Wednesday, December 31, 2008


2008 can be broken into 2 stages; before Auckland and after Auckland. Because i think the Karen in both stages are 2 completely different Karens...

Before Auckland was a whole slew of one oddjob after another. Having graduated fresh from Metropolitan College, armed with a business degree in hand and a new attained sense of purpose in life, I was actually pretty determined to find myself in the working world. I didn't have any plans whatsoever except to dip my feet in as many things possible in the 6 months that I had before i flew. January saw me racing up and down PWTC working for YouthMalaysia, at my wit's end trying to pull together a celebrity talk show and an Animax fashion show for Youth 08. And then, there was trying my hand at what was supposedly something I had dreamed of doing - personal training. Guess what? I stayed for 3 weeks and I couldn't have been unhappier. Didn't get to train anyone, felt like I was under pressure eventhough I had no specific job description at that point, and I missed out on a LOT of my social life because working hours were weird. I gave that up, wanted to kick back and relax for a couple of months, but i landed myself a 6 week job at Cosmotots. To be honest, teaching kids is still the job I am happiest with. I had some pretty good laughs during those classes and I miss those kids dearly. But teaching kids kinda stumps your mind a bit someitmes. Like there is no challenge, no room for going further, making bigger decisions, stuff like that...

Before Auckland, I had a thirst for ambition and I was so darned sure that I was on the right track to chasing my dreams. I was determined, full of passion and readiness to commit, and had great faith that I was going to start one of the best times of my life in just a couple of months, weeks, days...

And then I came to Auckland...

For those of you whom I've met up with over this past month, I think you can sense the melancholy that came in the tone of my voice when I spoke of Auckland. And perhaps I may have given off the idea that I'm not happy in Auckland.

To be honest, the first couple of months at least, that I was in Auckland were the gloomiest, loneliest days of my life. I had never felt so lonely, so homesick, so lovesick before. And Auckland, was very much NOT like the picture I painted for myself. Freedom and living alone abroad, wasn't either. There were sad days, and there were days that I coped better. And I guess some of you are rolling your eyeballs, and spitting out "I told you so"s. I think I had hoped for so much out of this that I when it was all not like that, I fell harder than I would've had I not had any expectations.

But I believe that I am building a life for myself there, slowly but surely. And I can assure you, that I have not regretted going there. When I set my foot down on doing this, I knew that life was not going to be a bed of roses and I knew that it was going to be hard living by all by myself. I just didn't think reality would hit me so soon (and so coldly too). But that being said, reality did and I went through some pretty lonesome moments, but that's just the beginning. It can only get better from here forth, I'm pretty sure.

As for Sport and Exercise Science, it is exactly the kind of course I should be doing. There is still that bitterness at the back of my throat as I wish again and again rhetorically, that I had done this first before anything else. But no regrets in the path that I have walked till now. What matters is the path that go on from here.

And I intend to make that an adventure race.=)

Have a great 2009 everyone!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Dennis brought me to have some big big shell fish for dinner last night. And it was good food with good fun.
Got complimentary photo some more..=)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

what i've been up to

I've been so busy since i got home from Auckland, i haven't really found time to sit down n blog a decent post. strangely though, when people ask me "what have u been up to?" i always fail to come up with something better than "nothing much" because when I think of it, i've really been doing nothing much. So let's just recap on some of the things I've been poking my butt into in the past month. omg have i been home for a month already?

