How we spent our Deepavali-Istana Visit

Dear Boys,

I decided to give your mum a ‘me time’ for the hardwork she put in helping you, Ian with your exams. So I took you boys out so that your mum can go for her nail message, compliments of Auntie Chai Ping.

Your mum enjoying her moment
Your mum enjoying her moment

Where can we go, 3 male members of the Lim family? The Istana was hosting an open house and it is free entry for Singaporeans, so why not? We packed up and headed out, looking forward to spending some time at the official residence of our President. After all, it is free entry and its been a long time since I’ve step foot in the Istana for a visit.

We reached the place and found it to be raining a little, and got heavier as we approached the Main Building. the compound is really a nice place to visit, with the sprawling greenery, and magnificent lawn. Once we passed the tight security, the first sight that draws us towards was the Swan pond.

Swan Pond. Admiring the Swan
Swan Pond. Admiring the Swan

The both of you were fascinated with the single white swan there and snapped pictures like it was the last living White Swan on earth. Thankfully the turf on the Istana ground is quite well maintained, despite of the rain, and wet grounds didn’t translate into a muddy quagmire, despite of the heavy trampling by the large crowds.


As we walked up and towards the slight gradient, the both of you chatted that this was where they saw on television the funeral procession of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and wondered where is the Sri Temasek.

The Sri Temasek


The premises was out of bounds and we can only stop to appreciate the diminutive building, where so much of our country’s history has happened there. While we watch, our minds played the mental image of Mr Lee’s cortege rolled out from the place, in a wet day no different from the day we visited Istana.

The Main Building


We had to seek refuge there along with many ‘un-umbrella’ folks, as the sky decided to open up on us. We learned from a Scout there, that we can actually buy a ticket to go into Istana for a house tour. With nothing better to do, I decided to leave the 2 of you with the Scout and headed out in the downpour to get the tickets. There is no photo taking allowed inside so we have to keep our pictures in our head.

The interior is a grand place, which is of course, as we have to host our nation’s guests there. There is an air of importance as well as decorum, you can’t help but feel the importance of such a place to us ordinary Singaporeans. it is important that we host our country’s guests in the highest pristine so that we get the respect and voice in the global community.

The Gun Terrace


This is certainly the highlight for the both of you as you boys take turns to take pictures of it, walk around it and explore this World War 2 relic.

The Military Guardroom


We did a few fun shots there with a few ornamental mini cannons, your little brother, as usual, is such a pain when it comes to making him look at the camera and do a decent pose!

Our signature childhood photo

This is the kind of photograph where we can look back, decades from now and relish the memories. I am sure many of us and our parents out there has a photo like that taken with a soldier standing at attention. This will certainly be a journey I hope the 2 of you can cherish and remember fondly.


Three Worded Hokkien (A-Z guide)

Dear Boys,

I hope by the time you boys grow up, you can learn a thing or two about speaking in hokkien. It is a dialect from China and the way Singaporeans says it is so different from the way Taiwanese says it.

To start off, let’s look at some simple three worded Hokkien (TWH).

Ang Moh Lang

Chinese simplified: 红毛人 ( hóng máo rén)

  • Caucasian, or loosely speaking, in colloquial sense, ‘red hair people’, when the Chinese first bumped into Caucasian, with their red hair, the term got stuck. The more common form will drop the ‘Lang’ and simply regard Caucasians as ‘ang mohs’

Boh Kiam Lui

Chinese simplified: 不欠钱 (Bù qiàn qián)

  • It means, doesn’t owe money

Boh Lui Lang

Chinese simplified: 没钱人 (méi qián rén)

  • Poor People

Char Bor Lang

Chinese simplified: 女人 ( nǚ rén)

  • Woman. in some context, it can means The Wife

Huan Kiah Lang

Chinese simplified:  马来人 ( mǎ lái rén)

  • Malays. In the movie ‘Black Hawk Down’ the American General mispronounced them as ‘May Lay’

Inn Dor Lang

Chinese simplified: 印度人 ( yìn duó rén)


  • Indian, more specifically, people from the country of India

Jiak Liao Bee

Chinese simplified: no chinese equivalent

  • It usually means that person is good for nothing. loosely means ‘eating wasted rice’. We all eat to do something, so the rice will not be waste when eaten

Jing Kek Sim

Chinese simplified: no chinese equivalent

  • It is a ‘heart pain’ feeling. Like when you see your favourite team losing very badly, you feel that desolation. It is a feeling only express in Hokkien. ‘Kek Sim!’

