The End Of The Bright And Shiny Era

Wednesday, February 29, 2012
A few years ago, on my 30th birthday, I decided to give myself the gift of sight by undergoing LASIK laser eye surgery. At that time, I had been a contact lens wearer for the last 10 years and wore glasses 3 years prior that. I was not totally blind although hazy and fuzzy were words that would best describe the vision I had of the world when I was off my lenses.

It was quite something when the laser machine actually greeted me on my birthday (because I did it exactly on the date of my 30th birthday).

After that, everything was so clear. The surgery did go well. I was truly amazed at the power of technology. I could see even the smallest dot at the farthest corner of the sky. So this is what they called 20/20 vision. I dubbed this my "bright and shiny" era when every single thing was...well, bright and shiny.

But of course, all good things must come to an end. It was a gradual event that took a few years in the making. It shouldn't have come as a surprise although for me, it was just a shock to find that one morning, I could not read some small letters on the TV screen when I woke up. The realisation was that my vision was starting to go. Again. A visit to the optometrist confirms that I'll be needing new glasses when I drive at night. But she assures me that all is still well and I am far, far away from where I was before the surgery. It is not the end of the world. Just the end of the bright and shiny part without lenses.

There are many reasons for the decline, most of it has to do with age and heredity. Plus, I was still the same old girl with her same old dangerous ways - working with computers, reading too much, watching too much, straining my eyes, etc.

I do not regret going through LASIK though. It was the brightest and shiniest years of my life. Even if the benefits I reaped felt very brief. I knew this was eventually gonna happen as I was informed before I underwent the surgery. It was not permanent. It was just a chance to start over again.

VTT Postcard - Cape Town - Rhodes Memorial

Monday, February 27, 2012
After we left the Castle, we headed to Rhodes Memorial. I heard that Rhodes Memorial was a serene spot to walk around in. It's a pity the family was in no mood to walk any further. We did not stay at the Rhodes Memorial too long.

Overview of Cape Town from Rhodes Memorial

Rhodes Memorial was dedicated to the English-born South African politician, Cecil John Rhodes. I suppose the family has had enough of history for one day and so was not really that impressed with the life and death of one Mr Cecil John Rhodes.

Bored....bored....terribly bored....

After taking some pictures, we left the Memorial for our next stop.

Lion statues at Rhodes Memorial

For more information, click here.

VTT Postcard - Cape Town - Castle Of Good Hope

Monday, February 20, 2012
On the second day of our holiday, I planned for the family to go see some military history at the Castle Of Good Hope.

The Castle has been in existence since the 1670s. It used to be a fort and military centre and even a prison. Nowadays, the Castle houses the Military Museum and holds a high-noon firing of the cannon.
The preparation of firing the cannons

There were hour-long guided tours of the Castle, where the tour guide would narrate the history and take you around different areas of the Castle. The Castle's pentagonal shape highly reminds me of The Pentagon in the United States.

During the tour, the most memorable for me and my kids was the interrogation room that the tour guide led us into. The interrogation room was where the soldiers used to bring captives and punish them. The interrogation room had an adjoining room attached to it where the captives were kept. The adjoining room was filled with emptiness except for a barred window placed almost to the ceiling that let some light in. This was the only thing that the prisoners would see during their stay in this room, sometimes for several days on end. The soldiers would take one prisoner and torture him in the interrogation room while the rest would be locked up in the adjoining room. The screams and howls of the tortured would then drive fear into the rest of the captives. Quite wicked.

Missy just couldn't shake the fear from her facial expression

There is a key ceremony that occurs right before the firing of the Signal Cannon is performed. Both the ceremony and the firing are the main highlight of visiting the Castle.

Key Ceremony
Firing of the Cannon

After which, we spent a few minutes at the Military Museum, looking through historical weapons and waxed replica of native people in South Africa.

The Castle of Good Hope is definitely a piece of history not to be missed. Go on and check out their site.

Movie Watch: Ip Man

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I remember my eldest's first reaction when I told her that I had bought this DVD. "IP Man? Is this movie about an IT guy? Something similar to The Social Network?"

If you had any such idea akin to my eldest above, rest assure that Ip Man is not some hacker trolling the internet. Take it out of your mind now. Ip Man is wonderfully written and if you watch it with an open mind, it will even surprise you.

The movie has been in circulation since 2008. But I only stumbled upon the movie recently when a Chinese friend recommended that we watch it. I was not the least bit skeptical in purchasing my own copy of the movie because most of the Chinese movies that I've watched with my family have not failed me yet. They've enjoyed most of the movies even if they could not understand a single word said and could only follow the subtitles.

Ip Man is an autobiographical look at the life of Yip Man, a martial arts grandmaster who later became the mentor of the famous Bruce Lee. The movie follows Yip Man's life in China and the hardship that followed during the Japanese invasion of China in 1937. He uses his knowledge and mastery to survive and in the end, after defeating a Japanese leader in a public martial arts fight, he gave hope to the Chinese people to break free from the abuse of the Japanese.

The storyline seems simple enough but it is beautifully portrayed and narrated. Donnie Yen, a Hong Kong actor, represented Yip Man with such subtlety. His mannerism, poise, in fact, his whole demeanor depicted that grandmasters do not need big muscles to be great men.

The DVD I had did not come in English and was only available in Cantonese with English subtitles. But you know what? The family enjoyed it. Hubby was really blown away with all the action scenes.

So if you want a night in and a good movie, go and borrow this DVD at your local rental shop now. You won't regret it.

