Friday, October 28, 2011

Earning money faster...

During my first stint in Singapore and since moving to Tanjung Pagar, I stayed with another colleague who was to become a very good friend. I call her Xiao Hong. "I need to earn money faster!" she said as we discussed how difficult it is to earn money when we started of with a huge debt (Agent's fee) in the first place. She, like me, had borrowed a large sum of money to pay the agent fees to come to Singapore. Her first intention for coming to Singapore was to get away from her ex-husband whom she had just divorced. She wanted some time to herself as well as to earn some money as well. Her husband had gambled away all their savings.

"And how to we do that?" I asked and the conversation went on...

Xiao Hong : "We could find a rich and good boyfriend!"
Me : "Aiya, Xiao Hong, good ones are all already taken. And even if they are not, what makes you so sure they want us. We are both past 25 (at that time, I was just past 26) and there are so many more younger and prettier girls around." as I remembered my stroll in Geylang just about a month before.
Xiao Hong : "True too! The other day, a friend approached me to work in a Massage place. She said it's good money. She makes about $2,000 a month compared to our miserable $800!"
Me : "But I don't know how to massage?"
Xiao Hong : "Hey Xiao Jing, you are too innocent! Do you really think that they do massage in those places?"

We talked till midnight before turning in. But in the end, there were no conclusions. Xiao Hong went to great lengths to explain what goes on in the massage centers and I told her that it's definitely not something I can do. She did not get around to doing it either but she did find a boyfriend about a month later (another posting perhaps). Anyway, she worked till just before the Chinese New Year of 2009 before she left for home and never came back. She had changed her number as I write this, I had lost contact with her. I certainly hope she will call me someday, as I miss her a lot!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Living with someone but never seeing them!

Have you ever lived with someone but seldom have a chance to talk to them or even see them, except when they are asleep? That's the case for me at the moment!

I live with my sister, not just under the same roof but in the same room and sleeping on the same bed. If I tell that to most people, they would be thinking, "How nice and how close these siblings are?". Nothing is further from the truth... and the truth is that I find that we are drifting apart because we hardly ever get a chance to talk to each other, other than the occassional SMS message in the day.

In the morning, I wake up at 5am to get ready for work. My sister is almost always still in dreamland. She hardly stirs, even when I have to turn on the lights. I can fully understand as she must be so tired standing for almost 12 to 14 hours every day. By 5.30am, I am out of the house and off to work. At about 8am, my sister would get up and it is then her turn to get ready for work. She usually leaves the house at 9am to get to work by 10am as she usually works quite far away... currently in Ang Mo Kio.

I finish work at about 6pm and usually make my way straight home. I am usually back by 6.45pm or so. Sometimes I go for a jog, sometimes I read my books and watch the news on my computer. Sometimes I go to the supermarket to buy some groceries and have my dinner at about 8pm. Usually by 9.30pm or 10pm, I would go to bed as I have to wake up at 5am. That will give me about 7 to 7.5hours of sleep.

My sister usually gets off work at 10pm. By the time she gets home, if she does not work overtime, it will be at least 11pm. I would be deep in sleep by then and I seldom if ever stir, even when she comes home and turn on the lights. I wear eye patches to sleep, so I seldom even notice that she is home. Sometimes my sister would work overtime to do the packing and get ready for the next day. This usually means she will be home by 2am.

So the only time I get to see my sister is on her off-day, which is usually once in two to three weeks. She only takes off when she is really really tired as her objective is to earn as much as possible during her stay in Singapore.

So there you go! Living with someone you love, and even sleeping on the same bed, but seldom ever get to speak face-to-face! How pathetic? Do you face this problem?


Thursday, October 20, 2011

I visited Sharon!

After Sharon (the ex-coffee lady) came visit me the other day, I decided to do the same and pay her a visit as well. She now works at Old Chang Kee at the Velocity shopping center at Novena.

So last Saturday, when I had finish my English class, I decided to pay her a visit. I had to rush a bit as she finishes work at about 2 -3pm. It was initially hard to find as her directions were not very clear. She had told me to take the left exit from the MRT and I got lost and had to walk a long distance. This was followed by a few phone calls as well as asking around, before finally finding her.