Jiak Jiu Jwee

Chinese simplified: 喝醉酒 ( hē zuì jiǔ)

  • Drunk. ‘Jiak’ usually means ‘to eat’ but sometimes when you are that drunk, you wouldn’t know if you are drinking or eating your beer! ‘Lim’ should be the correct hokkien verb for ‘drink’

Keeh Si Lah

Chinese simplified: 去死拉 ( qù sǐ lā)

  • Go and die!

Kuah Si Mee

Chinese simplified: 看什么 ( kàn shén me)

  • Again, this is under a more provocative tone. An English equivalent will be ‘See what see?!’ It is usually used in a staring incident and a challenge of a stare-down

Luan Gong Way

Chinese simplified: 乱讲话 (luàn jiǎng huà)

  • It usually means that the person is talking nonsense, or trash

Mai Tu Liao

Chinese simplified 别耽误/不要等 (bié dān wù/ bù yào děng)

  • do not delay/wait. It usually implies a sense of urgency, after a period of impatience

Mai Luan Gong

Chinese simplified: 别乱讲 ( bié luàn jiǎng )

  • Do not talk rubbish

Pui Chao Nuah

Chinese simplified: 吐口水 ( tǔ kǒu shuǐ)

  • Spit. This is done with a feeling of disdain, or disgust

See Beh Song

Chinese simplified:  非常爽 ( fēi cháng shuǎng)

  • Usually, it is crudely used to imply a very good sensation and feeling. Say after a hard day’s work, to kick back and enjoy an ice cool beer. ‘See Beh Song Ah!’

See Mee Sai

Chinese simplified: No Chinese Equivalent

  • It usually means crudely, ‘What the hell do you want?’ Or you can reply in annoyance “See Mee Sai???’ meaning, ‘What?! What?!’

Ta Bor Lang

Chinese simplified:  男人 ( nán rén)

  • Male Man. in some context, it can means The Husband

Tiah Tian Way/ Gong Tian Way

Chinese simplified:  听电话/讲电话 (tīng diàn huà/ jiǎng diàn huà)

  • Answering or talking on the phone. Loosely speaking it means ‘listen to the phone’ Contextually, it means pick up the phone!


Tio Beh Pio

Chinese simplified: 中马票 ( zhòng mǎ piào )

  • Struck lottery!!!

Tau Kar Chiu

Chinese simplified: 装手脚 (zhuāng shǒu jiǎo)

  • Being helpful, offering assistance to your fellow human beings in fixing things and solving problems


Uu Lui Lang

Chinese simplified: 有钱人 ( yǒu qián rén)

  • Rich People

Helpful links

Our Road Trip to Coney Island

Dear Boys,

Coney Island is Singapore’s latest island open to public. How ironic it sounds as Singapore by itself is an island too!

Coney Island first visit
Coney Island first visit 11 Oct 2015

I made a visit myself on the second day of opening and found it a haven island, left rustic the way it is. The beach was the thing that took my breath away. Of course the beach is not white sandy beach, Maldives equivalent, but it was good enough for me, there is the sea, sand and shore. There is very minimal human presence such as a BBQ pit, signage (Singaporeans loves signage!) or lighting. It was kept this way by the NParks . Kudos to them for doing a great job!

So I had to bring you both there, and since the exams is over, and you boys are raring for a road trip, we borrowed our neighbor’s (its great to have great neighbors!) adult bikes and off we go!

