Photo of the Day | Dance of Hope

eugephemisms sharing

Each year, we have the opportunity to travel and spend a day with the kids of Berkat Bangsa, an orphanage in Batam, Indonesia. In every visit, we would bring food, books, and school supplies for the children and the care takers of the centre.

Currently, the centre takes care of 40 kids; a double in number as opposed to a couple of years back. The surge in number of kids in many orphanages around the country was brought about by the deadliest tsunami which hit Banda Aceh and other provinces, which reportedly claimed the lives of 170,000 people in Indonesia alone.

We usually arrive at the centre at about 10am, just in time when the kids are back from school. The Indonesian couple who founded the centre sends the kids to a nearby public institution where they can enjoy their right to a formal education.

We would kick off the day with a fun game where we can introduce ourselves to them and vice versa. Getting acquainted with them can be a bit tricky at first as some of them are really shy, especially the little ones.

We’d organise learning programmes and interactive games which aim to help teach them valuable life lessons on the importance of education, unity, and friendship. In addition to the fun games and activities, we would also teach them basic English and Maths.

Many from our group could speak Bahasa, so it’s relatively easier for us to communicate with the kids. The kids love to sing and dance and they would even prepare a short program for us to culminate the day’s activities. This year’s theme was, “Putting others first before self.”

As we play, eat, sing and dance with them, we are reminded that sharing is really not just about the food, money or other material things; it’s about the quality time that we spend for others. Though we would always leave the centre with a heavy, heavy heart, as some kids won’t let us go; we bring along with us beautiful images of their happy faces and loud laughters throughout the course of the day.

Upon returning home and getting on with our daily grind, we never cease to cherish, enjoy and live the experience–the value of sharing and finding time to reach out and help the needy.

Subject: Dance of Hope
Location: Batam, Indonesia

Quote of the Week | The Writing Muscle


Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.
Jane Yolen

Let’s make every day a writing muscle-building day.

9 Dragon Boat-iquettes Every Paddler Should Observe

In dragon boating, as in life, it is essential for us paddlers to observe and be aware of the proper etiquettes of the sport. How well one behaves and carries himself during a team practice, and especially in races, speaks of the paddler’s or even the team’s character.

As we train hard to make up for a strong team, let’s also keep training ourselves towards achieving a certain decorum—the basic foundation for a harmonious, respectful and happy dragon boat community.

We have carefully chosen some of the best letterings/typographies on Instagram and other websites to go with the ‘dragon boat-iquettes’ that every dragon boater should know, observe, and, yes, live.

1. Be cheerful. Always wear a cheerful demeamour during races. That eye-blinding smile of yours may be used against your competitor, no? One cheerful mood can be infectious at the race site–spread it. It’s always a good feeling to race ‘happy’.

cheerfulradiate positive vibes

2. Be friendly. Always greet your competitors. Say, ‘Good luck!’, ‘All the best!’, ‘Have a safe race!’, ‘Go (insert team name)!’ Pump up the motivational atmosphere by giving compliments to your teammates and competitors as well. ‘Amazing performance!’, ‘Well done!’, ‘Great timing!’, ‘Good race!’

Keep GoingGood luck

3. Be generous. Share all your knowledge of the sport to the ‘newbies’. In situations where there are more paddlers, as opposed to the crew needed for a certain race/category, let the new(er) paddlers play. It’s their time to shine, so your trust and support is important to them. This has been a perennial issue for most teams, but a real respectable paddler shouldn’t grumble about such things, they should be embracing it. That’s what true athletes are.

givingbe generous

4. Be considerate. Offer to help hold the boat (your own or others’) if there’s a need or when the waves are crazy at the boat loading zone. Offer to lend a hand for other dragon boaters (teammates or otherwise) who have difficulty standing or getting out of the boat right after a heat. While it’s every paddler’s duty to take care of the team’s equipment, always help in lifting and returning the boat, as well as your team paddles and life vests to where you store them. No divas and lazy a*ses please. In all races, know where the First Aid/Medics tent and ambulance are located.

