Monthly Archives: May 2010

First Impression

My knowledge of Turkey was pretty much limited to the reviews on Tripadvisor, most of which are more factual than descriptive, so I had no idea what to expect upon arrival in Istanbul.

Having just flown from LA airport a week ago, I was surprised that there wasn’t a long queue at the customs and tons of people crowding around conveyor belts; There were no stringent security checks or severe looking officials eyeing you and your baggage; Someone gave us 1 Turkish Lira for the luggage trolley and didn’t ask for it back.

As I took in the sights of Istanbul from the window of our minivan, I realized that Turkey is not just culturally rich because it is geographically located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, but also naturally beautiful with the harmonious co-existence of sea, rocks, flora and fauna.

I spent my first day taking in the sights and sounds, exploring Sultanahmet and we even tried the squeezing with the locals on the electric trams, with the help of our friendly guide.

Just another day at Sultanahmet

There is something spontaneous about blogging on the go that I like. But the flip side of this is that most entries will be short because I’m beat from sight-seeing everyday.

I’m trying out the WordPress app but it is quite limited. Since all photos can only appear after my text, here are the captions:

1. Kebab meat is everywhere. A set meal costs about 5.50TRY. It comes with chicken or beef in pita bread, fries and a drink.

2. The people here at this restaurant are so warm and friendly. They allowed me to enter the serving area for a photo op even though we weren’t planning on eating.

3. Such stalls are common and the food always looks very good.

4. Stalls like this are scattered all over the Sultanahmet area.

5. Boiled maize.

6. I think these are some kind of Turkish apples? Or plums? It’s the size of big grapes, crunchy and a little sour.

7. My first Turkish coffee at a traditional Turkish restaurant.

8. Silk for sale.

9. Pretzels! I believe there is something in the dough that makes these plain pretzels really tasty. I wish they were warm though.

10. I love handiwork!

11. The view on the way back to the hotel.

Ripped off in Istanbul

Night flights are tough to bear because it is so hard to sleep on the plane. We arrived at Istanbul airport at around 7+ in the morning and headed to our boutique hotel to drop off our luggage before heading to the office of the tour agent from whom I booked my tour tickets.

I won’t reveal too much yet because I hope to do a full review of it at the end of my trip.

After we settled on the itinerary and full payment, we walked out onto the streets and immediately got ripped off.

Those of you who have had Turkish ice-cream would know that it is kind of an amusing act. The seller would scoop the sticky ice-cream and then tease you with it till he’s ready to give it to you. We were so fascinated and he was so good at assuming the sale that we just stood there while he made us take the ice-cream. My dad did want the ice-cream but when we tried to ask him how much, he didn’t answer us in English. After he was done with Act 1, he wanted to assume another sale but we were going to walk away without paying because he didn’t tell us how much and we didn’t know where to pay. Finally he said it cost 10 Turkish Lira (TRY).

As we walked on, we found many many many stalls selling it, and while the ice cream flavors may differ (this one had yoghurt as one of the flavours), it shouldn’t cost you more than 2 or 3 TRY. We ended up with another 5 ice creams for everyone.

It was a good, relatively inexpensive experience on our first day.

Tomorrow we’re going to do more sight-seeing.

Learning to blog

Playing around with a new app just to see if I will be able to blog from wherever I am tomorrow. Yes, I will be going away and for those of you who don’t already know where I am going, you’ll find out soon enough.

Horse-racing – A Sport Spectacle

I was thrilled to be invited to the live racing at the Singapore Turf Club last night. Although the rain was incessant, the races went on as usual.

The Singapore Turf Club lies on massive ground and on the way to the Orchid Box, we passed by my favourite horse carriage!

Mary Poppins

I was also going for the classic look last night. Unfortunately due to the rain, I couldn't stand by the horse carriage.

We arrived just in time to catch Race 9 and Race 10, where the prize money was S$1 million and S$3 million respectively

Inside the box area, there was a buffet spread and unobstructed view of the race. All these TV monitors provide information on bets and Rocketman was the hot favourite for Race 9!

It was all very overwhelming, so Eddie very kindly explained to Elvin and I how to look at the odds, and what sort of bets we can place.

Eddie telling us which are touted to win. Apparently, most people were rooting for local horse Rocketman and the 2 Hong Kong horses.

I decided to place my bet on the horse touted to come in 2nd, to finish with a placing of 1st, 2nd or 3rd. Happy Zero came in 3rd, so I made a winning of S$6.

The winner for Race 9 was Green Birdie (HK). Rocketman and Happy Zero came in 2nd and 3rd respectively. Prize money was S$1 million.

