Friday 20 January 2017

How do we build trust?

I think the only real way is to.. let your actions speak louder than your words.

Andre Lim

Monday 16 January 2017

Singapore and Malaysia CNY 2017: Food list

So my friend recently compiled a list of CNY and non-CNY foods she wanted to eat for the festive trip back.

I thought I should do my own food list!

In reverse order of priority:

26. Murtabak
25. Roti canaito remember what the real stuff tastes like (vs the frozen and Aussie style ones)
24. Teh Tarik 
23. Cow’s ear/pig’s ear biscuits
22. Bak gua (肉干)

21. Rambutan
20. Claypot chicken rice
19. Gui ling gao (龜苓膏)
18. Tau fu fa (豆腐花)
17. Wonton noodles

16. Sting ray with chilli
15. Hainan Chicken rice
14. Pineapple tarts (roll type)
13. Some grass jelly and/or lychee dessert
12. Try some new Asian-only interesting-looking thing from McDonald’s, KFC or Burger King
11. Wat Tan Hor

10. Find the shop in Singapore which I visited in 2011 that sells nice Rogan Josh
9. Buddha Jumps Over the Wall (I saw this during my trip in 2011 and have always wanted to know what this tastes like - plus the name is funny)
8. Duck noodles…with chilli sauce from Phillip street in Singapore
7. Fishball noodle soup with lou shi fun (lao shu fen) – from Kampar
6.  (Any meal with really good chilli sauce)

5. Try some interesting-looking thing from a random supermarket in Singapore and Malaysia
4. Curry twisties
3. Fried fish balls from Kampar
2. Hot barley drink

1. Tori-Q chicken balls and unagi

Realistically, I will probably only get half to three-quarters done, but who knows? 

Andre Lim

Wednesday 11 January 2017

The Naked Farmers (Avalon River Retreat)

In late December 2016, our family had the opportunity of spending two nights at Ged and Sophie's organic farm stay at Ellenborough - they are also known as the Naked Farmers!

From memory, the farm is located about 40 minutes to 1 hour from Wauchope if driving in a non-4WD; Wauchope is, in turn, about 20 to 30 minutes away from Port Macquarie.

The farm covers 400 acres of land from memory.

Here are some pictures of our time there.

The cabin where we stayed is located mid-way up a hill:

I understand Ged has plans to build another cabin to house more visitors on a peak located on the other side of the farm :)

There is a shower and toilet, a microwave, a sink, a fireplace, a table, outdoor BBQ set and a kettle.

The solar-powered cabin can probably house up to 5 people+ depending on whether you are comfortable bringing along sleeping bags and/or sleeping on the couch. But it's best to check with Sophie and Ged as I don't know if they have limits on numbers.

Yoghurt, muesli, honey and lemon verbena tea were all provided in our cabins when we arrived.

We liked the tea and honey so much that we bought some.

Interacting with animals in their natural environment

It is amazing seeing the farm animals 'doing their own thing': roaming freely on the land and migrating unsupervised in their herds.

Sometimes the alpacas and cows migrate from the plains below up onto the slope near the cabin in the evening and at night!

In particular, Angel and Firefly are very friendly and love being close to humans.

There are also pigs, horses (including wild ones), geese, ducks and ducklings, chicken and sheep at the farm. Wallabies can be found hopping around randomly too. You might spot an eagle every now and then as well.

When the weather is hot, it's nice to go down to the nearby creek for a swim in the shade or to enjoy the shelter of the rainforest which is often about 10 to 15 degrees celsius cooler than the outside temperature.

Highlights and Summary

The highlights of our stay were interacting with the animals, looking at the starry sky in the middle of the night and I suppose just learning to enjoy the simpler things in life.

One aspect of our stay that we were not used to was the number of insects that came out at night (they were all attracted to our cabin lights!); however I suppose that must be normal living out in the country. It was a good experience to have nonetheless.

Summer can be quite hot but the cabin's windows are designed to catch the cool breeze which is quite effective in the absence of air-conditioning. If we re-visited we would probably stay during Spring or Autumn.

