The season for love: is everyday

To think that Valentine’s Day was actually the day we started dating officially. We celebrate our anniversary with at least 60% of the adult population. The day which I’d received chocolates and flowers which gave me such a thrill. That was about five years ago now. While back then, ironically, we probably didn’t know each other as well as we do now. That said, we still learning about each other, but perhaps not so much of a ‘steep learning curve’ now.

While Valentine’s Day is when couples remember to date each other perfunctorily, it should also remind us that gestures of love should continue throughout the year, everyday. It is rather much like an observance of International Women’s Day, World Friendship Day etc. They aren’t something we celebrate for a day but rather, for reflection of achievements and the journey to come. I’m sure many would agree.

I celebrate the time and attention from my partner. The gift of time and attention are priceless.
On the other spectrum, I value the time I have to myself too. Time and space to develop personally.
I appreciate that my partner shares household chores and has a gift for ironing.

I still love the flowers I’d received at the office today. They are sitting pretty in a vase on our dining table now.



How to work from home

So, it’s been about five months into my new job and we do enjoy remote working arrangements at my company, for most divisions. While I like going to the office and meeting colleagues, I do also cherish the time I have working from home. I do have a nice setup for a home office and hence it makes a good environment for when you need to finish tasks and planning in a seating; while also managing domestic tasks. The arrangement helps me manage my day better especially when there are evening or night calls. While this was novel for me in the beginning and I was a little more ‘excited’ with the prospect of working from home officially and not have to feel guilty about it, it is becoming more of a usual flow for my week. I work from home on Mondays usually and I try to maximise the time I have for things which I do better while working at home than at the office.

Although it can be easy to just stay in PJs, the routine or some boundaries help to keep me on track and in ‘work mode’. These here are just based on my experience (without kids).

  1. Setting the alarm and waking up at the same time for days when I do not need to commute.
  2. Pick a morning routine like reading the news and having coffee and breakfast. For days when you feel like shaking up the routine a little for ‘inspiration’, squeeze in some exercise.
  3. Shower and get dressed. Not into my actual work clothes but just clothes for walking across the street to a store.
  4. Before I start at my home office, I also make myself a cup of tea which signals the start of my work day.
  5. While some days I do work through lunch time, I try to head out for a late lunch to get some air. Even if it means walking across the street to Starbucks. So a downside to me working at home these days is the number of steps in a day. This is something I am fixing and I hope to exercise more regularly on those work from home days.
  6. I make my lunch at home some times. I do not eat in front my desk now. I used to. Of course, besides making a mess on the keyboard and work area, there are other reasons for not eating in front of your work screen. Not ideal especially when you’re sitting at your desk for the whole day with no socialising. Having proper physical room boundaries in the house can help lift your mood or even help with creativity. Have your meal in the dining room if you can.
  7. Cats. I’ve two cats. Which means they can get in your way sometimes when they wake up and decide that they want to join your work space and your calls. When I have a planned call, I close the door to the home office to prevent the cats from meandering in and out when I’m on a call.
  8. Lists: I make a list of things I should complete in a day and to stick to them. There is a A-list which are things which are ‘MUST’ finish and another which are ‘good if I can get started or even finish’. I colour code the lists using sticky pads into different categories of tasks. That’s a personal system.
  9. Set a routine for water. I find that with fewer social breaks at home, I do not take that walk to the kitchen for water as often. And I do not put my water in the home office. Just for a simple reason that I should take that short break and a walk.

These are just some items I thought of…and they are not in any order importance. Everyone would have their own pace and rhythm for working at home. Sometimes when I feel that productivity and creativity levels have dropped, I do try to disrupt my own routine by taking a walk outside and then coming back to work (when there aren’t any calls).

Step goal fail at the end of the day.

The culture dimension @ work

I was reading this article on HBR which really resonated with me. “Culture can’t just be an assortment of well-meaning HR practices; it has to grow out of distinctive business practices.” How many different iterations of ‘culture’ or interpretations are there?

Can you capture what it means to be a member of your organization? At its core, the role of culture is to reinforce a sense of belonging, a shared commitment among colleagues about how they solve problems, share information, serve customers, and deliver experiences.” This is often difficult to implement across the organisation, especially if it’s a large organisation, but so important for talent retention and attraction, in addition to a business impact.

If you’ve not been in the situation of a culture misfit before, it probably wouldn’t be top of mind when taking on a new job offer. However, for job seekers out there, do pay attention to the details around culture. According to a Glassdoor survey, culture and values rated higher for job satisfaction compared with compensation and work-life balance. Nevertheless, on a personal note, I do think work-life balance is a subset or one of the parameters of culture.

What does ‘work culture’ entail? It’s certainly deeper than what is seen on the outside. The type of engagement counts. What is defined as ’employee engagement’? What behaviour is deemed as unacceptable and how do people react to change? Does the organisation truly believe in innovation and that comes through in the way they do things?

One question which I read on Fast Company was rather interesting, ‘How is risk-taking rewarded?’ Risk or change are often not as well-received in more conservative organisations, compared with a company which is often the disruptor or on its way to becoming one.

I came across a few articles which are quite helpful in helping job seekers develop a ‘checklist’ for culture matching, from Fast Company, The Balance and The Muse.

Where can you go hiking in Singapore?

Singapore with a total land area of 687 sq km and highest point at Bukit Timah of 166m, has a pretty decent trail with some climbing… of stairs.

