Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Merry Christmas...

This blog is definitely not abandoned but two of my desktops died at the same time. They're both in hospital getting a change of multiple organs to make them both come back to live. So, right now I'm using another computer which I have no idea how to use it, thus no pictures to make it more colourful. 

As usual, the last month of the year is always a busy one, with me working and going out and sitting at home where there's no Internet connection. It's not a sad life but it's a very enjoyable one. Hopefully I'll have the time to write about it. Anyway my aim for this year was to get my China trip done in both photo uploading and blogging and I've achieved my simple mission. Now, my next aim is to make full use of the rest of the remaining of year 2012.

The world is NOT gonna end whether the Mayan calendar points it that way or anything else. No worries... 

Merry Christmas everyone... 

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Depression Kills...

That's a very beautiful fighting fish. The fish would open its fins and tails and flap around while swimming around the rectangular glass aquarium. It was such a beauty to look at. I don't know where I've adopted the skill to stare at fishes. I could stand for an hour just looking at them. Anyway, that's not mine but it's in the house. It was Pork's fish bought at RM5.
Two days after that, the life of Bluey was torn apart. My youngest did the silliest thing any lazy teenager could have done. Due to her laziness to change the aquarium water individually, she mixed all 6 fishes together in a big basin. In less than a minute, Bluey was attacked without mercy by my eldest's proud red fighter. The attack took less than 30 seconds and my youngest scooped Bluey up and separated the rest before more got killed.
Bluey took more than a week to heal completely. Bluey was given a tender loving care but you couldn't expect us to hole it in our hand and give it a smacking and encouraging kiss to fight for his life. The broken fin and tail grew back to its original length and glamour. Bluey stepped into a deep depression. The beautiful blue tail was never opened and neither did Bluey want to swim around. It was just moving up and down the aquarium and another week after that, Bluey went on a hunger strike. We went to buy live worms but Bluey wasn't interested with those at all. I wished the vets knew what to do. Shouldn't there be any fish therapy for the depressed and beaten fish? 

One of the Monday mornings when I woke and went for a jog, Bluey was still breathing but it was gulping for air, taking in big breath. When I came back half an hour later, Bluey was at the bottom of the aquarium. Sad to say I did not cry for the fish. I have no feelings for fish, dunno why... It's just another fish... but it's Bluey... a fish with a name... 

Friday, November 30, 2012

My Flight Home From Shenzhen...

Those were the image that captured my eyes the moment I reached OCT. I have been walking in and out of the place but didn't stop for a second to snap the photo. I did it finally on my way out. I knew I was gonna miss Pinky and her family very much. 
That's the shuttle bus which was gonna ferry us to the plane. The plane was parked very far away and it would be impossible to walk to the plane and more impossible to walk in such a cold morning. The sight of AirAsia brought me a step nearer to home. It was so good to look at the faces of fellow Malaysians and it was definitely great to be able to converse in Bahasa Malaysia when I met a family who was in China for a holiday and also boarding the same plane home.
AirAsia's in-flight magazine was definitely a page turner. I have been so deprived of English that I devoured every single word that my eyes caught on the printed pages. It felt just so good and wonderful to be able to see English words. The Chinese strokes almost drowned me. After reading all the magazines and salivating over the menu for food, I gave in to sleep. If I have snored, I might have kept the whole plane awake.. so sorry for that, I was very tired and it was a good 4-hour sleep. I woke up when everybody started standing up to remove their cabin baggage and the next moment, I was hopping out of the plane and chasing after my next flight. I have a problem with planning my connecting flights. I seemed to forget that there were bound to be some delays or there must be a long queue to check-in luggage. So far I have not experienced any delays from AirAsia's side but I have denitely experienced a very long delay both from China Airline and Shenzhen Airline.
After another hour of flight back to my little island, I was famished. I have had no food since I left Pinky's house and my full meal for the day was after I have touched down and my stomach was screaming for bloody murder because I was so hungry. I thought of grabbing a burger in KL but there was just not enough time. The moment after I have checked-in my luggage, I was already ushered to a queue and boarded the plane. In less than 15 minutes, the plane was already taxing the runway. 

All in all, I have had the most wonderful holiday in China and I have to thank my Lord for making it impossible and for going ahead of me to prepare everything and making sure that everything fall into place. Finally, the end of my China trip... not the last one though...

My Last Nite in Shenzhen...

