The grandma’s girl

I’ve always been a grandma kind of girl.

For many good reasons, I must say. Without her, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.

My parents hold full-time jobs in our family business. It’s a very simple equation. No work = no money to feed the mouths. My grandma was the one who brought most of us up. Without her, the household probably wouldn’t be functional.

My earliest memories of her hover in my schooling days. She would put me in a shopping trolley where I’ll sit while we go marketing for groceries. Later, I’d sit in the passenger seat of her bicycle when she would send me to kindergarten. Without her, I probably wouldn’t be able to dance too, she was the one who drove me around for my dance practices.

She was (is?) also the source for extra pocket money to purchase the prized bookshop (often, useless) stationery and later, my travels. Up till a couple of weeks ago, she was still cooking my supper and sometimes, Sunday bee hoon to bring to rehearsals.

Then, she had a stroke.

A stroke is defined as a “brain attack” where blood flow is cut off to the brain. Once oxygen flow is cut off, the brain cells begin to die. How a person is affected by a stroke depends on which part of the brain it is and how much of the brain cells are affected.

And strokes change lives.

I used to do quite a bit of healthcare communications and the information is gushing back at me very quickly. The previous caregiver and patient studies seemed a lot more realistic and are coming alive as we speak. I understand why the caregiver often can’t speak without tears welling up in their eyes because emotions engulf them.

Loss of physical mobility

Previously, she was an active senior who could get by easily and now, she is dependent on a caregiver for the daily life functions that we take for granted. Simple things such as:

  • Going to the toilet
  • Showering
  • Brushing her teeth

To someone on the outside, you’d think, it’s just going about with your daily life, needing some extra help isn’t it?

I hate to say this until you have someone who is dependent on caregiving 24/7, you probably wouldn’t understand how tiring it is. You can’t leave her alone, not even when she is sleeping because she may need to go to the toilet.

Devotion of a child

You know why your parents keep asking you to get married and have kids? Your offspring are your safeguards for old age.

It is so easy to shirk off responsibility and ship off old age to a nursing home or day care centre. Just across the causeway, you can get a two-bedder assisted living room for approx S$900 a month. I think this is probably my personal choice when it comes to me being old and immobile.

It takes the love of a devoted child. I really admire my Mum because she is not even a daughter of my (paternal) grandma, just a daughter-in-law, but she is so selfless in helping to take on the bulk of the caregiving. When it comes down to crunch time, things such as helping to shower and assisting her to the toilet, the champ is the one who steps up to the call.

Taking care of an immobile aged parent is more than just visiting for a few hours per day.

I don’t think my Mum is any different from any of us: She holds a full-time job, she is the parent to four children (and grandparent to a baby boy) yet she does her part more than anyone. She sleeps less, go out less and made way more personal sacrifices.

I stand by my point that multiple children may not be necessary: You either earn enough money to take care of yourself or you groom a child who will be able to take care of you.

Emotions

Strokes are not a leading cause of death but it is a leading cause of chronic disability.

Depression is a common sight among stroke patients. I’d be depressed too if the only thing I can do is lie/sit down and have to wait for people to serve me.

Impacts on me

This incident has been an emotional roller coaster more than anything. Also, the caregiving is tiring.

I never expected myself to be okay helping someone to bath and go toilet but when it comes to crunch time, you just have to put aside all inhibitions.

The hardest thing to come to realisation is that my grandma will probably not regain her full mobility. Even with rehab and physio, her mobility is likely going to be reduced to 2/3 of what she previously had.

That is the hardest thing to come to terms to…

That Ah Ma will never be the same again.

 

GuavaPass so far: 3 months checkpoint and my favourite Yoga studios

I’ve always been an active person, constantly moving and thinking ahead of my next step. When I made a decision to introduce fitness back into my life, last Christmas, I felt that Yoga and Pilates will be complements to dancing.

I wasn’t ready to sign on a studio membership. Have you seen the number of studios that have closed down without much notice in the last year? Boutique studios, Sadhana Sanctuary, Space & Light and BYCH have closed their doors and even chains, True Yoga has shuttered one outlet and Viva Fit has stopped operations in four outlets with two remaining franchise outlets. I don’t think I want to deal with having to seek mediation if a studio that I signed with closed down.

In come with fitness subscriptions which I am an advocate of. Long story short, you have access to a limited number of classes in its partner studios. There are two such fitness subscription providers in Singapore: KFit and GuavaPass. Your subscription is renewable monthly. Read: my full fitness subscription review of GuavaPass and KFit.

