Monday, February 10, 2014

Celebrating half our lives together - a Valentine's Day 2014 tribute to the lady in my life

My beautiful bride
It was during a chat with a friend earlier this week that I was abruptly reminded that this is my 16th year together with Li Li. Considering I am turning 33 and that we got together at the barely legal age of 17, we have already spent almost half our lives together *gasp*!

Our very first neoprint together
Such a long long time has passed. As I try to recall our journey, I realise that only the good parts remained, and all the unhappy events have become so unimportant that they have already faded into obscurity.

Having spent all of my secondary school days in a boy's school, I really did not know what to expect stepping into the JC environment with girls sitting in class. I remembered making sure my braces (which had cuffed my teeth up for more than 6 years) were removed in time to look more presentable, only to be immediately plagued with acne problems (which had never bothered me before). So much for trying to look cool in front of girls.

Before I knew it, this cute girl in class with vibrant short hair and chubby cheeks started calling me "妹妹" (mind you, there will be no other person in this world who will look at me and even remotely hatch the idea of calling me anything associated with the female species). It was certainly not love at first sight, but over the course of J1, through countless carrom and Ghim Moh market eating sessions, our mutual affection became too difficult to ignore and we eventually got together on Valentine's Day 1999.

Li Li has always been a bright young lady. I always tell my friends in pride that she is up there among the most intelligent people I have ever known (trust me, I know many in my generation) and I am glad to have successfully invited her to permanently reside in my house. Over the years, she has matured so well that now she has become a beautiful mature woman and the best wife and mum in the world.

Our ROM in 2009

I have never been the perfect guy for her. Ever since I started working, I had to spend half my time flying all over the world fighting different corporate battles for my ex-company. Despite the little time spent together, Li Li never had a word of complaint and quietly supported me throughout the 4 years.

We got married in 2010, after more than a decade of courtship

Our Honeymoon in Greece 2011

Then came the opportunity to permanently leave Singapore for Bangkok, which must have been even more difficult for her to take. She is a high-flyer, and held a stable job in an excellent company. After I settled down in Bangkok and gave her assurances that the new company had decent potential of doing well in the long term, she made the decision to give up everything she had in Singapore just for me. I will forever be grateful to her for showing me her ultimate support.

Guess who's inside Li Li's tummy?
Li Li has now become my pillar of strength in Thailand and the loving mummy of our precious little Noah. Spending life in Thailand (kid in tow) with few friends and no relatives must be tough for her, and there have been many difficult moments, but she has not only prevailed, but thrived.

The Stranger in Bangkok's happy family

With this very unique opportunity initiated by Andy, I would like to dedicate this special post to Li Li, my best friend, my sister, my girlfriend, my fiancee, my wife and the loving mummy of my child(ren), for your endless love and support to this family.

Happy Valentine's Day, monthliversary and anniversary.

I am thankful everyday for having you in my life, and I hope in time you will find that your sacrifices for us have been absolutely worth it. Love you lots.

This post is part of a Valentine’s Day series, brought to you by Daddy Matters.

Special thanks for all the websites and portals giving this initiative so much love.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Home is where the family is

Having breakfast at a nearby duck rice stall

Whenever people ask me where I come from, I struggle to give an immediate answer. I was born in Singapore and lived there for nearly 29 years, yet aside of a couple of cousins and in-laws I do not have any close relatives there anymore.

I am a Malaysian citizen but I have not lived in my hometown Sarawak for an extended period of more than 6 months before. I am very settled in Bangkok, but I am still considered just a working foreigner who needs to renew his visa and work permit annually.

At the beautiful lobby of Cape Dara resort at Pattaya

So where's home?

I start to realise home is defined more by people than the physical place. When I think about Singapore, my heart wells with excitement at the prospect of meeting my in-laws and friends again. I have never found myself missing the smoother roads, litter-free streets or the air-conditioned public buses before. Similarly, the anticipation of going back to Sarawak is also nothing more than the longing to spend some real time with my brother and parents. Afterall, a plate of kolomee is just a plate of blanched noodles tossed in lard and MSG, but it feels that much more fragrant and unforgettable when you have over the coffeeshop table with your closest ones.

Another shot taken at the lobby of Cape Dara

Despite all its inefficiencies and political uncertainty, Thailand is certainly the place I can call home now. I go to work everyday striving to achieve new breakthroughs so that I can make the lives of my team of local staff better, and I cannot wait to go home everyday to give Li Li and Noah a long loving kiss.

Pic with the parrots at Art in Paradise, Pattaya

This year, and for the second time ever, my family decided to move home to Bangkok, making it our destination for Chinese New Year, and what a smashing time we had.

A unique CNY reunion dinner at Le Beaulieu, touted as the best French Table in Bangkok

We went to Pattaya, made a fool of ourselves in a Art Gallery, ate at some of the best restaurants in Bangkok, strolled by the Chao Phraya River at Asiatique, went to Ancient City in Samut Prakan and even celebrated Noah's 2nd birthday together.

Dinner at Asiatique
Picture at the Sanphet Prasat Palace @ Ancient City Samut Prakan

Happy New Year from the Yiis, may the Year of the Horse bring endless joy for you.

With them by my side, be it the streets of Singapore, coffeeshops in Kuching, roadside stalls in Bangkok, I will not hesitate to call any location my home.

Because home is where the family is.

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