She's working in a small stall with 4 people. 3 were Chinese workers. 2 of them worked in the kitchen cooking up stuff while another two, including Sharon, were at the front attending to customers. They were really busy and business seems good. While the working hours is shorter (6am to 2pm), there is almost no rest time as there is almost always someone there buying something. This must be a tough 8 hour job. At least in my currentl role, I am able to take a short rest during the "off-peak" hours of the day, despite the longer hours.

Due to the nature of her work, we hardly got a chance to talk as she was always serving customers. After a few short chats, I decided not to cause her too much trouble and decided to take a walk in the shopping center. At least I got to visit her... as she is a good friend indeed!


Monday, October 17, 2011

New English Class!

I had already gone through two sessions of the English Class and while it is tough for me, I kind of enjoy it. I enjoy learning the new words and phrases and practising them on my friends and customers while at work. It's kind of fun!

Sometimes I feel like a fool when I say something and they do not understand me only for me to realise that I had mispronounced a word or two. But we learn from mistakes, don't we? And sometimes making a fool and laughing at ourselves can be a great stress reliever too!

I wrote about my boss passing the job of making coffee since my colleague left. With this new role, he said I need not work on Saturdays, so I decided to continue with my class. I had contemplated on stopping as I felt bad that I cannot get to work on time because of my class. It is unfair that my colleagues work a full Saturday while I go there only after my class ends. But now that I do not have to work Saturdays anymore, it's a motivation for me to continue.

I went down to the community center to apply for the next intermediate class. Don't be fooled by the word "intermediate" as it is still pretty basic. It is just "intermediate" for me in particular... and I'm looking forward for it to start!


Friday, October 14, 2011

No Class!

Last Saturday, I dutifully made my trip to the local community center to attend my English Class. When I arrived, I realized that the door was closed and there were 2 other people waiting outside.

I then suddenly remembered that our teacher had told us that there won't be any class this week as she had some matters to attend to. She said that she will make it up another time. While I felt kind of stupid to have walked all this way, I laughed at myself all the same. At least I wasn't alone and there were two others. They were new and they missed the previous class when the teacher told us there won't be class this week. So, not really a consolation for me.

I told them there will be no class, and we had a good laugh at ourselves. I then made my way home and stopped by Bedok Point to take a look. They were having a book sale and I decided to browse as I realised that they had quite a few Chinese Books. Also, I suddenly had an hour or more of free time and I decided I shouldn't just waste it away doing something unproductive. I seldom see book stores carrying alot of Chinese Books so this was quite interesting for me. I decided to spend more time browsing. Before long, I had spent more than an hour at the bookshop... just browsing here and there.

I ended up buying a book which I felt was quite interesting for SGD13. It's about opening a shop and the skills needed for it. It's something I want to consider doing once I get back home to China, so I might as well learn something now while I have the time. Interestingly, this was my first time at Bedok Point... when I just live a short walk away!

On the way back, I was rather hungry, so I stopped by the local bakery to get two buns for lunch! This local bread joint makes some nice coffee buns that smells so good even when you are outside. I just could not resist getting two of these for my lunch... yummy?


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New Bubble Tea Shop in Bedok!

Today, as I was walking home from the MRT station, I noticed quite a lot of people standing near the corner of one of the shophouses in Bedok Central. Out of curiousity, I walked nearer to see what was happening. Only on getting nearer did I realised that they were queueing for Bubble Tea. A new Bubble Tea shop has just opened here. It's called Koi Cafe.

Looking at the long queue, I decided to try it out as I had not had my Bubble Tea fix for some time now. I decided to order two, one for me and one for my sister. I ordered the Milk tea with Grass Jelly and Pearls... yummy...

I cannot believe it when they issue me ticket. My number was 738 and the queue number was 730. I still have to wait for 7 more customers before I get my tea. Business must be really good.