I'm coming to an end of the writing of my China trip. *phew* It took me almost 8 months to finish uploading the photos and writing about it. Going through all the photos, I miss Pinky's family... you know, I told myself that I won't go to the same country twice as I would rather go to other country which I have not step foot on, but the bond with my host family is there, so I will definitely go again... I do remember what we did on my last nite in Shenzhen, on one hand I look forward to going home but on the other, I felt like I've been staying there for a long time. Staying in a hotel is a different experience compared to being hosted by the locals.
I needed a book to read on my flight back so Pinky took me to the largest book mall in Shenzhen. It was 4 times bigger than the Popular bookstore in Gurney Plaza. We went from the first floor all the way up to the fourth floor. We were quite fast because I couldn't read any of the Chinese books. We asked the book mall staff for the English section. Before long, we were both staring at basic English grammar books which I have tonnes of them piling up at home. Then, we reached the fiction section. I was delighted to grab any English books and to settle down with Sherlock Holmes, I was more than happy. I will not be bothered by the price.
I flipped the book open to check the content of the book. To my horror and dismay, the English book was written completely in Chinese. How could this be? I was so disappointed that I just dragged the both of us out of the place. We were not allowed to bring our bags up with us so we had to keep our things in the locker for free. Because it was such a hi-tech locker which requires us to keep the slip with a string of numbers printed on it, it was the combination to unlock the locker, I thought I was good enough to understand some basic Chinese and anyway it was just to key in a string of numbers, I failed to do so. Pinky was so afraid that I might lock our bags in there forever.
I was quite upset that grandma didn't prepare us any dinner as I was starving. Pinky's mom already has a plan under her sleeves. Since it was my last nite, she wanted to treat me to somewhere nice instead of having home-cooked food.... but I love home-cooked food, coz I get to eat and eat and eat until the pots turned upside down... you can never do that in restaurants. We took a bus to somewhere out of town. It was in a shopping mall which I have no idea how to read the name of the building... so sad right... if I was ever forced to live there forever, I would be lost forever... We landed ourselves in Daiwo Sushi restaurant. The restaurant was empty... empty means bad right? But it wasn't so... I am not a fan of sushi but I do like the one above in particular... and I love sashimi.... 
We ate until we couldn't move, choosing all the expensive stuff in the menu. For the last plate, we played 'scissors, paper, stone' to see who should finish the last plate. Pinky had to finish the last plate. Then we had to walk home... it was such a long walk and we were walking in the dark. I am still wondering why couldn't the municipal council put up more street lights and brighten the place. I could hardly see my own feet. It was so dark if anyone jumped in front of me, I wouldn't even realize it until I bumped into the stranger. If you get robbed there at night, you can NEVER be able to describe the culprit who did it. It was impossible to even see your own finger in front of your own eyes.
We passed by a lot of restaurants by the road side. Grandma has reminded us again and again not to eat at any stalls by the roadside or any restaurants selling weird animals. That restaurant definitely sells dog meat... wasn't that the picture of a Golden Retriever... how could anyone swallow such an adorable and human-like pet dog? Pinky has tasted doggie meat before without her knowledge. She was only told about it after the cooked doggie meat was digested in her stomach and deposited into the manhole.

While walking home, which was so damn far away. It took us almost an hour to walk home but Pinky's mom said it was just a short distant away. Either the mom was encouraging me to walk on or they have walked too often that an hour's walk was considered a short one. According to my diary, a short distance walk would be leaving my room and walking into the bathroom... that was the example to explain the definition of short distance. All of a sudden, we were standing at the back entrance of another shopping mall and we were walking inside to catch a movie. We bought the tickets to watch a midnite movie... if I'm not mistaken we watched the Warhorse... an English movie :D

By the time we walked home it was already 2 in the morning and I still have not pack my luggage to go home. I have already planned my day well for the next day.
My things were every where and frankly speaking, I had no idea how to pack to make sure that I did not pile excessive weight into my weight-limited luggage. I packed until 4:30 in the morning and I had to wake up at 6 a.m. to catch my flight. Pinky and I were chatting at the speed of the lightning... we were running out of time to talk... so we talked and talked and talked until I seriously had to make a move with both my overweight luggage.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ducks' Beaks...

I don't eat any weird stuff but when I was asked to finish the whole plate of deep fried ducks' beaks, I have to give in because none of them like deep fried oily food. Not to say that I like it that much, but I find that the Chinese race is one interesting nation. I don't know where's the joy of chewing on bones and it's not that duck's beak has any meat. Got 0.1% of meat I think... but I gladly chewed up the whole plate. Thank God they're not weird people who ordered a plate of fried scorpions and asked me to chew on them. I would refuse the offer and be branded as a stuck up guest.... hehehehe...

An Eye Opening Surgery...

Have you heard of an eye-opening surgery? I surely have not heard of one but I've definitely seen the result with my own eyes. I do not have a close shot of his eyes for the 'before' photo but to me I don't see much difference in the surgery. It could roughly about 50 000 yuan if I don't remember wrongly. The surgery just took a couple of hours where the cosmetic surgeon tore up the skin on both corners of his eyes to enlarge the eyes... nah... I don't know how to explain it in full. As Pinky said, he is a vain pot so hopefully he can see more with the enlarged eyes.... yeehaw~!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Stroll in An Ordinary Park...

It amazed me how China is able to maintain their parks. The park that I visited was nothing special as it's just a park below the apartment for residents to take a walk or jog or cycle. It's better than our national park, that I can sing praises for China. I've visited a few parks in China and they are really good in keeping the park clean and making sure the plants do not grow into jungle.
They even have a man-made lake fit with stones for you to jump across. Looked like an adventure on its own. You needn't pay a single cent to visit such amazing park. We walked for almost an hour, taking in the scenery and inhaling fresh air. 
If only we have this back at home then we ladies will be able to have our photo-snapping frenzy time together. I can even imagine taking my wedding photos here... if only it's possible...
What's that large red frame doing there? Fancy standing in there to frame myself up... nice capture though...
Pinky and I were scratching our head, couldn't guess what that arrow was for... the photo was definitely not edited.... the arrow was there for real...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Old Shekou's Wet Market...

