Sunday, May 31, 2009

Excuse Me, Are You a Property Agent? (4)

Someone had responded to my advertisement for a freehold, 2056 sq. ft., Cairnhill Mansion with an attempted enbloc of almost S$6 million dollars in the previous attempt. When I mentioned that the owner's asking price was $2.75 million, the buyer said that it was too expensive. Hence I asked him what he would like to offer, and his answer of $1.3M certainly revealed his ignorance. That would translate into $632 per square feet! If indeed there was a unit going for $1.3M, it would not even be advertised in the papers. People in the know would just grab the property, even without viewing!

An agent from another company phoned me, and in her sweetest of voice asked if I would cobroke with her on my client's penthouse unit at Tierra Vue on St Patrick's Road in the East. I was impressed when she told me she had three clients. Her sweet voice made me think she must be a very young agent....and she seems to be doing well. She asked if my price of $1.68M was negotiable and I asked how much her clients would offer. She said, "$1.3M!" This would translate to $632 per sq. ft. for this 2056 sq. ft. penthouse which would be ready for occupation in a month's time! Morever, the location is extrememly popular because of the number of excellent schools in the vicinity.

I guess it would be quite understandable for some clients to be ignorant, but it is almost incredible for any agent to be lacking in market information, etc. If she tries to help any client, it would be like "the blind leading the blind" and both will end up nowhere in their pursuit of a good property, for no owner would ever want to sell his property way below the market price, unless he were on the verge of suicide!

Hence, it is crucial for everyone, both agents and buyers to be aware of the prevailing market, otherwise it is a sheer waste of everyone's time.

Gan Chau

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Glimpse of Heaven

I received the following email from my toastmaster friend, Fernando. I would urge all my readers to try to be at peace with themselves. Do not let unkind remarks affect your joy or confidence, for always remember that people's condemnation and unfair judgement of you do not send you to hell; neither do their praises skyrocket you to heaven!! Hence, before we detect the speck in others' eyes, let us remove the grime and dirt from our own eyes.

I was shocked, confused, bewildered

As I entered Heaven's door,

Not by the beauty of it all,

Nor the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven

Who made me sputter and gasp ---

The thieves, the liars, the sinners,

The alcoholics and the trash.

There stood the kid from 7th grade

Who swiped my lunch money twice.

Next to him was my old neighbor

Who never said anything nice.

Herb, who I always thought

Was rotting away in hell,

Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,

Looking incredibly well.

I nudged Jesus, 'What's the deal?

I would love to hear Your Take

How'd all these sinners get up here?

God must've made a mistake.

'And why's everyone so quiet,

So somber - give me a clue.'

'Hush, child,' He said, 'they're all in shock.

No one thought they'd be seeing you.'


Remember...Just going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a mechanic.
Every saint has a PAST...

Every sinner has a FUTURE

Gan Chau

Excuse Me, Are You A Property Agent? (4)

A question that is almost irrelevant and quite ludicrous would often crop up when we try to market our clients' properties. The question is, "Why is your client selling?" Beneath are perhaps conclusions like, "Gosh, is the owner becoming a bankrupt soon? Or is he losing his fortune? Or is the property somewhat haunted? Or is there anything wrong with the property?"

My partner, Dickson, has an unusual response to the question. "Why is my owner selling? In the same way, I can ask why you are buying his property?" he would smile.

Perhaps buyers should say, "Thank God that your owner is selling, otherwise, I will not be able to buy any property!" Buyers should see the golden opportunity to be the potential owner of the unit, rather than view the unit with suspicion and paranoia!

Gan Chau

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Excuse Me, Are You A Property Agent? (3)

Like a marriage made in heaven, I believe that if a property were meant for someone, somehow, that someone would end up owning or renting it!

An excellent illustration is the following story shared by my client, Mrs. Tan. Even before I was born, someone had pointed Mrs. Tan to a lovely bungalow in the Tanglin vicinity. The land is of megalithic proportion and the bungalow has a unique architecture. Mrs. Tan went to look at the bungalow out of curiosity even though she knew that it was way above her budget, and that the owner had already received a firm offer of $100K.

As Mrs. Tan was looking around the beautiful house, the owner, a Caucasian gentleman asked, "Lady, how do you like my home?"

"Absolutely beautiful!" said Mrs. Tan

"Would you like to make me an offer," asked the owner.