First, there is, of course, the girlie's night out with Lyn n Rosie, which is always always always fun. Night filled with laughter and warm moments to touch our hearts as we sit around a cosy little restaurant in Bangsar and savour the yumminess of Chocolate Mixed Berries Meringue, catching up with each other's lives.
Then, naturally there's going out with muh homies, Julie, Anne, Ven Nee, Weng Lum, Pei Jien, Kenny and Han Yang. The silly witty conversations that go on among these silly witty friends are definitely what I wish I could can and bring to Auckland with me.
Somewhere amidst the days I managed to squeeze in Julie-Karen hang outs, which was always refreshing and definitely something I had always been able to count on. There was even a Julie-Karen-Soonseng hang out one night which was pretty fun too.
And then there was the one night Ashwin asked me out for a drink, and it became a different sort of meet up because before we could sit, we were joined by my friends, and then when they left we went and joined my boyfriend and his friends, so Ashwin, sorry about that. :P we'll go out and talk long long another night ok? I was also previleged to catch up with Su Yi and Kevin who were in PJ when I was in PJ, so i managed to have a brief catching up sessions with these 2 Pharmacists.On one of the nights, I was talked into whipping up some pasta in my kitchen for some fellow mates who have been with me through thick and thin albeit in just recent years. Joey, Yanyee, Dektos, Nick and Kailash were around with their usual slightly askewed track of mind jokes and all. Fun time nonetheless.

There is also that great big Family Vacation to Langkawi that was much talked about in the family group email, ping ponged around discussing dates and flight details and what nots. That finally came, and sadly, went. It was an enjoyable trip, and perhaps my being away from my loved ones has made me appreciate the finer things in life because I felt a deep sense of comfort with my family and a slow radiating bitterness that rise up my throat ever so mildly when I think about leaving them again in February.
Christmas was a busy holiday this year as i started the season on the eve with my family's annual dinner at my uncle's house in Ara damansara. It was bustling with kids of all age and size and I couldn't be any happier toddling around with them =) Then it was 10 in the morning on Christmas day with the ACT's The Big Christmas Show. After that a huge sumptuous lunch at Uncle Peter's, as it is every year.

Boxing day saw me up at 7.15 am to prepare for a photoshoot! yeah, earliest photo shoot ever. It was my extended family protrait photoshoot which was different than any other shoot because this time it was outdoors, and my cousin Caryn had gotten her seniors to help out. Everything ran really professionally and I am very impressed by it all.

Last night I rode all the way down to Kajang to meet Melanie and Li Fu and Sophia and a few other friends. Tim was my designated sober driver as we played "100 shots in 100 minute". I only had 18. Epic fail. But it was good fun which led me to sleeping with my lights on last night.And then, it was just spending time with you whenever possible. I know I have been rather selfish by calling you at every spare moment I can get my hands on, but it's been really great just hanging out with you again. And it'll definitely be a lot harder to leave u again in February, but let's talk about that another day. =)
photo compliments of Caryn Yeo/Jing Tzer

I think I've lost my affinity for photo taking. Should start taking more photos again.'s wishing all of you a great brand spanking new 2009! Work hard, play harder and enjoy yourselves! =)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Chin Woo Biathlon 2008

Big family day out for the Siahs yesterday as we all headed to Chin Woo Association in KL for the annual Biathlon. I'm just gonna say it. My family is so cool. All of us took part in the race, even ME who kept complaining about swimming 800m after not touching the pool for more than 6 months. Mummy was there as support crew, and I gotta say, as much as I like being independent and handling stuff all on my own, having a mum to fuss over us, bring us food and water, keeping our wet clothes aside, watching over our things, cheering for us and everything else is pretty pampering. It's not something every racer has on race day, so gotta soak it all in!! =)SO anyway, the race was a first for me as well as for my dad and my big brother. But Keith was the defending champion, and my brother was targeting a podium finish so we were all pretty gung ho about it.
To cut things short, I felt like the wind was kicked out of me after I completed the swim. Was the 3rd last person out of the swimming pool. Took me a while to start running normally. When I finally got my pace and my breathing right, I managed to overtake some runners and finally completed my race. To my surprise, the Astro #304 TV crew wanted to interview me, in Cantonese some more. In the end they spoke to me in English, except when they asked me to say Gong Hei Fatt Choy, San Lin Fai Lok. haha...don't know when they will air it though, if you people watch Astro #304 please keep a look out k?
I found out later I got 2nd place! Surprise surprise. Keith defended his Champion title. Big bro got 2nd as well. =] Had heaps of fun...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Singapore Marathon 2008

This is a really cool site which tells my position, pace, location on race map and other statistics! Singapore Marathon is SO COOL!