 I'm a fan of seafood but the funny thing was Pinky's dad didn't know about it. He just said that it would be a place that's worth visiting and it's worth visiting alright...~! *woots* It was a fish market where there were lots and lots of fish and all types of shells still swimming around in water. The floor was really wet but it wasn't stinky with fishy smell.
There were dead fish sold on the marble-top stall just like what we have back here but it seemed like no one was interested with dead fish. Everyone just wanted the live fish, swimming around and not swimming on its side... that would be sign of dying very soon. The price was so cheap I wouldn't mind buying back a bucketful of fresh seafood for grandma to cook.
 Let me show you some of the seafood sold at the fresh market. That's the fresh scallop cost only 3 yuan per piece. That would be RM1.50 for FRESH SCALLOP. What did you think I do? I bought them all and bargained for a lower price... gosh... I wouldn't mind paying the full price but it was my immediate response to bargain down the price before making any purchases. We went to Shekou's fish market two days in a row. The next time I'm there, I'm gonna carry a large tub and bring it back, riding on the subway. Pinky and I found the MTR station... smart, aren't we?
And that's puffer fish which none of us dare to try. It might be poisonous and I wouldn't want to die of food poisoning in a foreign land. 
We ran away seeing this. They looked like a whole basket of red worms to me but it's a type of sea creature. The lady told us to try some by just deep-frying them so that they would be crunchy... eeewwww... creepy crawlies down the throat... no way man...
If you've never tried eating a stone fish, you should try it. The flesh was so different I wouldn't mind buying it again. But I didn't buy it from Shekou's fish market. I bought it at the market near Pinky's house when I went to the market with grandma. Grandma has never seen it before but in the end, grandma has the chance to cook it.... hehehehehe.... thanks to mua.....
I call this the penis-clam... Pinky's dad almost fainted looking at this... he asked me a hundred times whether I was seriously buying it... I said YES~! Muahahahaha... I've seen this before in seafood restaurants but it was always the Australian Geoduck... and since the Australian Geoduck was super expensive, I bought the Chinese Geoduck... which was really cheap but I couldn't remember the price at all... because that was like 7 months ago when I was there, shopping for seafood. 
You don't have to worry about how to dissect and clean that penis clam. It would be done for you in the market itself. There were sections which needed to be removed. 
Grandma stir-fried the penis clam with broccoli... grandma's very creative in her cooking... One was not enough and it was so sweet and tasty, next time, I would buy the whole container... thank for Malaysian Ringgit which was two times more than China's yuan...

Friday, November 09, 2012

OCT Harbour...

After so many days in Shenzhen, Beijing and Shunde, looking at the architecture of the buildings, such Chinese feel... but I don't feel at home at all. On Sunday night, Pinky's parents had a plan for me. Aahhh... I was so blesses, I didn't know that they have everything mapped out. Pinky's dad fetched us to OCT Harbour. It was a newly opened place beginning of the year and to go there on our own would be a terrible mess as there was no public transportation heading or passing by that way. And I was exhilarated to see such Western-designed buildings. It was a harbour, something like Straits Quay and it was a million times more beautiful and scenic compared to our new yet quiet Straits Quay. 
The place was huge but Pinky's mom was hurrying us like a mother hen. She said at the rate I'm stopping and snapping photos, I would have missed everything. So, I hurried off and we were standing in one place which many other people. I was wondering what were we doing there. Opposite the man-made lake, there was an open arena where patrons who paid 100 yuan would be able to sit in the arena and enjoy the front view performance. We, including the rest who did not pay, would have to stand at the other side of the arena  across the lake to watch the back view of the performance. It was amazing never-the-less. 
Caught the fireworks at 8 p.m. Thank God for good weather, cool breeze and thank God for free parking as the place has just gone through a soft launch so no parking fee yet. Parking in China is expensive if you're dreaming of having the 30 cents for 30 minutes parking like what we have over here, it is as good as imagining that you're able to fold your car and keep it in your back pocket.
I have lots and lots of photos in OCT Harbour. It was such a beautiful place but I'm just gonna share a few pictures here. That was me and Pinky with our leap of joy. You know, it's our third time meeting face-to-face. Such wonderful friendship. We're already planning to meet up next year, once a year at least to keep each other up to date...
I think I look best donning on winter warmers... the woolly boots and the scarf... I'll never wear such thick clothing back here... will never have the chance to do so...
That's us again... we really love taking photos together but sometimes it was just too impossible. It's either Pinky snapping me with my camera or I was holding on to her iPhone, snapping her to have her photos uploaded in Weibo... their Facebook-look-alike.
Did a UFO just landed at OCT Harbour? Nah... that's the convention centre... fancy-looking building... 

Sunday, November 04, 2012

When 8 Gigantic Shopping Malls Converge...

It took me more than 8 months to complete my write up about my trip to China. It was just a 2-week trip but I felt like I've stayed in China longer than a month. Pinky asked me to go again next year but I'll have to make a pass to that invitation. I have another plan coming up so I better finish writing about all these before it was completely forgotten. 
After our trip to Shekou, Pinky's kind dad dropped us at the whole stretch of shopping mall. It looked something like Queensbay Mall, Gurney Plaza, 1st Avenue and a few of Kuala Lumpur's gigantic malls all joined up together. There were 8 shopping malls linked into one huge mammoth mall. Let's go in and check out what was inside the mammoth mall.
The bakery was the first that we came to. I was fascinated with the creative piggy and tortoise buns but the price drove me off. I could just finished a pig in one mouthful. Pinky warned me time and again that the price of merchandise in a shopping mall was exorbitant. I have to believe her after looking at a blouse with a 70% discount tag on it, but after reduction the price was still over 1200 yuan which was equivalent to RM600. That was way too expensive unless you can place a guarantee on the blouse that it would last me forever but I wouldn't want to wear the same blouse into a coffin for the rest of my life. 
What were our local durians doing there? That was the biggest durian that I've ever seen. Trust me, when I say that durian was big it was big. You know the biggest size of 'Hor Lor'? The durians that I've seen in China were 4 - 5 times the size of durians that we have it here. Or it should be roughly about 3 times bigger than the size of Thai durian. 
 Look at that price~! 56.80 Renmimbi *RM28.40* I could have eaten A FEW durians with the same amount of money. I wonder why must they sell it at such a high price. Pinky said that the durians there were tasteless and our ORIGINAL durians tastes a million times better than this.
Since we were considered too poor to shop and enjoy looking at those high-end clothes, we ended up at the arcade. I didn't Pinky love to play shooting games. I used to play that with Pork in Queensbay. Pinky changed at least 50 tokens. We had free tokens thanks to her mom. We waited for two little girls to finish playing but they proved to be wealthier than us. They kept on changing tokens by the basketful... and we stood their like numbskulls for an hour hoping that they would give up on the game. Finally, we were the ones giving up waiting and we went to another  shooting game. We were happily shooting at the screen, reload, shoot and press start to continue... that means we died in the game la....
Pinky said I should try Hey YO... the best yoghurt in town... it was a self-service one where you have to squeeze your own yoghurt out from the machine. I was thinking to myself why did she squeeze such a small blob for each flavour. There were eight flavours altogether. Then I have a good shock when Pinky said it has to be weighed. I thought those eight small blobs wouldn't cost much but it was actually 26 yuan (RM13). You see, things in China weren't that cheap unless you are at those shops where you could bargain down the price by reducing the number of 0 behind the price thrown in your face. It's a shopping mall... you can never argue your way out. 
Hey YO! has a variety of birthday cakes... and the piggies were so cute. Were they made of fondant? I was just wondering. That small cake cost roughly around 260 yuan (RM130). I wished I was rich enough and maybe being more careless with my expenditure then I would buy that cake for the fun of it. I wonder whether the cake was delicious or not....