This walk takes you through stairs, mud and more mud, rocks and a stretch of paved road. Living in Singapore and wishing that not everything is boarded up or paved, try this for a off-the-beaten track hike. This is one of our usual routes for a weekend hike.

You will need about 3 hours to 3.5 hours to complete. Or even less. The last time I went, it was 13.5KM within 2 hr and 45 minutes with two bathroom breaks. I would rate this as an easy hike overall. But do bring plenty of water and hydrate well as the weather is hot and humid in Singapore. I finished a 3-litre bag of water during the hike.

Take a cab or drive to Dairy Farm Carpark A, if you wish to explore Wallace Trail or just head straight to Carpark B. The Dairy Farm Summit Loop is just right up the track. There’ll be a sign with ‘Dairy Farm Summit Loop’ pointing towards some stairs.

I went on a Saturday afternoon at about 1:30pm and there was hardly anyone on this route at Dairy Farm. I saw a couple, a couple of other runners and then I was at Bukit Timah Summit. Before that, you’ll come across stairs…. and more stairs…

You will get to a North View Hut, without much of a view, sans napping man, midway. You will continue on the route.

The route will be flat for a while before coming to another flight of stairs which will take you to the path leading to Bukit Timah Summit.

If you are heading towards Macritchie Reservoir, take the other side down, on the right of the Summit Hut and not the same you came up from. Follow the path down towards the Visitor Centre and I urge you to use the bathrooms on the left before starting out on the trail to Macritchie. You won’t see another bathroom for at least the next 5 to 6km.

Now, onto Macritchie. Go straight until you see a grassy path lined with some logs and a map. Follow the muddy path into the greens.

You’ll see this and seeing the two small bridges here among the trees and the sound of water always make me think how beautiful this small little spot is.

Continue on the path. I wonder about the history of this place. I see some fragments of tiles which look like they came from a house along the way. Some random stairs in the woods. I imagine some stories of an old kampong and a huge house when I walk through the woods. 

Some interesting bridges along the way…

Follow the sign towards MacRitchie Reservoir here and watch out for cyclists along this path.

Follow the pink marker to MacRitchie.

This is after you’ve crossed the road from where you would have emerged. Continue through this trail.

Head up… 

…and left.

This part of the trail can be rather muddy. So do be prepared to get some mud on your shoes and legs. You’ll get on Nangka trail and then onto Durian Loop. I’m presuming that this place used to be where some durian trees were found in Singapore?

I like going across these bridges…

Nicely paved steps here.

We’ve tried both paths here. You can skip the Durian Loop path on the right of the picture here and head towards the left. There are more muddy spots down the path on the right.

This is showcase my trusty Salomons. Still slippery on some muddy rocks, but grips well on most other terrains and light! Unfortunately, they won’t be good for my hike in Canada later this year. They don’t provide sufficient support for the soles and the ankles for longer hikes with a heavy backpack.

9km more to Macritchie Park. You’ll come to a road soon after this. Head left when you emerge and follow the road until you get to a trail among some construction.

You will come to a road. Walk uphill and follow the road for about 2km, I think. You’ll pass the Rifle Range Camp along the way and then another entrance/exit to a trail which is part of Macritchie. I saw these pheasants of sorts along the way.

Follow the yellow dirt road! 

Not far now! However, at this point, I do usually feel like it’s so near yet so far… 0_0

There are lots of monkeys along the way, next to the road mostly. I didn’t get any photos of them but I did get a photo of this millipede hurrying a long the path towards TreeTop…


You may head up TreeTop or just follow the signs to Macritchie Reservoir Park, either through the Golf Link or the other way. If you continue to TreeTop, there’s a bathroom there you may use before continuing towards either TreeTop or towards Macritchie Park.

Depending on which route you end up taking at Macritchie, the hike is between 13.5KM and 16.6KM, to Macritchie Park’s main carpark.

Have fun and don’t forget to hydrate! Bring a waterproof bag for your electronics and valuables in case it rains. We were caught in the rain a few times on our hike. It can be fun to wade through the mini floods at Macritchie, but do keep your electronics and phones in a waterproof bag.

Canada outdoors love affair 

​Our first hiking and camping trip together was in Canada during a visit home (for M). Now it feels like a homecoming to me too when I recall the country’s great outdoors, fresh air, clean water, marvellous mountains, lakes and chalets.

We’ve gone hiking in other regions like New Zealand and Norway after, but I am looking forward to hiking and camping in Canada again. I only wish that we were staying in Canada for a longer duration… We would hike and camp in BC and Newfoundland. Choices…. Too many…

Happy 150th Canada and thank you for the free pass! #showusyourpass #explorecanada

Okay, so quick update. We ended up going for our hike in Canada late-October to early-November. As you know, weather at that time isn’t ideal for camping and hiking. Additionally, we didn’t use our Canada 150 pass since we didn’t stay at the National Parks as we went during off-season.

Sundays Beach Club in Bali

Sunday beach club for every other day. We were there today, on Valentine’s Day and were treated to a lovely view of blue skies and blue sea. This place is about a 30 minutes drive from Nusa Dua. We took a furnicular of sorts down to the beach. You pay an entrance fee of 300,000 IDR per person.

The current was strong when the tide was in but settled into a much calmer state when it went out later in the afternoon.

The beach club with its popular reviews was rather crowded.

Well worth a visit.