Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Viet nom nom nom!

Visiting Hanoi for four full days was a safari of flavour, spices and fresh ingredients for me and my sister. Aside from Vietnam's culture, the hospitable people and the cold weather ranging from 17 to 22 degrees Celsius was a treat but ultimately food can be the single best reason to go back to this country.

You would be amazed how even the most shabby food place can serve fresh tasty meal. Hanoi is definitely a carnival of cheap but scrumptious delicacies.

Try stir fried beef and vegetables at Bu Niong Xuan Cuan located in Old Quarter, 47 Ma May for only VND 200,000 more than enough for  2 pax.

You have never been to Vietnam if you haven't tasted their egg coffee and one of the famous cafe to check out in Hanoi is the Giang Cafe at 39 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, Hoan Kiem.

Hot egg coffee VND 20,000
It is also worth visiting A New Day Restaurant located in 72 Mã Mây, Hàng Buồm, Hà Nội, Hoàn Kiếm where we availed their set menu for only VND 100,00 with generous serving of fried spring rolls, pho (chicken or beef), rice and your choice of fish fillet, chicken or beef viand and finally yogurt for dessert.

Pho Ga/Chicken
Fried spring rolls
Fish fillet
Of course we tried the most famous coffee brand in Hanoi, Trung Nguyen.

Drip coffee VND 55,000 and chocolate cake VND 60,000

Bun Cha meal, pork barbeque soup, rise noodles and fried spring rolls from the number one must-visit restaurant as per TripAdvisor - Bun Cha Ta, is also a delight for only VND 90,000.

Hanoi Guest house breakfast is also a treat, where we had option between western and traditional vietnamese cuisine every day.

Pho Beef
Rice rolls
Egg and ham sandwich
Pancakes with syrup
Even the simplest food place along the road does offer you appetizing hearty food.

(top) Meat spring roll VND 50,000 and (bottom) Fried noodles
Fried noodles VND 45,000
Street fruits
Who says satisfying your taste buds and wallet never gets along. Economical feast is the norm when you visit Viet nom nom nom!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Office Jokes

Sam walks into his boss’s office and says “Sir, I’ll be straight with you, I know the economy isn’t great, but I have over three companies after me, and I would like to respectfully ask for a raise.”
After a few minutes of haggling the boss finally agrees to a 5% raise, and Sam happily gets up to leave. “By the way,” asks the boss, “Which three companies are after you?”
“The electric company, water company, and phone company!”

The owner of a company tells his employees:
“You worked very hard this year, therefore the company’s profits increased dramatically. As a reward, I ‘m giving everyone a check for $5,000.”
Thrilled, the employees gather round and high five one another.
“And if you work with the same zeal next year, I’ll sign those checks!”

The sales chief, the HR chief, and the boss of a company are on their way to lunch when they stumble upon a beat up, but valuable looking brass container.
The sales chief picks it up and starts cleaning it with his handkerchief. Suddenly, a genie emerges out of a curtain of purple smoke. The genie is grateful to be set free, and offers them each a wish.
The HR chief is wide-eyed and ecstatic. She says, “I want to be living on a beautiful beach in Jamaica with a sailboat and enough money to make me happy for the rest of my life.”
Poof! She disappears.
The sales chief says, “I want to be happily married to a wealthy supermodel with penthouses in New York, Paris, and Hong Kong.”
Presto! He vanishes.
“And how about you?” asks the Genie, looking at the boss. The boss scowls and says, “I want both those idiots back in the office by 2 PM.”
Moral of the Story: Always let your boss speak first.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Reasonable Faith 2016 Conference

As Christians, we are commanded to be grounded in the truth and to be always ready to defend our belief as stated in the book of 1 Peter 3:15

"But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..."

This year Reasonable Faith 2016 Conference is happening in Singapore on March 11-12, 2016. The conference will be lead by respectable speakers -- William Lane Craig, Sean McDowell and Jose Philip -- to help us equip ourselves in defending Christianity with logic and reason to others.

You may get your tickets via Peatix

Friday, March 4, 2016

CCF: A Study Through the Book of Genesis

By Pastor Jay Jackson

After the fall of man accounted in the book of Genesis Chapter 3 where the serpent deceived the woman to take and eat the forbidden fruit, the bible shows us four reactions of God towards man.

1. Question
Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” Gen 3:9
And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” Genesis 3:11

These are more of a rhetorical question of God to Adam since God knew exactly the answers to His questions. But God wanted to give him the opportunity to realize his mistake, to tell the truth and admit to God that he needs God more than anything. But instead of coming to God for rescue he chose to hid. This reminds us of our attitude when facing difficulties, oftentimes we push away God and the people that can help us and isolate ourselves.