Nothing much to snap as NO PHOTOGRAPHY was allowed everywhere. And I don't really like walking in places where the prices were so high that I felt like I've been robbed in broad daylight. All of a sudden, I remembered very well, we were in a hurry to head home because grandma was cooking something special for us and we were so hungry.... and we couldn't even afford to buy a small bun to lace our empty rumbling stomach... 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

God's Way... Never Ours...

Right now, I have two batches of sugee cake baking in the oven. With 60 minute that I have, I'm not sure what I want to do with it. It's hubby's favourite cake but it's one with tedious preparations. I loathe separating the egg yolks from the whites. I have 20 more minutes until the oven 'ting' then I can proceed to slumber land. The whole house smells really good.

I have something to share with all of you. I hope everyone will spend at least 5 minutes to read about it. Just take it as a good read or maybe it is a major turning point in your life. But not everyone could enter the narrow gate...


Dr Richard Teo Keng Siang

Recorded at the Dental Christian Fellowship , on 24 Nov 2011, 8 months after his diagnosis.

Richard would have liked to share this with you. We are doing this to continue his work.

Please have a read and leave it behind for someone else to benefit from his sharing.

If you would like a copy, please let any of his family or close friends know and we will be able to provide both the audio recording as well as the transcript.

Thank you, and may God bless you richly.

Below is the transcript of the talk of Dr. Richard Teo, who was a 40-year-old millionaire and cosmetic surgeon with a stage-4 lung cancer, sharing at a Dental Christian Fellowship Meeting. He would have liked to share this with you too.


Hi good morning to all of you. My voice is a bit hoarse from the chemotherapy, so please bear with me. I thought I'll just introduce myself. My name is Richard, I’m a friend of Danny’s, who invited me here.

I’d just begin to say that I’m a typical product of today’s society. Before this, I was talking about how the media influences us etc. So I’m a typical product of what the media portrays. From young, I’ve always been under the influence and impression that to be happy, is to be successful. And to be successful, is to be wealthy. So I led my life according to this motto.

Coming from a poor average family, back in those days, I was highly competitive, whether in sports, studies, leadership. I wanted it all. I’ve been there, done that. But at the end of the day, it’s still about money.

So in my recent last years, I was a trainee in ophthalmology, but I was getting impatient, cos I had friends of mine who were going out into private practise, making tonnes of money. And there I was, stuck in a traineeship. So I said, ‘Enough, it’s getting too long.’ At that time, there was a surge in protégés of aesthetic medicine. I’m sure you’re aware, aesthetic medicine had peaked over the last few years, and I saw good money in there. So much so that I said, ‘Forget about ophthalmology, I’m gonna do aesthetic medicine.’ So that’s what I did.

The truth is, nobody makes heroes out of the average GP in the neighbourhood. They don't. They make heroes out of rich celebrities, politicians, rich and famous people. So I wanted to be one of these. I dived straight into aesthetic medicine. People were not willing to pay when I was doing locum back in those days. Anything more than $30, they would complain that “Wah, this lo kun (doctor) jing qwee (very expensive)”. They made noise and they were not happy. But the same people were willing to pay $10 000 for a liposuction. So I said, ‘Well, let’s stop healing the sick, I’m gonna become a beautician; a medically-trained beautician.’

And that was what I did – liposuction, breast augmentation, eyelid surgeries, you name it, we do it. It was very good money. My clinic, when we started off, waiting time was 1 week; 1 month; became 2 months; became 3 months. There was so much demand that people were literally queuing up to have aesthetic work done on them. Vain women – easy life!

So the clinic grew. I was so overwhelmed, from 1 doctor, I employed 2, then 3, then 4 doctors, and carried on. Nothing is ever enough. I wanted more and more and more. So much so that we set up shop in Indonesia to lure all the Indonesian tai tai’s. We set up shop, set up a team of people there, to get more Indonesian patients to come in.

So, things were doing well. I’m there, my time has arrived.

Around some time in February last year, I said, ‘OK, I have so much spare cash, it’s time to get my first Ferrari. So there I was, getting ready for the deposit. ‘OK! There comes my first Ferrari!’ I was looking for land, to share with some of my friends. I have a banker friend who makes $5 million a year. So I thought, ‘Come, let’s come together. Let’s buy some land and build our houses.’