Lorong Halus Way

We took the Lorong Halus way as it is the one closer to our house, we just have to cross the bridge linking Punggol to Lorong Halus wetland. From there is was a vehicular road and I took the lead, Ian following, Wayne the third and your mother covering the back. I can hear the constant yell from your mother to tell the both of you to ‘KEEP LEFT!!!’

East Gate, entering through Lorong Halus.

We used the East entrance to enter and cycled the inner trail, the one closer to the beach, so that I can show you boys how the beach looked like.

There were threats and news of Sand-flies, and people falling victim to these insects, thankfully, we didn’t encoThe Beach at Coney Islandunter any of those! We continue to take the trail and Ian you, having your mountain bike, surely finds no trouble handling the terrain, your little brother Wayne, with his little BMX, took the trail with gusto, falling innumerable times, getting up, and falling down and getting up again.

We cycled a little further to the heading towards the west side of the island and we could see clearly another larger island, Pulau Ubin. We can clearly see the jetty used by Outward Bound Singapore and was wondering to ourselves if the distance was actually swim-able. Which all of us agreed, it is!

Outward bound Jetty @ Pulau Ubin, as seen from the beach

We carried on with our cycling, and both Ian and I have to slow down and stop occasionally so that your gritty little brother could catch up. We found the sign for Coney Island and your mother asked a Malay couple cycling behind us to help us with the pictures, and we in turn helped them snapped theirs. It’s always nice to be nice to other people.

A family shot at a now-ought-to-be-famous photo spot.
A family shot at a now-ought-to-be-famous photo spot.

We left the Island via the West entrance and was feeling hungry, we didn’t settle for the usual palate at Punggol Settlement, and we decided to brave on and cycle further up, towards SengKang, and finally ended up at Seletar Mall to have our meal. thankfully, although the dark clouds loomed, rain didn’t happened as we cycled back, the same way we came, and by the end of everything we realized that we have clocked over 20km of cycling in total! The amazing things is, having being bitten by the cycling bug, you boys pounced on the idea of a night cycling, which your mum and I think, you both will be too tired to continue, so we told you both to sleep, when we reached home, which was about 6pm? and if you both can wake up by 10pm, we can go. And of course, without having to mention it, you both slept like a log! through the night!

The total distance we took to cycle.
By the time we reached Seletar Mall, we have covered 14km

Other helpful links

5 things a man look for in a wife

Dear Boys

We will almost never know who we are going to have as our spouse. It is difficult because it is as much a ‘software’ issue as it is a ‘hardware’ issue.

We are talking about endowment, mental, psychological, spiritual endowment, the ‘software’ aspect, and the boobs, height, looks, appearance, the beauty, the ‘drool’ factor-the hardware aspect.

We are visual creatures,a and admittedly, we will be attracted to physically beautiful people, that’s how the superstars of Hollywood earn their dollars. In short, we like beautiful people.

Herein lies the problem, they may look beautiful, but we want the whole package, we also want them to be beautiful people, a software issue, simply because we can never know who a person is inside.

But, we still need to settle down with a spouse. so here are some simple criteria for you boys, when you look for a wife, when you become men.

1-She takes care of her parents/elders

Well, at your average age of courtship, perhaps you will still be needing a a lot of TLC from your parents, it’s a given, but if this girl can dish out as much love as her parents give her, then you might have found yourself a gem.

If she shows respect and consideration to her elders, this is a girl with a good heart.

2- She can cook

Some of the many dishes your mum can whip out
Some of the many dishes your mum can whip out

Again, she might be too young to actually cook something of a dinner, but she is comfortable in the kitchen, she helps her mum, her aunts with the chores, she should be able to pick up the fundamentals later. In short, she is exposed to the domestic affairs in the house.

Remember, the best way to a man’s heart is his stomach, and the best girl will know the quickest fastest way there to her man’s heart.

