Hello there. I am Terry and I am a full-time undergraduate based in Singapore. I take photos, write a blog and design websites.

And no, I'm not a teddy bear.

If ten million fireflies lit up the world as I fell asleep

Teddy turns 20!

Teddy turns 20!

I just turned 20! Props to Chong Yen for that photo. It was taken during a train ride back to Malaysia on the previous Saturday :)

Thank you everyone who sent me birthday wishes through Facebook, Twitter and in person! My birthday only gets better by each year and I’m sincerely thankful that I have a great bunch of friends to celebrate with. I’ll talk more about that later!

Fireflies by Owl City

Fireflies by Owl CitySince Carol introduced me the song on Facebook a few days back, I’ve been hooked to it! Fireflies is a synthpop song composed by Adam Young, the sole member of Owl City. Believe me, it’s really lovely – especially the start! I simply dig the very groovy and adorable tunes by the synthesizer. All the years of synthesizing music at home at the cost of making him an insomniac sure made Adam a very talented composer ;)

Title: Fireflies (from the album Ocean Eyes)
Artist: Owl City

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Every year I will use the part of the lyrics of my favourite song on my birthday to be the title of my birthday post. This year, I chose the line: If ten million fireflies / Lit up the world as I fell asleep.

Another word intensive entry ahead, but I promise photos (after Day -1) and good stories ahead! Check out the rest after the jump ;)

Day -1: Life as per normal and dinner at Hanabi!

2nd Oct, the day before. The gathering at Hanabi!

It was Friday. Morning was usual – I promptly woke up at 8am in the morning, all thanks to the much effort I have invested in the past five days trying, desperately and dreadfully, to fix my bonked biological clock. Sleeping at 4am everyday with 3 hours of sleep and then taking quick naps during lecture breaks is NOT my way of life for the next half of the semester, I warned myself. Not only is this deadly sleeping pattern giving me eyebags that are taking more and more time to appease, but also it’s starting to get the attention of my parents. I remembered the week before recess my parents phoned me and kind of grilled me over the phone, I’ve been checking your Facebook and you’re still posting updates at 4am?! Whooopsy daisy.

Struggled hard to finish the BS201 presentation due next Friday and sent the attachment out to my groupmates. I’m still impressed that while it took me 4 days at home to finish barely a quarter of the presentation, I completed the remaining 30+ slides on a single day. I hate to leave the warm, comfortable embrace of my home in Malaysia but I have to admit that my working schedule simply breaksdown into nothing except for an endless circuit of sleeping and rising (with massing face-stuffing with food in between) at home.

Later in the afternoon I got a little excited and hyped because I was about to meet Claudia (@claudia10), Dayna (@amourchaleur), Ivy (@nanyate) and others at Hanabi Japanese Restaurant in Odeon Tower, somewhere downtown (if you’re really looking for it, it’s very close to Bras Basah Complex and it’s just opposite of Raffles Hotel1).

I was tweeting like mad with Dayna about our first meetup – she lives around the Jurong area too (so do I, since I live on campus in NTU) and have known each other online for quite some time, but never got the chance to meet up. So, this will be my very first time meeting up with so many online friends! I knew Claudia through my first freelancing job and Ivy through… I forgot. That’s quite some time ago! I think I knew her through Marz ;)

We had a really great time chatting over a wide range of topics – from how Ivy laughed about somebody announcing through her office’s PA system after the Indonesian earthquake that there was a ‘tumour (tremour, I suppose so) in the office‘ to how Claudia’s cat played with her toy and scratcher her (and her poor colleague too). Dayna, Ivy and I also talked over how frustrating is it to code for IE6 users – haha, I totally knew we’re going to venture into that topic – and how terribly, painfully and frustratingly slow my blog was loading when my site was still hosted with a Malaysian server.

In the end Claudia paid for the buffet – thank you so much Claudia for the treat! I didn’t announce that my birthday was in a few hour’s time during the meetup because I thought that would be very selfish and awkward :P Nonetheless, I really love our first meetup! We should get together more often, when Ivy and Claudia are less busy with their work. Good luck Ivy for the upcoming event you’re organizing and Claudia, do get more sleep!

I took the train with Dayna to make our way back to Boon Lay station but we lost each other at City Hall station when I went to top up my card. I bet both Ivy and Claudia had a really huge LOL moment – they left for shopping at Raffles City after dinner – because Dayna and I reported to them that we lost each other haha. Finally our rendezvous was at Redhill where I boarded the train to meet Dayna again. Sorry!

Around 12am, the biggest gay in town Chongx came to my room and wished me happy birthday :) we set off to The Sun, a convenience store open 24/7 located near our hall to get some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. We settled for a brownie flavour and got so sick finishing the whole tub, haha! I think we seriously overestimated our eating capabilities.

Day 0: Dinner at Japanese Village (and the crazy celebration)

3rd Oct, the day. Happy birthday to me!

