FAQ on the NamChin

FAQ on my boyfriend

NamChin gave me that necklace while we were in Kyoto for our relationship anniversary. Good memories! ūüôā¬†¬†

As my beliefs are challenged by meeting new people or experiencing new things, I update this category once in a while.

What is “NamChin”?

NamChin is an abbreviation for ¬†‘Žā®žěź žĻúÍĶ¨’ (namja chingu), which means boyfriend in Korean. I’m strongly influenced by Korean culture due to the amount and length of time I’ve spent with him.

Basic stuff 

We started dating in 2011. He attended school in Singapore and some parts of Southeast Asia. He spent a significant portion of his formative years in Singapore. We communicate and understand each other perfectly well.

How do you communicate? 

We communicate in English, and he’s practically a native at Singlish. That’s partly why I felt closer to him. Isn’t it nice to have someone understand you intuitively and use your own creole? For instance, “Siala, so expensive, mai la mai la.” Or, “Prata? Okay lor.”

Omg, is he an oppa?

Yes and no.

If I’m with his family, he’s oppa¬†because of hierarchical rules.

Once, Namchin’s mom heard us talking and asked Namchin in Korean, “Why does she keep saying ‘You’? Shouldn’t it be oppa? In English, ‘Brother’?”

Basically, to be polite, we should address an older person by rank/title at all times, like how you don’t drop “Mr.” or “Sir/Madam” or “Your Majesty” when you address a higher ranking person in English.

Namchin started cackling and his mom just looked very confused. So, a conversation should have happened like this instead:

Me: Are you hungry? What do you want to eat? (English)

Becomes: Is Oppa hungry? What does Oppa want to eat? (Korean)

But between us and all friends, since we speak mostly in English, I call him by name. He prefers to be addressed by his name.

How did you meet? 

We met in university in Singapore. This was after he did his national service.

Have you met his parents?

Yes, they reside in Korea.

Can you speak Korean?

Yes, enough to get by in Korea, browse the news, and watch varieties.

What is it like to date a Korean guy?

We communicate in English so much of the hierarchical language and cultural expectations are nonexistent. To me, he’s just a guy who happens to speak Korean. I get more access to Korean media and culture through him, which is a bonus. And I get tasty Korean food and increased convenience if I want to visit Korea. Otherwise, we have very similar views and interact quite well.

There are a lot more sensitive topics regarding dating a Korean guy. Here are the top stereotypes. My experience has been chill and positive, but most of the time, like many Asian countries, choosing a life partner is not about romance.

Like it or not, some Asian parents may inevitably hang onto some outdated beliefs, including my own Chinese parents!

For instance, a Korean daughter-in-law may be expected to wake up early and cook a full breakfast for everyone. If you must have bread, you may have to serve it, toasted, in plates with beverages and fruits. It’s all about the presentation. In Singapore, we don’t think it’s wrong to buy some BreadTalk buns, eat it from the wrapper, and call it a meal!

When there are dishes to be done, it may be expected of the¬†daughter-in-law to step up and “offer” to help while the men go off to watch tv.

I’ve been briefed that after getting married I will no longer sit in the room. I will have to be in the kitchen watching and helping with chores.

But like everything, I’m sure these depends from household to household.

Please feel free to leave a comment if you have more questions!

How I became a writer

Going pro with words

I used to write and speak crappy English. When I was 5, I read Alice in the Wonderland to an older lady who was kind enough to babysit/play with me.

Me: Alice and her seester.

Nice lady: No, sister. Not seester.

Me: Seester?!?

Nice lady: Sister.

Me: SEESTER.

Rages  

With enough practice and correction from teachers and my father, my English slowly improved. I began to enjoy writing to express myself, and more importantly, reading other people’s thoughts. I read everything and anything without judgment.

This meant that while I was lucky enough to be exposed to different ideas when I was younger, it did mean that I read my fair share of trashy stuff like gossip rags or blogs. That’s where I learned un-politically correct views and sayings. One moment I’m not proud of was my liberal use of “tranny”, which I picked up from a popular blog. On hindsight, not all reading materials were good for my value system. I should have stayed far away from it.

Back then, teenagers wanted to go pro in sports. Nowadays, teenagers want to go pro in esports! The dream is to get paid to play video games.