3- She saves

As the saying goes, ‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend’, well what does that makes the husband/boyfriend then? It is alright to spend, but if she scrimps and save to buy a Michael Kors bag, buys Prada, does nice nails, and make every attempt to make herself beautiful with material things, then you might want to be vigilant. She cares more about herself than about you, or the relationship. Besides a well manicured nails hints that the girl cannot do housework, simply because she would risk damaging her well groomed keratin. She spends too much to look too beautifully groomed to get to the housework.

My wife doing nails on her own, with one of her girls
My wife doing nails on her own, with one of her girls

If she saves for her school fees, if she saves for her own expenses, chances are she can save for the family the next time you are going to start one. How she spends her money will tell you how she saves her money.

4-She has physically active lifestyle

No, I’m not talking about super athletes, well if you are one, or you found one, good for you, but please read my point 5. Being physically active doesn’t mean her gym, or yoga membership, that only shows you what she spends on. More importantly, she keeps fit, jogs, cycles, swim, the usual basic exercise. Nothing fancy, because sometime you simply have no time for fancy Zumba classes in a posh gym. And you still need to exercise, so? She is not afraid to pick up a good ‘ol trainers and go for a simple jog.

Not only that, being interested in sports and exercise helps anyone thinks better, builds better health. Heck, just don’t look for a woman who is sedentary, looks pretty, but smokes, drinks and party all night. I can live with a woman who drinks and party in her life, but smoking? It crosses my line. Period. If you got a girl who smokes, chance are you smoke too, and your dad find out your girl smoke, I’ll know you do too.

5-She treats men as her peer

Yes, many women don’t understand men, as much as men do not understand women. As much as there are Male Chauvinist Pigs, there’s the female version, The Feminist. Stay away from the Feminist as they will treat men like they are of a different breed. They are not difficult to spot. For matters about men they don’t understand, they have an expression of exasperation, roll her eyes, and exclaim with a sigh ‘Men!’. Oh yes, men does that and simply replace it with ‘Women!’

If they don’t understand men, instead competes with men, it makes gender harmony difficult. Men are inherently competitive, we love to compete, that’s right, with other men. It is not that we cannot compete with women or vice versa, but we are looking for a spouse, not a competitor. If we compete all the time as spouse, with our spouse, then the marriage has gaps to close up.

This point is important, because if your wife treats you like peer, she will be a valuable team player. She will help you as much as she can, because if you win, the team wins. If she has a ‘that’s not my department‘ attitude, then she cannot learn, she cannot cross train to take over your role if you are down. She thinks big picture, not just herself, but herself in a larger context. As your team player, she will not be afraid to speak up against you, for the betterment of the team. She will not allow her bias to get better of her, and simply writ you off as ‘Men!’

Your Great Grand Aunt has died

With Ian, we thought the both of you looked fabulous on this picture, we developed it and put it in a frame next to Ah Po's bed
With Ian, we thought the both of you looked fabulous on this picture, we developed it and put it in a frame next to Ah Po’s bed

