Running Route: Tampines Avenue 1 and Bedok Reservoir

I feel a little bit of accomplishment. LOL

I’ve nailed a new 5km route from my new rental flat in Tampines. It’s about half sidewalk (Tampines Avenue 1) and half park (Bedok Reservoir Park) along its northeastern stretch.

Basically, I start off right in front of the main entrance of Temasek Polytechnic (TP). I take this footbridge to cross to the other side so there are fewer people (since we are practising physical distancing right now).

It’s an easy warm-up jog on the sidewalk in front of TP. You’ll reach a series of condos that sit on the edge of Tampines which is also where one of the major roads spill onto. You’ll notice the sidewalk signs indicate you’re on the Park Connector Network (PCN). Follow this along the edge of the condo wall and it brings you to the northern part of Bedok Reservoir Park. Here, you’ll enter the park through Bedok Reservoir Carpark B.

Because it’s circuit breaker, the park is only open to joggers who need to get some fresh air and to take in the lovely scenery. I mean, fine, it’s man-made. But I’ll take it over running in tiny circles near my HDB block.

Bedok Reservoir Park includes a jogging path that is made of gravel. This is one of the unique features of this park. If I understand correctly, the gravel path is unbroken around the entirety of the reservoir lake.

However, I didn’t realise there was a non-gravel path available as well if you don’t want to dirty your shoes. This wider path is the standard in Singapore and it is shared with bikers, dog walkers, and people on rollerblades.

I noticed the park had a reasonable amount of activity-goers (the “approved activities”) this early evening. It’s nice that the government even has the technology to detect if a park is crowded or not.

I did both the non-gravel and gravel path. When you reach the Forest Adventure attraction (ziplines), it’s obviously closed. But they’ve also closed the gravel path for a certain stretch due to redevelopment of some sort. This is also where the dragon boats are at Bedok Reservoir.

Back onto the non-gravel path, it leads toward the “main entrance” of the park which has Wawawa (the nice restaurant at this location which I can’t wait to open again for cocktails and pizza). This is also where Carpark A is. Mindful I wasn’t going to hit my 5km goal if I headed back to Tampines Avenue 1… I circled the main park area a few times while taking in the purple sunset. YES. A purple sunset this evening. Like a painting.

Exit through Bedok Reservoir Carpark A and make a hard left back towards Tampines town. A large construction site is there which is the future site of Tampines GreenGem. An exciting new HDB development that will have a view of the reservoir.

This would be around the 4km to the 4.5km mark. Great to spot the Tampines West MRT station at the intersection. This is also where “Tampines town” begins. I make a hard left on the side of TP to finish the loop at 5km right in front of the main entrance of TP.

I noticed my energy levels and pace reach optimum around the 4km mark. I enjoyed getting into my stride again. I try to run 3-5km at least three times a week. I used to do this at Marina Barrage. I’m happy I’ve found an easy route right outside my rental in Tampines.

I’m planning to tweak this route into a 5.5-km or 6-km if I do one loop around Bedok Reservoir Park (the actual body of water) + TP. I’ll update again in a future post.

For those reading from outside Singapore: What is Circuit Breaker?

NOTE: Circuit breaker encourages the public to stay at home at all times. We are only allowed to go out to buy essentials (groceries, takeout food) and to do some exercise which is what I did. Wearing of masks is mandatory unless you’re running, biking, or doing some form of solo streneous activity while outdoors. I had my mask with me the whole time and I would wear it once I started walking.

Where’s your favourite running route?

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Tampines West during circuit breaker

I took these photos during my first walk around the neighborhood after 17 days non-stop at home. I took a walk around 6:30 PM when some residents were going out to dapao (takeout) food from the hawker and coffee shops nearby. There were a few joggers.