"No, I'll be too embarrassed to offer you a price, Sir," muttered Mrs. Tan.

"Lady, the house is mine and the money is yours. Make me an offer," coaxed the calm and cool gentleman.

"I dare not make you any offer, Sir", Mrs. Tan stood her ground, knowing that her price would look ridiculous against the previous offer of $100k.

"I won't be offended," the owner continued to persuade Mrs. Tan.

"How about $80K?" said Mrs.Tan, somewhat sheepishly.

Dead silence for a few seconds.

Mrs. Tan thought it would be impossible for her to own the lovely bungalow and soon abandoned all thoughts about it.

One day, after a few weeks since their last encounter, the Caucasian owner called Mrs. Tan and said, "Lady, the house is yours for $80K. Please get the $80K cash ready within two days. I'm leaving the country!"

Mrs. Tan scrambled all over to raise the cash. The Caucasian gentleman told her that he had actually received an offer of $100K but he did not take to the lady buyer, and preferred Mrs. Tan as he felt that she would treasure his lovely home and probably live there for many, many years. What great discernment and foresight! Mrs. Tan and her great grandchildren and her mother were at one time living under one roof until the demise of her mother, and one of her daughters.

Hence, my dear readers, always enjoy yourself thoroughly when looking around for a property. Do some homework, and with your knowledge, agent's advice, gut feelings and a little faith in the One above, know that if a property is meant for you, it's yours. If not, let it go. If it is yours, it will come back to you.

Gan Chau

Excuse Me, Are You a Property Agent? (2)

Property Description:

I am looking to : Buy
Preferred District : 20
First Choice Location : Yio Chu Kang Road
Second Choice Location : Ang Mo Kio
Third Choice Location : Hougang
Property Type : Landed Property
No of Rooms : 5

Remarks : Only 999 years & freehold will be considered if > SGD1.0 m.

The above is an almost typical request I often get from enquiries at a computer website. Either the person is feigning igorance or he hopes to work some magic with some equally ignorant agent or seller. 99 year leashold terrace houses are already selling for around $1,100,000.00!

I once told a client that someone had actually offered him $1.5M for his condominium in the River Valley area. He replied, "Ask him to buy from his father. If $1.4M, buy from his grandfather!" Mr. Tan roared. I smiled at his vehemance. As my client had offered him $1.65M, he said he would ask his wife. He rejected the cheque, and another one that was offered to him at $1.75M and finally closed at $1.78M only because he became interested in another new project and wanted to let go of some units. Morever, the market has already picked up tremendously.

If buyers were unrealistic, they would continually miss the boats There are some buyers who for some reason or other, are perpetually behind time in their update of properties and insist on their offer of pricing! At the end they wonder why their counterparts have moved on to bigger and bigger properties, while they still remain in their present abode.

Gan Chau

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Men Must Cry .......

I enjoy reading materials forwarded by my friends in Singapore and throughout the world. The materials have taught me many new things and given me joy and enlightenment.

Recently I received an interesting email from a toastmaster friend, Fernando. I have often wondered why women have a tendancy to live longer than men. Strangely, the sadder the women and the harder their lives, the longer they live! I am not a doctor or a biochemical researcher, but I wonder if the article below explains to some degree why women outlive men. Boys have been brought up to believe that only girls shed tears. Strong and brave men do not cry!!! Gosh! What a fallacy! My eyes tear easily and I would cry when watching sad movies on the television or cinema screen, or when I see an abused dog or an old, wrinkled lady collecting drink cans for a living, and I would only be happier when I could bless her with some money. I hope that after reading this article, my readers would know that it is not at all effeminate for men to cry. Our wonderful Creator knows what is best for us!

Interesting piece of information 'There was a study done where a control group of 100 people were divided into two :

50 people watched a very funny, tears-of laughter type movie ;
and ! another 50 watched a very sad and tears of compassion type movie.

At the end of the sessions researchers collected the 'happy tears' and the 'sad tears' with eye droppers.

They found that 'happy tears' are made up of brine...salt water and not a great deal else.
However the 'sad tears' were found to contain! the very same chemicals and enzymes that are found in tumors, ulcers and other such lumps and bumps and sicknesses through out the body.

