2020 goals

  1. become stronger – make strength training part of my routine (know all about the different muscle groups and exercises)
  2. run a 10k! (continuously)
  3. sink into emotions instead of avoiding them (controlling the ego)
  4. think more – train myself to stop ignoring problems and start recognising inconveniences
  5. read deeply – 18 books a year, complete with thoughts surrounding each book (through goodreads)
  6. understand CPF – tax relief, insurance, how it all works and how to take advantage of it (make an excel)
  7. continue learning about investments (skillsfuture credits in investing)
  8. change my job (or get into a learning programme)
  9. public speaking/community – become a better speaker (join toastmasters?)
  10. stay connected to people – hw, marcus, matt, dad, mom, bro, ck, sc, ty

DOING LASIK IN SINGAPORE – TWO MONTHS LATER (AN UPDATE)

It has been 2 months after Lasik! You can read about how my procedure went here. In September 2019, I went on a whim (though not really as I’ve been wanting to not wear spectacles for a really long time – almost 2 decades) to SNEC to do my LASIK procedure.

After the surgery, my vision fluctuated for about 2-3 weeks. Some days, it was so blurry that I could not see traffic and the roads properly, nor my computer screen while working. Although this was an expected side effect, I was really worried that it would be permanent or last a really long time.

SNEC provides several follow up checks, namely 1 day after the surgery, 1 week after, 1 month after, and 6 months after.

At the 1 week mark, I was told that I had dry eyes, and was prescribed a different type of antibiotic eyedrops and steroid eyedrops.

However, even with religious dropping of the eyedrops into my eye, my vision still fluctuated. At night, there would also be halos, worse than when I still had my mild-to-moderate level of astigmatism, affecting my vision.

Initially, I got really worried because people have given me some anecdotal inputs on how the dry eyes could last over a year, and for some, it is forever.

Thankfully, my vision started to stabilise about 1 month after the procedure. I went back for my post op checkup at the 1+ month mark, and my eyes are 0 on the left (perfect eyesight) and 25 on the right (near perfect eyesight). 25 is minor and does not require any spectacles to see.

One thing I find that is really important is that people should adjust their expectations of how LASIK will turn out. Many people expect perfect eyesight, but that is often not the case. Sometimes, you get near-perfect vision. I have also heard many people who still experience night halos and aberrations in the vision. However, I am glad that for me, these disappeared about 1-2 months after the procedure.

I do notice that my vision does get blurry after some activities, for example, after I spend an entire night reading (i.e. from the time I reach home from work at about 7-8pm all the way to about 1am at night), but honestly you shouldn’t even be doing that without rest anyway. I have no issues with near work, including reading, browsing the internet, or just regular shopping or looking at advertisements. I also have no issue with driving or strong winds.

Just do what the doctor tells you to, and you’ll be fine. It is important still to take note of possible side effects, as if dry eyes was going to be a permanent issue, it would affect me mentally/emotionally a lot. Don’t underestimate the psychological load of poor vision.

All in all, I absolutely do not regret the procedure. The surgery was definitely scary, you can read the full details here, but an eye-opener (PUN INTENDED) and also, I think my confidence has increased a lot. In the past, I used to not be able to put on certain outfits as my glasses do not suit, and I always had issues with contacts due to my inherently dry eyes and also irritation, but now I can wear whatever that screams me without a care. It is also super convenient and I definitely save time not having to push up my specs ever so often, heehee.

Do comment below if you have any questions!

how to travel Melbourne with only 1000 SGD or less – budget breakdown, plane ticket, accommodation

This is Part 1 of 5 series of my budget Melbourne trip for 2 pax in Spring (End October). Please note this is not a backpacker’s trip recommendation, but is more well-suited for family-based trips, couples, groups who look for a little more comfort and is okay with spending a little bit more (but not a lot more).