Ged and Sophie are lovely

Ged and Sophie are really lovely people and are happy to talk to you and show you around if they are not busy tending to the farm or feeding the animals.

In particular, Ged drove us around in his 4WD to show us the width and breadth of the farm, and he also gave us a very thorough update as to what was going on and the future projects that were planned. Ged answered all our questions, no matter how silly they were and he was a friendly tour guide.

Ged is an expert solar-power electrician too who does jobs all the way from Port Macquarie down to Sydney as I understand it :)

Other options

I understand that you can also choose to camp at the farm rather than stay at lodgings.

You can also, depending on the time of the year and availability, take up bee-keeping or honey-harvesting lessons :)

I am sure there are other options and activities that are available too.

I think the farm regularly hosts and houses volunteer farmers/helping hands from around the world too (there is a name for this but I have forgotten it - it's possibly WWOOF.)


I would recommend this place to any of my friends who are interested in escaping the hustle and bustle of city life for one or two nights.

It is a real eye-opener taking time out to relax in the country. You can probably combine this trip with a stay at Port Macquarie.

Websites are here:

All photos, except the photo of Angel, are courtesy of my mum!

Andre Lim

Wednesday 4 January 2017

吃得苦中苦, 方為人上人

A famous Chinese quote, courtesy of my Aunty Susanna.

My poor translation of the quote:

"If you can withstand ("eat") all the bitter things in life, you will become a better person for it - you'll be more mature, open-minded and resilient than the average person!"

Andre Lim

Tuesday 3 January 2017

Skin Check: Melanoma

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this post is not medical advice that should be relied upon. This is information of a general nature only. Please consult a medical professional!

So my sister suggested that I do a free skin cancer check, so I did!

It was an eye-opening experience. Thankfully, there's nothing wrong with me.

However my doctor (who probably doesn't want to be named) gave me the following additional tips which I thought I should share with everyone:

1. Avoid getting sunburnt 

I asked the doctor if there was a limit as to how many times a person could be sunburnt in their life.

He told me that for every time you get sunburnt in your life, this roughly equates to you getting one type of skin cancer down the track.

But not all skin cancers are the same.

2. How many types of skin cancers are there?

If I remember correctly, apparently there are three types of skin cancers:


Apparently doctors are not really concerned about BCC and SCC because more often than not, they do not kill and treatment prospects are much better than melanoma.

BCC and SCC apparently pop up in your 40's to 60's and, to an extent, are 'fated' ---

Fated how? Apparently, if you were exposed to too much sun as a child or teenager, you will likely get BCC or SCC later down the track.

3. Melanoma

Melanoma, however, is far more deadly. This is the number one priority for all doctors.

It is also more random in terms of what age you can get it.

Melanoma can kill, but if reported early, I was told you have a 95% chance of survival.

Ethnicity and family history will affect a person's chances of contracting melanoma.

I can't remember the stats, but a fair few young adults in Australia die from melanoma each year - it's something like the 4th or 5th main cause of death for young adults from memory.

4. What to look out for?

Check your moles.
Usually most moles are harmless, but you can use this acronym ABCDE to assist you.

Asymmetry: Is the mole not a circle or relatively round? Is it a different shape to the other moles?

Borders: Does your mole have fuzzy borders?

Colour: Does your mole have a weird colour or is it darker than other moles on your body?

Diameter/Size: Is your mole's diameter greater than 6mm? (Don't quote me on this length, but I think this is what the doctor said)

Evolution: Has your mole changed patterns over time?

If the answer is "Yes" to any of the above questions, or if you see anything new or different on your body, report it to your doctor ASAP.

5. Other common symptoms of melanoma

There are apparently two other common symptoms:

One is that the skin under your fingernails darkens.

The second is a dark, larger mole appears under your foot (possibly from sunbathing).

Report any of these ASAP.

A tricky area for doctors is pink patches/pigments, which apparently are hard to diagnose even by the best doctors.

Just go for a skin check

In any case, don't rely on what I say. Just have it checked with a doctor :)

Andre Lim