This test concluded that the body, when crying in sadness etc is literally flushing out all of the toxic-chemicals that accumulate and are a part of the sadness /heartache experience.
Therefore if one holds back those tears, those toxic-waters will find somewhere else to deposit themselves... .and prolonged lack-of-crying-release will guarantee that the body will accumulate a huge amount of internal pollution and toxicity that should have been released through the it any wonder that the eyes sting so much when we hold back our tears?'



Excuse Me, Are You a Property Agent? (1)

There was a time when I thought of writing a book about my work as a property agent.
The title would be "Excuse Me, Are You a Property Agent?" When I mentioned this to a client, he teased me and said, "Huh! I know a Bonnie Hicks, but I'm so thrilled to know a Bonnie Kam.!"

Perhaps I will write essays on my work in my blog and later compile them into a book. Hence, articles on my work will have the title, "Excuse Me, Are You a Property Agent?".

Teachers often complain that it is so tiring to teach. Having been a teacher before, I realise that it is even tougher to be a property agent. At least, teachers know the level of the students, eg. Secondary 1, 2, 3, 4 or Junior Colleage One and Two. Primary school teachers will know the age group of their students and teach accordingly.

As agents we meet with people from all walks of life. I have observed an interesting phenenomena. A person with a degree could actually be "elementary" when it comes to property investments. You can explain to him till your face turns blue, and he still does not get it!!! On the extreme end is someone with primary school education but he appears like a degree holder where property investments are concerned!!! He may not even speak good English or Mandarin, but he makes tons of profits from buying the right investments. He snaps up properties without asking irrelevant questions. By the time the degree holder comes back with a reply, all the good properties have been snapped up by these street-wise investors! These investors are not bothered with little details. As long as they feel the price is right and it is a good investment, they zoom in. Other more well-educated ones will analyse until they get paralysed with fear and worries. This is probably why they often miss the boats, and very often the ocean-liners too.

Many buyers rely so heavily on caveats. It is true that caveats are a guide as to how much a property should cost. However, when the property market is moving up, buyers cannot solely rely on caveats because they cannot be used as a point for bargaining. In Singapore, when property market goes up, it is almost like an exponential curve and sellers will adhere to their asking price. For some reason, the magazines and newspapers are somewhat behind time in their reporting! When they mentioned that the property market was still slow, we agents were smiling for we knew it was not quite accurate as we had been serving clients and closing deals. Like doctors who feel the pulse of their patients, we agents also feel the pulse of the flow of the market. Hence, it is quite a good idea for buyers to trust agents a little for their feedback. It is good to do some research but at the end of the day, it is even more imperative to just trust your gut feelings, as well as to trust the agent a little. Also bear in mind that just as there are no perfect husbands or wives, there are also no perfect properties.

Gan Chau

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Just to Ponder .....

A toastmaster friend, Pradeep, often sends me thought provoking articles. This is one which I feel is worth sharing. I love reading good materials because they arrest my attention and cause me to ponder even as I buzz around like a bee-sy bee!

"A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional
sales convention in Chicago . They had assured their wives
that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday
night's dinner. In their rush, with tickets and
briefcases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over
a table which held a display of apples.

Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back,
they all managed to reach the plane in time for their
nearly-missed boarding.

ALL BUT ONE!!! He paused, took a deep breath, got in touch
with his feelings, and experienced a twinge of compassion
for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned.

He told his buddies to go on without him, waved good-bye,
told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their
home destination and explain his taking a later flight. Then
he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over
the terminal floor.

He was glad he did.

The 16-year-old girl was totally blind! She was softly
crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at
the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as
the crowd swirled about her; no one stopping and no one to
care for her plight.

The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the
apples, put them back on the table and helped organize her
display. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had
become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another

When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to
the girl, 'Here, please take this $40 for the damage we
did. Are you okay?' She nodded through her tears. He
continued on with, "I hope we didn't spoil your day
too badly."

As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind
girl called out to him, "Mister....." He paused
and turned to look back into those blind eyes. She
continued, "Are you Jesus?"

He stopped in mid-stride, and he wondered. Then slowly he
made his way to catch the later flight with that question
burning and bouncing about in his soul: "Are you

Do people mistake you for Jesus? That's our destiny, is
it not? To be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the
difference as we live and interact with a world that is
blind to His love, life and grace.

If we claim to know Him, we should live, walk and act as He
would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting Scripture and
going to church. It's actually living the Word as life
unfolds day to day.

