Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The bambino who got a kiss from Papa Francesco...

I guess I should start writing about the recently concluded Europe trip.

Hmm, I'l probably begin with one of the highlights during the Rome/Vatican leg of the trip.

PG Boy and I woke up very early for the Papal Audience gathering. While I am used to waking up at ungodly hours, it was a huge challenge for PG Boy to wake up at 5AM. I'm really glad that he got up to join me for the gathering.

Thankfully, our place was within walking distance to Piazza San Pietro. We left the place close to 630 and reached the piazza 10 minutes later.

As expected, a queue was already forming.

By 7, the security started letting people in to the barricaded area. I rushed to one of the front rows close to the centre aisle. I thought surely the Pope will pass by this area.

Hours later, the crowd had swelled to tens of thousands. We were really grateful we followed the tip of my friend Krissie to be at the piazza really early.

Finally, the most awaited moment came.

While anticipating the Pope mobile to pass by our area, a group of people behind me called my attention. They probably realised I had a good spot. I thought they were going to ask to stand in my spot and I was more than ready to say no. Lol! I dunno if and when I'll see the Pope up close again; there was no way I was going to give up my spot.

One of the ladies spoke to me in Italian. I replied saying I do not understand Italian. She then just pointed to her son and said, "Bambino."

When I saw that the Pope mobile was approaching, I took the boy and raised him high. It was very Mufasa and Simba in Lion King. Haha! I was too starstruck though. I don't remember ever yelling "Papa Francesco!" The next thing I know, one of the Pope's security took the little boy from me and brought him over to the Pope.

The photo above shows what happened next.

When the security guy brought back the kid to me, I took the clueless kid and returned him to his mom. What followed was the entire group all smiling at us, patting me on the shoulder and saying continuously, "Bravo! Bravo!"

Today, I emailed the photo to the mom. I never even got her name. I just got her email address. Above was the reply I got.

Thankfully, PG Boy was able to capture the moment on cam. Without a doubt, it was really a huge thing for the family.

I'm glad PG Boy and I were of help.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Back lah in Singapore...

Arrived this afternoon in Singapore from Europe.

For the past twelve days, I took 6 flights, three inter-city train rides, dunno how many metro/bus/tram rides and walked dunno how many thousand kilometres in four countries around Europe. Hmm, make that five since Vatican is technically separate from Italy.

What was just initially supposed to be a week in Rome and Vatican became an Amsterdam-Rome-Vatican-Amsterdam-Brussels-Cologne-Amsterdam trip. Haha!

It's been an awesome trip! I've got 4,700 plus photos to prove how awesome it was. Haha!

I need to find the time and the energy to sort the photos. I need to find the time and the energy to write about the experience.

For now, I need to get some sleep. Tomorrow, it's back to work and I am dreading the amount of emails I have to face. Haha!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Waiting for boarding time...

So, yup, I am finally going on a holiday. Haha!

At the moment, I'm at Changi Airport Terminal 1 using one of the PCs at one of the many Free Internet kiosks around the terminal.

Yeah, because I'm saving my phone battery. Hehe!

The trip planning started back in late 2013. It took quite some time to finalize everything. Even until this morning, I was still booking tours and museums.

The itinerary is this - Three days in Amsterdam, four days in Rome + Vatican, fly back to Amsterdam to take the train to Brussels, take the train from Brussels to Cologne, and from Cologne back to Amsterdam.

The main reason why Amsterdam is our main base was PG Boy and I were supposed to stay with my friend Bernice who's based in Amsterdam.

However, she decided to accept a job offer in Asia. By that time, PG Boy and I have booked our flights and accomms.

Oh well...

I guess the most exciting part for me would be Rome and Vatican. As mentioned in a previous post, we were lucky (or blessed?) enough to have been able to get a slot in the Scavi Tour aka the Vatican Necropolis.

This was after two failed attempts to secure slots in the said tour. Good thing I'm stubborn/persistent and decided to try again a third time.

There's another place I'm really looking forward to visit - the Scala Sancta. It is said that Jesus Christ himself walked on this marble stairs. Really looking forward to the experience.

Flight is at 1250AM. A little less than two hours to go. I hope PG Boy and I will have enough energy to start exploring immediately tomorrow when we arrive at Amsterdam.

So grateful, grateful for this trip!

Few more hours before holiday...

Few more hours and I can officially say I am on vacation.

Whooptidoo! As one person said... hehe!

The holiday trip will be a lot of firsts:

- First time to have a two-week holiday
- First time to fly via Emirates and via KLM
- First time to experience a long haul flight
- First time to take a high-speed train to cross countries
- First time to travel out of Asia

Really grateful to be able to do this trip.

As I was telling PG Boy, nevere did I even think that I would one day be going on a trip like this.

So I'm really, really grateful for this blessing.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Best email for the week....

Persistence paid off.

I got a slot for a tour that I really wanted to join.

After being rejected twice, I still wrote again today to see if I can get a slot for me and PG Boy.

In the evening, I got the best email for the week! Haha!

I wasted no time to make the payment and confirm our attendance.

Thank you, Lordy, for this!


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Series of MV talks on Saturday afternoon...

Yesterday, I attended a talk for museum guides organised by the MV Group's Museum Continuing Education Committee.

I gotta give it to the team. They really do a good job in coming up with talks/sessions that add more knowledge to what docents learned during the training session.

There were three topics yesterday: 1.) Chitty Peranakans; 2.) Parsis in Singapore and 3.) a fellow MV's trip to Iran. The last topic was related to the talk about Parsis and Zoroastrianism.