In my leisure time, I read, wrote diaries, stories, and even fake news. My dream was to get paid to write.

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Young dreams. Image credit: Pixabay.

Not a journalist

As time passed, my desire to become a journalist left me.¬†While I still enjoyed reading, I couldn’t imagine writing for any papers in Singapore. I also didn’t think I was good enough to write for any publication.

Bu$ine$$

After sitting for the A-levels, I decided to do a business degree. It seemed the most sensible thing to do given that I wasn’t sure what the job prospects were like in Singapore if I took a degree in literature.¬†I wasn’t fond of getting a¬†communications degree since that’s not about entirely about stories or writing.

I do not regret doing my business degree at all. I see a university¬†education as a way to broaden my perspective and to try things I’m bad at – like finance and understanding how the mysterious capitalist system works.

Secretly, I really wanted a shot at earning big bucks which I quickly realized was not going to happen after Year 1.¬†ūüíł

It turned out that I became deeply interested in market research once I understood what it entailed. Market research provided me a way of writing a narrative about consumers from data. This helped me become more comfortable with business models, numbers, and graphs and diagrams. And it proves helpful when I have to understand media analytics now.

Market research provided me a way of writing a narrative about consumers from data.

Thankfully, in my free time in university, I also managed to take up some modules in literature. These were mentally and labor intensive modules with tons of readings which definitely helped me to appreciate people who major in literature.

I fear literature majors – they’ve either taken a gamble with their potential careers or they know what they’re going to do with their degree (which is even more terrifying). And they know how to wield words like a weapon to create change. You should fear them.

Career options

When I graduated, I decided that I wanted to try something related to business but more exciting than market research. I enjoyed market research very much and spinning a story out of data insights. But I thought I had youth on my side to try something else out first.

My first job worked out as I gained life experience, but eventually, I learned that I didn’t have any marketable skills after more than a year. This made me reconsider writing for a living.

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Image credit: PIxabay.

Going “pro”

A moment that profoundly changed my views on a career was when I watched a Korean TV show. No matter how well the amateur singers sang, they could never sound better than professional singers at a karaoke. It was then I realized the difference between being a pro and just being really good.

Amateur singers followed the vocal guides well and sang into the microphone. Professionals understood the song, the music, and the machine. They blended in with tinny voices to create a work of vocal art for us to enjoy.

As vocalists, they are chained to their career choice and their art. But this commitment distinguishes them in this sphere and gives them an actual opportunity to become the very best.

It was then I realized the difference between being a pro and just being really good.

I wondered what would my profession be. I wanted to be able to create something that makes people go, “Aha! You must do this for a living!”

I wanted to do something that seemingly effortlessly and quickly, but with intention and seasoned practice. I wanted to commit to doing something over and over again, such that one day, I could say that I’m good at it.

I wanted to be able to create something that makes people go, “Aha! You must do this for a living!”

That was when I decided to make content my living.   

My life changed the moment I committed to writing for my whole life.¬†To go “pro”, like athletes, I have to be paid for my writing.

I made a conscious choice to pivot to a content-based role and actively sought out opportunities in publications.

I think I stumbled upon my writing job half by submitting a decent writing test, and half by sheer dumb luck. I was not qualified based on experience to be a writer or an editor, but my employers took a leap of faith with me.

And that’s how I went “pro”.

Ending off

To end this off, here’s what I took away from my journey.

1. Read, read, read. But do think critically about the material, such as the author’s intentions and the message behind the words.

2. It’s still a profession.¬†You need to be good and that’s just to qualify for a job. To thrive, you’ll need a really good grasp of the language. The best copy editors and writers I know spend time poring over things like commas and phrases. It takes a passion for language and a respect for the writing profession enough to care about these little details.

3. You don’t need a relevant degree. While I strongly encourage people to go for their dreams, it does help to have different skill sets. For example, market research helps me to understand media analytics. Just spend more time weaving it all together.

4. You’ll have to take the plunge and commit to this as a career. I also accept that I may never earn big bucks.

5. At the end of the day, it’s a job. I had to do a writing test to prove that I met the requirements of the job. And if I write badly I’m going to get fired. Having a business degree also helped me to understand the demands of my job quickly. It’s not all about the writing. Work is equally about the machine that supports the publication.