Koi Cafe is really costly. The two Bubble Tea cost me S$10 ie $5 each. The other shop nearby only sells them for like S$3.50 each. But after one sip, I understand the long queue. These Koi Bubble Tea obviously is something different, more fragrant and the grass jelly just flows into your mouth. The "pearls" are chewy too... wow... delicious. I'm sure my sister will love it too.

But at this price, I better not have it too often. $5 a cup is a lot to pay for Bubble Tea. I could have lunch and a drink and still have a little change left over. Scary but nice!


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Some people are asking me to take down their pictures!

Recently, I was rather surprise and in many ways, disappointed, to receive a few calls from my friends who saw my post on this site. They have requested that I take down some of their pictures.

Despite the fact that I had been posting for more than a year, they only got to know of it through the power of facebook. A friend had added me on facebook, then saw my blog and found her pictures in there. She then informed some of my other room mates.

My old room mates have told me that their bosses saw my post on the living conditions and have shown it to them. They feel ashamed and embarrassed. I found this rather disappointing as I feel people should not be ashamed of their real living conditions. Some of them have told theri boyfriends, bosses, colleagues that their living conditions were actually better and were afraid that they will get to see this blog and find out that their living conditions were actually quite appalling.

While I am not concerned about my posting since I only post the truth, I also do not want to inconvenience my friends. As such, I will be taking down some of these pictures in the near future. I will be replacing the picturees with the sign on the right. I am considering if I should continue posting. My only reason to post is to keep a record and for others to know "the other side of the story".

Sorry my friends, if I have inconvenienced you in any way!

Thank you for supporting me.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sharon came to visit me!

As I write this, I just ended my second week making coffee after my ex-colleague, Sharon, who used to make coffee left. Today, I had a pleasant surprise when at about 3.30pm, she walk into our work place and said hello.

I asked her what brought her here and she just said she wanted to visit us because she missed us. While work at Old Chang Kee is fun (she said), she still missed this place as she had worked here for a little over 4 years.

Sharon (that's her name), asked me how I was getting on and I told her I was struggling... yes still struggling but doing ok and learning all the time. I had lots of questions for her. Which customer wants their coffee really thick? How much sugar should I add? When should I replenish the coffee powder etc... etc...She was innundated with questions from me. Nevertheless, she was really helpful and did her best to answer all my questions. I really appreciate her visit as it helps answer many questions I had.

Sharon works from 7am to 3pm and hence she has a big part of the afternoon off, which is good for her. At least she will find some time to do some of her own things. They work 8hrs day with one day off a week. Quite nice actually.

We had a good chat and I made her a cup of coffee. Time really flies when you are having fun. Well, it got to 6pm really quick and Sharon and I walked to the MRT together.

We had a good talk and I promise to visit her soon!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A big move!

Some time back, I wrote about my landlord being sent back home. A friend of his was helping him to collect rent but recently the owner of the place decided to take it back. It means that all the tenants, or rather sub-tenants, had to move out almost immediately.

My friend whom I wrote about when she first came to Singapore called me to tell me the news and I decided to pop by last Saturday to take a look and visit them for one last time. Somehow, I still have some attachment to the place as I had stayed there for more than a year in total and made many friends. I arrived right in the middle of the big move and what a mess it was.

I really felt sorry for some of the sub-tenants as they had barely stayed there a  few months. Even my friend only started staying there in April, so that's like just six months. They told me how difficult it was to find a place to stay with such a short notice and I can fully understand their difficulty. I had difficulty finding a room for me and my sister and it took me almost 2 months, just to find something we like and can afford. And to think that these sub-tenants were given barely two weeks to move out. Scary to even think of it.

It turned out, some of them had to bunk in with friends temporary. Most of us migrant don't drive (how can we afford to?), so moving was really difficult. Fortunately for most of us, we do not have a lot of belongings to take with us. Most of us come to Singapore with one small suitcase and over time, we may have bought a few things here and there, but nevertheless, most have less than 2 suitcases... usually a big one and a smaller one. It's the little things that cannot fit into the suitcase that pose a problems eg the table fan, computers etc...