For Race 10, I decided to place my bet on Horses 1 (Gloria De Campeao), 2 (Presvis) and 4 (Lizard's Desire), to come in first 3 placements (not in order), but didn't make any money from this.

Lizard's Desire (No. 4) came in first, Gloria De Campeao (No.1) came in second and Al Shemali (No.3) came in third.

Of Horses and Carriages

Last night, Elvin Ng and I were invited to the Singapore International Racing Festival Gala Dinner held at The Shangri-la Hotel.

I do not know much about horse-racing, but I love horses, and this year it is even closer to my heart because horse carriages were crafted as part of the festival.

I love horse carriages, because growing up in an era of automobiles,  there’s always a fascination with the older modes of transportation. Or maybe it’s just a simple case of  yearning for something you cannot get. We got a chance to see one of the six horse carriages outside the ballroom last night.

Princess Victoria

A group of musicians were seated in the horse carriage to entertain guests at the cocktail reception.

The closest I get to owning a horse!

In front of the Singapore International Racing Festival ice sculpture with Charlee

The whiff of chocolate was so tempting, but I was battling food poisoning yesterday, so I couldn't enjoy this lovely dessert.

Has any of you seen these carriages around?

This was outside Mandarin Gallery.

This was at Bt Panjang Plaza.

This was at Bugis Junction before moving to Raffles Plaza Park.

This was at Plaza Singapura.

This was at Junction 8.

My favourite horse carriage! This was at Raffles City before moving to Raffles Plaza Park.

They were on display at various locations in Singapore till 14 May. I would probably see all of it tonight at the race itself!

Channel 8 TVC

Have you seen this?

All in a day’s work

Early in the morning at Fort Canning.

Doing my warm up

Stretching my legs before I conquer the flight of steps

Close-up of my eyes

The make-up artiste touching up my lipstick

Director James briefing me

Pluck at Haji Lane

Still at Pluck, they have really good home-made ice-cream. The flavours always change but they're all good! I'm not a fan of Baileys but they have very good Baileys ice-cream. And Earl Grey and Fig!


Pretending that I'm talking to someone when I'm actually gesturing to the air.

How it looks on camera.

It's funny I have lingerie holders above my head!

One of the owners of A Thousand Tales was asked to be in the shot so we had a little chat.

Her daughter also has a mole on her lip, so I kept telling her I'm her sister!

Goofing around

Blending into the surroundings

We had to pretend to have a conversation about music, it was so funny because we were just blabbing and moving!

Director said I blend into the background and looked quite spooky!

The crew and me.

Bad Grooming – Guilty “Mom”

Ever since this beautiful King Charles came to live with me, I’m getting a little taste of what it’s like to be a mother. He is very lovable when he runs to the door excitedly, knowing someone is home, but sometimes he really frustrates me and the family when he doesn’t pee and poop at the place he’s supposed to.

He is 2 years old, so old habits are hard to kick. It takes much longer to get him into a routine. For instance, when he’s given a bone or something he likes, when you try to take it from him, he would growl and even snap at us. This, I learn, is not good, and we have to break that dominating trait and teach him to be subservient. It takes a strong mind, not a hard hand, to win the dog. That’s kind of like teaching children too.

I also found myself researching online to find the most nutritious food, always looking out for organic healthy snacks and rushing home to see if he’s doing okay.

Then I felt so guilty for taking him to Petmovers for grooming two days ago because it appears they were rough on him.

They nicked his balls while shaving.

That night he was so traumatised, he wasn’t his usual active self. That was also when I found a tick on him. After picking it out with a tweezer, I applied Frontline all over him. The next morning, I found a dead one on the surface of his fur. I was so worried I called up the vet to ask if I should bring him down for a check-up and I was advised to monitor his situation for a few days.

Seems like he’s perfectly fine today.

Petmovers charge members S$30 for grooming, which is cheap but I guess you get what you pay for. After I dropped off the dog, I went for lunch and it only took them 1.5 hours to complete the task.  He wasn’t smelling all shampooed when I picked him up so I have no idea what they used. This is their claim on the website:

We have a caring team of overseas trained professional groomers, our U.S.A. qualified groomer with over 10 years experience – and together they provide all grooming styles, from the most basic to the most demanding, in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.
We not only attend to your pet’s coat – we clip their nails, express their anal glands, clean their ears, check their eyes and skin, and report back any abnormalities discovered, so you may seek veterinary advice if necessary. In short, we pamper your pet as if it were our own – collecting a well-groomed and non-stressed animal is the best advertisement of all!