Dear boys,

Your Great Grand Aunt, Ah Poh, has died. She was 75 years old.
  Her demise was somewhat expected as she has been plagued with a number of ailments, diabetes, kidney failure, and finally gastro-intestinal cancer, which was certified by the doctor to be the cause of death.
  As much as I am sad for her passing, honestly, I didn’t feel much sorrow for her; rather, I felt that death was a kind of release for her, and also for your grand Aunts too. Your Ah Po wasn’t married, and relied on her 4 nieces and 1 nephew to do most of the care taking, and when it became too much for them to handle, they employed a maid for Ah Po, but even that, your 3 grand Aunts and your Grandma, still make an effort to take care of her, especially in the twilight of her life. Despite of not having kids, her nieces and nephew were her children, they cared for her every needs and wants.
  She was a simple lady, with not much needs and wants. Quiet and unassuming, she helped your grand-uncle at his pork stall, until she is no longer able to. For all family gatherings  and occasions, she has never made it a grand fanfare or trouble anyone too much. We always enjoyed her presence as our grand dame and of course, her occasional humor.
  She belonged to that generation where she don’t display much affection publicly, but she dotes on all her great grand generations, and please remember, part of your Ang Pow coffers comes from her, she never fails to give the both of you every Chinese New Year.
Ian's birthday August 2009. Wayne was just 6 months old
Ian’s birthday August 2009. Wayne was just 6 months old
Her final days
  She was in the hospital for more than 3 weeks, and through the barrage of tests the doctors made, they found out that there is a cancer growth around her diaphragm, which is physically obstructing her ability to swallow food. Whenever she tried she would vomit.
  The cancer growth was aggressive and it was beyond any treatment to save her. By then we knew the eventuality.
  Death or the process of dying can be very unpredictable. The dilemma was whether to continue with her dialysis which helps her clear her toxins in the body, but her blood pressure will plummet to a life threatening stage, and if she is taken off dialysis, she will bloat up.  The doctors, being the experts in matters of life and death, gave her expiry as a matter of days to live, so her caretakers came to a consensus to take her off the machine and let nature takes its course.
  It was on a Tuesday morning when the caretakers were summoned to SGH as they deemed she is at her final hours, it was not to be. Your grandma, through the discussion at her bed side, noticed that she was visibly stirred at the mention of ‘home’. She wants to go home!
  What I heard from your mum, was that Ah Po was so happy to be back home, lying on her own bed, stretching and kicking her bolster, feeling so comfortable to be back home. Her caretakers did what they could to prepare for the eventuality to catch up.
  We brought the both of you down to see her on Thursday and she is already drifting in and out of her sleep, sometimes she would open her eyes to acknowledge, sometimes, she would just sleep. We were glad we saw her on Thursday, because on Friday, evening she quietly slipped away, while everyone was outside, about to take their dinner.
  We weren’t there, your 4th grand-aunt post a message on our whatsapp group that Ah Po has passed away.
Whatsapp message 30 October 2015
Whatsapp message 30 October 2015
  When we brought the news to the both of you, already tucked into bed, Ian, you’re the first to cry, followed by your little brother. I think it affected you more than your little brother, because, Ian, you’ve always been the more emotional one. Your little brother cried, perhaps because you cried. But I guess the bottom line is we were glad we brought the both of you down to see her before she died.
Ah Po's Funeral 2 November 2015
Ah Po’s Funeral 2 November 2015
The Funeral
  The cremation was slated for Monday, 2 November, and all of us tried to be there, for her final journey. the mood is obviously somber as the monks performed the funeral rites. the both of you have to go to school, but your mum and I decided to pull you out to make sure that the both of you attend the funeral. It’s an obvious no-brainer, She is your Great Grand Aunt, this is her funeral, period.
Remembering our past
  I think we as Asians, don’t talk much about death as if it is a taboo, I agree with that, but I want to make sure that you boys remember your elders who has passed away, these people are the reason you boys are here. Without our past, without these elders, whom have shaped us, we will not be able to carry on the values and ethos to the next generation.
  More importantly, I want you both to remember and talk about your senior generations, it is obvious that when (if) you both have kids, you will tell them about your Ah Po, whom they have never met before. And you will tell the people you’ve met about your Ah Po, the kind things she have done for you both. You cannot have a beautiful future by not telling a story about your beautiful past. sometimes the past is sad as it contains death and destruction, but these are events no one can escape from, we all will die, and we all will depend on our future generations to tell stories about us, so that we can live forever, in the stories you children tell the next generation

Our shared stories

Dear Boys,

You dad’s friend, Uncle Adrian has been very kind to feature this blog on his posts. You see he was making a list of Dad Bloggers in Singapore and you dad happened to be one of them.

I know what this blog is for, you boys can read it when you are much older (perhaps sooner than later!). Getting attention is the last thing on my list, yes, it is still on my list. You can find out more about Dad bloggers from his post

Just out of curiosity, I went to see what the other Dad Bloggers are about, by far, hands down, without going into details, the rest of the guys beat this blog hands down. They have better graphics, pictures, more colours, more interesting stories too!