You are the apple of His eye even though we, too, have been
bruised by a fall. He stopped what He was doing and picked
up you and me on a hill called Calvary and paid in full for
our damaged fruit.

Please share this, {IF you feel led to do so}.

Sometimes we just take things for granted, when we really
need to be sharing what we know. Thanks."

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Essence of .....

When I was a little girl, I used to see mom drinking bottles containing brownish liquid. When I learnt to read, I found that the brownish liquid was called essence of chicken.

Of late, I had been extremely busy with my work. However, in between running from one property viewing to another, I would sometimes reflect and ponder. I realise that life would be made much easier if we could nail down the essence of a situation or what someone might call the crux of the matter.

For example, the essence of a lovely home would be the walls, the lighting and curtains! Amazing how you could buy the most expensive furniture or home, and if the walls were not smooth, the lighting inadequate and inappropriate, the cosiness and beauty of the place would be marred. If there were no curtains, it would be like a lady without a petticoat! Now I agree why some owners would go to great lengths to find beautiful curtains.

The essence of good education is understanding and analysis, not just rote learning and scoring in examinations. My ex-students were very focused on being given notes and more notes, and I told them that if they understood the literature, they would be able to remember the stories more easily, and would remember for a long, long time.

The essence of attractiveness is a good complexion with clean, healthy hair and neat clothes. Even without any make-up, a person with a good complexion can look very attractive.

The essence of a good meal is the blending of tastes. For example, for dinner if we were to serve nasi lemak, the essential ingredients would be the chilli sauce, with fried fish or chicken, and all other suitable ingredients that enhance the taste. We cannot serve nasi lemak with sharks fin soup and neither can we serve Hainanese chicken rice with curry chicken.

Great cooks will tell you that the essence of cooking is not merely following recipes to the finest is cooking with your heart....feel for the food as you cook and most importantly, cook with love for your family or for your customers if you were a chef.

In Christianity, the essence is love! It is this love that caused God to send His only beloved Son, Jesus to die on the Cross for us. The essence of love is so vital that it is emphasised in the book of Corinthians where we are reminded that even if we could do everything, but have no love, it is futile.

Faith, hope and love, and the greatest of all these is love. Love....the essence of life!

Gan Chau

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Drama in Real Life!





I always go to the Polyclinic to get my usual supply of tablets for mild high blood pressure. As I was waiting for my number to be called at the Polyclinic, suddenly I received a call from a potential buyer who had responded to my advertisement for a condominium in the city. As he told me he was leaving Singapore for Jakarta in the evening and had limited time to view properties, I decided to give him priority and left the clinic without seeing the doctor. I thought he was an Indonesian who was interested to purchase a property in Singapore.

However, when the buyer came with his wife, I found out that they are Singaporeans. I greeted them in Hindi, much to their pleasant surprise. The gentleman introduced himself as a lawyer and he immediately put down 1 per cent for the option to purchase.

However, my co-breaking agent, Wong, had difficulty locating his client to pass over the cheque. Wong's client told him that he was having lunch with some government officials and would only be free to meet up for tea. To our surprise, he refused to accept the cheque, saying that he must discuss with his wife who was coming back the following day after her holidays in Europe. He asked for a few days to consider, and we relayed the information to the buyer accordingly. At the end, he turned down the offer, as he felt property prices were going up. I was somewhat taken aback by the anger of the buyer when I told him that his offer was rejected, and he used quite abusive language, so unbecoming of someone who is supposed to practise law.! Then I received an sms, accusing me of telling lies and creating so much Chinese drama. I told the client that as an ex-English teacher, foul language is an ear-sore, and that as agents, we could only act on behalf of clients. If what had transpired appeared like Chinese drama, it paled in comparison with the wonderful dramas I encountered in my favourite Hindi movies, eg. Haathi Mere Sathi, Lagaan, Rabne Bana Di Jodi and Ghajini, just to name a few. I just love the wonderful plots, music and dancing that we often encounter in Indian movies!
Since my adolescence, I had always enjoyed Hindi and Tamil movies! Apart from my wonderful Indian friends, it is also through these movies that I had picked up some Hindi and Tamil phrases. When you listen to something long enough, it gets imprinted in your memory.