The last time i ran 42.195 km was the KL International Marathon in March this year. It was my maiden marathon and I had targeted 4:30. People gave me the she-has-no-idea look. I ended up clocking 4:52. People said it was not too shabby for a first time. I was left in a lot of pain, could barely walk, yet I had to suck it all in and go to work right after the race.

This time, i figured the following.
1. Singapore's flat, not hilly.
2. Kauri run was an amazing strength training.
3. My running route in Auckland is a tad longer and has hills as wells.
4. I had lost some weight, hence I'm lighter.

So I thought 4:40 was a good target. In the morning I spotted Andy, Sue and co, which was amazing coz the place was packed like sardines in a tin. 15,000 marathon runners, so I heard. Walking in, I spotted Sam! Yay, I didn't have to run alone! =)

There were so many people, that when the gun fired, Sam and I were still miles away from the start line. We only reached the start line about 6 minutes after gunstart. In the beginning it was all good. Sam had his usual antics, making smart comments about other runners, talking about life and all. Weather was great.

First 10km and I clocked about 1:12 according to my watch. Hmm...that's not too good, I thought. But i kept at that pace anyway. It wasn't until Sam pointed out somewhere along the way, that I realised I had subconsciously upped my speed progressively.

Running in Singapore is really an experience. For one thing, there were sooooo many runners, that 25 km into the race, I was still running with the pack. I think it only trickled down at about the 30 km mark. Also, there are sooooo many trees! The whole route is shaded and we ran along the coast so it was nice n breezey. And, the women! The women were really really good. I'm not used to seeing so many women who were so hard to overtake! I was constantly thrashed by hot, sexy women in mini mid riffs, and even minier shorts. Princess looking girls in Singapore are NOT what they seem.

At about 18 km or so, I lost Sam at the drinking station. At about 23 km or so, I caught up with Andy and Sue. I was feeling really strong that morning, for some reason. I wasn't feeling any pain or fatigue, nothing! I just felt stronger and stronger. And when I realised I can definitely meet a 4:35 target, I was so happy I ran even faster. I was on an overtaking spree, and the great support from the audience (there were heaps of people all the way along the running route, cheering for their own loved ones) were boosters too!

I ran on, and spotted Alex Au-Yong somewhere ahead, and I tried to catch up, but amidst the crowd he disappeared!! Later on I found out I had overtaken him without realising it. I was running alone, but I never felt so motivated before. I just kept on going, taking quick sips at every drink station but never stopping for more than 30 seconds.

My toes were a little painful but apart from that I felt no pain. And no fatigue. I could run forever! It was amazing. I ran past the 4:45 Adidas pacers. I overtook every Team Monash runner I could see, and every other Princess looking girl. Ain't no way I'm losing to someone who looks like THAT, I always say. I was on a roll~!

Finally, I came in through to the finish. The official clock showed 4:33, but my own watch showed a time far sweeter. I really couldn't believe it...
04:27:34 baby~!
After the race, naturally every ounce of pain came over me like a ton of bricks. My legs felt almost paralysed, my heart banged against my rib cage, my throat felt coarse, but my spirits were high!!! =)


Friday, December 05, 2008

to the Lion City

I'm all packed for Singapore. Leaving tomorrow morning at 7.50 am by Tiger Airways with Dennis. Frankly, I have a small expectation of myself to achieve and I really hope I do. I think I had done slightly more training for this compared to the previous marathon, plus with the boyfriend going along, I foresee myself doing a little better than KLIM where i clocked 4 hours 52 minutes. This time i'm targeting 4 hours 40 minutes or below.