I have been on GuavaPass for three months so far and I attend mostly yoga classes.

Referrals and promotions

Just like any subscription that survives on sales, referrals are important.

GuavaPass: Each new member gets $40 off their first month with a referral code. The refereed gets $40 off to be applied in next month’s membership.

My GuavaPass promo code /referral link : https://goo.gl/Zo3tpd

KFit: Every new member gets $10 off and refereed gets $10 off. KFit seems to be changing their referral program fee very frequently. If you’ll like to double check on how much discount exactly there is, I’d suggest to drop me an email at hello@meowsyy.com and I’ll get back to you within 12-24 hours.

My KFit referral link / promo code is: JVBGZ 

The Not So Goods

Class cancellations

This has proved to be the biggest challenge for me so far. Most class cancellations require a 12-hour notice. For example, a 7.30pm class needs to be cancelled by 7.30am. Say bye to spontaneous dinner appointments or incur a $15 cancellation charge. Worse, a no show costs you $20.

Partner studio changes

You need to be prepared that your favourite classes may not be available. My favourite Pilates Reformer classes at R-Evolution were stopped when the studio closed down. Likewise, I only attended one Music Flow at Singapore School of Meditation and Yoga and was looking forward to more.

The Good Stuff

The user intuitive website

I prefer booking classes on the GuavaPass desktop website for its user-friendly interface. Then again, I am mostly desk-bound with frequent desktop access. The mobile app is convenient for last minute class bookings.

Last minute class bookings

From what I have observed, class bookings typically close an hour before the class, subject to availability of course. There have also been instances where last minute slots for popular classes open up.

My favourite yoga studios

I used to attend 3-5 classes a week but have dropped to 2-4 classes with my current dance rehearsal schedule. These are some of my favourite studios. I grew up on a staple diet of dance classes since young. Yoga is not my main form of exercise but complements my dance training. I find myself gravitating towards flow and power classes for the dynamic movements.

Updog Studio (East Coast)*

Update: Aug 2016, Updog is no longer a GuavaPass partner. Leaving this here for whoever finds it useful.

I am an Eastie and the location of the studio is easily accessible for me. My favourites are the Hot Flow and Hot Hatha classes. Coupled that with the beautiful full-length windows and breezy dressing rooms/showers, the full studio experience is always enjoyable.

Strala (Boat Quay)

The previous Strala at Armenian Street

The feel of Strala’s classes is quite different from other yoga classes I have attended. Strala is founded by Tara Stiles who is known for being a yoga rebel. The studio follows her style, which is flow based where one moves with ease from poses to poses.

Perhaps as a dancer before a yogi, the easy flow of poses resonates with me. My favourite Strala class is Strong – similar to that of power yoga. Expect inversions and hand stands in Strong classes.

Ziva (Tiong Bahru)

Ziva is the Sanskrit word for bliss and the studio is aptly named. I feel at ease whenever I attend class at Ziva. It is unpretentious and homely. Each class is 75 minutes, you don’t feel like you rush through the closing sequences.

The studio is also centrally located in Tiong Bahru, easily accessible from CBD.

Avante (Raffles Place)

The studio is famed for the Dianamic yoga class which is named after its founder Diana but I’ve yet to try her class.

Friday night is an unpopular slot for classes, I supposed most people would want to go for dates, drinks and wind down for the weekend. Avante has a unique 8.30pm Friday night class. The instructor, Angela, is known to push you to your limits. Expect physical adjustments. I almost hobbled out of my first class.

Alpha Balance (Multiple locations)

This is the Canvass studio. Alpha Balance is a dedicated collective of yoga and pilates instructors with classes across multiple locations.

There is a Wednesday 1.5 hour Vinyasa Flow class which really tests your endurance. It is a test of mind over body.

Bonus: Glow Yoga (Holland Village)

Flow at Glow Yoga was quite an intriguing experience. This was possibly, the most spiritual class I have attended and may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

A home studio within the instructor’s home, the space is filled with precious stones and knick knacks from travels. The instructor, Amy, did some incense twirling and ringing of bells to cleanse the room’s energy. It was an enlightening experience for me, Glow is like another “branch” of yoga seldom seen and experienced in Singapore. If you’re comfortable with yoga with a tinge of spirituality, try Amy’s class for a fresh perspective.

 

International Country Candy/Post Card Swap

I haven’t been on Swap Bot for a couple of years after my favourite swaps have ended.