Call me dragonthrow kindness like confetti

5. Be respectful. Just be. Mutual respect is essential amongst teammates and team officers. As a team officer, you need to be impartial in fulfilling your duties and do not overstep your bounds. In carrying out team activities, don’t do everything by yourself–administer inclusivity. For teams who are sharing a complex, always ask permission when you need to borrow other team’s boats, rudders (sweep oar), trolleys, or drums. It’s also good manners to ask permission from your current team when you want to paddle with other teams.

give gainrespect

6. Be fair. Follow the Chief Starter’s instructions carefully and honestly. If he calls on your team to do one stroke forward, just do one. For straight line races, strictly stay in the middle of your lane and don’t ride on the bow wave of your competitor. That’s ‘wash riding’ and it’s not allowed under IDBF regulations. The Umpires are watching you. Never ever cheat. After all, nothing feels like winning a clean, fair game!

Hard work conquers allit feels so good

7. Be present. Show up during ‘team’ trainings. Don’t show face two weeks before your race. That’s not very cool. So long as your schedule permits, Go! And please try to be on time. When you’re racing, stay with your team and try not to roam around the race venue ALL the time.

Get out of bedWe work because -- chain reaction

8. Be polite. When there’s a need to protest or complain about a race or another team, go to your team manager first, then to the race officials. Talk calmly and keep your composure at all times. It is always great to be admired for our sportsmanship, isn’t it?

Act nice & gentleYouve got to be kind

9. Be mindful. Volunteer for any river, lake, or sea clean up activities in your area. As dragon boaters, we should be the boosters in saving the waters because it’s our ‘playground.’ And hey, let’s please clean up our space after each race. It’s not that hard, really!

Be WetClean up elves

Do you observe these Dragon Boat-iquettes?

Images: Instagram, Instagram, Instagram, Instagram, Crated, Instagram, Pinterest, Pinterest, Instagram, BelindaLoveLee, Instagram, Instagram, Behance, YoureFineValentine, YoureFineValentine, Instagram, Etsy

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Food Power: A fitting sendoff to Paul and Paulina

Featured Restaurant/Bar: Vanilla Bar & Café

Vanilla Bar & Cafe

Vanilla Bar & Cafe

Establishment Type: Family-owned; Ideal for lunches, brunches, after work drinks

Location: 3 Boon Tat Street, Singapore; CBD [Boon Tat cor Amoy Streets, Singapore]

Established: 2009

Budget per pax: 25 SGD

Brief Intro: Julian, one of the owners, shared that it was his sister who named the restaurant Vanilla Bar & Café. Vanilla, as an ingredient, enhances the flavour of a dish (or any dish or drink for that matter) when mixed with other flavours.

In the middle of the café, together with the condiments, you will see a showcase of different kinds of toys. It’s a collection of some of Julian’s and his sister’s toys when they were still kids. It shows that they want the establishment to be inspired by a child’s playfulness as it signifies an uncomplicated element on their food preparation while also expressing fun, spontaneous atmosphere for their staff and their patrons.

Vanilla Bar & Cafe

Vanilla Bar & Cafe

Vanilla Bar & Cafe

It was a sendoff lunch for my friends Pau and Paul. They are embarking on separate journeys but both are equally exciting too. While I wish them all the best, I also wish for them to create a fun and spontaneous journey along the way.

When I searched the web for the relevance and meaning of vanilla, I found out that in the 14th century, the Aztecs would drink vanilla for it is believed to have given them strength, as well as power.

We must’ve picked the right place for this occasion then. So, farewell and more strength and power to you!

Vanilla Bar & Cafe

Vanilla Bar & Cafe

What we ordered: Garlic Prawn Pasta, 13.90 SGD; Truffle Mushroom Penne, 16.90 SGD; Iced Coffee, 4.50 SGD; Iced Latte, 5.50 SGD; Strawberry Smoothie, 6.90 SGD; Vanilla Dirt Cake, 9.50 SGD
What we loved: The dessert. Vanilla Dirt Cake: Original, inventive, delicious.
What we hated: The dessert. Too tempting!

It was highly recommended by Pau, and it was indeed a treat. A good value for everything we had. I can recommend it too—for team lunches for those who are based in Raffles Place area and also best for brunches after your CBD weekend runs.

Vanilla Bar & Cafe

Vanilla Bar & Cafe

They open shop at 10.30am until 11pm from Mondays to Thursdays; 11.00am – 12.00mn on Fridays and 11.00am – 9.00pm on Saturdays. They are closed on Sundays and public holidays.

Fail Better

Fail Better

Lettering: Jay Valentine