I also saw that a number of them put very nice family photos, kiddos and all. I blog with none of the both of your being pictorially exposed. I write about you both, I tell stories about the both of you, but I want none of your pictures in my posts. Well, at least not your most current pictures.


Perhaps it was a protective nature for me, as your dad, you boys are entitled your privacy, you both are young now, and wouldn’t know if it is the best thing for your pictures to be in the internet, and attract attention and consequences that we least expected.

Well, maybe I’m being a little paranoid, what could happen? At best, good vibes, people recognizes the both of you, and you boys attract and enjoyed a decent following. Or otherwise! The bottom line is as your dad, I cannot assume that in pasting your picture all over the net, is in your best interest. You boys deserve your privacy, and perhaps when you are old enough to decide, you can decide if you want all these attention, until then I as your dad, will decide that you boys will have the privacy to grow at your own pace.

Sparing the rod

Source from Google
Source from Google

Dear boys,

I’ve spared the rod, a few months back, did I spoil the child?

Frankly, I don’t think so, to begin with, looking back, it was not the wisest thing to do, caning you boys for the mistakes you both made, and of course the mischief you boys do.

The use of the rod has long outlived its purpose, and the reason I continued to use it is that I hadn’t found another method to replace it. Admittedly, it is somewhat like an addiction. And since it worked so well before, it will continue to work well now and into the future,when in reality it has long outlived its usefulness.

To be honest, your dad then was too immature to handle the 2 of you. It was a dark learning process for all of us. When I wield the cane, the rage compliments the pain it dispense, unfortunately you both bear much of the brunt. And now looking back, much of the caning was quite unnecessary, uncalled for. I just didn’t have enough patience wisdom and good in between my ears to handle your misdeeds appropriately.

Everything that should happen the way it should happen, on hindsight, that is where regret resides. But I justified it shallowly by saying, my parents cane me and I turned out alright! I fell victim to the ‘spare the rod, and spoil the child!’ Argument, and defended using the rod, since i was part of its indoctrination, so I’d indoctrinate my kiddos the same why, it didn’t hurt me that much, and it sure as hell will not hurt my kiddos more that it hurt me, but the truth is, it hurts me having to resort to caning.

There is a better way than this.

Using the cane, honestly limits me. Limits my options to educate and teach you decently. In defense of using the rod, every problem becomes a nail because the only tool I got was a hammer. Any misbehavior will almost always result in the cane being deployed. And I justified it with shallow reasons every time, while that little voice in me tells me otherwise. ‘There is a better way than this.

There is indeed a better way to do this, but it requires a lot more patience, love, understanding, time and more patience, love, understanding and time. I have to find ways to educate the both of you on what was done wrong, what needs to be done right, and how the punishment needs to be met. There is a lot more reasoning involved, and while I do lose my temper due to the insolence of you both, I screamed and threatened, but never spanked again.

So did the earlier days of spanking helped made the both of you the way you are today? I do think so, as I’d like to see things in a positive perspective, no matter how dark it was before. I just feel that the spanking was a little too much, too overdue.

The beauty of you boys are your innocence, right now as we walked forward, and putting those caning days further and further in the past, I can see that you both are just as sensible and mischievous as before, I honestly do not expect the both of you to forget those emotionally heavy and intense days of being caned. I hope I hadn’t cane you both so badly to become emotionally scarred by the experience. And from the looks of it, no, you boys remembered the caning but no in a horrified ways. For that I’m thankful that both of you are resilient in such manner.

When you boys have kiddos of your own, I hope I’ll still be around to tell you how unnecessary it is to cane them. I hope I’ll live long enough not to protect them from your caning, but to protect you from your children’s mischief. And when you have to punish them for their misdeeds, let’s do it together, in a much more mature and novel way, sans the cane.