6. Have great editors. I get schooled on a daily basis – from my article angles to my English. But I love it because I love my job and I love writing. And best of all, I pick up editing skills along the way.

I leave you Harper Lee’s wise words. I admire her work and her modesty. It’s humbling to know that all she aspired to was to do the best she could with her God-given talent. She wanted to “leave some record of… small-town middle-class southern life.” All she wanted to be was “the Jane Austen of south Alabama.”

“It takes time and patience and effort to turn out a work of art, and few people seem willing to go all the way. I see a great deal of sloppiness and I deplore it. I think writers today are too easily pleased with their work. This is sad. There’s no substitute for struggling, if a struggle is needed, to make an English sentence as beautiful as it should be.”

Mid-year May

Massage and good food, let’s go!
ÍįÄžěź!

It’s May already! I’m back with a new post.

Spa and massage at Elements Wellness

One weekend evening when the NamChin (who is “NamChin“?) was not around, I decided to treat myself to a massage.

Elements Wellness is located at Centrepoint Orchard, a floor above Dal.Komm Coffee. I usually do their basic massage at a package of SGD60 an hour. Their massage service is really good and private, so I would recommend that.

Koyamaki Onsen Therapy

This treatment was a little special as I added on the Koyamaki Onsen Therapy. It is basically a good soak in the bath before the massage.

Made of Koyamaki wood, the bath¬†is visually beautiful and apparently comes with a host of effects. For instance, the natural oil in the wood has antibacterial and antifungal properties. The wood feels quite oily when you touch it, so I guess it’s real?

Moreover, the water is “ionized” and there are “microbubbles”. That supposedly gives health benefits like detoxification and anti-aging. I have no idea how that would work scientifically.

One thing is for sure – the heat relaxes my muscles, making the massage later more effective. And the tension relief is very real!

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The bath for the Koyamaki Onsen Therapy!
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A further view of the room through the mirror. It’s not visible but there is a hairdryer.
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Loads of fresh towels! Feels good.
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You get a bag to put your clothes, and a yukata-like bathrobe to protect your modesty as you walk to your massage room after the bath.
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There’s soap, shampoo, and even hair conditioner in the shower stall.
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You’re served tea in the onsen room.
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Free flow water whenever you get thirsty from the hot bath.

If you wanna check them out, I’d recommend looking at their promotions page first to see if you want to try any of their services out at a discount.


Dinner with friends

Recently I had dinner with a couple-friend. NamChin and I could really do with more homecooked Korean food and we had a wonderful night.

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NamChin’s friend is an American who has lived in Korea for a long time but moved to Singapore last year. This year, he married his Korean girlfriend. I started appreciating Yankee candles after he lit a cranberry one during Christmas last year.
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Unni arranged this herself! The flowers were from a florist at Vivocity.
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From left: Mattang (Candied Sweet Potatoes), Kimchi Jjigae (Kimchi Stew), and a chicken dish. žßĄžßú žěė Ž®ĻžóąžĖīžöĒ.

Fresh flowers, scented candles, and homecooked food. What else could I possibly ask for?

Muji’s Molded Cups will help women go braless

That was when I knew what it means to trust in Japanese engineering.

Ok, some girl talk here.

For years even before I “became a woman“, I’ve been squished, prodded, stuffed, and sliced by bras. Stray underwires prod me in my flesh, leaving me with a sore red mark. Straps press into my shoulders. Needless to say, on sweaty days, an ill-fitting bra can be tortuous and even infuriating.

Hell hath no fury like a girl with compressed underboobs.

I first went into Muji in one of Bugis’ malls to get a clear storage box. It keeps my things in office from spilling over to my colleagues’ desks – the perils of an open concept office. The design is minimalist and transforms my obtrusive belongings into a decoration.

After purchasing a number of wonderfully clear boxes, Muji has become one of my favorite haunts. I’ve discovered the variety of instant food, useful organization aids, and clothes.

Bugis is a hot, sticky, and crowded area in the city. By the time I get into office, I’m panting and pulling at my tee.The main offender is my bra.¬†Escaping into the pantry for a cold drink and to avoid committing any public acts of indecency is my priority.

Thus, one pleasant and wholly unexpected discovery has been their no-bra gear.