I was at my prime, getting ready to enjoy. At the same time, my friend Danny had a revival. They were going back to church, some of my close friends. They told me, ‘Richard, come, join us, come back to church.’

I have been a Christian for 20 years; I was baptised 20 years ago, but it was because it was fashionable to be a Christian then. All my friends were becoming Christians then. It was fashionable! I wanted to be baptised, so that when I filled in a form, I could put there “Christian” – feels good. In truth, I had never had a bible; I don’t know what the bible is all about.

I went to church for a while, after some time, I got tired. I said it’s time to go to NUS, stop going to church. I had a lot more things to pursue in NUS – girls, studies, sports etc. After all, I had achieved all these things without God today, so who needs God? I myself can achieve anything I want.

In my arrogance, I told them, “You know what? You go tell your pastor to change your sermon to 2pm. I will consider coming to church.” Such arrogance! And I said 1 statement in addition to that – till date, I don’t know I’ve regretted saying that – I told Danny and my friends, “If God really wanted me to come back to church, He will give me a sign.”. Lo and behold, 3 weeks later, I was back at church.


In March 2011, out of the blues – I was still running around, ‘cause I’m a gym freak and I always go to the gym training, running, swimming 6 days a week. I had some backache, and that’s all I had, but it was persistent. And so I went for an MRI to exclude prolapsed disc. And the day before I had my scan, I was still in the gym, lifting heavy weights, doing my squats. And the next day, they found that half my spine had bone marrow replacement. I said, “Woah, sorry, what’s that?”

We had a PET scan the next day, and they diagnosed that I had terminal lung cancer, stage 4B. It had spread to the brain, half the spine, whole of my lungs were filled with tumour, liver, adrenals…

I said, “Can’t be, I was just at the gym last night, what’s going on?” I’m sure you know how it feels – though I’m not sure if you know how it feels. One moment I was there at the peak, the next day, this news came and I was totally devastated. My whole world just turned upside down.

I couldn’t accept it. I have a hundred relatives on both sides, my mom and my dad. 100 of them. And not a single one has cancer. To me, in my mind, I have good genes, I’m not supposed to be having this! Some of my relatives are heavy chain smokers. Why am I having lung cancer? I was in denial.


So the next day, I was still in a state of denial, still unable to accept what was going on. There I was lying in an operating theatre in a hospital, for a needle biopsy (for histology). There I was, just completed the biopsy, and lying in the operating theatre. The nurses and doctors had left; told me I had to wait for 15 minutes to do a check X-ray to make sure there’s no pneumothorax (a complication).

And there I was, lying on the operating table, staring blankly at the ceiling in a cold, quiet operating theatre. Suddenly I just heard an inner voice; it was not like coming from outside. It was inside. This small inner voice that I had never felt before. And it said very specifically, it said, “This has to happen to you, at your prime, because it’s the only way you can understand.”

I said, “Woah, why did that come from?” You know, when you speak to yourself, you’d say, “OK, what time should I leave this place? Where shall I have dinner after this?” You’d speak from a first person point of view. You don’t say, “Where should YOU go after this?” Whereas the voice that came spoke as a third party. It said, “This has to happen to YOU, at YOUR prime, because this is the only way YOU can understand.” At that time, my emotions just overflowed and I broke down and cried, alone there. And I knew then, subsequently, what it means to understand that why this is the only way.

Because I had been so proud of myself, my whole life, I needed nobody else. I was gifted with things that I could do, why do I need anybody else? I was just so full of myself that there was no other way I could have turned back to God.

In fact, if I were diagnosed with stage 1 or 2, I would have been looking around busily for the best cardiothoracic surgeon, remove a section of the lobe (do a lobectomy), do preventive chemotherapy…The chances of it being cured is extremely high. Who needs God? But I had stage 4B. No man can help, only God can.

A series of events happened after that. I wasn’t sold after that, because of the inner voice, I became believing, prayers, all that. No I wasn’t. To me, it was just ‘maybe there was a voice; or maybe that was just me talking to myself.’ I didn’t buy the story.

What happened next was that I was being prepared for chemotherapy. I started off with a whole brain radiation therapy first; takes about 2 -3 weeks. In the meantime they prepared me for chemotherapy, supplements etc. One of the things they used for chemo was a thing called Zometa. Zometa - they use it to strengthen the bones; once the bone marrow (replacement) is cured of cancer cells, it becomes hollow, so we need Zometa to strengthen the bone to prevent compression fractures.

One of the side effects of Zometa is that it can cause osteonecrosis (bone death) of the jaw, and I had to have my wisdom teeth removed. Years ago, I had my upper wisdom teeth removed, cos it was giving me trouble. The lower ones didn’t give me trouble so I said, “Forget it, just leave it.” So of cause, Danny volunteered to remove it for me.

So there I was, lying there in a dental chair, asking myself, suffering all the side effects of radiotherapy, and now I have to go through wisdom tooth surgery. As if I’ve not had enough to suffer! So I asked Danny, “Eh, bro, is there any other way? Can I not go though this?” He said, “Yes, you can pray.”

I said, “What’s there to lose? Ok lah, pray lah!” And so we prayed. And we did an X-ray after that. Everything was all there, all the appliances and everything. And lo and behold, the Xray showed that there was no wisdom teeth in the lower jaw. I know most people have 4 wisdom teeth, maybe some have none, but to be missing one or 2, as I understand – I’m not too sure, as I understand – is not that common.

