Monthsary Location: The Sushi Bar at TAmpines 1

PJ and I celebrated our monthsary at The Sushi Bar (Tampines 1).

The Sushi Bar is located on level 4 of Tampines 1 mall.

I made reservations by sending them an SMS a few days back. I was excited to take PJ for a sushi restaurant experience (compared to our usual conveyor belt sushi). Plus, The Sushi Bar is only one MRT station away.

The restaurant covers two levels. I think this is kind of unusual for a neighbourhood Singaporean shopping mall to have a staircase within a restaurant. A restaurant that’s already on the fourth floor. I could be wrong.

As with how everything else looks like at this point in 2020, the restaurant follows social distancing measures. Tables are marked and groups are separated by more than a meter from each other. I also noticed the staff were religiously sanitising tables after they were cleared.

Masks are to be removed only while eating and drinking. This is the standard everywhere. I also noticed that the chopsticks and tissues were packed in plastic.

PJ wanted to try the beef rice bowl (Gyudon) while I went for the Salmon Aburi Roll. We also wanted to try “sardine sheets” as an appetiser as well as enoki mushrooms wrapped in beef strips and chicken skewers (yakitori).

I was going to order sashimi as my “round 2” but I already got full from the salmon aburi roll and the two tiny plates of grilled meat and mushrooms. The appetiser was perfectly bitin (leaves you wanting more).

Overall, I feel The Sushi Bar at Tampines 1 is exactly what it is. A sushi restaurant that is built inside of a shopping mall. The ambiance was a nice shot (the sushi bar as you enter). But inside, it becomes quite standard. What I’m saying is… for this price point, I think you would expect a little more ambiance. Perhaps dim lighting. Service was kind and efficient.

Food tasted fine. It saves you a trip from going all the way into the Central Business District (which would take upwards to an hour from Tampines and Pasir Ris). That includes walking to the restaurant and getting settled in. Having The Sushi Bar in Tampines is convenient and the menu offerings are good enough.

Now I’m craving for a full Omakase experience. ❤

The President of the United States has the Coronavirus

Why am I not surprised? This whole year is a collective nightmare.

Some people are actually celebrating the fact that a sitting U.S. president is down with the virus. Of those who are infected, President Trump obviously falls within the vulnerable.

But he’s the president. He’ll have the best doctors and medical staff surrounding him. While millions of Americans and millions around the world can only watch. Like the Philippines president, he downplayed the virus. He refused to wear a mask. He could have done more. Practically, MORE. The simple act of wearing a mask and telling Americans to mask up.

People are screaming karma.

I’m not going to “celebrate” a sitting president being infected by a deadly virus. I’m going to be Michelle Obama here and say “when they go low, we go high”. I’m going to wish the president, the first lady, and all affected White House staff good health. Maybe there can be an awakening. A realisation that this COVID-19 shit is real. They can do more for everyday Americans.

On a personal level, I’m campaigning for Biden 2020. I’ve requested for my absentee ballot and I plan to vote Democrat in November. But I’ve also had it with liberal vs conservative, blue vs red, and all that keeps folks divided. The world is hurting. America is hurting. We should make an effort to build more and more bridges.

We will NOT forget about the Trump tax issue and his non-denial of white supremacy in a recent interview. He should recover fast so he can face the American public.

surprises, relevations, gratitudes

Four months later.

This quote was mentioned in a video blog I was watching earlier. It resonated with me because I don’t think I was quite done mourning the end of what I was doing previously. A life I was living right before we were all told to go home and stay home back in March.

Yes, surviving in a pandemic overshadowed everything else.

Now that four months have passed, I’ve had some time and distance to gain some clarity. I’ve also grown to accept some truths.

I won’t tell myself that I failed, when I know I gave it my best. I won’t tell myself I should’ve done it differently, when I know I did what I could… quietly, and without compromise… that I was kind and curious, bravely marching in unknown territory. I won’t tell myself I’m perfect, when I know I never was.

There are questions that had lingered in my head about how things transpired. But I’ve decided to let it go. It’s September. I would like to think I’d made many friends from that place. But the key takeaway is knowing that I made it, I somehow did it, didn’t last as long as I would’ve wanted… but somehow, for cinematic purposes… from the ashes of where my life was in early 2018, I somehow became a flame.

***

AIM FOR THE MOON.

IF YOU MISS, YOU MAY HIT A STAR.

W. Clement Stone (American Businessman)

video: Daiso 2-for-$2 Coffee and Green Tea Taste Test

I’ve been watching plenty of YOUTUBE videos from JAPAN lately. My favourites are Rion Ishida, Paolo from Tokyo, and Only in Japan. While travel is almost out of the question during a pandemic… watching the videos they create from Japan is the closest to that fantasy. A fantasy of perhaps living and working in that archipelago one day in the future.