If you’re not in the know: Swap Bot is an online platform created to facilitate group snail mail and internet swaps. It is a trust-based thing – you trust that your partner will send you the swap and your assigned partner trusts that you will send him/her the swap. I’ve completed nine swaps so far and I’ve not been flaked on. I swap exclusively food items only although there are multiple items to swap.

The swap I’ve just received is an International Country Candy / Post Card Swap where you send four types of candy + 1 postcard to your partner.

Sometimes, it’s also a luck thing. I was lucky to have a partner from USA (my favourite country to receive items from) but I sent to someone in Malaysia – unlucky for her as our countries’ products are pretty similar.

I have only tried the Bit-O-Honey and I really like the malted taste.

Johor Bahru 2016: Bello Hotel

After I had discovered the Transtar Cross Border service, I am a changed woman when it comes to Johor Bahru day trips.

Instead of squeezing all activities into a day and hiking in the hot heat, I’m all for staying over in JB and enjoying more meals across the causeway.

If you only need a clean and comfortable place to sleep that is a skip and a hop away from City Square, Bello Hotel is your man.

One of the new kids on the block, Bello Hotel only started operations in June 2015. There are only 50 rooms across six floors and yes, there is a lift.

We stayed in a twin room that was small and cosy. The room was quite far away from the lifts so we were spared from the noise.

For the price we paid, approx S$76 for a twin room, I think the hotel is value for money. You get a comfortable bed, air conditioning, rain shower and okay wifi. I’d definitely stay here again if I am staying over in JB.

The Good

  • Superb location: The hotel is just behind City Square, you can pop by for an afternoon nap if you are tired. After a night’s shopping, you are reassured that the hotel is nearby.
  • There is a 7/11 next to the hotel, night hawkers and a few coffee shops in front of the hotel.
  • The staff is warm and friendly, there is a leave luggage option if you want to do more shopping or cafe hopping the next day.

The Not So Good

  • The bed is not a standard hotel issue bed – it is on the softer side and you feel like you sink into clouds.
  • Jalan Meldrum is quite a busy area, plenty of people (esp middle-old aged men) gather in the coffee shops to watch soccer. Think of it as your Chinatown. I don’t feel that this is an issue but plenty of reviewers pointed this out.
  • We found a dead cockroach in our shower. No big deal for us, I just picked it up with a tissue paper and flushed it down.
Hotel Bello Hotel
Address 21 Jalan Meldrum, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Opening hours Check in: 2pm, Check out: 12 noon
How to get there Walk from City Square
Google Map Bello Hotel

Australia 2015: Mr Crackles

One of my favourite eats in Sydney has got to be Mr Crackles. I was recommended this spot by my Bestie who did a secondment in Sydney just a couple of months before me.

It isn’t much of a diner or cafe, it’s more of a supper spot. There were a few bar seats but nothing fanciful.

The star here is the roasted pork belly roll (A$13.50). You get a strip of luscious roasted pork belly lain atop Vietnamese salad sandwiched in a crispy baguette.

Now, just talking about it makes me miss this.

I don’t eat much of roasted meat when I am in sunny Singapore but just writing about Mr Crackles makes me crave for roasted meat now.

For a greater indulgence, get a cup of Crackling, i.e., roasted pork skin (A$5) to go along.

Pictures by: Camistry Lab

Attraction Mr Crackles
Address 155 Oxford St.,
Darlinghurst, Sydney 2010 AUS
Opening hours Mon-Wed: 11:30am – 9:30pm, Thurs: 11:30am – 1:30am, Fri: 11:30am – 4:30am, Sat: 12pm – 4:30am, Sun: 12pm – 10:30pm
How to get there Nearest train station: Museum
Google Map Mr Crackles

Fitness Pass / Subscriptions (GuavaPass vs KFit) Review in 2017

Update 6 Jan 2017: GuavaPass price increase

Useful reads: My favourite yoga studios in July 2016 and my one-year journey of yoga

Where were you the past few months if you had not heard about the Fitness Pass craze yet?

If you’re still not in the loop, I’d suggest reading Shape, TimeOut and Yahoo. Basically, you pay X-amount to access classes of studios that are partners of the Fitness Pass. Sadly, Passport Asia has announced its demise. Also, KFit has since implemented a 10-class limit booking per billing cycle.