Now, if I were not out of the home on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, I would tune in to Vasantham or Zee Channels for some Hindi movies on television.

Old Willy (William Shakespeare) was absolutely right when he said that the world is a stage and we are all, but actors and actresses on this stage of life! What role would you like to play? I certainly want to be the simple, happy, contented and cheerful "actress" in real life! I will never allow anyone or circumstances to rob me of my joy. Failure or success......I take them all in my stride.! I can only do my best; God has to do the rest.

Gan Chau
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Missing the Boats ......and even Ocean Liners!

I had advertised a unit in Pacific Mansion for $1.29 million. Earlier I had advised my two clients to buy a unit in the same project, but it was sold by the time one of them had reverted to me.

By the time I woke up at 8.00 a.m. I already had 3 missed calls! One of the buyers excitedly told me that he would like to view the project, and I told him I might as well show him two other condominiums.

When we were at the poolside of Pacific Mansion, Mr. Tan suddenly said to me, "I'm so angry with the agent!"

"Oh yeah?" I queried, thinking it was a very recent incident.

"Twenty years ago, I came here and wanted to buy a unit. It was then going for about $400K, but the agent stopped me. He said Pacific Mansion was a red light area!" I could not help being amused for indeed, Mr. Ng has an elephant memory.

"Don't worry! That is history already. Even if you buy one unit now, it is not too late. Sure, you might have to pay slightly over a million dollars, but the enbloc would earn you substantial profits too."

In the evening, Mr. Ng phoned me and told me that his partner who was traveling abroad, did not believe the price could be $1 million dollars. He said the price should be only about $700K! Properties with enbloc potential could never be sold at valuation price. Owners are giving up their rights and hence when they sell, they would expect a little premium above the valuation price.

Somehow I already sensed that Mr. Ng and his partner had already missed their boats, and would probably miss this ocean liner too. Within 2 months, units in Pacific Mansion were going for about $1.3 million, and now it is hovering around M$1.4 million! Some uninformed Singaporeans still think Pacific Mansion is a red light area, without realising that it is perhaps the only gold mine left in the River Valley area.! If they had taken the trouble to visit the place, they would find that the condominium now has been upgraded with a lovely swimming pool, gym and children's playground. Now, we can also find expatraite tenants and sarong party girls enjoying themselves by the poolside.

How many of us are like Mr. Ng, always regretting and regretting.? Instead of looking to the realistic present and the hopeful future, we keep looking back and regretting, instead of moving on with lessons learnt and renewed optimism.

Gan Chau

Much Ado about Property Investment......

As a property agent for the past 15 years, I have come to observe many interesting aspects about people.

Many of us would assume that it is the people who have the money who would invest but this is not necessarily true. I have come across people with tons of savings in the bank, but who do not have a property in their names. They are very comfortable staying with their parents in their HDB flat. Some of them could be the only child or could be the only sibling who does not own any property. Though eventually the parents' flat would go to him, many would know that HDB flats give good rental returns, very often up to 8 to 15%. Morever, those who have bought their HDB flats in good locations have found themselves a lot richer when they sell. eg. The couple who sold their flat at Mei Ling Street for almost close to nine hundred thousand dollars during the recent property boom.

I remember a lady who worked as a secretary. She is a classic example of someone who has more guts than cash. Obviously she is talented and has a nose for smelling out good buys. She makes fast decision. Once she told me, "Buy first....worry later. Problems have a way of solving themselves." This gutsy lady who used to earn a couple of thousands as a secretary now owns a few properties!

One of my clients started off as someone who lived in an HDB flat. He sold his 4 room flat to upgrade to a condominium. Subsequently, he sold his condominium and upgraded to an inter-terrace house. Now he is living in a bungalow in the East. He shared how he and his family never really unpacked their boxes of belongings because it would not be long before the family started to move again. "Sure, it is inconvenient, but how can anyone make money without the price of inconvenience and trouble?", he would say. Somehow, he had the gift of zooming in to buy when others were not buying and he bought some good properties and sold them when the price went up.

Then I also come across a group of people who would always tell agents that they would pray about buying the property. Ever so often by the time they finished praying, the property would have already been sold! Some of these people have forgotten that they have been endowed with brains. However, using the brains alone may not be quite enough.....for there are some who analyse till they become paralysed with fear and confusion! Analysis till paralysis! I know of a professor who lectures on properties but he has never bought a single property in Singapore!