Enter DAISO. The addictive Japanese shop where you can find (or rather, haul) all the trinkets and things you rarely ever need. From pots, pans, gloves, pillow cases, stickers, gardening supplies… you name it… you’ll end up considering it. I was in DAISO only to look for some useful hacks to add to our new condo rental in Pasir Ris. But I couldn’t help but notice a glowing refrigerator of coffee and green tea. Ah yes… TWO for $2.

And here is the result of that:

Love my videos? Hit the LIKE button. Even better, hit SUBSCRIBE. ❤

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Bekpackr Blog Exclusive BTS: 3 things not mentioned in the video

  • I used a GoPro Hero8 Black for the medium, two-shot and a Canon G7X Mark II for the close-ups of the products. Both GoPro and G7X are mounted on their own separate tripods.
  • I really didn’t know we only bought one coffee. I thought it was two! The Nata de Coco Milk Tea was a favourite.
  • We had tried multiple locations in our new living space. One by the sliding window (we couldn’t get ideal lighting). Another was on a couch (but the background was boring). We finally settled for this shot at our dining table with the dry kitchen background. The lighting is pretty good!

September 2020

I wanted to squeeze in a quick update. I promised myself I’ll write a blog before the weekend ends. Even with a pandemic… much is happening at home.

A sunny September day at East Coast Park.

Since my last post, I’ve relocated to Pasir Ris together with PJ and my flatmates. We moved to a town that most commuters read and hear as the last MRT station on the East-West Line. Pasir Ris is a quiet coastal and recreation town that I wrote about in my previous post.

That’s the biggest news. It anchors the rest of what’s happening:

  • Getting settled into our new home – paying house and PUB deposits, paying stamping fees, fixing cleaning and laundry schedules, shopping for room and household storage solutions
  • Acquainting ourselves with the new neighborhood – finding the better grocery and convenience stores, locating bus stops, learning new bus routes, walkways, shortcuts to get to the MRT station
  • Trying out new jogging routes in the vicinity – exploring Sungei Api-Api, Pasir Ris Town Park, Pasir Ris Beach, condo jogging paths

I’m happy that I’m now able to settle in. When I moved to Tampines in April, I couldn’t really unpack all my things because we were anticipating this move in August or September. Now that we’ve found a nice place to call home, I feel like we can invest in some new things to help tidy up our home.

I’ll write more about our move and our setup soon. In the meantime, here are some other updates…

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Work

Briefly mentioning that I’m diving into full work mode by engaging and interviewing journalists, running verification work, and improving accuracy scores. I’m enjoying the new role because I’m challenged by it. I can really see myself growing in unexpected ways.

***

The pandemic

Singapore saw its lowest daily total of pandemic cases in recent months with around 11 reported the other day. Honestly at this stage… it feels like the country is back to normal. Except that everyone out in public has a mask on. I panicked a bit at Daiso earlier when the store didn’t seem to have social distancing in place (it was packed with shoppers)… where Uniqlo one level down had a queue outside their store because the store only allowed X amount of people inside. Kind of inconsistent!

PJ and I have been in and out of malls and public spaces recently because we’re buying things for the new rental condo we’re staying at. I still prefer to avoid malls and crowded places altogether. Even with the total daily cases reported… this pandemic isn’t ending anytime soon. The temptation to shop is back. But I have to pinch myself. People are losing their jobs because of this pandemic. This pandemic will close more businesses when the economic losses start to ripple across other industries. It’s wise to penny-pinch. SAVE NOT SPEND.

***

New routines

I’ve signed up for a workout programme that my friend U was recommending. This new programme has two coaches that will train you via Zoom from Monday to Saturday. Currently, I can squeeze in Monday, Thursday, and Friday. I already have yoga on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I’m freeing up weekends for running and visiting parks in Singapore. Also, this condo rental has a swimming pool. A large lap pool downstairs. I’ll make time for that too.

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Going digital first

Earlier I suggested to PJ that we take this pandemic as an opportunity to force ourselves to be more ‘digital first’. This means forgoing cash altogether and even cards.

  • Using Apple Pay, PayLah, PayNow… and other apps to make payments at stores and restaurants. Scan a QR code and you’re done.
  • Making use of Singapore’s apps that carry a digital version of your IC. Instead of carrying around a physical IC all the time.
  • Using apps to top-up your EZ-Link card. No more visiting an EZ-Link machine.
  • Using apps on an Apple Watch to direct you to your location – dropping the need to use ‘traditional’ maps (like my fave ‘Street Directory’ which has dated UI) / also using same apps to indicate if a bus or an MRT train is leaving at a certain time.
  • Automated backups of photos and files.
  • Getting more devices to sync with each other.
  • Smart home, using voice technology more, etc.

***

Cutting it there. It’s late. 🙂

Visiting Pasir Ris Town Park and Pasir Ris Park

I wanted to escape the house earlier and visit two parks in neighboring Pasir Ris. Bus 15 from opposite Temasek Poly makes a few stops in Tampines before ending its journey across the TPE at Pasir Ris Bus Interchange.

From the interchange, I followed the crowds around these construction barriers to reach the entrance of Pasir Ris Town Park.