Relax la, they aren’t “indecent” – they’re tops with built-in bras. These braless tops consist of:

  1. A mesh layer to hold everything together
  2. A strap at the bottom
  3. And two molded cups (no nipples!)

“Horrors of horrors! I can’t imagine going braless for a day, even at home!” I thought.

Then again, the Asian country with arguably the most conservative day-to-day dress code in the world is helping us go braless? Surely this flimsy thing should suffice!

I needed innerwear for some of my shirts and took the plunge to buy one.

The Asian country with arguably the most conservative day-to-day dress code in the world is helping us go braless.

I walked out of Muji carrying my loot.

“This is the end. I am going to walk around braless at some point in the future. OMG.” I thought to myself.

The next day, I wore the black top with the mesh cups under a lace throw over for a day. That was when I knew what it means to trust in Japanese engineering.

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I think she’s wearing the braless camisole. Looks ok, doesn’t it? Image credit: Muji.

The slim elastic which provides support never once rode up my chest, or worse, my underboob. It stayed where it was supposed to be – silently strong and providing the adequate support I need.

Here are a few more observations of my new gal pal:

  1. FREEDOM! I could do whatever I wanted with my arms, chests, and back – wave them around, stretch, and so on.
  2. I ran for the bus and it definitely felt weird, but not uncomfortable. Once I hopped onto the bus, I wiggled my shirt a little and that was it.
  3. I did not look rude at all. My nipples weren’t sticking out. My boobs weren’t hanging out. I looked perfectly normal.¬†Starting is the hardest part.

Starting is the hardest part. Go braless.

I could lie down comfortably. If you can’t sleep without a bra for any reason, you can wear this to sleep. And perhaps, your mom will finally stop telling you that you’ll get breast cancer. Yes, some people think that sleeping in a bra can give you breast cancer. It’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t!

I can imagine wearing this under, for instance, a stuffy suit just to provide some shape and absorb sweat.

The cons:

  1. It offers less support than an actual bra. I won’t know how women with E cups and above would feel. But I’m guessing that it could actually be extremely comfortable. A braless shirt could potentially¬†provide light support without feeling like a sausage.
  2. I’ve only worn this a couple of times, so I don’t know how well it holds up in the wash compared to a bra that has more structural integrity.

To end off this post, to answer your question of why you would even want to not wear a bra, here are some outfit suggestions:

  • When you run out of bras
  • With your yoga pants for a low-impact workout session sans bounce, or under a leotard for ballerinas
  • With shorts and a stole on a warm casual day
  • Under a pullover just to feel like you’re wearing something underneath
  • When you want to wear something under a revealing top such as singlets with huge armholes
  • For lounging around at home

All in all, I truly recommend going braless with these Japanese inventions. It’ll provide you some respite from bras on stuffy days.

And to all the hardworking people who’re helping women go braless, thank you.

KonMari Method (Midway)

I’m tidying my room, starting with my clothes

I’m in the middle of KonMari-ing my room. It’s a way of tidying that was invented by a Japanese lady. She wrote two books about it: The magic of tidying and Spark Joy. I like to think that this book is more than tidying – it’s an attitude of gratitude and joy for the things you possess.

KonMari is a combination of the author’s name, Marie Kondo. It’s more memorable for English speakers so I’ll be referring to the method and the author as ‘KonMari’.

The point of reading her books and cleaning your house up is that you really want to tidy up once and for all. If you think you’re really neat and you scoff at the idea of talking to your things, this book isn’t for you.

I personally think we should care for our things more, and talking to them is just one way of coping with the copious amount of stuff we own.

Envision the house you want to live in

Think about the house you want to live in and keep asking why.

I want to clean my house.

Why? I want more space to breathe.

Why? My house is too cluttered and I want a house that looks like a dream home from Muji.

Why? I think it’s better for my health, and I can finally relax and destress.

And so on, until you can’t find any more answers.

For me, it’s really two things: health and happiness. ¬†When I have a clear mind and am surrounded by the things I love, I feel happy. And I want to be the best I can be in public and at home too.

I also think it’s easier to have everything you use somewhere visible rather than stored away. I find myself forgetting about things I’ve stored away. Also, for some reason, the shoes I stow away seem to degenerate faster than shoes I keep in plain sight.

And from a practical point of view, knowing how to tidy and declutter is really important nowadays. Apartments are getting smaller, and you really can’t afford to have too many things.