Still I was, “Nah, I don’t care about that.” To me, as long as I didn’t have to take out the tooth, I was happy. At that point, I still wasn’t sold on prayers. Maybe it was just a coincidence – for whatever it’s worth.

I continued meeting my oncologist, asking him, “How long do I have?” I asked him. He said, not more than 6 months. I said, “Even with chemotherapy?” About 3 – 4 months, he said.

I couldn’t grasp that. It was difficult to come to terms. And even as I went through radiotherapy, I was struggling everyday, especially when I wake up, hoping that it’s just a nightmare; when I wake up, it’s all over.

As I was struggling, day after day, I went into depression, which is the typical denial, depression blah blah blah that you go through. But for 1 reason, I don’t know why, there was this specific day that I was supposed to meet my oncologist. At about 2pm, I felt this sudden surge of peace, comfort, and in fact, a little happiness. It was just overflowing. For no rhyme or reason, it just came about 2pm, as I was getting ready, dressing up to meet my oncologist. So much so that I whats-apped all my friends that, “Bros, I just feel so good suddenly! I don’t know why, it just came!”

And it was only days, or was it weeks after, that Danny revealed to me that he had fasted for 2 days for me, and he was bargaining with God, and fasted for 2 dyas, and he ended his fast at that exact same point, about 2pm thereabouts, that this surge of sensation came to me for no rhyme or reason. And I didn’t know that he was fasting for me. And when he ended the fast, I felt that sensation!

Whoa, things were getting a bit too coincidental. I was starting to buy a bit of the story, but still I wasn’t sold. As days passed by, I completed my radiotherapy, about 2 weeks plus. Getting ready for chemo, so they let me rest for a few days.

See, the mortality rate of lung cancer : Lung cancer has the highest mortality rate. If you add up breast, colorectal (colon) cancer, and prostate cancer (the top few cancers in Singapore for men and women), if you add up the mortality rate of these 3, it still doesn’t add up to lung cancer. Simply because, you understand, you can remove the prostate, the colon, the breast, but you cannot remove your lungs.

But there’s about 10% of lung cancer patients who do pretty well for some reasons, because they have this specific mutation; we call it the EGFR mutation. And it happens, only 90% of the time, in Asian ladies who never smoked in their lives. Me, first of all, I’m male. 2ndly, I’m a social smoker. I take one a day after dinner; weekends, when my friends offer me, I take it as well. I’m a light smoker, not a social smoker. But still, my oncologist was still not hopeful for me to have this mutation.

The chances of it happening for me was maybe 3-4% for me to get it. That’s why I was being primed to go for chemo. But through all the intense prayers, friends like Danny, people that I don’t even know, it turned out that, during my waiting for chemo, the results came back that I was EGFR positive. I was like, “Woah, good news!” Cos now I don’t have to undergo chemo at that time, because there’s this oral tablet that you can use to control this disease.

Just to share with you some idea – this is a CT scan – thorax – of my lungs, before treatment.


Every single dot there is a tumour. You can see all the mets (metastasis) there. This is just one single plane. Literally I had it in both lungs, and I had literally tens of thousands of tumour. That’s why the oncologist told me, even with chemo, at most 3-4 months.

But because of this mutation, they have this oral medication. This is what happened after 2 months of treatment. As you can see over here; this is what God can do. And that’s why I’m still here having this opportunity to share with you. As you can see over here, the difference between before and after treatment.

At that point, I said, “Well, it’s to be expected, isn’t it? The medicine is good.” I’m still not buying the story. Well, the guys prayed for me and the tumour markers started to come down. 90% of the tumours were wiped out, and the tumour markers came down to more than 90% over the next few months.

But still, you know, once you have the clinical knowledge, you know the statistics. One year survival, two year survival; having all this knowledge is not a good thing. Cos you live with the knowledge that even with all this, the cancer cells are so unstable, they keep mutating. They will overcome and become resistant to the drugs, and eventually you’re gonna run out of medication.

So living with this knowledge is a huge mental struggle, a huge mental torture. Cancer is not just about a physical struggle, it’s a huge mental torture. How do you live with no hope? How do you live with not being able to plan for the next few years? The oncologist tells you to bear with it for the next 1 – 2 months. So it’s a lot of struggles as I went through: March, then April. April was my lowest point, in deep depression, struggling even as I was recovering.


And one of those days, I was there in bed, struggling in the afternoon, asking God, “Why? Why do I have to go through this suffering? Why do I have to endure this hardship, this struggle? Why me?”

As I fell asleep, in my dreamy state, a vision just came, that says Hebrews 12:7-8.

Now mind you, at this time, I had not read the bible. I have no clue what’s Hebrews, I don’t even know how many chapters there are. Totally clueless.

But it says Hebrews 12:7-8, very specifically.

I didn’t think too much of it. I just continued sleeping. Then I woke up, and I said, “What’s there to lose? I’d just check it out lah!” Danny had bought me a bible; it’s still quite new. I said, “It’s ok, just try.” So I flipped to the Old Testament. Hebrews to me sounds like something ancient, so it should be in the Old Testament right? So I flipped through the Old Testament. No Hebrews there. I was so disappointed.

Then I said, “Maybe New Testament, let’s have a look!”. WOW – New Testament, there’s Hebrew’s!! It says Hebrews 12:7-8. It says, “Endure hardship as discipline as God is treating you as His children.”

I said, “WAH!! Where did that come from?” I was getting goose pimples all over my body. I said, “This can’t be, right?” I mean, what’s the chance of somebody, who has never read the bible, to have a vision of a chapter of a specific verse, that answers my question directly?

I think God called to me directly as I was there sleeping, struggling with it, asking God, “Why do I have to suffer? Why do I have to suffer this?” And God says “Endure hardship as discipline as God is treating you as His child.”

