On the Road: Scooting off to Bali!

Going through Changi Airport (which is like my fave place on Earth) was a bit more stressful this morning because of the Covin-19 outbreak.

It was pretty seamless. There are temperature screenings. Otherwise it was nicely organised. Good job Changi Airport.

We’re on a Scoot flight to Denpasar (Bali). I rarely book an early morning flight (7:00 AM on TR280) but PJ and I wanted to fly together with his flatmates.

I’ll be blogging on-the-road. ❤️

We’re being told to work from home.

As of today, February 9, there are 40 confirmed cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) in Singapore.

I got an email earlier today from our workplace team. We are now being asked to work from home until at least Friday, February 14. It’s a precautionary measure and the communication is clear from our workplace team. We use video conferencing heavily to connect with colleagues worldwide. It will be business-as-usual for the most part.

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What are the effects so far?

  • Working from home – this is a normal facility available in tech companies, but this is the first time we are being asked to work from home.
  • Wearing of masks – although health agencies are asking the public to wear masks only if you are feeling unwell, I prefer to wear a surgical mask when on public transportation out of anxiety. I estimate about a third of the public are in masks now.
  • Harder to buy masks – I have a box of surgical masks that I share with PJ. I’ve no intention to hoard or take any more than what I need, but when you ask for masks at the pharmacies (Watsons or Guardian), they are sold out. A box I ordered online on ezbuy was also cancelled due to no supply. The government has issued masks to Singapore households (up to four masks per household). We haven’t collected ours yet. But also mindful that there are six of us in this house.
  • Extra precautions to reduce germs – I wash my hands with soap and water more frequently and more thoroughly, I apply ethyl and isopropyl alcohol (Green Cross brand) when I’m at home, I have hand sanitizer with me at all times.
  • Mobility and daily activity affected – starting this week, I am reducing time at malls and crowded spaces (opting to finish reading books at home, going to nearby parks, etc.).

We are entering our third week in Singapore where the virus is slowly affecting daily life. It’s not dramatic. I was at a park connector yesterday with PJ and we also had a great time at the newly-renovated Great World shopping mall.

However, panic buying happened this past weekend when the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition or DORSCON was elevated to Orange (one level below Red). Here’s an infographic about what it means:

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This outbreak has seen some triumphs and some embarrassing moments. It’s great to see people and communities come together to fight an unknown disease. It’s inspiring to see those on the frontline (in Wuhan, in hospitals everywhere). It’s disgusting to see those who disseminate sensational or unconfirmed news and photos, those who are hoarding (fine, panic buying is panic buying… but I’ve seen photos of actual hoarding = like taking the whole shelf)… and of course, racism.

I’ll share updates on my blog. This is not how I want to celebrate my 8th year anniversary in Singapore. But it is what it is. Stay safe everyone. ❤

My resource for updates on the coronavirus situation in Singapore is the website of the Ministry of Health (MOH): https://www.moh.gov.sg/2019-ncov-wuhan

My Everyday Scenes: Waiting for a Grab

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On weekday mornings, I normally take a Grab to my office. My office is a 10-minute ride from where I live. A ride costs me SGD 8.00. If I ride during peak hours, you’ll have to add SGD 1.50 for ERP (aka Electronic Road Pricing scheme).

It’s not practical to take a Grab ride to work every morning. I’m aware of that. I’m most likely going to stop doing so. But I wanted to document that part of my living situation over the past few weeks.

One of our benefits at work is being served breakfast and lunch daily. For free. It saves me about SGD 10.00 to 15.00 daily for prices in the central business district. I’m using what would be my “lunch money” to pay for my taxi ride in the morning.

It’s also a treat to myself. To avoid the 20-minute commute (one bus ride to the MRT station, one MRT train ride to Raffles Place, transfer trains towards Marina Bay MRT, and then this walk alongside a very baked open field). It’s unlike the six or seven hours of another commuter back in the Philippines (great documentary btw, see for yourself). But it’s my guilty pleasure. I don’t spend much on shopping.

If I stopped taking a Grab to the office every morning:

  • SGD 9.50 x 5 days = SGD 47.50 in savings each week
  • SGD 47.50 x 4 working weeks = SGD 190.00 in savings each month

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My Everyday Scenes is a new blog series to document parts of (my) daily life in Singapore. I want to remember how everything looked and felt like in 2020.

It’s a POPStation, really.

Did you know that the POP in POPStation stands for Pick your Own Parcel? #mindblown

I wrote about these POPStations previously (hello, 2014).

In a few weeks, I’ll be celebrating lovingly observing my eighth anniversary in Singapore. The POPStation last week is in a different neighbourhood from the one six years ago.

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Finding the Bukit Merah Community Centre isn’t hard. It’s obviously along Jalan Bukit Merah and it’s about a ten-minute walk from my block.

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The Bukit Merah CC is located across where the good ol’ Bukit Merah town centre is. I emphasise on ‘located across’ as it’s quite a hike to get to the other side of the main road. The pedestrian bridge and intersections are spaced out away from the centre.

Once at the centre, it’s your run-of-mill community club. I admire these structures. I admire how each residential area in Singapore has one. For Filipinos, think of it as a glorified barangay hall. For Americans, I’ve no idea what communal residential public areas look like when towns and cities are spaced out. For Singaporeans, these are little civic centres. They have facilities for sports and what-have-yous for a community club.