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The entrance to the park

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This modern hawker centre in Pasir Ris opened in 2018.

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These are the reminders that are posted at the entrances of all parks in Singapore.

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Curious, I wanted to take a look at what’s inside the hawker centre.

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The first level has your usual Singapore favorites. The second level has “hipster” and fusion.

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These seat signs are everywhere.

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Treating myself to a local favorite… lime juice! Perfect against the island’s humidity.

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Back to the town park… I got in right at sunset!

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Wearing dry-fit for the weather.

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Pasir Ris Town Park has a marine or fishing pond.

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I think this would be a great place to grab a beer!

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Like virtually all parks in Singapore, they easily connect with the HDB apartments.

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One of my favorite things about Singapore is the close proximity between living spaces and parks.

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You’ll notice that several people are fishing on a relaxing Saturday evening.

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Not pictured… the many joggers on the footpaths.

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Pasir Ris is a coastal town known for its recreational resorts. The town has a very nautical theme.

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The abundance of green spaces.

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I thought this ship was old. Apparently this was only inaugurated in 2019.

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Some areas remain restricted… likely due to the pandemic.

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Vintage NEA signage.

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While walking around this area… I noticed how relaxing and laid back everything seems to be here.

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The paths are sufficiently wide enough for both joggers and cyclists.

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This footbridge crosses Sungei Tampines to reach another area of Pasir Ris.

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After Pasir Ris Town Park, I wanted to see if I could reach the nearby beachfront across the road. The park connector straddles the side of Downtown East (which happens to house one of the island’s isolation facilities for pandemic patients… who test positive for the virus, but don’t require hospitalization).

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There were plenty of joggers and cyclists along this path. But I managed to capture a moment where I had all this green to myself. On the right would be NTUC D’Resort which houses patients of Covid-19 and are under isolation.

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The sun had already set by the time I reached Pasir Ris Park. I noticed the camp sites and many joggers and cyclists in the area.

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On the right would be the rustic beachfront. The view would be of Pulau Ubin (not Malaysia).

I switched off my GoPro since it was already dark. 🙂

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I’m looking forward to moving to this neighborhood in a few weeks. I had no idea there’s a wealth of scenic jogging paths that will eventually replace my favorite Bedok Reservoir.

***

As I stand here at the easternmost edge of Singapore, I’m thinking about what the next few months will be like in this country. With the pandemic having affected the entire world in the past 8 months… I feel like all I have to do is focus on getting through today. I shouldn’t really worry about 3, 6, or 9 months into the future. I should focus on improving what I can improve in the present.

I try not to think about the stress of moving houses twice in one year. Or that this is my ninth house move in 8 years. It’s kind of ridiculous to put it that way. But who gives a. I’ll be in a new neighborhood. I’m hopeful there will be new stories to tell.

Pasir Ris Town Park and Pasir Ris Park are different. The former contains the fishing pond and is 5 minutes away from the MRT and bus interchange. The latter is the beachfront one that faces Pulau Ubin.

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Happy 55th birthday, Singapore.

Almost 20 million people worldwide have been hit by the virus.

That’s over 20 million lives and their families, friends, social circles, workplaces, churches that have been changed by what started out as just another news item back in December.

I recognise that I’m lucky to be in Singapore which has done an aggressive job to keep its citizens and residents safe from the pandemic. But it is heartbreaking to see the effects of this virus ravage the Philippines (now Southeast Asia’s Covid-19 epicenter) and the land of my citizenship, the United States (global no. 1 with 5 million people affected).

Sometimes I feel bad that all I have to do is wear a mask and head outside relatively in comfort compared to millions out there in quarantine.

***

I had a long weekend because of Singapore’s 55th National Day. With Covid-19 cases going down and life resuming to this new normal, the past weekend felt relaxed. I met up with a friend from university. I watched the mobile column pass by the nearby MRT station. I spent it at home watching For All Mankind on Apple TV.

I also spent it updating my portfolio which I set up during my job hunting a few months ago. I’ve deactivated the portfolio and put a classic splash page directing visitors to head over to my LinkedIn account. I’ve also called three people I’m thinking of having as my first podcast guests. Yes, I’m going to come out with a podcast very soon!

PJ and I have also started packing some boxes for our upcoming move to Pasir Ris. I’m in-charge of selecting the movers. We’re excited to move to Pasir Ris. I’m trying not to stress about it too much. Unlike when I moved to Tampines in April, this time there’s two of us working together to pack our things. And there’s five of us moving altogether to a new house.

I feel we’re at the closing stretch of 2020. Cautiously heading into the next few months by staying extra hygienic, saving money where and when possible, and getting through this pandemic. It may be comfortable in Singapore… but it’s not an excuse to let our guard down.

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The baristas being sweet.

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Catching up with my friend A at Chjmes over the weekend.

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Anticipating the trucks and tanks that will pass by Tampines West MRT.

Have a great week everyone. 🙂

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