  1. how to travel Melbourne with only 1000 SGD or less – budget breakdown, plane ticket, accommodation <part 1>
  2. how to travel Melbourne with only 1000 SGD or less – transport, insurance, visa, SIM card <part 2>
  3. how to travel Melbourne with only 1000 SGD or less – day 1, 2 and 3 itinerary <part 3>
  4. how to travel Melbourne with only 1000 SGD or less – day 4, 5 and 6 itinerary <part 4>
  5. how to travel Melbourne with only 1000 SGD or less – food, drink and activity, suggestions, notes, what we missed out on <part 5>

We visited Melbourne for 5 full days (22 PM – 27 AM October) and spent $1000 SGD per pax in total, including plane tickets, accommodation, transport, food and everything else all-in.

Breakdown of expenses (per pax)

  • Plane tickets (return) – S$304.31
  • Accommodation (5 nights) – S$238.37
  • Transport – S$98.72
  • Insurance – S$20.53
  • Visa – 18 AUD
  • SIM card (2 GB) – $5
  • Food, entertainment, shopping – $315.07 for 5 days ($63.04 per day)

Plane tickets

We got our plane tickets during Scoot’s promotion. We managed to get a good time slot on Tuesday (depart SGD at 1.20pm) and Sunday (return SGD at 6.45pm).

Accommodation

We stayed at the following places:

All Nations Hostel Melbourne ($26.05/pax)Melbourne CBD

We stayed in the twin room (with 2 bunk beds) which is more expensive than the share dorms (for 8 / 10 pax). There can be further cost savings here but we prioritised our privacy over the price.

Location is convenient, just about 5-10 minutes walk down from Southern Cross Station and the shared bathroom is clean enough with warm water available and toiletries and towel given to you as well. Bed was comfortable enough. Room was also clean. The hostel looks youthful in design and also has free pancakes for breakfast daily for about 2 hours in the morning. Free wifi is also available.

Some things to note is that as it is near Southern Cross Station it is prone to some noise when the trains pass by. But they do provide earplugs for free at the reception. Another thing is that there’s a need to climb 2-3 flights of stairs to get to your room, which may not be convenient for those with heavy luggages or travel with families.

Verdict: I’d come back and stay again, in tolerable seasons like summer, early autumn, and late spring (as the bathroom is shared, and there’s no heating) outside of the rooms.

Motel Marengo ($50.85/pax) – Apollo Bay

http://www.motelmarengo.com.au/

This was my favourite place to stay during our trip. The bed was huge with good heating. There were free board games available to rent as well. The toilet was very clean, the whole place was very clean. Apollo Bay is also a super chill place to be in. The place we rented was actually suitable for 4 pax as there was a double bed and 2 single beds. So we could have shaved off half the cost to $25.43 per pax!

Verdict: If I ever do Great Ocean Road trip again I’d definitely consider this place again!

Summers Rest Units Apartment ($53.35/pax) – Port Campbell

We had a difficult time finding affordable accommodation for under $50/pax/night in Port Campbell, largely because it’s a very touristy spot due to 12 Apostles and Loch Ard Gorge. We managed to find a place here close to our budget. But design wise it was rather quaint, and there were flies everywhere! It was ok for 1 night’s stay, but probably not longer than that. Facilities wise it’s good, there’s a number of plates, cups like motel marengo. And a hot water kettle as well. Again the place we rented was actually suitable for 4 pax as there was a double bed and 2 single bunk beds. So we could have shaved off half the cost again!

Verdict: I might choose this place again if there were no better options in terms of cost and quality. I might pick someplace a little more expensive next time.

Brady Hotels Jones Lane ($54.06/pax) – Melbourne CBD

https://www.bradyhotels.com.au/jones-lane/

I am most impressed by this one. It’s obviously a brand new building and the facilities, room and everything was very clean. Apart from some glitches in the check in process at the counter due to possibly coding issues, the whole process was great. I’d definitely come back to stay again. Location was also very convenient, right in the heart of Melbourne CBD with lots of food, and very near Chinatown as well, which has a spread of relatively affordable food. The design of the place was really great. There’s also a free gym (basically filled with treadmills, stationary bikes).

Verdict: Would definitely stay here again!