Adam's real problem is not the influence outside him but within himself. It's like saying “I choose to believe Eve or the serpent more than what God promised me.”

2. Curse
To the woman He said,
I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.”
Then to Adam He said,
Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’;
Cursed is the ground because of you;
In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life...”-- Genesis 3:16-17

The respond of God is a natural consequences of the actions done by Adam and Eve. Since Adam choose to disobey God, he ordered independence from God and that results to spiritual death and separation from Him.

3. Promise
So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. – 1 Corinthians 15:45

Parallel to the curse, God makes a promise that He himself will find and make ways to correct the mistakes that the first Adam committed. Because of His great love to us he sent the second Adam though Jesus Christ who takes away the sin of the world.

4. Provision
The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. – Genesis 3:21

In the midst of man's fall God provided proper clothing to Adam and Eve. While they tried to cover themselves with fig leaves, the Lord clothe them with garments made from animal skins that requires the blood of that animal. Similarly, RELIGION is man's attempt to cover our sins by following rituals and doing good works BUT the blood of the Lamb of God though Jesus Christ is God's redemptive way to salvation.

The question is, what and why are you hiding from the Lord? When no matter how hard you try it will not get any better apart from Him. Ultimate truth is you need Him, more than anything else. 

Stop hiding, step out into the light and let God cover you.   

Transcribed by:

Thursday, March 3, 2016

US Visa Application

I couldn't believe I'll be writing a post on my US visa application experience this year but God is a God of surprises. Though I am not a fan of spontaneity,  it was an opportunity to experience God's hand especially on situation that is beyond my control.

Here are the nitty-gritty I went through with my visa application:
1. Identify the type of Visa you are applying.
2. Complete and submit your DS-160 form. Fill out all the required fields with valid information, upload 2x2 ID picture that meets their requirements.  Here's a guideline for completing your DS-160 application. Don't forget to print the confirmation page.
3. Settle the non-refundable Visa fee. For my case I paid USD160 or SGD232 for Business/Tourist US visa. In Singapore there are few options to pay:
- SingPost Office (accepts cash/nets)
- SAM Kiosk/Web/Mobile App
Check here for complete list of Visa type and application fee amounts.
4. Register as new user here to be able to schedule your appointment. In this step you will be needing the Visa Fee receipt, your passport and your DS-160 confirmation page. Print the appointment confirmation page as well.
5. Prepare the following documents before your interview:
- Appointment confirmation
- DS-160 confirmation
- Passport ( recent and old )
- Fee Receipt
- 1 Photo 2x2
- Supporting documents
  • Current proof of income, tax payments, property or business ownership, or assets.
  • Your travel itinerary and/or other explanation about your planned trip.
  • A letter from you employer detailing your position, salary, how long you have been employed, any authorized vacation, and the business purpose, if any, of your U.S. trip.
  • Criminal/court records pertaining to any arrest or conviction anywhere, even if you completed your sentence or were later pardoned.
In my case, I have original copies of invitation letter from US office and certification of employment.

On the actual day of interview, I arrived 30 minutes earlier than my appointment time. Entering the US embassy you'd feel that security was crucial, you need to leave any gadget or digital device from the security area and you need to pass two body metal scanner.

Upon entrance on the visa application room, you'll submit your appointment letter, passport and 2x2 photo. You'll need to basically go through three steps, first from window#2 I was asked to submit my DS-160 confirmation page to get a queue number, then wait for my number to get called. From window #3 finger printing and finally consul interview that is simultaneously happening in windows #4-6.


Me: Good Morning!
Consul: So it's your first time in the US?
Me: Yes.
Consul: What will you do in US?
Me: I'll attend a training.
Consul: What kind of training?
Me: Mobile testing and automation training.
Consul: Ohh so you're a Computer Science grad(looking in his computer)
Me: Yes.
Consul: How long have you been in your industry?
Me: In Singapore?
Consul: No, total.
Me: Ten plus years.
Consul: Where is the training?
Me: It's gonna be in Foster City, California.
Consul: How long have you been in Singapore?
Me: Three years and a half.
Consul: Any family in the US?
Me: No.
Consul: Okay that's it.
Me: So it's gonna be delivered(pointing to my passport)
Consul: Yes.
Me: Thank you! (all smile)

If your visa gets approved, the embassy will retain your passport for three working days(not including the day of your interview) and deliver your passport on the address you specify while creating a profile when you schedule your interview(see step #4).

By God's grace, I was granted multiple entry US visa for 10 years and got my passport one day earlier than expected.

"Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!" -- Psalm 34:8