Finally Started Cycling

I used to listen to Siva talk about cycling, Zendogs, and his long rides from one end of Singapore to another and joined in the Pedal Ubin rides now and then. The most memorable ride I had was probably that in 2005 where I rode a tandem bicycle to ferry a student while guiding a group in Ubin.

So between that and reading Lance Armstrong books, I was pretty much content.

Then Siva alerted me to a old GT Vantara to be given away. Here’s the fateful email:


Hi Cheng Puay,

Bike is yours, please arrange with Rob for pickup.

Hi Robert,

Cheng Puay an obvious choice to revive the bike. Glad he’s interested.




This is what the bike looked like before I sent it for servicing:


And after a visit to Mr Tan’s bike shop, it is ready to go on the road.


However, I only started riding last week with Siva, Kenneth, Adrian and Kevin. Siva, being one to understate things, said that they will be going slow and it is a simple ride from HV to Changi. Adrian, Kevin and Kenneth will be coming in foldies. So I said yes, thinking then, “How fast can a foldie go?” and thought that this will be a leisurely ride like one I used to do along ECP.

I was wrong on all counts. Underestimating the time, I rushed down to Holland Village from Clementi and then joined Siva and Adrian and Kenneth there. Briefly remembered the route to be from Farrer Road, to Lornie, turning into Marymount where we waited for Kevin.

I was glad for the break for my legs were feeling the strain. My lights were not bright enough so Adrian passed me a rear light for my havesack and Siva clipped on a front light for me. Again I underestimated the importance of good gear for safe cycling. Thankfully everyone was kind with their advice and equipment.

Continued up Tampines where I faced my first slope, Kenneth was tellling me, “There will be 2 slopes, this and the one at Pasir Ris. After that should be a pretty smooth ride”. This was the time where I was shifting through all the possible gear combinations to get the pedals going and trying to keep up. Siva will usually hang around to wait for me. The stretch along Tampines Road was really good, flat road, industrial buildings and sun rise. You do not feel like in you are in Singapore.

So I was pretty much hitting my limit and exhausted when we turned in from Pasir Ris to Changi. But the boys were looking very relaxed and enjoying the ride. As Kevin wrote:

Woke up late, so I biked to the Holland Village circle line to catch up with the rest at Marymount. Siva, Kenneth, Adrian and our new rider, Cheng Puay, waited patiently for me. We carried on through Bishan, Kovan, Tampines, Pasir Ris, and eventually Changi Village, which was our breakfast pitstop, and little bike shopping place.

Was really glad that Airani joined us and gave me a lift back from Fort Road. I do not think I can cycle back from Changi!

Thanks Siva and Adrian for the lights and everyone for being so patient with a newbie.

Lessons learnt:

1. You need good gear for long rides. Every piece of equipment matters and has a function. Good quality comes with a price and it is worth it.

2. You need good riding buddies for long rides.



A dedication

My readership has stabilized to about 4 hits a day. Nice number as this was primarily an online journal. My stuff on biology and science is mainly in and my twitter.

Guess it is as good a time as any to pen down the thing that has been occupying my thoughts for the past few months. My mother.

Her cancer has undergone metastasis and moved to the lung. The first signs were her persistent cough and gradual loss of voice. When she consented to an x-ray, a dreaded shadow loomed at the center of the lung.

That was the explanation for all her symptoms, the shortness of breath, fatigue, and persistent cough. She was admitted for a CT scan and a biopsy. My buddy at SGH showed me the CT film and it was more cancer than lung, with secondary growth.

Could still remember that moment, I was sitting down beside the computer, looking at the screen and felt all the strength leave me.

So now its been about a month since the news. Mother was discharged and the family went back to the routine of spending more time back home.

Me? I now try to finish work early, take leave during chemo sessions to be with her, and try my very best to focus on my new portfolio.

A word on my new portfolio, I now have to set up the service-learning programme for the school, both local and overseas, largely by myself.

So how will things turn out? I am not sure really but things like this really surface things which we know is important and now is more immediate and urgent. Considered taking leave, yet you know you cannot really leave things undone and trouble others to pick up pieces after you.

She is, like all mothers, someone very dear and important to me. She is the reason I could have an education, working long hours in a factory to make sure my fees are paid and I could just focus on learning. I managed to even get a Masters and now a nice job.

So now you do what you can, count each day past as a great blessing and show your gratitude and try to make things better.

Like what Randy Pausch did:

For 2011

Realised I have not come to this page in a while. Was talking to Siva and he was saying that the average access for a blog should be around 80 hits per day for it to be useful.

Well this blog may now serve a different purpose. What it is may need some time to take form.

Last year can be said to the the year I was standing at the crossroads, or perched at the edge of a cliff, looking at what lies ahead and wondering which route to take, or deciding if I should just take a plunge.