I've got new shoes too~! Bought new Asics during the weekend at the RSH warehouse sale. Don't know if it's too late to break in the shoes, but I've used it about 3 times and it feels quite comfy now. Though, 3 of my right toes have turned black (1st, 4th and 5th) because of the Kauri Run. I just hope they'll be alright throughout this marathon.

I'm pretty stoked about this trip. I've got Dennis with me, it's a marathon cum holiday. Been waiting for it all year. See u guys there!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Lucy in the sky

Took this photo from my room window. Summit appeared so majestic with the big cottony clouds in the background.

Weather has been sweltering hot ever since i got back and I have been showering 3-4 times a day because of that. I never stop sweating throughout the day, and on top of that I've been doing the daily house chores.

mehhh i miss Auckland's spring weather. :P

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Bangkok Story

I have actually been wanting to reenact my Bangkok drama here on this blog, but I've told it so many times to so many different people that honestly I've become quite sick of it. It was nothing heroic or anything anyway. But I guess I'll indulge you readers one last time.

It was Tuesday night 8.50 pm Bangkok time when we landed in Bangkok. It was a long 12 hours flight and I had watched 3 movies and 2 TV episodes, listened to 2 whole albums, slept very little, ate quite a lot, and was insanely tired. It was 3 am Auckland time by then and I was just dying to bathe and hop into bed. After taking my 27kg suitcase from the belt, passed immigration, I made my way to the Novotel Hotel counter where I was supposed to board a shuttle to the hotel. I was given a free night's stay in a Deluxe room with free breakfast the next morn and I had been bragging about that non stop to whoever I spoke to online before I left. I had seen pictures of the rooms from the Novotel website and I was pretty excited. =)

There were a group of us and we waited. 5 mins. 10 minutes. 20 minutes. No bus came. This Latin speaking guy started phoning Novotel Hotel and shortly after a hotel bellboy came to greet us. He said the shuttle bus could not come (I didn't bother asking why) and so we had to walk across to the hotel which was about 10 minutes away on foot. Okla...i thought. My bags had wheels anyway.

Got myself checked into the hotel, I still had no idea what was going on, and apparently neither did the hotel staff. I asked what time breakfast started, reconfirmed if there was going to be a shuttle service tomorrow morning since it didn't come tonight and when I was reassured that it operated every 10 minutes 24/7, I was happy. Went to my room, ran a nice warm bubble bath, played the music on my laptop and soaked forever. After the shower I felt quite fresh, no longer that sleepy. I waltzed around the room restlessly, wrote a note to Dennis, then decided to call it a night at about midnight.

At 3 am my eyes opened. It was insane. I was still jetlagged obviously. I tried going back to sleep but i kept waking up again at 3.30 am, 4 am, 4.20 am until finally at 4.30 am I bounced out of bed and decided to take yet another ultra long bath. I took time to decide what to wear, and even applied on make up thinking that in less than a few hours I'd be seeing my family and then my favourite boy. I wanted to look good. When I was finally satisfied with the way I looked, i made my way down for breakfast at 6 am. I had a hearty breakfast (thank God). I stuffed myself with an array of international delights and was the first time i was truly truly satisfied in a long long time. Happy, I went back to the room, packed up my things and proceeded to check out.

And then, the nightmare begun. The bell boy came to help me with my luggage and asked me where I was headed. I said I wanted to check out and he looked at me half sorry, half wondering what a idiot i was, and told me "Sorry cannot check out, madame. Airport closed." My jaw dropped in disbelief. I double checked with Reception. And then it hit me. There were people sitting around the lobby with bags in tow looking...lost. I spun on my heel to face a big plasma screen on the wall showing CNN. To my horror I saw what was going on in the airport. I asked the Reception what could I do, and they told me to go back to my room, relax, and check back again in midday.

