Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Psychiatry!!

Today: A ramble. So today I got my butt down to the Institute of Mental Health and saw a specialist to see if we can get a handle on these mood swings. Monday was a pretty shitty mood day; yesterday, not too bad, even got to meet Little Jo and had dinner at Marche! Today, not great. After getting lost on the way to the clinic, and almost giving up, and then having to wait about an hour because I'd missed my original appointment time, I finally got to meet the medic. Long story short, doc gave me a toss-up between a new type of medication (mood stabilisers) and seeing a therapist. I figure I've talked and thought about the issues long enough, so new meds it is! So now I'm on a half-tablet of these new tablets and I'm supposed to keep track of how my moods are. The mood for today, for the record, was rather cranky and melancholy, though I attribute a lot of that to the remnants of achiness in my right swollen ankle and the fact that I've been nursing a headache all day (nurse took my temperature at the clinic earlier and I was runnin' a mild fever). I asked the doc if he could help with the fever, too, but apparently they don't wanna "mix fields", i.e. he shall stick to his psychiatry (oh mein gott, I'm seeing a psychiatrist!!), which is too bad, 'cos I was really hoping to be able to maim two birds with one pebble. Ah well. So here goes, boys and girls. First half-dosage of the three-week trial run. Oh, the doc also suggested a combo of meds with the therapy further down the line, to work out some of these issues which I unabashedly told him about. You know, the whole liking boys thing, and being Catholic thing, and being an artist thing, all the cliches. So... um... I've opted to start with the meds anyhow. Right then. Here we go.

Oooh, Shiny!

Look what little Jo gave me as a belated Christmas gift! Thanks Jooo!!


Thursday, 24 January 2013

Poor Poor Foot

So I was walking as usual yesterday on my way back from work, when suddenly my right foot went WHOOPS and buckled under me, hurting my ankle painfully. I managed to hobble back home and kept it elevated most of the day, but this morning, it was, like, totally, like, agonizing, dude. So I took off from work early, headed to the doc's and got some painkillers and analgesic (hehe that word has 'anal' in it). Which brings me to right now, where I'm sitting on bed blogging about this and taking photos of my poor foot that is clearly swollen, though not really as bad as other people have had it. Hey, at least it's not all purple and penis aubergine-like, no??

Poor appendage, shapeless and frumpy.
Here's a funny story: seconds before this happened, I'd politely but hurriedly pushed my way past an old man on a concrete path. Seconds after leaving the path, my foot went WHOOPS. I'm thoroughly and utterly convinced that the old man had hexed me, chanting wicked curses under his sour and malevolent old-man breath.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Heeeee

I sure like the disclaimer on the back of this bag of chips. Heh. On the downside, I ate a bag of chips. Doh.

Impossible!!

Hey all. Saw a movie with Carol Weh yesterday, The Impossible, starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. The harrowing and painful tale of a family that survived the 2004 tsunami that hit a whole buncha countries in Southeast Asia and beyond (hey, I was there. I saw the aftermath. Um. In one of the much, much, much, much minor-hit places. Cough). I quite loved the film, though I suspect, cheekily, that our (viewers') empathies were heightened by the fact that it was Ewan and Naomi, arf. In the midst of all the heartbreaking tragedy, a famous pretty face every now and then helps alleviate the horror (though they didn't look quite so pretty by the end of it, oy!). Anyhoo, do catch it if you can.

Eeek.
Mmmm. I mean eeek.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Nick and Carol's Excellent JB Adventure!

Hi everyone! Whew, it's been a whirlwind mini-adventure. As previously stated, yesterday Carol and I learnt the ropes of travelling in to Johor Bahru from Singapore by hopping on a train and then catching a couple of buses from one stop to another. It's been a few years since my solo trip to JB, and it was just as much fun — albeit much shorter — this time around. First it was from Kranji MRT to the immigration checkpoint, which, as you might imagine, was crowded with people trying to flee exit the country to southern Malaysia. Then it was across the Causeway to the Johor checkpoint, followed by another bus ride to the bus terminal in central JB (which, as it turns out, we didn't actually need to get on, since the locations we needed to head to were actually rather close to the Johor checkpoint itself. Ah well.)