In my eight years in Singapore, the mood outside has never been this silent. I’m sure everyone is trying to do their best right now. What’s happening right now from a practical POV:

  • Barber shops are closed. This was removed from the essential services for two or three weeks. I think they might re-open on May 12 since the community cases have dwindled lately.
  • Bubble tea shops are closed too. This might seem pretty trivial compared to the greater scheme of things. But it’s symbolic of some of the modern pleasures that have to be put on hold. Bubble tea shops were part of the reduced essential services. Originally they fell under “food and beverage” which was to remain open. But they clamped down on some of the F&Bs.
  • McDonalds remains closed in Singapore. A few Covid-19 cases were from McDonalds employees a few weeks back. McDonalds announced it will be closing all of its stores in Singapore. I think they can re-open when some of the circuit breaker measures are slowly lifted soon… but they announced that they will remain closed for a while. I probably eat McDonalds twice a week.
  • You cannot jog together with housemates. Even people staying in the same household cannot jog or exercise outside together. People are encouraged to exercise alone.
  • It’s mandatory to wear a mask when outdoors in public. You can only remove the mask if you are jogging or doing some type of streneous exercise. But you have to put it back on as soon as you’re done with your exercise.
  • Social distancing continues. With non-essential businesses closed, the essential ones like grocery stores and hawker centres have queuing markers to help with social distancing. People are encouraged to stay a meter apart from others. However, at a grocery store, sometimes people gather at one area briefly. What I do is I make sure there’s an opening… go in… and grab what I need (like frozen pork).

Generally, I don’t want to be outside of my house. I would only leave for groceries (meats) and to jog. Even with circuit breaker being lifted in a few weeks… I’d likely reduce interactions with people. Some of the things I’d probably try doing:

  • Playing video games. Final Fantasy VII Remake and Animal Crossing are on my list. I’d also like to learn some steps with Just Dance.
  • Taking online courses. There are numerous courses that I’m currently taking like digital marketing and events management.
  • Organising my digital files. I’m behind on this (with the deluge of media). I’d like to organise this with my cloud and my hard drives.
  • Cooking a new recipe each week. I have yakisoba and kimchi pork on my list.
  • Exercise at home. Body weights, HIIT, etc.
  • Learn a new language. Japanese?

Stay safe and take care, everyone.

How are you coping with the pandemic?

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May you treat yourself better

To be business as usual in the middle of a pandemic is stupid.

Instead, do what you can but don’t exert too much pressure on yourself to deliver value or ruthless productivity at the expense of your mental health. I’m not saying live in your ivory tower and play Mario Kart all day. What I repeat is this: do what you can but don’t cry over the things you can’t do.

The situation varies. My partner is a breadwinner and I understand he doesn’t have some of the liberties I enjoy. He has tuitions to pay for. He needs to provide for his family. He has to be productive, yes. But I’ve noticed, thankfully, that his company supports working from home. His company enables him to work from home. It’s win-win.

Others out there have lost their jobs. In Singapore Q1 this year, total employment has plunged according to Channel NewsAsia. The travel industry is crippled. Blue-collar workers are without work. They say that the pandemic is the first wave. The economy is the next to suffer. It’s not looking good.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. This is where attention needs to grow. First, society looks at containing and mitigating the pandemic. Next, how are we caring for the mental health of those affected (which is virtually every person out there except perhaps the Sentinelese). In Singapore, an Indian national who had Covid-19 was found dead at the foot of a hospital stairwell. Dead by unnatural causes. What made him end his life?

The situation in the foreign worker’s dormitories in Singapore is SAD.  I’ve refused to write about anything that might seem politically-charged (I mean, my blog is really personal and about gadgets, and food). But I hope this pandemic has placed the magnifying glass on Singapore’s migrant population. They are heroes. They build Singapore: MRT stations, buildings that house Fortune 500s, condos, roads, and parks. I hold faith in Singapore’s efficiency. I hope those companies that neglect worker’s rights and promote sub-standard living conditions are punished.

Wheew. What a mouthful. Probably because we’re halfway through circuit breaker.

It’s a new month and instead of checklists of what I need to do… I’m reversing it. I’m writing down things I’ve doing each day to make it to the next. It could be as calm as answering three emails and then making myself another cup of instant coffee. It could be walking around the neighborhood with a 1.5 kilometer distance… yes, shorter than the usual 3-5km I’d enjoy running. But 1.5 km is an achievement. Even 200 meters is.

This pandemic is a middle finger to a society bent on over productivity. Do what you need to do to get something important done, absolutely. But don’t overstress it.

Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself better.

My tips on how to cope with moving houses

Home is supposed to be where we feel most comfortable.