Joker (2019) – Movie Review *Spoilers Alert*

Life is full of funhouse mirrors, and more so for those with mental illnesses. The labyrinths of the mind are hard to detect, full of fallacies and assumptions. We trust ourselves, but can we? What is real, and what is not? What is really happening, what is the objective truth, and what is contorted truth – the story you tell yourself?

Joker is a 2 hours and 2 minutes long film that records the transition of a working class man with a dream of becoming a comedian; the reality is simply that he is working at an agency as a clown-for-hire – our first foray into the workings of reality vs mind that is emphasised throughout the movie. His progression into Joker is marked from handing of a gun from his co-worker, triggering the first turning point – committing the triple murders on the subway. Straight after he stumbles his way back to his apartment block, where he forces open his neighbour’s door and made sexual advances towards her. She appears to resist at first then relent completely, shutting her door behind her. A series of events occur, and the relationship between the two develops and blossoms — until the point when she finds him in his living room, appearing completely shocked and afraid — the movie reveals that the relationship did not exist at all, and they were in fact simply acquaintances who met each other in the lift.

At this point the narrative cracks open and leads the viewer to mull over which parts of the story is real and which is not. Apart from this highly obvious reveal, the rest of the movie keeps quiet on the delusions.

The movie progresses with the murders striking a deep divisive line between the Haves and Have Nots. The victims of the triple murders were revealed to be professionally successful men. Havoc reigns on the streets. He gets onto a talkshow host’s show and proceeds to shoot him dead while on live tv. He is arrested but a hospital van crashes the police car he is in; he is lifted out and placed atop the car in an act similar to reverence. Batman’s parents are killed by someone else in a clown mask. The movie jumps all the way to a meeting with a psychiatrist in a white sterile environment, likely a hospital asylum setting. He is handcuffed. You wonder – which was real, which was not? Was most of the movie simply all his delusions?

In all, this was an intense journey from mildly “crazy” man to full-on deranged madness. Yet, under the evolution of this man lies the same persona, a man struggling to free himself from the labyrinths of his mind, full of anguish despite the new sense of euphoria and heightened sense of self.

And remember, the movie mentions that at some point, he was supposedly put off his meds, so he could be hallucinating. Yet, he could be in a bipolar state and in which case may have almost definitely allowed him to commit those murders. How do we know? In Joker 2, perhaps.

Doing LASIK in Singapore – Costs, Procedure, Post-op Care

It has been 4 days since my LASIK procedure which I went for on an almost-whim even though I have been wanting to get rid of spectacles for many years now. The first time I wore specs was when I was 5 and I am 24 this year. So it has been nearly 2 decades. Contact lenses have never been satisfactory for me. No matter what brand I tried, they were uncomfortable to wear. After prolonged use of about a year or so, my eyes started getting vascularisation due to anoxia. It was also never as clear as spectacles. So I have stopped wearing contacts regularly since 2015 and only wear them on special occasions.

I chose Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) because I trusted in public healthcare’s patient management if things go awry. Being a national eye centre, I also trusted that it was the number one choice for the general public which parallels to having many procedures done there compared to many other private centres. I opted for Senior Consultant (I wanted a surgeon who had more experience/training than regular doctors, and also higher responsibility due to the title).

Costs

  • Pre-op eye examination ($200)
  • Lasik procedure ($3,300)
  • Prescription, consumables ($74)

Total estimated (inclusive pre-op exam, procedure, eye drops, post-lasik eye checks and GST): $3,800-4,000

Procedure

The pre-op eye exam involved doing the regular eye tests and also included giving you eye drops which increases your light sensitivity. This eye exam helps to determine whether you are suitable for LASIK, other procedures such as LASEK or ICL (implantable contact lenses, for those with high myopia, astigmatism).

For the actual procedure, you get local anaesthesia. The nurse will insert anaesthetic eye drops into your eyes and also clean up your eye region with iodine solution. There was also another eye drop, which I can’t remember what it was for.