P.S. I’m not sponsored by both. (Maybe only in my dreams…)

Fitness Pass GuavaPass KFit Fitness Pass
Price plans
  • $179/mth
  • $169/mth for 3 mth 
  • $159/mth for 6 mth 
$129/month
Class limit Unlimited 10 classes
Max class per studio Usually 3 1-5
Max active reservations 4 4
Late class cancellations $15 $15
No show fee $20 $15
Customer support Email In-app, live chat, email
Referral link / promo code Receive $40 off first month: GuavaPass promo code * Receive $10 off first month: JVBGZ or KFit referral link
Unique studios / with more visits SurfSet
Strala SG
Aqua Spin
WeBarre
Pilate Bodyworks
So Spa
Actualize Crossfit
One Wellness Fitness Club
Overseas access Yes (Less than 50% of bookings) No
Other cool things
  • GuavaLite at $99/mth allows access to 4 classes
  • Check out other offers/perks 
  • You can book beauty/wellness appointments too

* In case the referral link for KFit does not work, simply key in the promo code. There have been technical issues with regards to the referral link.

What are your options now?

  1. KFit: Pay a lower price but be limited to 10 classes per month
  2. GuavaPass: Pay a premium price for unlimited classes and fewer studio options

Fit allows you to pause your membership for $0 whereas GuavaPass charges a small fee of $10 for 2 weeks with free holidays pauses during festive seasons.

What are some other differences?

GuavaPass

  • Studios tend to concentrate in the CBD and town area featuring more boutique gym options
  • Has a new dedicated studio: GuavaLabs in Mandarin Gallery which features its popular partners
  • Most importantly: you can access its overseas partners too when you’re travelling. However, if your account is outside of your residential city more than 50% of the time, GuavaPass reserves the right to adjust your billing to the new city rate without prior notice.

KFit

  • Has more studio partners than GuavaPass with options more spread out across the island
  • More varied workout options such as gymnastics, martial arts and belly dancing
  • Includes some spa access
  • No overseas option if you are travelling

Referrals and promotions

Just like any subscription that survives on sales, referrals are important.

GuavaPass: Each new member gets $40 off their first month with a referral code.

My GuavaPass referral link / promo codehttps://goo.gl/Zo3tpd

KFit: Every new member gets $10 off first purchase. Please key in the promo code if the referral link does not work, there have been technical issues before but keying in the promo code will work.

My KFit promo code / referral link is: JVBGZ

P.S. Drop me a note at hello (at) meowsyy.c0m if you’ll like to find out more about the exact discount as referrals tend to change very frequently.

So what will you recommend?

As of 1 September 2016, new memberships at KFit will cost $129 for 10 classes, renewable monthly.

The cheapest GuavaPass is $149/month for a 6-month membership and the most expensive GuavaPass is $169/month, renewable monthly. With GuavaPass, the beauty is in its unlimited classes, a larger variety of boutique studio classes and overseas access.

If you break it down, using the most expensive plan on GuavaPass:

  • KFit: $129 / 10 classes = $12.90 per class
  • GuavaPass: $179 / $12.90 (average price of 1 KFit class) = 15 classes (The minimum classes you need to hit to average the KFit price.)

At 15 classes, that will work out to about 4 classes per week.

Since you do get a discount for your first month, I strongly recommend you to give either a try. If you’re nervous about going to class alone, don’t be! You’ll be surprised at how many people go to classes alone.

I have just recently switched to GuavaPass in March 2016 after KFit implemented the 10-class limit. That said, I’d miss some of my favourite KFit studios such as Pilates Bodyworks and One Wellness that are on KFit. Since I take more than 10 classes a month, GuavaPass would be the wiser decision. I was on KFit for three months from December 2015 – March 2016. I have a few friends who are still on KFit as they work out less than twice a week and enjoys the wider variety of studios available.

I’ll be hitting a year with GuavaPass in Feb 2017. I love the flexibility of monthly payments without worrying that the company will close down.

Are Fitness Passes gym replacements?

I think a serious yogi / gym go-er would know their regime better and what works for them. I don’t think hopping between numerous studios would sit well.

This is also quite a research intensive fitness option I think, you need to look up the schedule each day and set your preferences to decide which class you’ll like to attend each time. If you enjoy routine, this is probably not for you.

At the end of the day, the Fitness Pass / Subscription is not a gym replacement if you’re serious about working out. Think of it as a tool to discover more activities and what you really like.

Also, bear in mind that partners may drop out any time. For example, up to March 2016, Strala (one of my favourite studios) was on KFit before the studio switched to GuavaPass.

Bonus: Studio reviews

If you’d like studio recommendations/ review, hop to my Dayre where I review studios on the go.

Or read my list of favourite yoga studios.