A funny thing happened on the bus from the Johor checkpoint to the central bus terminal — the bus was reversing when we heard a sudden bumping sound. Then passengers started exclaiming, "Whoa whoaa whoaaaaa!!!" — and Carol and I looked out the back side window to see another bus reversing at the same time as we were. Subsequently there was a (rather minor) crash as the rear ends of both buses collided. Everyone was all a-twitter with excitement (though, this being Johor and not Singapore, nobody Twittered or Facebooked) while the two bus drivers sorted out the damage, leaving us passengers on board, agitated for all of twenty seconds before calming down and waiting patiently to resume our journey, which we eventually did. La la la. Welcome to Malaysia, folks.

Anyway, so we managed to find our way to the venue where Carol and I would be meeting the Perth crew, who were doing a performance of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. We made it in time for the show (give or take a couple of scenes off the starting), but not before indulging in totally healthy meals of cheesy sinfulness down at the TGI Friday's outlet below the performance venue, complete with alcohol!!

Good lord, all this food!!! 

Ultimate Mudslide! Awesomeness!
Carol got me Legend of the Guardians action figures
as belated Christmas pressies! Heh!!
So we caught the show (understanding, perhaps, 60% of it), and subsequently had a joyous reunion with Jenny and some of the peeps from Perth. We then proceeded back to TGI Friday's for post-performance drinks and more food (which Carol and I didn't touch). Here are some pics of the festivities:
A view of the gang! 
Carol, Andrew and a very close-up Ellin. 
Mr Stephen B. Blatt.
Scott looks surprised. 
I'm feelin' Blue. That's the name of the stuffed thingy. Oh, and that's Mel.
Eventually as the restaurant closed, we hopped onto the bus service provided for us, back to the place where we'd be staying for the night. Jenny had referred to it as the Homestay, which had placed notions in our minds of us bunking over at somebody's house. Turns out it wasn't really that: it was a couple of huge houses, separated by a road, and each house had individual bedrooms with en suite bathrooms (read: a shower above a sink and toilet)... kinda like hostels or smaller motels. Surprisingly it was rather comfortable, though I was kinda freaked out by the toilet in my room that looked as if it had been randomly placed there and wasn't really connected to anything:

What the...?! What's going on?! What's with all the crookedness?!!
The surprisingly cozy bedroom.
After checking in, we proceeded for a last round of drinks (for Carol and me at least) at the nearby kopitiam, where we had rounds of beer and some fried chicken to pick on. All in all, it was a good night, apart from an incident that involved a live fish from the seafood fish tank that was dunked on Andrew K's head. Oy. Don't ask. We don't really know what that was all about, either. Anyhoo, here are some pics:

Carol, Jason and Sarah!
I love how Mr Blatt is the only one looking at the camera.
Me and Andrew K, who got fish-headed. Really. Don't ask.


The following morning (this morning), Carol and I headed out for a meeting with Jenny at the nearby shopping centre (more updates on this as and when). And then Carol and I decided to part ways and make our way back across the border to the land of Singaypoo, so we bid everyone a fond farewell. It was a short trip indeed, but definitely sweet, and next week, I'll be heading back to KL to meet up with Jenny for more meetings and hopefully meet some of the Perthlings again (maybe. Not too sure about this. We'll see). It took Carol and me a much shorter time getting back into Singapore than we did leaving it (which I'm sure tells you something, ahem), and after some ice-cream at Junction 8 nearby, we, too, parted ways, leaving me back in my room in Bishan, blogging away. Here are some more pics of the morning:

Jason, Jenny, me and Carol! 
Murali joins the fun! (As does a luggage bag.) 
Sad to be leaving... arf.
Farewell, Perth peeps! Mr Blatt, what is up with that shirt?!!
Bye-bye for now, Perth Gang! You guys and gals are the awesomest!!! xx

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Choirs, Carol and Cross-Country Cavorting!