Feeling rather uneasy, not scared, just uncomfortable, I went back to the room and flipped on the news. It was about 7 am and there was a good 4 hours till noon and I felt so lost. I texted my parents using my Vodafone and asked them to text Dennis for me. I paced around the room, tried sleeping for a bit but all I could think of was what if I never got home? I grew more and more anxious. Never have I felt so clueless.

Noon came after what seemed forever. But a very sorry voice told me on the phone that the airport was still closed and they had no idea when it would be open. And then they told me that I needed to let them know if i wanted to extend my stay by 2 pm. Obviously, I wasn't going to. So once again I paced around the room, stared out at the airport, until 2 pm came and I checked out. I plomped myself down on the lobby couch and stared off into space.

About 30 minutes later this Vietnamese guy, Tung sat down next to me. He was on the same flight as I was from Auckland. We soon became friends, chit chatting and sharing our predicamant. We played battleship (he taught me how) and tic tac toe (which he called somethind else) to pass time. We munched on my NZ strawberries and cookie time cookies. By 6 pm, we were famished and Tung said there was a food court just at the entrance of the airport that was waaaay cheaper than eating in the hotel. So I lugged my heavy bags and we both went for dinner.

After dinner, I lounged around the airport, but on the ground level, so i saw nothing of the riot. But i heard them loud and clear. They were singing their national anthem over and over, cheering and yelling following this speaker. Both Tung and I tried to get some sleep on the airport benches but they were hard cold metal and I had my laptop with me and the yelling and cheering woke me up every 5 minutes so I gave up trying to sleep. After a couple of hours, I told Tung I wanted to go back to the hotel. I wanted to sleep in the hotel lobby coz it'll be much more comfortable. I thought I'd be going back alone, but he came along.

I managed to make myself pretty comfortable on a couch. I was just dozing off when suddenly Tung woke me up, cursing and swearing in his mother tongue. He said he just blew his year's savings on a hotel room. Then he took my bag and said "Come. Let's go." I was kinda in a daze and i tried my best to tell him that I'd rather sleep in the lobby, simply because I wasn't keen to pay him half the room rental which would come up to almost 100 USD. But he took none of my excuses and dragged my big heavy bag up so I just followed. It was already close to midnight then and my head was spinning. In the room, still cursing and swearing, Tung threw his bags aside, kicked off hsi shoes and just said "I left, you right". And then he collapsed on his bed and that was all I heard from him for that night.

I tried to sleep but I couldnt help feeling more and more homesick. In my head I kept thinking of what I could've done had i reached home then. I kept picturing Dennis and I, hanging out. Not being able to contact him was killing me. I started thinking and all of a sudden the idea struck me. I could bus from Bangkok to Hatyai! I was so sure that was possible! I literally watched the sky brighten and waited till about 6 am. Then i freshened up a bit and texted my mum asking her to call the hotel room. When she did, when I heard my dad's voice, my own started to shake and quiver. I felt so frustrated to be stuck there with no money and no answer as to when I will be going home. I told them I wanted to bus home. And to my disappointment, my idea was shot down. My parents were worried it was too dangerous. They wanted me to get in touch with Thai Air to get me a place to stay in the city. And wait for further notice. And then the floodgates opened and I cried for every ounze of frustration that had build up over the hours and days. I hadn't even realized that Tung had woken up until he slipped me some tissue. I wanted to go home so badly at that point...

What happened after that was a series of phonecalls to the Malaysian embassy and Thai Air, both of which passed me from ear to ear but nothing was gained from them. I bugged the concierge downstairs for info on bus tickets and they told me it took 13 hours to travel to Hatyai, and the cost was about 830 Baht. I managed to withdraw some cash from an ATM machine from my kiwi account. My mind was pretty set on taking the bus but i continued to bug Thai Air for my parents' sake. And then, in the midst of my frantic phonecalls, a phonecall came in and a chinese man asked me in Mandarin if my father was Mr Siah. I was surprised. But I was ready to take a chance on anything at that point.

