Musings: I Left My Heart in Siem Reap, Cambodia


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There are just some places you go to, and people you meet that you never quite recover from. They leave an indelible mark on your soul. They change you immeasurably. And you marvel at how people you spend such a short time with can nudge the needle on your inner compass to a truer North.

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In 2009, I made my first trip to Siem Reap to volunteer in an orphanage run by a lovely Australian couple called Wat Preah Yesu. I’m more partial to secular aid, but am very cognisant of the fact that sometimes, it doesn’t matter why people do good things, as long as it makes the world a better place. As someone who sees aid and charity work as a core goal in life, I struggle with vetting potential organisations, rampant corruption, deciding what form of aid is best, and constantly evaluating if the projects are really helping these people in the big scheme of things. I’m still chipping away at all of this, and learning as I go. But at the end of the day, you learn to question only to a certain point. Because once you allow paranoia to set in, you will lose heart. And without it, we are but animals.

I want to share the story of two children who have changed my life. Everyone, meet Sert and Neng.

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Review: Tae Woo Korean Restaurant, Clarke Quay


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Oodles of mouthwatering noodles! Just look at that glistening bowl of savoury, caramelised goodness. It’s the craving for a bowl of delicious Jajangmyeong (Korean Black Bean Noodles) that lured us into the cosy embrace of Tae Woo Restaurant in Central Mall.

It’s a great place to unwind with friends and tuck into a good variety of simple Korean fare. They could be more generous with some of their ingredients, but overall, the food was rather comforting, much like a home cooked meal.

Overall: ★★★1/2 ☆☆
Price: $$

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First off, the wooden tables, chairs, decorative fruit, cookware and little spice cabinets made the whole place feel cosy and like you’d just entered someone’s home. We were led by very friendly Korean service staff to our seats and presented with the menus.

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Totally famished, we decided to go for the Summer Course of 6 seasonal dishes at roughly $29 per person (minimum order of two portions).

After a simple Naengchae (cold dish platter), we had this rather interesting Nurungji Ge-sal (scorched rice with crabmeat soup).

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The texture of the egg whites in the soup is quite unique and took a little getting used to. While it wasn’t really a hit with my fellow diners, I actually quite like the fluffy, light texture of the egg white bobbing on some light broth. There wasn’t much by way of crab meat although the scorched rice lent a fragrant, toasted flavour to the otherwise mild soup. The textures came together quite nicely, and it was interesting to try a soup so different than anything I’d ever had.

Next up, the Yoo Rin Ki (Fried Chicken with Hot Soy Bean Sauce).

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I really liked this dish. And i’m not even particularly a big fan of fried chicken. I think it had a lot to do with the way the tender meat was coated in a thin, tasty batter fried a beautiful crispy golden brown. And drizzled with a generous helping of a sauce that was at once sweet, sour and packed quite a kick with all the chopped green and red small chillies. All of those incredible flavours just coming together in the mouth.. This was highly addictive.

And then, something light. This Gochu Japchae & Kot Bbang (Sautéed Shredded Pork with Green Pepper).

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Travel: The Little Black Forest Town of Gengenbach, Germany


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Straight out of a fairytale from the Brothers Grimm, Gengenbach’s magical appeal lies in its excellent location in the scenic Black Forest, its nostalgic old world charm, and the fact that barely any tourists have discovered its beauty. Triberg, Baden-Baden and Schiltach are the more popular of the Black Forest towns, but I’d decided to make a day trip here for more peace and quiet, and to soak up its picturesque architecture and hill views.

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Oh, and of course, sampling some authentic Black Forest Cake! But more on that in just a bit. Let’s take a little stroll around town.

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The first thing that strikes you is the truly unique, old-fashioned Fachwerkhäuser (timber  framed houses)This style of architecture was popular before the 19th Century and is characterised by its use of lumber posts and beams to create a solid foundation before the rest of the house is filled in. Germany and the Alsace region are home to the most number of these beautiful structures.

Town Square

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Let’s head to the middle of the town square, where like many European towns, there’s a farmer’s market. I love the smell of fresh bread in the air and the gorgeous array of colours and smells. There was an abundance of fruit, vegetables, flowers, spices and teas.

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Jakobskapelle (St Jakobus Chapel)

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A real highlight of my day spent here was the short hike up to Jakobskapelle. I’d heard of a little chapel on a hill that boasts spectacular views of the nearby towns and mountainous region of the Black Forest. But it was so obscure that it didn’t even show up on GoogleMaps.

Quick Tip: Just type in this address to find your way there — Auf dem Abtsberg 4B, 77723 Gengenbach, Germany

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This was the stunning view about halfway up. I felt my spirits instantly lifted with the cold, fresh mountain air, the gravel crunching beneath my feet, the grass still glistening with dew.

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Musings: Dancing with Divas


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(Bustin’ a move with my super fun crew at this New Years’ Eve ‘live’ broadcast)

It’s been a good five years working on the front lines in the media, and I’ve come across the prevalent and rather ridiculous phenomenon of people mistaking rude or unkind behaviour for competence. Very often, people get away with murder because everyone is just too scared of some kind of backlash to retaliate or speak up for themselves. The bully then gets away scot-free and goes unchecked.

It’s not entirely baseless that we naturally clamour for attention and approval from the people who give so little of it to others. This isn’t strange, it’s just the basic theory of supply and demand. But as enlightened individuals, I’m sure we can think for ourselves and realise that aggression does not equal talent, competence or strength of character.

Far from. It takes far more for an accomplished person to consistently hold him or herself to a high standard of treating everyone with dignity and grace (whether it’s a toilet cleaner, or an intern or someone who’s made a mistake). Kindness when it is not asked for or required, leaving everyone with a dignified way out and listening with respect instead of shouting the loudest to be heard.. that reflects true character.

It could be that you know of someone right now at work or in your personal life who’s just like this. Chances are, people don’t really like this person but are far too afraid to say anything about it. Worse, they still grudgingly clamour for his or her approval. I urge you to take a closer look at this person. And then watch the people who don’t say much but walk in quiet positivity and kindness. It’s not always the loudest person that has something important to say, not always the biggest diva that has the most talent, nor does the most harsh and critical person necessarily know best.

I’ve learnt to be careful who i submit myself to. Or let walk over me. Each time you don’t stand up for yourself or the right thing, you literally stoop lower than someone who gets away with bad behaviour. And I think we all deserve better.