Start with clothes

Gather all your stuff into a huge clump. Start from clothes, books, then knick knacks, then sentimental items.

It’s imperative to gather everything from every single room to assess how much of something you actually have – and the amount you actually waste. It’s more than tidying, but also an adjustment of mindset towards the things you have.

In my case, it was easy because I take up only one room of the house.

Does it spark joy?

Hold the article of clothing. Ask yourself if it sparks joy.

If you do not know, find your favorite shirt and compare it to your least favorite shirt. Hold the shirt you prefer. That’s joy.

When the shirt doesn’t give you any joy, thank the shirt for its service, fold it respectfully and put it away. If you don’t wear the shirt anymore, but feel sentimental, thank the shirt for having changed your life and send it off well.

Throwing away is difficult

Saying goodbye to sentimental things is the hardest. I’ve used some of the things for formative and happy periods of my life. I found it especially hard to say bye to a yellow notebook which I haven’t used at all. What KonMari recommends is a mindset change – to decide if you want to keep something, rather than discard it. And if you choose to keep it, display it prominently so that it gives you joy.

If you feel sentimental about not keeping something, then, fold it up nicely, say thank you to it for bringing happiness to your life at some point in time, and let it go. It has served its purpose.

After reading her books, I realized that I’ve stopped thinking trash as filthy objects. I’m grateful to the things I discard – ranging from food to packaging because they’ve helped me at some point in time.

Don’t throw away your vacuum cleaner

You can’t throw everything out. Sometimes, the joy you derive from something is because you need it, say, a vacuum cleaner. In this case, thank the vacuum cleaner for its service and feel joy while using it.

Maximizing joy

If knowing exactly what you have and what you want out of your possessions isn’t joyful enough, KonMari has more specific ways of arranging your clothes and things to give maximum joy.

Firstly, arrange stuff from light to dark. Place the darkest stuff behind, and the lightest ones in front.

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These are some of my clothes arranged from dark to light.

Secondly, arrange your hanging wardrobe so that the longest stuff are on the left, and shorter ones are on the right.  This gives a pleasant upward trajectory to the eye.

Finally, if you have anything you kept – like cute tiny statues of cats – you can place them amongst your belongings to give you that spark of happiness.

Keeping everything neat

These are tips by Cheeserland.

“1. Have a home for all your belongings. Things are like humans too, treat them with respect, and don‚Äôt let them be homeless.
2. Put things back to their respective home after using. Once each and every item in your house has an identified home, it is super easy to commit to this.
3. Be thankful for your belongings and find joy in using them.”

If you want more,¬†here’s a further summary of the KonMari method. And this is a lovely example of how a house is konmari-ed (also Cheeserland).

Don’t clean in front of your parents

I think the one piece of advice that really resonates with me is this: Do not clean in front of your parents.

KonMari says that it’s actually unfilial. For one, your parents will worry if you have enough after seeing the amount you’ve thrown out. And your parents will interfere in some way, wanting to keep this and that.

If you stay with your parents, tidy when your parents aren’t in town.


In the process of tidying my wardrobe, I found clothes I wanted to wear but didn’t manage to find. If someone says they have “nothing to wear” despite having a huge wardrobe, they should start KonMari-ing too.

I’m keeping to my new year resolution of not buying any new clothes, and I’ve only bought one more pair of jeans this year. I also managed to fill two large Ikea trunks with clothes I wanted to discard. I’m donating them to the Salvation Army. And yes, I’ve thanked them.

I’ve tidied up my wardrobe.¬†Now I can take three uninterrupted steps in my room. Next would be my books, and finally, to tidy up my desk once and for all by the end of the week!

Sumiya at Orchard Central

A Japanese gem in the heart of town.

There’s a gem in town.

Sumiya at Orchard Central (Facebook) has a “happy hour dinner”. The price of a meal that is typically very luxurious costs 50% less. Moreover, I’ve been there twice, once directly after my trip in Japan. The quality of the food here is comparable to that of food served in restaurants in Japan.

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The menu. Do you see something you like?
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The menu. Do you see something you like?

The price is reasonable for the taste of the food. I think this restaurant cares about the aesthetics of the dish as well, which is important to me when assessing the quality of a Japanese restaurant. For example, the plates they use are very beautiful such as this seashell shaped dish.

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This seashell dish is so cute!