Hence, it is important that a potential investor uses his gut feelings as well as knowledge when buying properties. There is seldom a perfect property, but as long as a property has 80 per cent of good points, it is worth taking it up.

Gan Chau

Monday, May 18, 2009

The New Lift ...


15th May must be a very happy day for the residents in Block 668 Chander Road. After a year of retrofitting, the residents finally have a new lift which serves every floor.

It is indeed a great relief for the elderly folks, especially those who are on wheel chairs. It must be an even greater relief for the maids who are looking after these folks. Sometimes I see the maids struggling to carry the heavy wheelchairs down one or two flights of steps.

Due to the constant breakdown of the remaining one lift, when the other one was being retrofitted, we sometimes had to walk up the steps. For me and my tenants, it was not a problem, because we only had to walk up to the 5th storey. However, it must be really tough for those living on the highest floor! Fortunately there are only 12 storeys in the block. I must have damaged some three trolleys because each time I walked down, the wheels of the trolleys would have to bear the brunt of the heavy weight. The wheels were often damaged as they got dislodged or became dysfunctional. Now with the lift opening on every floor, I could just pull the trolley along.

The residents are asked to pay only $100 each for the lift upgrading. Of course, everyone voted for it as the amount was reasonable. I wonder why in the past, lifts were not made to open on every floor.? Perhaps the nation did not have so much in the Treasury? Now with more affluence, the government has started to give its citizens better facilities, amenities and better designed HDB flats.

I am so happy with the new lift. Interestingly it moves very fast...much faster than the old lift. However, I also notice that the lifts in newly completed Rivergate Condominium do not move very fast and I mentioned this to a client. He commented that as Rivergate has 40 storeys, the speed will be slower.

I think of the "wonderful lifts" in my life. When I am down, friends lift me up with their encouragement. Best of all is when God lifts me up with His strength and blessings. We are reminded by Vince Lombardi, that every time we fall, we should lift or pick ourselves up again. Life is too short for anyone to indulge in self-pity.

Gan Chau
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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Oo-lah-lah! Designer Bags!


The lovely handbag that can also be used as a "backpack".

A more stophisticated "document" bag that is not only branded but chic!

I came back from my ensemble rehearsal at 10.30 pm, somewhat tired but happy. Every 2nd Friday evening of the month is my happiest and that is when I play the violin with the younger musicians. I smiled when Mr. Yan was so gentle yet authoritative when he spoke. Some of the children had come back late after the five minutes break, and as the ensemble continued to play, he gestured to the kids to remain standing at the entrance and to keep quiet. When we stopped playing he addressed the kids, "Why did you come back late? Next time, don't repeat. Now, come and sit down and practise." My teacher was gentle, yet firm.

I was surprised when Carrie, my ex-student, handed me two lovely Bonia bags when I reached home. Carrie had come back from America and is staying at my apartment for a little while. Carrie said I often like to dress in black and that my bags are also black in colour! Sometimes she helped me to carry my bag, and she did not like the bag made of recyled material with the words, "Renner Piano Co." printed on them. I had bought the recyled bag for only $1.00. I like the bag because it is light, and has the pictures of piano keys printed on them. "Not sophisticated enough for a successful agent like you, Choo", asserted Carrie. "You stinge on yourself and yet, are so generous to others," added Carrie.

No matter how little money I have, if I were to be frugal, I always believe I can still afford to give...even if my giving were like the widow's mite. Even if I could afford to, I could never bring myself to pay a few hundreds or thousands for a handbag. The money could feed my three orphans for a couple of years!

Nevthereless, I was grateful to Carrie for her kind thoughts. It is the first time that I own branded handbags! And wow! There are so many pockets and compartments where I can organise my things! A million thanks to you, Carrie!

Gan Chau
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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The 10 Commandements for Senior Citizens!

Dr. Clive, my ex-English lecturer, emailed me the following article which I would like to share with my readers. The article is thought-provoking and humorous. Enjoy and ponder over the many interesting points.

Excellent Philosophy of LIFE after 50 !!!! So , go and enjoy LIFE whilst its still with US ALL. Do take care and keep well.

Time is like a river.
You cannot touch the same water twice, because the flow has passed and will never pass again.
Enjoy every moment of your life..... If you disagree, that is your matter!
For those that are already 50, start practicing.
For those almost 50, get ready.
For those where 50 is a long way off, help your parents do it.