Wassup, everyone! Sorry for lack of updates over the week. Getting back to the daily grind at work. Although there have been some positives: on Wednesday, I finally, at long last, met up with my former piano teacher Geraldine and her hubbie Gerard (yup, their names match, much like my own parents', Patrick and Patricia, oy!)... and we managed to have a lovely catching-up at their home while scarfing down home-made prawn mee, mushroom-cheese bruschetta, coffee and strawberries for afters! It was actually very good to reconnect with them, and now I've made plans to see how I can help them out with the choir at Novena Church. That will be happening in a couple of weekend from now... so check back in for more updates.

Today, I'll shortly be heading off to a mini-adventure across the border to Johor, accompanied by my trusty companion Carol Weh, to meet-and-greet some of the Perth crew who are in JB to perform Shakespeare (as incongruous as that might sound). So we'll shortly be figuring out how to get across the border. I'm sure it's no biggie, but Carol's a worrywart (love yeee, Caroll!!!) So wish us luck, folks. More updates and (I'm sure) pics to come! Stay tuned...

Friday, 11 January 2013

Steamboats & Sweethearts

Hey all! Am back home in PJ now after this absolutely exhausting and emotional week, having left Penang this afternoon. Last night the family (minus poor Cousin Shaun, who had to return to Aussieland and ended up eating a measly bowl of kway teow soup while we gorged ourselves with seafood and seafood by-products) had a scrumptious steamboat dinner, before I headed to the 24-hour drive-thru Macca's to catch up with Kevin and Irinna, arf. Here are pics of dinner last night, followed by a couple more portraits of my beloved Grandma and much-missed Grandpa. 

Panorama! Doh, I just *had* to choose this moment to go to the men's room. 
Our steamboat feast! 
Watchoo lookin' at?! 
Brother (left) and cousins/cousin-in-law. 
Tuck in, everybody!!
Portraits:
Grandma and Grandpa when they got engaged!!!
Grandpa, circa my age. We miss you! Say 'hi' to Jesus for me!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Crash! Boom! Bang!

Here's what happens when you have an iPhone and too much time to spare on your hands. Courtesy of cousin-in-law Hau Wei (thanks Hau Wei!)

My cousins at the hospital while awaiting news about Grandpa:


Yesterday after dinner, chilling at cousins' place. Watch the poor timings of some of us... and the hilarious reactions of others:


Oy.

Of Feasts, Fun and Family

Dinner and post-dinner with the family last night...

That's a lotta people.
...Meaning that's a lotta food. 
The cousins dig in. 
Cousin Shaun, the tourist.
Back at uncle's place. My cousin Peggen always wanted a little sister.
Yesterday, she finally got the chance to turn her little bro Dominic into one.
Harrrumph. Haaa haaa haaa haaa!!
We looked through a bunch of photo albums and found these scandalous photos of... a lifetime ago:

Circa 1988. Spot the Little Nick. Meanwhile, how trendy were the hairdos??
My dad on the left, with my uncle and cousins.

Group photo. Check out my little cousin's attitude (on far left)!!
Speaking of blasts from the past, here's a photo my grandma found in Grandpa's wallet - a pic of herself that she gave to him when she was 16!!! He's been keeping it tucked away in his wallet after all these decades... more than sixty years, I'm sure!! Wow!


Finally, here's me and my cousins after we said bye-bye to Grandpa at the crematorium yesterday:

Where's your little pink box, Big Nick?

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Ewe-logies

...Because my grandpa's last name was Ewe. Yes, like the sheep. Arf.

Mum.
Uncle.
Cousin Peggen (and Pastor).
Cousin Gilkrist.
Family.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

A Love Song to Grandpa

Sang this tonight, with my cool cuzzin Dominic on the guitar!

A Song and a Shave

Here's a video of my cousin Dominic (a.k.a. Little Nic) and me (a.k.a. Big Nic) practising a song for the service for Grandpa tonight. (PS: White is not a flattering colour on me, oy. Not to mention being clean-shaven ... such a baby face! It's only 'cos my grandpa used to say he liked it better when I shaved. So... for you, Grandpa.)