My Mandarin was never very good but on that day it somehow came out flawlessly. I arranged with the man to be picked out and taken out of Novotel as soon as possible. While waiting I spoke to some Singaporeans who then led me to a Malaysian girl who wanted to get back to KL as well. I told her my bus plan but she didn't seem too keen. I tried to help her but she said she couldn't leave just then, so i had to wish her all the best.

I sat anxiously and waited. A white Kiwi man sat next to me and I told him my dad managed to get someone to come get me. He told me I was very lucky and I couldn't agree with him more. And then a firm hand touched my shoulder, and Mr Neo, that chinese man, was as much of as hero as Superman was at that point. He took me out, back to his office. With internet connection i was able to communicate with my parents and with Dennis!

Things went on well after that. Mr Neo got his staff to purchase a bus ticket for me. He brought me out for some food, then later got someone to send me to the bus station. Our meeting was brief, but Mr Neo and his staff were my knights in shining armour at that time. =)

The bus journey to Hatyai was long - 13 hours. But something Mr Neo's staff told the bus driver, made him treat me like VVIP. I somehow got a little more attention than other passengers in the bus, which was quite funny.

Anyway, my solo journey ended when my parents met me at the Hat Yai bus terminal. I hugged them like I never hugged them before. I was so extremely relieved.

And then it was another 6-7 hour drive back, where I spoke relentlessly to mum and dad all the way back. haha...

That was my little adventure. I learned a lot from it. I learned that I'm not as strong as I'd like myself to be. I learned I was able to do things I was usually too afraid to do. I learned my Mandarin is pretty decent. I learned that I am actually a relatively calm and clear headed person when it came to making decisions. I learned that my family goes through great lengths to save me. I learned how much I loved Dennis. I learned people are kind.=)

Monday, December 01, 2008


It's been a roller-coaster of events since i left on a jet plane on Tuesday 3.30 pm Auckland time to come home.

What was supposed to be a 27 hour journey (including a night's layover in a luxurious hotel room) became more than a 3 day anxiety laden stay in Bangkok. Well, it actually wasn't as bad as most people thought it was. All that I've been asked since i touched home soil was "Were you scared?" and honestly, I wasn't. there was nothing terrifying where I was, simply because I was stuck in the hotel rather than the airport. I was frustrated. I missed home so much and the homesickness compounded progressively as time crept and crawled in Bangkok. It drove me to tears when I heard my mum and dad's voices on the phone. I just broke down because I really really really wanted to go home. Anyway, long story short, I wasn't in any actual threat. I was merely desperate to go home. And I had heaps of help from many kind souls. My dad's friend's partner in Bangkok took me out of the airport area, brought me to eat, got me a bus ticket from Bangkok to Hatyai and sent me to the bus station on Thursday evening. My parents met me at Hatyai and if I've never known what relief felt like, I knew it the moment I saw my parents.

If at all, this incident has helped me see the light in a lot of people. It renewed my faith in the goodness of mankind and the credibility of kindness. People are kind. I saw people go out of their way to help complete strangers. I saw people just amalgamate with random people and helped other random people. I saw food being shared, personal handphones passed around to be used, hotel staff from the manager right down to the room cleaners rushing about just doing anything they can to make stranded tourists and guests more comfortable. It was really comforting, amidst all the chaos, watching everyone switch into hero mode.

I have always been a believer in the goodness in people. My first idea of every person is that they're good, unless they make me think otherwise. Some of you may say that people are more willing to help a damsel in distress. Some of you may assume that the helper had ulterior motives. Maybe, maybe not. But at the end of the day, if that person has made my life a little easier at the expense of his/hers, and did not ask for anything in return, I say that person's good.

I've been keeping with the news and all I can say is, I'm SO GLAD i'm home. I wish those who are still stranded there the best of luck and I hope they find their way out soonest possible.