Ten Commandments for Those Over 50 Years Old

1. Focus on enjoying people, not on indulging in or accumulating material things.

2. Plan to spend whatever you have saved. You deserve to enjoy it and the few healthy years you have left. Travel if you can afford it. Don't leave anything for your children or loved ones to quarrel about. By leaving something, you may even cause more trouble when you are gone.

3. Live in the here and now, not in the yesterdays and tomorrows. It is only today that you can handle. Yesterday
is gone, tomorrow may not even happen.

4. Enjoy your grandchildren (if blessed with any) but don't be their full time baby sitter. You have no moral obligation to take care of them. Don't have any guilt about refusing to baby sit anyone's kids, including your own grandkids. Your parental obligation is to your children. After you have raised them into responsible adults, your duties of child-rearing and babysitting are finished. Let your children raise their own off-springs.

5. Accept physical weakness, sickness and other physical pains. It is a part of the ageing process. Enjoy whatever your health can allow.

6. Enjoy what you are and what you have right now. Stop working hard for what you do not have. If you don't have them, it's probably too late.

7. Enjoy your life with your spouse, children, grandchildren and friends. People, who truly love you, love you for yourself, not for what you have. Anyone who loves you for what you have will just give you misery. And you'd probably know that by now.

8. Forgive and accept forgiveness. Forgive yourself and others. Enjoy peace of mind and peace of soul.

9. Not trying to be morbid, but befriend death. It's a natural part of the life cycle. Don't be afraid of it. Death is the beginning of a new and better life. So, prepare yourself not for death but for a new life with your God.

10. Be at peace with your God. For ..... He is all you have after you leave this sojourn on Earth.

It's a Dog's Life !


Bobby, my neighbour Irin's precious pet

People smiled when they saw cute Bobby in a pram!

My neighbour, Irin, loves dogs. We get along very well, as we are both crazy dog lovers! I guess, Irin, must be delighted to find someone who can help her "dogsit" Bobby when she travels overseas. On my part, I am delighted to have a neighbour who loves dogs. Ever since my three precious dogs, Kamlette, Kambobo and Kam Xiao Bai passed away, I no longer keep a dog as a pet. However, whenever I see a dog on the street, I would be sure to pat it, regardless of its size. Unless the owner or maid tells me the dog is ferocious or temperamental, I would be sure to touch the canine.

Recently Irin and I wanted to walk to the Pek Kio Community Centre where Alice Lim and her group and friends were giving away foodstuff to residents living in 2 and 3 room HDB flats. Generous Alice had done it again! For her, it has been an annual affair for almost the past eight years! Irin asked if we could bring her Shih Tzu, Bobby along. As it is about 15 minutes walk, she decided to put Bobby on a pram left behind by her previous tenant, Pandiyan. Bobby was somewhat excited when put on the pram for the first time. However, Bobby balanced himself quite well. As we pushed the pram along, he seemed to be smiling and enjoying himself.

Passers-by would smile, for Bobby looked really cute, almost like a baby, albeit a four-legged one! Truly, it's a dog's life!
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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Safety In Numbers?

I am beginning to observe a strange phenomenon that I had seen, but wanted to confirm by more observation.

When the property market is quiet, few want to buy. "Buy now, buy now," I urged my clients. " But prices may go lower!"

Then I reminded them that my pastor had once mentioned that when prices are low, just buy, for no one knows when it is rock-bottom! And when prices are high, sell if you want to earn, because no one knows when is the peak!

Yet, when prices are really low, buyers continue to hesitate and when prices go up, people jump into the bandwagon.

I guess, it could be because people, like many of God's other creation, find safety in numbers. Like schools of fish, we like to swim together or do things together.
This could also be seen in the way some customers choose to patronise foodstalls or restaurants. When someone passes by a stall that has a long queue, the chances are that he will also queue up even though it is his first time. As for me, I am perhaps the freakish one. There are two shops alongside each other at Short Street. Customers who love bean curd dessert and drinks as well as stick dough, like to patronise the shop which is at the corner. I prefer to go to the one with lesser customers because I do not have to scramble for seats and I really cannot detect any difference in taste! I only know that for speed and convenience, and perhaps also out of compassion, I would prefer to give business to the one with lesser crowds.