It was a very informative talk. The speakers were all very knowledgeable and had a lot of information to share.

Prior to the talk, I managed to squeeze in some time to check out the ongoing Secrets of the Fallen Pagoda exhibit.

The collection was not that big so I was able to go through the exhibit rather fast.

The exhibit features relics and artefacts found from the Famen Temple in present day Xi'an, China. Famen Si is one of the most revered Buddhist sites in China.

According to the exhibit gallery guide:"A finger bone relic of the Buddha and magnificent Tang dynasty objects of gold, silver, ceramics, and glass were sealed within an underground crypt there. For more than 1000 years, these treasures were forgotten until their chance discovery in 1987."

Interesting Saturday it was.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Third anniversary...

Today, I am more grateful than usual. It is my third anniversary with Wiley and of living in wonderful Singapore. Looking back, it is all thanks to the inspiration and the support of a number of people. You know who you are, maraming salamat!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Another late night...

As expected, it was another sorta late night tonight. Haha!

I met up with my ex-Smart colleague-turned-PRU AVP Reena at Grand Hyatt for a quick chat.

Prior to heading down to the city, I popped by Ikea Alexandra to get some stuff for Tey, Rhyz and Moneigh.

Knowing that Reena was going to be in town, I checked with the girls what they wanted. I kinda expected the reply - Ikea chocolates! And this time, there was also a request for the chocolate butterscotch spread. I didn't know Ikea had it. I'm guessing it's similar to the Speculoos spread(?).

Since I was already at Ikea, I decided to have my dindin there. Luckily, there was no major queue at the cafe. I was quickly able to get the dinner of pasta and meatballs which I really wanted to have. Yay!

Done with dinner and buying the pasalubong, I walked over to the nearby bus stop and took 14 to the city.

Reena and I didn't get to spend much time chatting. She was in the middle of work and couldn't leave her colleagues.

Still, it was really good to see her. Always happy to see a familiar face.

In other news, few more days to 9 April!!! Woooohooo!!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Busy nights this week...

This is the third night this week that I am heading back this late. Haha!

Monday night, I went for a late evening class. Last night, I went for some pre-holiday errands with Tipz.

Tonight, I met up with Mon and Richie.

What was supposed to be just a dinner became dinner + coffee + hours of chikahan.

And I wasn't rushing to head back as I know we'd usually be done by 10ish. That and because I dun have a gym class to attend tomorrow morning.

Richie suggested we have dindin at Jollibee. I was more than up for it since I dun get to eat that often at Jollibee.

Since I had time to kill before dindin, I went around Ion for some more pre-trip errands. I should already be okay in the clothing department now. Haha!

From Ion, I headed to LP to meet up with Rich who was already queueing. Thankfully, the wait wasn't that long. Mon arrives just as Richie was done ordering our food. Yay!

From LP, we headed to next door Paragon for coffee and dessert. I had my second macchiato for the day! Yikes!

While chatting among ourselves, we were also chatting with the gang in Manila. Great how the physical distance between Manila and SG is bridged by technology. Hehe.

It's always a happy time to meet up with Mon and Richie as we never seem to run out of things to talk about. Convo just flows naturally. It's a blessing to have that kind of friendship/relationship.

Tomorrow is going to be another late night. Meeting up with friend/former colleague Reena who's in town for a night.

Whew! Busy calendar this week. Haha!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How I manage to wake up early on difficult days...

Can't believe March is over! Woohoo! Hehe!

Having gone to Combat last night, I had a struggle this morning as to whether I will get up for Gentle Flow class or not. The class was at 7AM at Fusionopolis. I've already pressed my clothes for the day. My bag for the day is ready. It's really just a matter of getting up, washing my face and leaving the house by 6AM at the latest.

As usual, I set the alarm for 5:20AM. That way, I can snooze it for another 10 minutes and get up at 5:30AM. I dunno why, but doing this is a way of fooling myself that I actually got more sleep than I wanted.

When it does become really quite a challenge to get up, I recall one thing I learned from a university professor friend - heroic minute.

The idea behind the heroic minute is waking up a minute or two after the alarm went off. Another version I recall is waking up a minute or two before the alarm you set.

How does it become heroic?

This idea is part of a bigger idea that every action in the world can be sanctified. One does not have to be in a convent or a seminary in order to be holy. One can sanctify oneself right where he or she is. (Does this sound familiar? :D)

Applying this to the heroic minute, since waking up at that given time is such a difficulty, why not turn that difficulty into something more noble by offering it up for an intention? By doing so, by embracing that cross at that moment, not only will one be able to perform that task (in this case, waking up very early) but one is also able to offer a prayer for someone or an intention.

Hmm, I tried to intro the concept to PG Boy since getting up at 9AM on weekends is a challenge for him. Lol! Seriously, the only reason he gets up at 9AM on a Saturday is because I force him to. He's still trying to understand the concept though. I dun think one needs to be Catholic to do it.

To me though, it really makes sense. It is something that comes to mind whenever I have difficulty getting up.

Though I must say, I use it only on days that I really find it difficult to get up early, which is quite rare. Hehe!

Maybe there should be a heroic minute: evening version. When one is already supposed to be in bed by this time, one extends a minute more or two of being awake and offer that moment for some intention. Hehe!

The heroic minute is just one of the many things I learned from the university professor friend. There are several other things I learned that I still practice today. The friendship with the guy is no longer existing. But at least, I learned valuable lessons to last me a lifetime from our short-lived friendship.