How they ended up nicking my poor dog, and telling me everything’s fine with him, only to have me find a tick on him right after I brought him home, eludes me. Like an angry mother, I wanted to pull their hair out, but I figured it doesn’t achieve anything, so I’m just not going back there anymore.

I’m an inexperienced new owner, and I have to learn the hard way. Does anyone know of a good, caring East-side groomers? What are some dog-friendly places, cafes etc in Singapore other than Pasir Ris Farmway?

Star Awards 2010

I caught a bit of the re-run of Star Awards yesterday afternoon and I don’t know if it’s my ageing television or just simply the way sound is transmitted, but it did JJ Lin’s voice no justice. I’ve always been a fan of his because he’s a local singer/song writer who has displayed great talent and showmanship throughout the years.

He performed《无法克制》at the live venue, and his voice was crisp and confident even when it came to the high notes in the song. It was immaculate! But somehow on television, the power of his vocals failed to come through. In any case, he gave a flawless performance that night and I love it!

JJ Lin performing 《无法克制》on the second day of Star Awards 2010 held at Resort World Singapore, Compass Ballroom.

JJ and I at the post party!

The day of Star Awards happened to fall on my birthday (25 April), so before the whole frenzy began for hair and make-up, I had a sweet surprise backstage.

Winnie and Xing Ni quietly singing a birthday song for me.

Making my wish before cutting the "cake".

Mini-cake/Muffin. Winnie knows I'm cutting sugar so she made a really guilt-free one with no sugar! sweet of her!

Me and my home-made "birthday" dinner. My mom cooked everything except for the chicken breast, which is my own salt-free, less oil recipe. I had chicken, egg, brown rice, vegetables and bittergourd beancurd soup. Yummy!

Oops...and everyone else was eating packed dinner provided. It's the company that matters!!

And then the frenzy began. As I was the first out on the red carpet, producers were calling and rushing everyone to standby. Ryan touching up my hair; Jeremy adjusting my outfit; Elaine finishing up with my make-up.

My fan club - Jolliteers

We stole a group photo before making our way to the ballroom. (From left to right) Belinda Lee, Priscelia Chan, Pan Ling Ling, Joanne Peh (me), Cai Peixuan, Jin Yinji, Yvonne Lim and Lin Meijiao.

The not-so-glamourous secret passageway that leads to the ballroom. Pan Ling Ling played my mom in The Little Nyonya, so I never stopped calling her mommy since then, athough Ling Ling is way too young to have me as her daughter. Still I just love her!

While we wait for the rest of our colleagues to come in after the red carpet, we decided to kill some time.

With the cast of YOUR HAND IN MINE, Zhang Yaodong (left) plays the love of my life and Shaun Chen (right) plays a baddie!

Huang Wenyong (left) and Chen Shucheng (right) are also part of YOUR HAND IN MINE.

Pierre Png plays my boyfriend in YOUR HAND IN MINE. Yes, I'm stuck between two guys, and as the drama unfolds, keep watching to see who I end up with. Weekdays, 7pm on Channel 8!

Chen Liping sporting a new haircut for her new drama. I love her image now, it's refreshingly different from her character currently in YOUR HAND IN MINE. This reminds me of Ellen Degeneres!

Some of the men that I have been paired with in dramas throughout my career. (From left to right) Tay Ping Hui, Qi Yuwu, Elvin Ng and Nat Ho.

Announcing the last position for the Top 10 Most Popular Female Artistes award. All my colleagues congratulated me prematurely while the presenters on stage took their time to announce the last name. I was so embarrassed! What if it's not me?!?!

The final 10 of us on stage.

Breakfast and Megamarts

While Singaporeans like bee hoon, pau and other local delectables for breakfast, I had a little surprise!

Nothing beats waking up in the morning to home-made waffles with maple syrup and fresh strawberries!

Perfect for window display! The waffle is so light I had 1 and half!

I thought this brand of margarine is really cute. I love the exclamation mark at the end, like it's screaming at you to pick it up at the supermarket.

While we're on the topic of supermarket, I love the supermarkets here in the US! They are so massive and everyone can be pushing a cart, but no one knocks into one another. Aisles are wide and items well stocked. The only thing is, if you're not familiar with the placement of items, it's quite a distance walking from one end to the other.

Most supermarkets are open past midnight, some even 24 hours, so it's really convenient if you want to buy groceries late at night. Parking is ample and free too! This is Walmart Supercenter, which is a mega-hyper-mart!