Woke up a little late in the morning because I was up all night replying to Facebook wall posts. Thank you to the many who wrote on my wall! I lost count of the number of wall posts because I was too busy replying to each and every one of them. I would love to let my friends know that I really appreciate their birthday wishes :) afterall, I’m very grateful that they actually bothered to leave a short but sweet birthday message even when they’re so busy preparing for school.

My fingers were still numb. I had problem grasping the toothbrush, let alone the tiny whiny dental floss because of the typing.

I spent the rest of the afternoon lazing my birthday away – I refuse to do anything productive on my special day and would rather spend the lovely afternoon lying on my bed listening to Fireflies and Believe on repeat.

Chong Yen misfired a text to me as he organized a meetup at Pioneer station so that we could go to Japanese Village at Jurong Sports Complex for dinner and for my birthday celebration. I laughed so hard at that.

I met up with the rest of the gang at 6.30pm at the station. As the crowd started to trickle in, we made our way to Japanese Village. Finally, here’s a photo for your unstimulated eyes. Sorry for the lack of photos previously!

Outside Japanese Village Restaurant.

Outside Japanese Village Restaurant.

The sushi there are going for 99c per plate (not inclusive of the red ones though), so it’s a really big bargain to eat there. The food there is rather good and although not as fantastic as Hanabi’s – that’s for sure, if you take the price difference into account! – but that doesn’t make it any less desirable place to have a great weekend dinner.

Ohnomnomnom! Look at the fish roe.

Ohnomnomnom! Look at the fish roe.



Of course, the food isn’t the important part – it’s about a good ol’ get-together with my friends. We’re all so busy with school life that we barely meetup in huge groups as much as we did in our first year in university. Most of us will only gather when there’s a birthday celerbration – well, I shouldn’t be complaining because at least we’re still seeing each other for a handful of times every month :)

De Zien and Chong Yen brought their dSLRs today – and with me in toll with my Sony Alpha, that makes three cameras around the dinner table! We had so much fun taking photos of each other and of course, the crazy celebration later in the night.

Then the started lighting up my birthday cake. That’s a lot of candles on it!

Zee burfdae cayke.

Zee burfdae cayke.

The birthday cake with a little desaturation treatment and selective masking. They had so many candles on the cake that Chong Yen, who was initially rather disappointed with the fact that we were seated in a dark corner of the restaurant with no proper light, exclaimed that his shutter speed is finally entering a decent range :P haha! It just tells you how bright the scene is.

Then I saw sparks shooting off the candles. Oh, the trick candles! They have this tiny little sparkling thing (fireworks on a very miniature scale) embedded in the filament of the candle such that it’s almost impossible to blow the candles out in one breath. And that’s exactly what they’re trying to make me do.

Meanwhile, a group of kids dining at the restaurant gathered around our table.

I took a really deep breath. The candles didn’t go out.

Chuckles from the kids bursted out into laughters as I failed the next few attempts. I swear that one attempt was so close! I only had two of the many candles left burning but the candles miraculously rekindled each other. DAMN.

After much trying (with my face ballooning into a red tomato), the torture gang relented and allowed me to finish the job with a few tries. Phew.

Then they tried to stuff marshmallows into my face. Someone asked for a number and I heard somebody (probably Chong Yen) shouted out 20. Oh shit, I let out a silent scream.

With Chongjyn and Chongxian (they’re brothers, if you’re wondering) on my left and Kevin and Hong Kiat on the right, they started to stuff marshmellows into my mouth. Kevin was holding onto my cheeks as they force fed. Before they managed to get the 10th one in, the gag reflex was too much to bear and I gave up. What a torture :P

Kevin tried for the fun of it. He managed to get 11 marshmellows in.

Feasting on the leftover marshmellows.

Feasting on the leftover marshmellows.

We feasted on more marshmellows as I took a breather. Hey, at least they’re letting the birthday boy rest a little while. I thought it was over. I was wrong.

Letting out his signature evil-laced laughter, Chongx dug into a plastic bag. We have something special for you!!! He exclaimed.

To my greatest horror, a tiara emerged from the bag. Yea, a TIARA.

They made me wear it the whole night - from that point onwards until I reached home.

They made me wear it the whole night - from that point onwards until I reached home.

Oh, and here’s the gang! From left, top row: Kok Xian, Chongjyn, Li Yuan. Middle row: Weng Fei, De Zien. Bottom row: Hong Kiat, Wend Li, Kevin, yours truly, Chongxian and Chong Yen :)

Somebody dropped the bomb – Terry should let someone sit on his lap! It later then evolved into chants of making me sit on Wend Li’s lap instead… with the damn tiara.

The photos are too graphic to share but you get the point. Basically I was made to sit on her lap with me lying across, then Kevin made sure that we wrap our arms around each other. Then bolts of flashes went off. Chongxian pulled up my shorts. Instinctively I screamed hey! and used my hands to cover my groin. Okay, that’s a really weird reaction from me and… well, this is just TMI2.