Well come 2011, I am still perched there. Looking over and still deliberating though I know I must decide very soon. For now work has started and you know what that means.

Interesting that I am appointed an ICT mentor for some colleagues, had my first session last week where I went through basics such as switching on and off the mac, where are the apps, what is the command button for. It was quite invigorating and hopefully this will continue for a while. Perhaps this will be my shot at being an ADE.

Went Nepal last year, it was exhausting, exhilarating and enlightening. Feels really good to be back trekking in the mountains and just listen to the sound of your own heartbeat and your footsteps crunching on the leaves beneath. The only regret is that I should have stayed longer and conditioned myself better. Well till the next trip. Definitely going back. Photos:


What will this year be like? Will spend alot of time with family this year. Have to work to focus in school as well.

Basically a summary of what has happened so far

I tweet more than I write now, but probably also there seem to be less time alone just by myself for writing and doing things alone. So I have not really posted something substantial for a while.

Quite a few things has happened, some good, some challenging. A big part should be centered on my job, myself asking what is most important as a teacher and whether do I like the things I am doing. A big part is about myself trying to adjust to my new role and the many things and expectations that come along with it.

While I can now try to make things better in the school in some areas, I spend less time with students, and this was what I find alot of meaning in. In my long reflection, I am very grateful for the support and advice my friends have offered.

After the struggle, I made my decision and strangely felt calm. Meetings went easier and you can take things as they come. Will be status quo for another year. After that we shall see.


A good quote which I think I will use soon:



zenhabits: smile, breathe & go slowly

The author of this blog, Leo Babauta, took the quote: “Smile, breathe & go slowly” from Thich Nhat Hanh, a very wise monk whom I have read alot on and respected his ideas.

Guess one need constant reminders in life.

This will be my mantra for the rest of the year and the year ahead.

smile, breathe & go slowly.


His brief guide:

the brief guide

less TV, more reading
less shopping, more outdoors
less clutter, more space
less rush, more slowness
less consuming, more creating
less junk, more real food
less busywork, more impact
less driving, more walking
less noise, more solitude
less focus on the future, more on the present
less work, more play
less worry, more smiles

Moving Windmills

Been reading alot about this subject recently. Something about service-learning. Guess I can humbly say I am part of the community now after 5 years of going to Cambodia.

Perhaps its the new job I need to do. Guess this increased reading is a response of the mind trying to make sense of what is this whole thing about. While in the past you just focus on the action.

Not very coherent now. Will write more soon.

The Diamond Cutter


This was a book recommended to me by a friend, I read it once, found it very meaningful and I passed my copy to a colleague who is leaving for the States.

And I spent the last 4 years searching for the book. Of course I could not remember the exact title, just that it was red, it is about diamonds. So I cannot order the book online, just have to physically search through all the shelves in the relevant sections (business? self-help? Religion?) in hope of finding a red book with the word diamond on the cover. Trust me, there weren’t any.

So was of course very delighted to find it again and I immediately bought it.

Here it is: The Diamond Cutter by Geshe Michael Roach who was a monk and became a diamond trader.

Going to read it again. Such books need constant reading and re-reading.

Will definitely want to join otterman next year for a short attachment stint. Not sure if school will allow, they had already rejected 2 proposals for overseas conferences. Will just have to try.

Last time (hopefully)

Last trip for the last chemo session. The blog has kinda served as a place to reflect and to record things so I might as well write it in.

After this week, there is another 3 weeks of the next phase of radiotherapy. And then one hopes for the best and see how it plays out.

Still have to go back for handover meeting and to plan for the presentation for tomorrow. You just do what you can I guess. At least hopefully after this week I do not have to straddle appointments and can focus more. Well have already done it for so long, what is three more weeks?

So then.

Will talk about Dalai Lama’s routine after I finished watching his documentary. Such things move you on.

So what should i do after? Time to think hard.


Much as we like to treasure it and make every moment count. It’s also important to learn the natural order of things and learn to let go.

To my dear friend and colleague. Thank you for everything. You’ll be remembered and dearly missed.

23 Jan
The week finally passed. Already things seem hazy. The rush to the hospital, reading the letters, organising visits, hoping and praying, then the heartbreaking news. Had to continue to go to consultation for another case, offer encouragement, advice and comfort and be your normal self in class. You also still need to be clear headed and plan and think of policies for the SL programme.

Ended the week with OSL parents’ meet, its really heartening to see the 06 batch return. Such little actions do mean a lot and I guess it is also fitting to say farewell from OSL with this gathering; a catching up of the seniors and also planning ahead.

The next few weeks do not look like its going to let up much. Though am grateful for the texts, emails, cards and books.