slots start to become available.

I went for my first dose on 22nd April. I arrived punctually at my appointed time and the registration process took less than 10 minutes. I am not sure if the registration process differs at the various vaccination centres, but basically the first station is where you do your Safe Entry and they will check your identification and appointment time before issuing you with a queue number. You will then wait for your turn to go to the second station where you need to declare your medical history. Following which, you will be called to the third station where you will be given the actual jab. As a regular blood donor and also someone who has tattoos, I would say that the jab is probably only a 2 or 3, out of 10 on the pain threshold.

So after that, you will be led to a monitoring area to rest for 30 minutes. There is really nothing to do, except to just sit there for 30 minutes. If you feel any discomfort, there are medical personnel on standby and staff who are also walking around should you require any assistance.

At the end of 30 minutes, your queue number will be called again and you proceed to the counter to get your vaccination card to come back for your second dose.

I was prepared to experience the side effects after the first dose, but there was nothing significant except for a very slight fever (37.5) and soreness at the arm that developed after about 4 hours. I was fine after waking up the next day.

I was scheduled for my second dose 3 weeks later, which I promptly went. The entire registration process is exactly the same, but don’t forget to bring your vaccination card because they will ask you for it.

I have heard that the side effects after the second dose are much stronger so I was prepared for it. I went home and popped 2 panadol tablets just in case. The whole afternoon and evening I waited but felt nothing. I went to sleep at night and woke up the next morning with extreme soreness on my arm. It hurts so much I had trouble just lifting my arm up. It slowly subsided as I tried to move and swing my arm more, but beyond that, there wasn’t really anything else that I felt.

Then again, the side effects are different for everyone because our immune systems react differently. I had a friend who said he had sore eyes after vaccination but I am not sure if that is even related to the vaccination. I hope that it doesn’t stop anyone from getting the vaccine when it’s available, because everyone has a part to play in this to protect themselves and their loved ones.

In the meantime, stay safe and mask on.