While I sympathize with my ex-room mates, I felt really grateful that I moved out earlier and need not participate in this mad rush. I wish I could offer some of these migrant workers temporary shelter but I am sure my landlord will not welcome this. A reader some time back had commented that he felt what my ex-landlord was doing was illegal and advised me to move out. I am glad I did  but I also understand that many of us have not many choices. I am lucky to have my sister with me so that we can share a room. I prefer to share a room with someone I know well, rather than just any other migrant worker from China... but still, some of us have limited choices, especially when we come alone, like I did initially!


Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Sister's Facebook!

Today, I asked my sister to create a facebook page since she is going to be in Singapore for a while. This would be an excellent place for her to find new friends and make new contact. You can find her at :

Add her as a friend will you?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Poor Old Lady

Last Saturday, as I was preparing to go for my English Class, I was kind of feeling down, thinking why I had to spend money to learn English, when I should have learnt all these when I was younger. If not for the classes, I could be resting, listening to music or just relaxing. As I headed to my English Class, I walked behind a row of flats near Bedok Central and noticed a small stack of cardboard boxes, messily placed all over. Cluttered amongst them, was an old lady, patiently cutting up the boxes and stacking them onto a trolley.

The little old lady was probably in her late seventies or eighties and walks with a perpetual hunch. I could almost feel the pain as I watch her walk those difficult few steps. I could almost feel the creaking in her bones and the pain she must have felt.Despite the pain and difficulty she was obviously in, she was meticulous, cutting and stacking each box neatly onto the trolley and tying them down neatly. My mind wondered as to how much she can fetch for those few boxes? Ten cents per box and with about 10 to 20 boxes, she probably gets about two dollars worth?

All of a sudden, I realized how fortunate I am to be of good health, to be able to study, to be able to walk with pain and even jog regularly. I thank God for blessing me for making me what I am and I made up my mind to study and work even harder.

It's interesting how our attitude can change just because of one thing or another. Maybe it's these little incidents like what I had just experienced that makes our life worth living. What would life be without a few of these incidents to remind us of how fortunate we are. No matter how bad a situation you think you are in, there's always someone worse off than you, somewhere in the world!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My sister's new hair cut!

Recently, after straightening my hair, my sister decided to have a hair cut herself. Her hair have become quite messy as she had no time to trim it since she came to Singapore in January. She had wanted to cut her hair some time back already but do not know of a "cheap" place to do so. Since I got to know this Chinese guy who works at the salon in Punggol, she think's it's worth a try.

Two Thursdays ago, when she had a day off, she asked me to take her to this place in Punggol. While I dread to go the distance, she promised to buy me a good dinner. Ha ha... fair exchange!

So in the evening after work, I met her at Bedok MRT on my way back and we made our way to Punggol. I had already made an appointment for her, so we do not have to worry about the queue. This place can get quite crowded after working hours as it is the only salon within a 2km radius.

Sometimes, the problem with women is that we want to do something, but we do not know how we want to do it. My sister wants to have a hair cut, but she does not know if she what style she wants. She spent the next half hour or so flipping magazines, searching for the correct style. I just told her that any style is better than no style... Ha ha!

So with some cajoling from my end and some recommendations from the hair dresser, she finally decided on a "neither here not there" style... long at the back but with a China doll look in front. Here's the result! How do you think she looks? I actually think she looks a lot cooler in this new hair-do. She likes it too....


Sunday, September 25, 2011

My first week making coffee!

Monday was the real test for me! It was my first day making coffee for everyone and was I nervous. I came to work with butterflies in my tummy. I remember the feeling when I was going to sit for an exam; same feeling. I could not find the sugar, I could not find the coffee powder etc... Fortunately for me, I got in earlier just to make sure I got everything in order. How I wish my colleague was with me just for one more day!

Anyway, the crowd starting streaming in at close to 8am and very soon, like all morning, the queue got longer and longer and longer. I'm not sure why the coffee queue is always long, maybe it's because we sell coffee at quite low price, only $0.80 per cup compared to $1.20 in most other places. Nevertheless, the coffee queue just keeps getting longer and I keep hoping it gets shorter.