We make it our nest. We make it feel safe for us. But there are events in our life where the house we call home must be changed. We have to leave due to budget concerns. Breaking up with someone. We have to leave because the house is going to be repossessed. Or we have to leave because the contract is ending.

I’m not a psychologist or a medical professional. But I’m sharing how I’m coping with changing residences. All the places I’ve lived in, I make it my home. Leaving a place is difficult for me. I’m happy to share these tips based on experience.

Allow yourself enough time to process change. Not everyone will have the luxury to process change quickly. But as much as possible, train yourself to accept that change is normal and that moving to another house is normal. People move houses every day. You’re not alone. Allow yourself time to mourn, to reflect, or to cry.

Watch YouTube videos on moving hacks. This is what I did. I watched a series of YouTube videos explaining techniques for moving houses. It made the idea of moving easier. Because I was watching examples of how other people were doing it. It made me feel excited to move. There are multiple resources out there and how-to guides on how you can make the move successfully.

Are you a sub-tenant? If possible, inform your main tenant or housemates as early as you comfortably can. Moving houses involves thinking about so many things like logistics and finding a new place. Remove one of the stressors by informing your landlord or main tenant that you’re moving out. Communicating this as early as possible buys all parties time to find your replacement.

Come up with an action plan and use checklists. I found this particularly helpful. I listed down and categorised all my furniture and belongings. I wrote down what I’d like to throw away, what I’d like to keep in storage, and what I’d like to take with me to my next place. I also find checklists therapeutic.

De-clutter. This is probably one of the hardest things to do. You have to de-clutter and make space for the new. Having a hard time letting go of an old side table? Pass it on to your housemates or the new guy taking your spot. Have a pair of weights that you feel you don’t need to bring to your new place? Give it away too. Or sell it.

If you can easily get it replaced in 10 minutes on a regular day, then you can trash or donate it. No need to bring the clutter (and memories associated with it) into your new space.

Your mental health matters when you move houses.

Sharing a new episode where I document my move from Bukit Merah to Tampines.

I’ve moved in with PJ! We’ve been together for almost two years and I thought what better time to move in together? There’s a pandemic and we live in the same city. We might as well move in together and take care of each other every day. We are each other’s family while in Singapore.

By moving in together, we remove the need to commute to each other (without circuit breaker). We lessen our exposure to the public. Now, we are able to share rent, consolidate expenses, and cook meals for each other. We stay in our household. We are able to work from home. We take turns going out to buy essentials. My move was an informed decision after much research about the situation in Singapore. I registered my new address with HDB quickly. Many thanks to my flatmates in Bukit Merah for helping facilitate my move out quickly. Thanks to my new flatmates in Tampines for helping me get registered with HDB quickly and seamlessly.

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My last 2 days in Bukit Merah

This quiet neighbourhood is a refuge for me. I moved here two years ago after a traumatic ghosting which put me in a very dark place. It’s here where I regained confidence again. It led to finding love and finding a cool job.

I call my room here Red Keep because of the towering view outwards. I’ve said this before, but you can spot HDBs of different shapes and sizes across the horizon. If you look beyond the concrete walls of distant buildings, you can see the trees of Mount Faber. The sunsets are extra beautiful.

It’s time to leave Bukit Merah. I need to cut costs due to my unemployment.

This means I am moving in with PJ. We’ve been together for 20 months and it makes sense for us to finally move in together. I’ll be moving to Tampines on Sunday.

***

Singapore is under a “circuit breaker” partial lockdown. It means everyone must stay home. They are only allowed to go out to buy groceries or to dapao (takeout) food. I’ve checked, moving houses is still allowed. I rushed my move to an earlier date because new restrictions might make it harder in a few weeks.

One nice thing that the government has done is to provide reusable masks for registered residents. I took my IC with me to the nearby community club to get my mask.

Singapore residents: From 5 April (Sunday) to 12 April 2020 (Sunday), residents with registered home addresses will be able to collect one (1) reusable mask at the designated CCs or RCs. Learn more at maskgowhere.sg

Wherever you are in the world… stay safe and take care.

I am on my own path.