After the torturous experience in Japanese Village, we settled the bill and made our way back to the dorm. For the last act, they forced me to wear that pink tiara onto public bus… I immediately scuttered up the second deck of the bus out of the public eye, haha! I was way too embarrassed at that moment.

The night ended with me falling asleep in front of my laptop as I uploaded the photos of that night onto Facebook, only to be awaken by Chankeet’s message for a lunch meetup tomorrow at Jurong Point. Phew, thankfully he woke me up or else I would’ve spent the night sleeping in a crouching position at my desk and waking up with a terribly back ache the next morning.

Day 1: Lunch meetup at Jurong Point

4th Oct, the day after. It’s not quite over yet!

Woke up in the morning and went back to sleep. I was too tired from all that crazy stuff the gang made me to do the night before :P Dragged myself out of bed to prepare myself for a lunch date with Chankeet.

Darn, the frequency of bus 179 is realy bad on Sundays. I was 15 minutes late as I arrived at Jurong Point.

And I found him in front of the icing shop looking at people decorating their own cakes – it’s more like a DIY cake shop, just that the bakers will supply you the plain cake. For the decoration part it’s all up to the customer. How interesting! I tapped him on the shoulder and he turned around. Interesting eh? He asked. I nodded :D

After much deciding, we settled for Crystal Jade because he said the ramen served there is nicer. Edwin, a friend of mine who learnt of our decision on Facebook because I tweeted about it, thought that Ding Tai Fung’s ramen is better.

Ooooh our ramen!

Ooooh our ramen!

He also ordered the stir fried chicken with cashew nuts (Kung Pao chicken3 – don’t ask me why is it named that way). We talked over his NS life and the fact that his ORD4 is in a month’s time, and about my life in NTU also. We haven’t met each other proper since we graduated from HCI5 in 2007.

I felt so bad when he spent me for lunch! And the fact that I poisoned (defined by De Zien) him to buy his new Sony 50mm f/1.8 lens a few days back didn’t make me feel any better. My birthday was over and he still insisted on treating me. Ah, nevermind then. I shall reserve my chance for his birthday in April.

Sinfully delicious soup dumplings.

Sinfully delicious soup dumplings.

Oh, and we also had soup dumplings6 as a side dish too, besides the Kung Pao chicken heh.

He’s too free and complained how boring life is doing office and administration work (more logistics than anything else), so he insisted that he send me off at the bus interchange. Thanks for the lunch and the bubble tea :)

Later in the afternoon a typo error (screenshot credits to Jon) of mine made Jon laughing like a madman and even inspired him to write a post about it. Seriously, the typo wasn’t intentional at all! I’d blame it on the countless replies I’ve made to wall posts because of my birthday :P

For dinner I met up with a few members of the gang again, talked over dinner, my relationship status with a person (much to the attention of others when I declared it to be complicated via Facebook weeks ago) and other stuff. We even headed to another canteen for desert before heading back to our room, where I started typing this entry from the start ;)

If ten million fireflies lit up the world as I fell asleep

I would just stand and stare.

Fireflies. Day 56. By Alison on Flickr.

Fireflies. Day 56. By Alison on Flickr.

Every year I happily proclaim that I had the best birthday celebrations ever. The truth is, every year is the best in its own right :) thank you everyone for your treats, gifts, texts and wishes. My life is nothing without you.

It’s the friends who define a person, not the person himself. I always keep that in mind.

That’s why I ran out of words to thank you, everyone.

p/s: I did a birthday post last year too in a similar format – if you’re free you can head over and read it.

  1. You can find the restaurant here using Google Maps. The address to the restaurant is Odeon Towers #01-04, 331 North Bridge Road (S)188720, 18, Singapore.
  2. “TMI” (“too much information”), a slang expression indicating that someone has divulged too much personal information and made the listener uncomfortable – Wikipedia
  3. Kung Pao chicken (also spelled Kung Po chicken or Gung Po chicken) is a classic dish in Szechuan cuisine, originating in the Sichuan Province of central-western China. The dish is named after Ding Baozhen (1820–1886), a late Qing Dynasty official. Born in Guizhou, Ding served as head of Shandong province and later as governor of Sichuan province – Wikipedia
  4. “ORD” (“Operationally Ready Date”), a date marking the completion of their NSF stint -  servicemen will be known as operationally-ready national servicemen (NSmen) – Wikipedia
  5. “HCI” (“Hwa Chong Institution”), an independent school in Singapore offering education from Secondary (Junior High) to Pre-University (Senior High) level. Previously two separate but affiliated schools, The Chinese High School and Hwa Chong Junior College, the Institution was the result of a merger which took place on 1 January 2005. However, the secondary section remains boys-only, while the pre-university (junior college) section is co-educational.
  6. XiÇŽolóngbāo, also known as soup dumpling, is a type of baozi from eastern China, including Shanghai and Wuxi. It is traditionally steamed in small bamboo baskets, hence the name (xiaolong is literally “small steaming basket”) – Wikipedia
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