Then I get a short break from a out 9.30am to 11.30am before the crowd starts to come again. Instead of having my lunch at 2.30pm, now I have my lunch at 11am as the lunch queue can be even longer. It's scary for me on my first day and I kept telling everyone I serve, "Please let me know if my coffee is not good, so that I can improve and serve you better!" Many say, the coffee taste just fine, but I was wondering within if they were just being polite? Most were encouraging... thank goodness!

The rest of the days were the same... long queues. Now I understand how stressful my ex-colleague's job was.

Fortunately for me, my buddy, Ah Mei and another colleauge, were always helping me. Ah Mei, in her jovial self, was always joking with the crowd, keeping the tension casual so that nobody noticed how slow I was at my first attempt to make coffee. After the first day, my shoulders were aching from having to carry the huge pot of coffee up and down, pouring out at least a few hundred cups each time.

Well, looking on the bright side, as one of my readers said, it's a skill I may be able to put to good use in future. And the shoulder ache, well, it must be good exercise too. Maybe I should cut down on my jogging a bit now that I am getting good exercise at work too!!!

Well, if you are working at MOE and reading this, please give me some encouragement. However, if my coffee is really bad, do let me know. I promise to learn and learn fast too.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My good friend - May!

It's not often that you get a good friend at work but if you do, it is such a blessing! Working life can be tough and cruel and good friends make working fun! I am fortunate to have a few good friends here and there wherever I go and I treasure them alot. Being a migrant worker can be lonely at times. It is also nice to be accepted by people other than your own country folks. I learn new cultures, mannerisms and even new words and phrases from different people. Some local friends were surprised when sometimes I utter, "Wa lao eh!", a phrase which I picked up while in Singapore!

I have a good friend I want to introduce to my readers. Her name is May and she is a Malaysian who works with me at MOE. May is one cheerful person that always never fails to make my day. She is always smiling, joking and poking fun at people. She is sharp and witty and it's just so much fun exchanging words with her. She has her own facebook page as seen on the right here...

May is also a great help at work. When I am working and she has done her work, she will always come by to help me. If I have to be in the kitchen, she will help me mend the stall. If I have to be at the stall, she will help me with the kitchen work. Sometimes we both work at the stall and that can be really fun!

What I like best is that with her around, I actually look forward to going to work! When there is a little bit of free time, we would sit and chat, eat together or even "shop" a little at the little stalls that are set up in the eating area. The pictures here show May shopping for a bag at one of the stalls.

Recently, May had her hair done as well, so I told her I am going to post a picture of her now hair-do here on my blog. Do "like" my blog on my facebook page so that I can show it to May ok? She's such a constant source of fun and encouragement for me!

I really enjoy her company and I dread the day when we have to part. Some day, that may come... but as for now, I am going to enjoy every moment I can with her.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

She is quitting!

Recently, one of our Malaysia worker decided to quit. She's a specialist and she only makes coffee, and she makes good coffee. However, she has decided to call it a day as she found a new job with OLD CHANG KEE who supposedly pays her better. She will be working at the Old Chang Kee branch in Joo Chiat and as has asked me to go visit her when she start works next week.

We are good friends and I asked her why she wants to quit. She told me that's because our boss refuse to pay her a 13th month pay! I've never got a 13th month pay when working in Singapore and I can imagine that must be quite nice! Well, I've learned to be satisfied with what I have anyway! I have good colleagues and that makes working fun... and that is important for me. The last thing I want is to have to drag myself to work everyday.

Why am I concerned this time? That's because my boss has decided that I should take over her place to  be making coffee. I have served coffee before, mostly using the coffee machine but I have never made "home made" coffee... the local brew kind, sometimes called "Kopi-O"! And I  am not even sure if I can do it. I am suppose to start this monday 19 Sep 2011. I told my boss so but he said, just do it... no training, no nothing! Scares me to death! One good point though, my boss said that if I make coffee well, I will not have to work on Saturdays... quite a motivation for me!

What if my coffee turns out terrible? Will people complain about my coffee? Will takings dwindle and my boss comes after me? What if I serve too slowly and people gets agitated staying in the queue for too long? So many questions in my head at the moment... I think I am going to have a few sleepless nights. Stress! Stress! Stress!