Bangkok 2016: Hua Mum Market

Not one that is known to tourists, Hua Mum Market caters mostly to the local crowds. Most of the vendors don’t speak much of English, this market is where your sign language, calculator and Google Translate are useful. According to its Facebook Page, the market was launched on 1 September 2015.

The good thing is Hua Mum is a short cab ride (10 mins) from Talad Rod Fai 3 (Kaset-Nawamin) so I’d suggest to check out both markets on the same night.

The market is sprawling, and frankly, quite huge.

The funny thing is as compared to the other night markets in Bangkok I have been to, the price point of this market is much higher than the rest.

The set up seems semi-permanent. There are bars and restaurants on one end.

The market is divided into two sections: one side is more free and easy.

Continue reading “Bangkok 2016: Hua Mum Market”

Bangkok 2016: Talad Rod Fai 3 (Kaset-Nawamin)

Yes, following the success of Talad Rod Fai 1 (Srinakarin) and Talad Rod Fai 2 (Ratchada), Talad Rod Fai 3, Train Night Market (Kaset-Nawamin) is up.

P.S. If you go to Talad Rod Fai 3, you should go to Hua Mum Market too as it is a short 10-15mins cab ride away.

For more night markets, refer to my round up list or find them on my Bangkok Google Map.

In terms of size, I think the third is between the size of the first and second Train Market.It’s not as humongous as the first but not as small as the second Talat Rod Fai. The set-up and layout are similar to the second market, you have eateries/bars fringing the stalls.

In terms of accessibility, it is just as un-accessible as the Srinakarin Talat Rod Fai. From the nearest MRT station (Lat Phrao), you’ll need to take a taxi in.

I was there on a Sunday and it wasn’t crowded at all. It could be that the next day is a working day or because Talad Rod Fai 3 is not as well known as its other siblings. A good 30% of the stalls were not open too.

In terms of wares, the stuff here is similar to that of the other two Talad Rod Fai.

Fun fact: I bumped into a vendor that I used to buy umbrellas from at Talad Rod Fai Srinakarin at Kaset-Nawamin.

No pictures but I remember this amazing Ceylon Milk Tea stall. If you spotted it, be sure to get some of those tiny bottles.

It seems like a permanent set up too, there were a lot of bars and restaurants in containers on the peripherals of the market.

Out of all three Train Markets, I think I enjoyed Kaset-Nawamin the most because of the fewer crowds, more apparel options and Ceylon Milk Tea.

There are two night markets within Kaset-Nawamin area, this and Hua Mum Market. It took about 1.5 hours to finish Talad Rod Fai Kaset-Nawamin on a not-crowded Sunday and I hopped over to Hua Mum Market on a cab.

I don’t have an English address for Talat Rod Fai Kaset-Nawamin unfortunately. I took a taxi from Lat Phrao and showed the driver the location on Google Maps. If you search on Google, the exact name is, “Train Night Market Kaset Nawamin”.

 

Attraction Talad Rod Fai 3 (Kaset-Nawamin)
Address แยก เกษตร นว มิ นท ร์ รัช ดา รามอินทรา แขวง นวลจันทร์ เขต บึงกุ่ม กรุงเทพมหานคร 10230, ถนน เกษตร-นวมินทร์, แขวง นวมินทร์ เขต บึงกุ่ม, กรุงเทพมหานคร 10230, Thailand
Opening hours Thurs – Sun, 1700 – 0100
How to get there Taxi from Lat Phrao MRT station, approx 100-150 Baht
Google Map Train Night Market Kaset-Nawamin

 

Bangkok 2016: The Cube Hostel

My accommodation pick used to be First House but after the endless walking to MRT or BTS in the hot Bangkok sun, I wasn’t going to do the long walks anymore.

Enter The Cube Hostel.

The best thing about the hostel has got to be its prime location. Stroll out Sala Daeng Road, turn left for BTS and right for MRT. Both are approximately 5 minutes walk away.

Image Credit: Google Map

Let’s jump straight to the rooms because that’s what you’re concerned with most right?

Dorms are accessible via key card only

I stayed in an 8-bed female dormitory. 4 nights cost me approximately S$80.

The facilities include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Personal + luggage (mid-sized) lockers
  • Towels
  • Toiletries (Shower gel + shampoo)
  • Free wifi in all areas (but don’t expect fibre speed)

Each dorm requires a key card access. But this does not mean absolute safety – read on to understand why.

Continue reading “Bangkok 2016: The Cube Hostel”