See my post about the sequel here.

VTT Postcard - Cape Town - Table Mountain

Monday, February 13, 2012
One of the biggest uncertainty when it comes to visiting Cape Town is its weather. It is fickle and often goes from one extreme to the next with no warnings. More than normal, Cape Town has windy conditions that prove too hard to handle.

Because of such, I have been advised by many friends to not waste any time. When the sun is up and shining and the weather is glorious, do what you want to do before the weather turns.

Top of our list to see in Cape Town was of course, the majestic Table Mountain. It had recently won top honours for being part of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

So on our first day of sightseeing, we left around 9am to go up the mountain. The queue alone was unbelievable. We keep forgetting that it was December and Cape Town, like any tourist spots all over the world, is jampacked with tourists. We queued for 2 long hours until we got to the top of the mountain. It was an experience to ride up the cable that rotated so it could give the people a 360 degree view of the city from above.

When we got to the top, the views on all sides were magnificent. We tried to capture most of it on camera but I don't think any amount of pixels can truly describe how beautiful the scenes were.

Table Mountain did not disappoint. In fact, it had exceeded expectations.

We enjoyed lunch in the restaurant situated atop the mountain. After 2 hours of roaming around, we decided to descend. It took another hour to queue down. We officially got off the mountain around 3pm.

It was too late for the next sightsee so we called it a day.

Website: Table Mountain Aerial Cableway

Record Me, Rolling In The Deep

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Another item on my bucket list achieved! I am chuffed. Just over a month ago, I got my lifelong dream to record my first ever song in a recording studio. And was it an experience of a lifetime! I tell you, it was truly a magical moment.

A few months ago, the offer came up on Groupon to buy an hour of studio time at a relatively cheap price. I grabbed at the chance. After all, who knows when this kind of deal was gonna come up again?

I booked my studio date way ahead although I had not chosen my track at the time. I was debating on going with an old ballad or a new one, fast or slow song, etc. And I just couldn't decide. Left it for the time being.

In the end, I chose "Rolling In The Deep". Of course, the song "Rolling In The Deep" is not my own song entirely. The song is made famous by Adele and is one of my fave songs at the moment. I chose it on the night before I was to go to the studios after watching an Adele concert. I chose it because I felt that I really, really liked the song. And I liked it that much to want to hear how I sounded in it.

The studio time went without a hitch. I sang the song acapella at first so that the sound engineer could normalise my voice. Sang it a second time with the track to hear how my voice jelled with the song. And sang it a third time as the final product.

I'm no idol but I am proud of myself. Not just because the recording turned out quite decent, coming off something like an Americanised Adele. I am proud that I even dared and eventually achieved another one of my dreams. It's a good feeling. I will never stop reaching for my dreams now, most definitely.

For a sample of my attempt of rolling in the deep - here's the link. Tell me what you think.

VTT Postcard - Cape Town - Intro

Monday, February 6, 2012

Yep! December 2011 marked the month when we eventually went frolicking to South Africa's mother city, Cape Town. It is quite shameful to say that in all our years in South Africa, this was our first visit to the place. But we were not disappointed. Cape Town lived up to its name as a top tourist destination in South Africa.

Cape Town is located in the south-western tip of South Africa. If you were coming from Johannesburg, like we were, it was a good 16 hours of straight driving, one way. Even with hubby and me, alternating on the wheel, we decided that it would be best and safer if we stopped over somewhere and rather just spend 2 days of driving with occasional stops. We were there for a good solid week anyway. And we got to spend New Year's there.

Although Cape Town is one of the big cities in South Africa, it was far removed from the fast-paced life and buzz of Johannesburg. Cape Town had vibe and mellowness at the same time. The beaches and the scenery weren't bad additions to the equation.

In the next few weeks, I'll be showcasing Cape Town in all its glory....well, the ones that we got to see anyway. One week for Cape Town was not enough. I reckon we needed a month to properly take it all in.

I'd like to invite my readers to take this trip with me to the Mother City again, week by week. You never know when you'll get the chance, but it will definitely be on top of your list of future possible destinations if you have not been there yet.

On a convincing last note, recently, Table Mountain was voted as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Table Mountain is a mountain right gobsmacked in the middle of the city, towering over Cape Town. Enticing enough?

I'm On A Head Hunt

Wednesday, February 1, 2012
It's nice to feel wanted. It's nice to feel needed. It's nice to feel special.

I am not bragging although this post could come across like it. In my lifetime (35 years and counting), I have had this experience 4 times. And out of the 4, 2 were successful placements. It's basically a Cinderella fairy tale story set in the business world.

One of my headhunting stories started when I was approached by a person for a meeting. She went on to tell me that they were looking to hire somebody for their company. She was the owner of the company and she needed THAT person to have knowledge and experience in the industry before.

She used the internet as her tool, and apparently I was spurted out by Google when searched. She found my LinkedIn profile (yes, I have one of those) and saw that I was in close vicinity. She figured there was nothing to lose and looked up the company that I was currently working for, phoned the company up and got through to me.

She made her pitch and of course, being human, it piqued my interest. I agreed to go through an interview process with the other key individuals within the company.

I don't think the outcome matters for very much (not in this post anyway). But the mere fact that a person made all that effort was really something. Like I said, it's nice to feel that you stood out enough among the masses to have captured somebody's attention. If I did not get the job, it was definitely worth the thrill of being sought.

Do you feel the same way? What are your headhunting experiences?

Note to reader: I did get the job and I am hoping that it is the right move for me. I start today.