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Initially I couldn’t locate the POPStation at Bukit Merah CC. It was 8:30pm when I was here. It was dark out. People on public transportation are wearing masks. There’s a coronavirus. The sight of uncles and aunties playing table tennis was welcome relief. Where is the POPStation?

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All the way at the back.

ALL THE WAY.

Finally, I located it near the karaoke room.

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Eager to collect my package, I pulled out my POPStation collection slip.

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I scanned it on the console.

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And then they send a confirmation code to you which you use as a PIN code. Once you enter that… the locker opens.

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Easy peasy.

If I wrote about a POPStation before, why write about it again?

In eight years, I’ve lived in seven different places in Singapore. Each place unlocked some type of new experience for me to collect. Not each experience was worth the excitement. Some packages brought joy, other packages needed to be returned. I would have an idea of what was coming, but I can never be 100% prepared if I’d like it or not.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to end up having so many POPStations to collect packages at. Why couldn’t it have been just one location? Why does every other year have to feel so temporary. Why do I have to update my address frequently? Am I comfortable having my address change?

Am I comfortable not having a permanent address in Singapore? After being a resident for eight years.

***

BONUS MATERIAL

BTW, what did I collect? My new Toastwire 2020 Calendar. I made an unboxing video.

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An instructional video.

Why do I make these videos?

  • They are my spark when I’m in an undiscovered country.
  • I want to stay sharp as a video editor.
  • Share my voice.
  • Tell stories.

Enjoy! ❤

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Unboxing: Toastwire 2020 Desk Calendar

My home office is coming together piece by piece. The carpet, office chair, and table have been delivered. I ordered a desk calendar from Toastwire’s Etzy store and got it today. I thought of doing my first unboxing video. Enjoy!

Find Toastwire on Etzy. Not paid for this post. I love supporting local artists.

He is @toastwire on Instagram.

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Masks

It’s difficult to get a surgical mask.

I’m thinking about a third of the people I’m seeing while commuting are wearing masks. The majority of which are wearing surgical masks. There are a few people wearing the N95 mask which you would normally see during the haze in Singapore.

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Photo by Tore F on Unsplash

PJ and I have tried to buy surgical masks at various drug stores like Watsons and Guardian but they are sold out. We even checked Venus Beauty where one could get cheaper shampoo.

My office has distributed N95 masks for employees and I’m lucky to have one for myself and PJ. I also placed an order for a small box of surgical masks from an online store (arriving in February) while a colleague returning from India has thoughtfully offered to bring back a box as well. I’ve no intention to hoard masks. Only keep a box for myself, PJ, and share with my flatmates.

There is a subtle mood of paranoia in crowded areas and public transportation. But people are carrying on normally. Save for a moment when you would hear a sniffle or a cough. It brings back images of our friends at ground zero (Wuhan) who are overwhelmed with the coronavirus.

I’m suspicious by this turn of events given Trump’s impeachment followed by the assassination of a general in Iran. All of this is obviously unfortunate. Add to that the fury of people who want to divide and shame rather than build solutions. I’m speaking to those who share something with an undertone of racism or unverified news (that link you’re sharing is from a tabloid website). Read the content and make a logical assessment muna, can? Totoo ba ito?

If you have a mask to wear, consider yourself fortunate.

If you have an extra, pass it to onto an uncle, auntie, or someone in public who looks like they need it.

Review your social media timelines. Share information that’s credible and from trusted resources. If you doubt mainstream media, fine. Try cross-checking data on your own. Don’t play a part in dividing people in a time of crisis.

Nothing can divide us more than a lack of compassion.

***

As of this writing (28 January 2020) there are five confirmed cases in Singapore of the 2019-nCOV (2019 novel coronavirus or Wuhan coronavirus).

Note: Originally shared on my Facebook profile.

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How to be a little less scared of the ball

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To be honest, what this group photo doesn’t show you is how it capped off an hour of being ridiculously scared of getting hit by the ball. I grew up avoiding sports that involved projectiles!

Earlier while playing, I observed how skilled my colleagues were. I was having fun, yes! But for many moments I was asking silently “why am I here? I’m getting in someone’s way. What do I do when I get the ball — and pass it to the wrong person? Who’ll teach me this, that…”

The answer? The experience will teach you. And that only happens if you can crawl out of your own head. If you can silence doubt (familiar from a struggle during my dragon boat days). Focus! You’ll fail but you must learn from it. Each instance is a nugget to learn from.

What happened? I managed to pass the ball a few times. I learned how to observe the interactions on the pitch. More importantly, I continued playing with my chin up after a lousy kick or block. At the end of the hour, I’m still scared of the ball. Just a little less.

How are you facing your fears today? Let me know!

Experiencing Business Class for the first time with Philippine Airlines PR507

New video episode! I experienced flying with business class for the first time. YEAAAH. I fly economy. Even on most business trips. I’m not accustomed to the perks of flying business. But I can understand now why it can be addicting.

  1. Legit preferential treatment when checking in.
  2. Access to airline lounges.
  3. The seats on the plane.

In the video, I talk about how I ended up booking a business class seat. Don’t forget to hit subscribe. 🙂

If the video won’t play, you can view it via YouTube here.