At this point, the chance of that happening is even lesser than my EGFR being positive. There’s just no way; there’s so many millions of thousands of verses in the bible, how can I just conjure up something like that?

So at that point, I was sold I said, “YOU WIN! YOU WIN!!”

Ok , I was convinced. And so from that day onwards, I started believing in my God. And the last time I heard that inner voice was the end of April. And that inner voice, same thing, in the afternoon, as I was sleeping (this time I wasn’t struggling, just going to sleep). In a dreamy state I just heard Him say, “Help others in hardship.”

It was more like a command, rather than a statement. And that’s when I embarked on this journey, helping others in hardship. And I realised that hardship is not just about being poor. In fact, I think a lot of poor people are probably happier than a lot of us here. They are so easily contented with whatever they have, they’re probably pretty happy.

Hardship can happen to rich people; it can be physical hardship, mental hardship, social, etc. And also over the last few months, I started to understand what this true joy is about. In the past, I substituted true joy with the pursuing of wealth. I thought true joy is about pursuing wealth. Why? Cos let me put it to you this way, in my death bed, I found no joy whatsoever in whatever objects I had – my Ferrari, thinking of the land I was going to buy to build my bungalow etc, having a successful business.

It brought me ZERO comfort, ZERO joy, nothing at all. Do you think I can hold onto this piece of metal and it’s going to give true joy? Nah, it’s not going to happen.

True joy comes from interaction with other people. And at a lot of times, it is a short term pride, the past. When you pursue your wealth, Chinese New Year is the best time to do it. Drive my Ferrari, show off to my relatives, show off to my friends, do my rounds, and then you thought that was true joy? You really think that those guys who sold you your Ferrari, they share their joy with you? And your relatives, wow, they share this joy with you? In truth, what you have done is just to illicit envy, jealousy, and even hatred. They are not sharing the joy with you, and what I have is that short-term pride that wow, I have something you don’t have! And I thought that was joy!

So what we have is basically a short-term pride at the expense of somebody else. And that wasn’t true joy. And I found no joy at all on my deathbed, thinking of my Ferrari – to hold on to it, sayang it?!?

True joy I discovered comes from interaction. Over the last few months I was so down. Interaction with my loved ones, my friends, my brothers in Christ, my sisters in Christ, and only then was I able to be motivated, able to be uplifted. To share your sorrow, to share your happiness – that’s true joy.

And you know what makes you smile? True joy comes from helping others in hardship, and because I’ve gone through this, I know what hardship entails. In fact, there’re some cancer patients who tell me a lot of times, people come up to them and tell them, “Stay positive. Stay positive.” Yah, right. You come in my shoes and you try to stay positive! You don’t know what you’re talking about!

But I have the licence. So I’ve been going out to meet other fellow cancer patients, to share with them, encourage them. And I know, because I’ve been through it, and it’s easier for me to talk to them.

And most importantly, I think true joy comes from knowing God. Not knowing about God – I mean, you can read the bible and know about God – but knowing God personally; getting a relationship with God. I think that’s the most important. That’s what I’ve learnt.

So if I were to sum it up, I’d say that the earlier we sort out the priorities in our lives, the better it is. Don’t be like me – I had no other way. I had to learn it through the hard way. I had to come back to God to thank Him for this opportunity because I’ve had 3 major accidents in my past – car accidents. You know, these sports car accidents – I was always speeding , but somehow I always came out alive, even with the car almost being overturned. And I wouldn’t have had a chance. Who knows, I don’t know where else I’d be going to! Even though I was baptised it was just a show, but the fact that this has happened, it gave me a chance to come back to God.

Few things I’d learnt though:
1. Trust in the Lord your God with all your heart – this is so important.
2. Is to love and serve others, not just ourselves.

There is nothing wrong with being rich or wealthy. I think it’s absolutely alright, cos God has blessed. So many people are blessed with good wealth, but the trouble is I think a lot of us can’t handle it. The more we have, the more we want. I’ve gone through it, the deeper the hole we dig, the more we get sucked into it, so much so that we worship wealth and lose focus. Instead of worshipping God, we worship wealth. It’s just a human instinct. It’s just so difficult to get out of it.

We are all professionals, and when we go into private practise, we start to build up our wealth – inevitably. So my thought are, when you start to build up wealth and when the opportunity comes, do remember that all these things don’t belong to us. We don’t really own it nor have rights to this wealth. It’s actually God’s gift to us. Remember that it’s more important to further His Kingdom rather than to further ourselves.

Anyway I think that I’ve gone through it, and I know that wealth without God is empty. It is more important that you fill up the wealth, as you build it up subsequently, as professionals and all, you need to fill it up with the wealth of God.

I think that’s about it. It’s good to share. Thanks.
Eric Tham added a memorabilia for Dr Richard Teo Keng Siang

Sunday, October 28, 2012

'P' Driver: Terror Rides...

My eldest has passed in her driving test, got herself her probationary driving license and all of us were taken for a terror ride. In my life, I only allow a few people to fetch me around. Being a fast driver, I feel completely safe driving myself around but when others drive me around, I will squirm in the seat and scream my lungs out. A couple of Saturdays back, my eldest offered to drive me to the nearest Tesco to get me a few things that I needed for the kitchen. I gladly handed her the keys and I chose to sit at the back. I have always have this thought that if I were to sit behind, I wouldn't die that fast. Pork volunteered to sit in front. 