Monday, 7 January 2013

Singapore and Back Again

Hey all. Been a rather despondent few days. Mum went back to Penang and awaited news on Grandpa, who had been alternatingly improving and worsening over the past few days. Yesterday, I hopped on the bus back to Singaypore. Did my morning shift at work, and this morning Mum texts to say Grandpa has left us circa 5:45am. So tonight I'll be hopping on a plane to Penang and have managed to get this entire week off. It's gonna be an emotional week, whoo boy. Meanwhile, in few hours I go down to the immigration authority to submit some documents for my permanent residence application. Wish me luck. Wish us all luck. Sigh.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

A Letter of Complaint to AEROLINE Bus Service, Malaysia (Updated: 10.35pm, 5 Jan)

Dear Aeroline,

My mother recently purchased a two-way trip from Bandar Utama to Penang, departing 10:30am on Wednesday Jan 2, and to return on the 9am bus on Saturday, Jan 5. The reason she went to Penang is because her father (my grandfather) is critically ill in hospital. Subsequently she realised she had to stay longer in Penang and would not be able to get on the 9am bus back to Bandar Utama on Saturday, in the unfortunate event of her father's passing - the circumstances of which are still uncertain even as I write this email.

Imagine her frustration when my mother was informed by Aeroline in Penang that she could not get a refund on the ticket because "we don't have a system for refunds". She then tried to change the seat for a different date and was told that Aeroline's policy was that she had to change the ticket three days in advance -- which means she would have had to change the ticket on the WEDNESDAY on which she arrived in Penang!!

I am greatly angered and disappointed in the way Aeroline Penang has handled this situation and would like to formally issue a complaint as well as request that my mum either be refunded or allowed to change her ticket for another day. The reason for her being unable to get on the 9am bus is because of a FAMILY EMERGENCY, the critical illness of her father and possible passing, and not because of a sudden change of heart. To say that refunds/etc are "not in the company's policy" is downright ridiculous and insensitive, and I would have expected more from a company that is reputedly one of the best in the industry and claims to be "a convenient way to fly".

As a frequent Aeroline traveller I am now considering boycotting your bus services altogether and am inclined to inform all my friends and contacts to do the same if this situation is not addressed. I am also inclined to write letters to the media to highlight this issue if I do not get a response from your company in due course.

I look forward to hearing back from you in due course - sooner rather than later would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Sincerely,
Nick Choo

Sent 12:22am, 5 January 2013, via Aeroline's online feedback service

====================================

UPDATED 10.35pm, Jan 5: The customer service section of the company got back to me in an email with an indisputable defence: that by agreeing to buy the tickets to begin with, it meant implicitly agreeing to their terms and conditions... you know, the whole bunch of crap that most people don't bother reading. Ah well. At least they had the courtesy to respond, and seemed sincere about it. Here is their reply:


Dear Mr. Choo,

Good day to you!

We are sorry about your grandfather's health condition and hope everything is well and he will get better soon.

We understand your mother's predicament and your concern, we would like to apologize for the wariness and inconvenience caused about changing or cancelling the coach's ticket.

We would like to reiterate the information concerning our ticket's terms and conditions provided by our Customer Care Officer at our service centre that all tickets purchased are non-cancellable and non-refundable.

The terms and conditions relating to the change policy for our coach's tickets are as follows:

•  The first change done three (03) days before departure is allowed as a complimentary change, and any subsequent changes are at RM10.00/SGD5.00 per ticket, per change.

•  The first change done two (02) days before departure is subjected to a RM20.00/SGD10.00 administrative charge, any subsequent changes are at RM20.00/SGD10.00 per ticket, per change.

•  No changes can be made if change is made one (01) day before travel and/or the date of travel.

As the ticket's travel date is (5/1/2013) today, hence we are sorry that no change is allowed for the ticket mentioned.

We would like to apologize for any of the terms and conditions of our ticketing change policy that might have unintentionally caused your good self inconvenience and dissatisfaction. It is certainly not our intention to cause unhappiness for our passengers over our ticket policies.

Currently, changes are allowed up two days before the departure date with changes allowed for time and date change. Our operation management is constantly reviewing and amending those policies when the need arises, for the improvement of our service quality.

We appreciate your understanding and we hope that this incident would not mar your future journeys with us as your kind patronage with us is most valued.

If you require more information, please also visit us at our FAQ at https://www.aeroline.com.my/faq.html for frequently asked questions & helpful answers.

Thank you and have a nice day!

Warmest Regards,
Aeroline Team