The next few steps would probably be the most memorable. For LASIK, you will get your flap loosened, your eyes clamped to ensure they don’t move, and the actual procedure which you can see, but thankfully not feel – it will look as though the surgeon is scraping off parts of your eye, which isn’t really wrong because it involves removing thin layers of cells to improve your eyesight.

When you get your flap loosened you get a temporary bout of blindness which can be traumatising if you’re not prepared for it. However, I have been briefed in good detail by the nurse which helped me prepare for the procedures. Basically you see your vision start to go dark from one corner until the whole vision becomes dark. Then you get back your vision after a few seconds and woo! Now you got to repeat it for the other eye.

After that you head to another room to do the actual LASIK procedure. So for this you need to stare at the green light and not move while the surgeon and assistants start to do the work. You get liquid in your eyes, and other tools, some scraping (but because you can’t feel it, it looks like it’s just scraping through air instead of your eyes). It took about 10-20 seconds for each eye. Honestly i was really afraid of moving because I was scared of screwing up my eyes so i didn’t move for both procedures (flap loosening and actual LASIK). Because of that I also breathed really shallowly but I could smell something like burning, like what many others have said, but it didn’t bother me that much.

After that you are a little woozy and they bring you to take a picture with the surgeon. You get the actual pic through whatsapp and in hardcopy on the next day when you got back for your eye exam.

The next day I went back and my vision was 6/9. The surgeon also removed the bandage contact lenses.

For the first day, I needed to apply tear-substitute eye drops every 15 min. It drops to once every hour for a week, then 2 hours, 3 hours until 3 months later. The first week also involves you adding antibiotic eye drops (prevent infection) and steroid eye drops (promote cell growth) every 2 hours for the first day, then every 4 hours for the rest of the week.

I didn’t feel pain at all throughout and after which I am a little surprised by because people have said that it would hurt after the procedure. It really didn’t. I felt mild irritation, nothing dissimilar to wearing contacts to be honest. Only a mild pressure at the point my sight went dark a short while before the procedure. And that was it. The eye drops inserted thereafter (steroid, antibiotics) did sting a little, but nothing that can’t be handled.

At this point my vision is still not clear and I hope this isn’t permanent. My understanding is that it can take a few days to a week or more, like months, to sharpen the vision. Or that my eye is blur enough to qualify for supplemental procedure to refine, which is free for one-time up till a year.

I will update again on my LASIK procedure!

habitat @ honestbee review

What is Habitat @ Honestbee? 

habitat@honestbee redefines supermarket shopping into an experience. it’s a nearly fully automated shopping and dining concept.

How to get there?

From pasir panjang mrt (circle line CC26), walk around 10 minutes to reach mapletree business park.

You will need to download the honestbee app (no worries, they have free wifi) to enter using “beepass” which is a user-unique QR code which you scan at the gantry area.

Inside the place!

How to make a purchase?

Simply scan the barcode using the app and link a card for payment! You can scan on the spot or they can do it for you at the checkout area (simply push in the cart and pay, then collect at the collection point when ready to leave). So easy. However, I can easily imagine older consumers who can be frustrated by this as they only accept online mode of payment e.g. Mastercard/Visa.

I bought some items on sale, such as the $0.90 unrefined cane sugar (500g), bak kut teh flavour ($0.50) and akataya unsweetened green tea ($0.65).

Fish and chips is something highly raved, so we decided to get ourselves a Red Tilapia Fish ($12.90). It was large enough for 2 pax or even 3 for smaller eaters! It was better than most fish and chips in Singapore!

Early birthday celebration for Marcus who is sad to turn 26 😛 this is Le Goma (Sesame Cake) ($9). Very pricey, but quite unique and decent taste wise. Don’t think I will repurchase. The coffee place next to it, Hinoki, looks really good!

Secret bar??????

What happens when you opt for their cart checkout!

I really enjoy honestbee’s attention to detail, and it’s a pity they are embroiled in all their debt now. I like that even the toilets are interesting, and that it is a good place to chill during the weekends. I have left out some other interesting details, so YOU can go there and discover for yourself. 🙂 Cheers!