By the time we turned out of the junction, there was a huge bump and my eldest just stepped on the gas pedal as if the bump ceased to exist. I was screaming for her to slow down and due to her incompetence to estimate the distance and the meaning of slowing down, we flew through the bump and came to a sudden halt as she hit the brake. And my heart just went on a bungee jump down the legs. I was about to puke and we were just a few metres out of the house. It was a safe journey from then until we reached Tesco and she created a traffic jam when she couldn't turn into the parking lot. There were two parking lots available, one required her to drive in head-on and the other lot required the reverse parking skill. She has neither the skills and since impatient drivers were honking, I asked her to get down and I took over the wheels. I was glad we reached Tesco in one piece.

The journey back home was even more horrifying. The vehicle almost flipped when she turned into the housing area and almost drove straight up into the road divider. I screamed my lungs out and I was glad she was able to straighten the vehicle instead of crashing into the divider. Pork and I stepped out of the vehicle with ashen faces. 
The next day, I was lenient enough to let her drive me from the centre of town and heading south. Usually I would be flying through the coastal road but since we left the house earlier, she was given a chance to drive with ME sitting in front, coaching her. To the driving schools out there, all the instructors did a poor job. No wonder there are so many accidents involving new drivers. I proved to be a better instructor. I thought her how to change into the correct gear, when to step on the clutch, when to change down WITHOUT stepping on the clutch and how to step on the gas pedal and release the clutch without making the car hopping like a sick kangaroo. 

I was barking in so many orders but I think she learned more from me in half an hour compared to her few driving lessons which comprised of driving in quiet highway without much traffic. Those who need refreshment courses on driving, come and see me... with your own car... but I'm having second thoughts now. I wouldn't want to risk my life... I would rather drive myself... hehehehehe

Secret Recipe...

I don't have any secret recipes. I was just gonna say that the day it was pouring cats and dogs and I was an hour late for my class, I had the opportunity to flip through the newspapers, reading every page including the advertisements and the promotions. I was looking at the buy 1 free 1 marble cheesecake in conjunction to Secret Recipe's 15th anniversary. Mi mama happened to call so I just mentioned it to her. The cheesecake wasn't cheap but if it was a buy 1 free 1, it was a good deal seeing that the material to produce a cheesecake ain't anywhere cheap.
It was stated that the promotion would start at 11a.m. at the Gurney Plaza outlet. The other house was near Gurney Plaza... you can say that I have houses with the best location. The houses are near to everywhere. Look at the queue and to think that I would join the crowd, it was unthinkable. But I went. I was there at 11:15a.m. and  I thought the queue should be just nice since I was just 15 minutes later than the starting time. I was wrong though. Gracie was already nearing the cashier when I reached and she walked away happily with two marble cheesecake. By the time it reached my turn, I was the 106th customer. Oh, wow~! And it was an hour later that the lady-in-charge said to the customers in front of me that there wasn't enough marble cheesecakes to be given away so we had to make do with one marble cheesecake and one voucher to be claimed within a week.
I was about to protest as I have waited for an hour and to go back there again was a waste of time. At the sight of size of the marble cheesecake, which was worth RM86 inclusive of taxes, it wasn't worth the money. Then, I thank God that I was 15 minutes late and I was the 106th customer. The lady-in-charge said that we could claim whichever cake we wanted on display, provided that there was ready stock in the refrigerator. But when the vouchers were given out, I DO read the fine prints. It was written that if there's marble cheesecake in store, then we would be given the same cake. Between verbal promises and black and white statement, black and white would have won any arguments as no one recorded what the lady and the cashiers said.
I was one step smarter. I was thinking that if I go again the next day, the marble cheesecake wouldn't reach on time all the way from Kuala Lumpur. So I would have the chance to choose other cakes. There wasn't much choices to choose from among the cheesecakes selection. To choose from chocolate fudge won't be a good bargain, so I brought my pineapple and my precious along, and being chocolate lovers, except for my pineapple, we settled for the chocolate berries cheesecake. I sort of love it but my own homemade chocolate cheesecake was a level above this commercialized cheesecake. 

It proved to be true that black and white statement was at the upper hand. The girl who went with me said there were so many marble cheesecakes to be handed out with those holding the vouchers 5 days later. Thank God for my witty mind :D

When It Rains, It Pours...

The monsoon season is coming and it looks like most of the states in Malaysia is getting a taste of it. Penang is still the state protected due to its strategic geographical location and shielded by prayers against flood. The newspapers state that authorities are all geared up for various flood-prone states to face the onslaught of heavy rainfalls. When it rains, it really pours. Just a few weeks back, it was pouring cats and dogs. I looked out from my window and I got a 'scene' that I usually see from afar like from the top of my apartment building. But since this is a landed property, I have a totally different view. 
The large football and recreational field with potholes were flooded. I can release a few of my ducks fighting fish to have a good swim in the field. Moreover, the house is surrounded by two primary vernacular schools and a huge national schools. That explains why the house is always dusty with roughly about a thousands passing by the house on weekdays. Opposite the house, in front of the schools, is a one way street. All cars will make one round and pass by the house, unless they exit in another opening, and drivers are driving especially slower than tortoises and snails add up both on a rainy day.
Look at the crawling traffic. That's total madness and I purposely woke up early on that day so that I wouldn't be late for my class in town. Waking up early was a bad move. I should have just slept until a little after  eight then the traffic would have dissipated. 
I was stuck in my own house. Even if I braved the heavy rain and opened the gate, I wouldn't be able to reverse my car out of the porch. In the end, I walked around in the house to wait until the traffic cleared off. The main road leading to the house is always under water once it pours. You can have a jet-ski roaring around during those days. There was a good side to heavy downpours. Every time after the rain stops, the plants in the garden would just sprout a few more inches taller.