Here’s the food!

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Unagi and tempura double don.

The tempura is well done. Not oily, lightly fried, and I can still taste the fragrance of the prawn. I love that they didn’t douse the rice with tons of sauce as some restaurants do. Wet rice is not nice. I was able to eat the entire dish with only chopsticks, Japanese style!

Needless to say, the unagi is very good. The egg is also a winner in my heart. It isn’t heavy at all. That’s the reason I keep going back – to get that taste of Japan back in my mouth.

On to the next don…

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Seared Japanese Wagyu Shabu Don with Crab Meat and Salmon Roe

The crab which I think is the main draw¬†isn’t very flavorful. I clarified with the staff there that it’s snow crab, which I really love for its taste. Altogether, this was a very nice tasting and well-balanced dish. The wagyu is quite tasty, and I could tell it was not the usual shabu meat. I would say nothing really sets this dish apart, but I could be wrong, as I had finished the entire bowl previously. Good to give it a go nonetheless.


Why do I look for high-quality Japanese restaurants in Singapore?

Usually Japanese restaurants are very expensive, but I find that the taste is lacking or incomparable to the food I had in Japan. That’s totally understandable. That is why I am happy with Sumiya.

A couple of months ago, I returned home from Japan. It was my second major trip away from Singapore with my boyfriend. Also, Japan was one of the countries I wanted to visit for a while. So we went there, and even till now, I am craving all the food from Japan. Tamago, dorayaki, tea, and even konbini foods like the latest spicy mentaiko onigiri.

We ate this tamago¬†at Kyubei Sushi in Ginza. We really recommend this place for sushi! The service we received was top notch and the food was beyond words. Again, my boyfriend is Korean and intercountry relations are iffy. We didn’t experience any racism in Japan and not in any of these restaurants. People were very kind to us.

Tamago, one of the dishes served at Kyubei Sushi, Ginza

I really wanted to have eel in Japan, especially after our insane sushi experience. I was especially blown away by the fact that the chef made the distinction between sea water and fresh water eel. The Japanese really care a lot about food and the quality of their work.

Nearing the end of our trip, on our 5th anniversary, we decided to go to this place in Kyoto to have eel. I had mine paired with hot sake. ¬†It was my treat to my boyfriend ūüôā Service in this restaurant was impeccable. Japanese girls are all so cute.

Boyfriend’s food. One way to eat this is to have it like a normal rice bowl. Another way is to pour the “tea” provided into the bowl, mix, and slurp it up.
I chose the set which was slightly more expensive. It was very good.

The trip to Japan was very memorable, especially because we celebrated our fifth anniversary in Kyoto. This is a pendant from J.estina. I’m a fan of ice skater Kim Yuna and she endorses this jewelry.

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Gift from my boyfriend for our fifth anniversary!

Podcasts

I bought an iPod to learn more.

A week ago, I purchased my second iPod. The reason I dropped around SGD500 on a small device was simple. I wanted to listen to my songs, books, and Spotify playlists on an Apple device while not eating up my handphone battery. I need to conserve my smartphone battery as my phone serves as a voice recorder for interviews, and also, to respond to emails and texts on the go.

The iPod was the best option.

It wasn’t easy to decide to get my silver iPod. I abandoned my shopping cart a few times, deciding that saving my money was a better choice. I can’t remember what was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but ultimately, I made the decision to purchase it.

Thanks to amazing logistics, particularly Yamato Transport, I managed to get my iPod by the very next day and set it up immediately. I started following a number of podcasts, listening to them at either 1.5 or 2x speeds. Here’s a couple I’m enjoying right now:

  1. Talk To Me in Korean: I’m an avid Korean learner, currently at level TOPIK 3-4. This is the most awesome learning resource for any Korean learners. Give it a go.
  2. Hot Copy: I aspire to be a good copywriter, and this podcast provides me tips to become better.
  3. Marketing School: I’ve found most of Neil Patel and Eric Siu’s tips on marketing enlightening and helpful.

iTunes U is also fantastic. I’m listening and learning about philosophy in my spare time,¬†such as this course by Oxford University. I really want to deconstruct arguments and cut the fat. Mostly, I want to know what is “truth”. Since it’s nearing 2017, one of my top new year resolutions would be having an understanding of how philosophers think about truth.