TECH. My CV wouldn’t have landed on my manager’s desk at this tech company if it weren’t for me getting referred in by Alfred. Alfred forwarded my CV to the hiring team at this tech company and he sent me a “jobvite” or a referral.

PINK. I never knew about Alfred until we met each other at an LGBTQ networking event a few years back. We were seated next to each other during a Pink Dot orientation session for organisations that are sponsoring the annual gathering. I was at this event by myself (I didn’t know anyone). Alfred was there too, by himself. Both of us were representing our companies at the time. We became friends at that event and had remained in contact since.

INTRANET PAGE. No one in my previous company (a large broadcasting MNC) had utilised the intranet system to create a “employee resource page” for LGBTQs in our Singapore office. I guess people were too busy. I had extra time on my hands to create a page called ‘Out@COMPANY NAME’ and somehow it got picked up by LGBTQ counterparts in the States. Suddenly, I was starting the Singapore chapter of our LGBTQ employee resource group. Since I started the page, I was de facto the founder for the Singapore chapter. We were now doing film screenings, inviting LGBTQ speakers to the office, and our proudest achievement? We got to sign up and be a sponsor at Pink Dot.

LINKEDIN EXERCISE. I wouldn’t have had an opportunity to work for the large broadcast MNC if it weren’t for my strategy to “add five people on LinkedIn” every day. It was in 2013, while rendering videos on Final Cut Pro from a tiny edit suite on Caldecott Hill, where I practised this “add 5 people” on LinkedIn exercise. For each confirmed contact, I would add 5 more. It became this little game. My sleepy LinkedIn network expanded quickly. Then, one afternoon, I got a call from an Irish-sounding HR person on the other side. “Would you like to try out for a producer role for large broadcast MNC?” – it seems expanding my network on LinkedIn had put me on that HR person’s radar.

FORTUNE FAVORS THE BOLD. I was so anxious in the months leading to my big move to Singapore in 2012. I remember I couldn’t sleep. I was worried what would go wrong or what would happen if I’d fail. I remember how anxious I was. I was leaving behind a wonderful broadcast job in Manila to fly to Singapore… and literally live out of my luggage. But I still took that Cebu Pacific flight on March 1, 2012. Arriving in Singapore’s budget terminal (since demolished and replaced with Terminal 4). Life was simple: chicken rice, Old Chang Kee meat skewers, and Tori-Q. I loved Tori-Q… affordable yakitori. And while I squeezed every peso into living that experience, waiting night after night for a phone call or email reply to a job application… I landed one. It was for a producer job at a reputable local company which was headquartered at Caldecott Hill at the time. I went in for a job interview, did my copy tests, and I got the call that I was “in”. I remember how happy I was. I remember how I had visualised wearing that company’s lanyard. And fuck it, I was wearing that lanyard a few weeks later.

Everything happens for a reason.

I have to trust that my path is MINE to walk. And that my journey is unique. It may not be as flashy as the other people in the room. But it is my own. ❤

*Alfred is not the person’s real name.

Lucky before the “lockdown”

Non-essential businesses and workplaces are closed starting today. Tentatively scheduled to resume from May 4. These are new measures popularly known here as the “circuit breaker” that PM Lee and his ministers announced last week for the people of Singapore.

I rushed to Lucky Plaza to pick up balikbayan boxes at LBC. Apparently, they have not received instructions yet if they will shut down as they deal with logistics. Other stores at Lucky are closed and I started seeing signs posted. Jollibee, like many restaurants on the island, will remain open for takeaway or deliveries.

Mood was sad. Add to that a rare evening thunderstorm that happened over rush hour. Since I was at Lucky, I topped up on my supply of Filipino-style white vinegar and soy sauce. I haven’t cooked adobo in a while. I also added some cans of Ligo and Mega sardines. And, 900g of spaghetti noodles!

The next few weeks are crucial to contain the new wave of growing COVID-19 cases in Singapore. I’m obv staying home through this or spending it holed up at PJ’s. Gov’t says stay with family and this is the family I have here. Priorities now are to 1) ensure my kitchen shelf and PJ’s shelf are well-stocked, 2) communicate regularly with family and loved ones in isolation, and 3) continue my employment search. Keeping calm is necessary. I struggle with anxiety. I am learning to “let go” of control and to be kind.