When I watch my favourite program in Animal Planet, I am amused to find sheep flocking so closely together. It must be awfully warm to rub bodies with another sheep full of wool! The land is so huge, yet these animals must stay so close together - perhaps a little too close for comfort!

In conclusion, I guess the loving Creator always desires that his creation be living together in joy and harmony, so that everyone can look out for each other! Life becomes a little easier when we tap on each other's strength and talents.

Monday, May 11, 2009


I had advertised a particular property in Holland area. A gentleman called and I thought his voice was somewhat familiar. He identitified himself as "Jiang". After a while I asked him if he was from my previous church and if he was a missionary in Nepal. "Yes, oh, it's you Choo! Have not seen you for a long time! How are you!"

Since Jiang came back to Singapore, he had taken oven the running of the family's hair saloon, as he is trained as a hair stylist. He still helps with the Nepalis in Singapore and Malaysia as he is fluent in the language.

Later, my colleague, Carrie and I showed him and his friend, James, some properties around the city and as it was quite near dinner time, he invited me and Carrie for dinner at Keong Siak Street. The food was excellent and we had a great time reminiscing the good old days and the fun time we had in Nepal. Jiang remembered with gratitude how I had blessed him and his fellow missionaries by cooking delicious Penang Char Koay Teow, Hokkien mee and Curry Chicken and other delicacies during the 2 weeks I was there. I had used spaghetti to make my Hokkien mee and improvised ingredients for rojak, etc. Jiang also remembered how I had housed Dr. Home in my apartment for a month when he came to Singapore to take his medical exams.

Jiang was surprised I could still remember the Nepali hymns and songs that I had learnt and that I could bless him in Nepali language! It is great to have an elephant memory! I remember the angelic voices of the children as they sang in Nanglay Village, and how we felt we could almost pluck the stars out of the sky, as we were so high up on the mountain!

I am humbled and grateful to God that Jiang remembered so many good things that others had done for him so many years ago. Papa often reminded us to have a heart of gratitude towards God and men, for gratitude always puts us in the right perspective of humility, joy and contentment.

I would encourage all Christians to at least take some time off for a short mission trip. We think we go to the third world countries to give, but we often receive more than we could give! We come back to Singapore, more appreciative of the wonderful things we are enjoying in this little island we call home.

Gan Chau

Saturday, May 09, 2009

I Can't Understand.......

I have advertised to sell a particular apartment for my client on a weekday, which is Thursday, because I had forgotten that Vesak Day is Saturday and not Friday. Hence, it was a Thursday when I put my advertisement in the Classified section of the Straits Times.

To my surprise, I received endless calls! I almost forgot it was a weekday. By the time I received my 49th call, I was almost out of breath. Ironically I had resigned from teaching because of the problems caused by too much exertion on the voice. Now as an agent, I have to also exercise a lot of my vocal chords, albeit, a little more quietly as I only have to speak into the phone. But even this makes me exhausted. Which is why I find that I no longer have the inclination to talk when I am in a social gathering. Perhaps next time, I will play a recording of the details of the properties and when clients call me and ask for information, I will speak to them on salient points and play the recording to them. I wonder why potential purchasers often ask me for information which already have been put in the advertisement. It is very exhausting to repeat myself the same information some 30 to 40 times a day.
Nevertheless, despite everything, I love and enjoy my work as a real estate agent, and always feel happy when my clients make good of the properties I have recommended them.

I have never studied economics and I guess it will be difficult for me to comprehend economics. I dislike numbers and graphs. On the one hand, my two tenants from India who are IT specialists from a huge American firm had been retrenched, and I read of other retrenchments too, and yet people are snapping up properties as if they were in a game of monopoly! Youngsters continue to smoke as if a stick of cigarette were the cost of a packet of tissue papers.! Shops are filled with customers who do not bat an eye lid paying $2,000 for a branded bag, and the restaurants are often full of people who seem to have bottomless pits in their stomachs.

What recession? Are we having one? I can't understand......

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Be Less Beastly Than Beasts!

Frankly, I am sick and tired of the inhuman way some human beings in various parts of the world treat animals. Sure, pigs, chicken, ducks, geese, etc. are meant for consumption and will end up on the dinner table. However, why can't the farmers and the businessmen involved be a little more humane instead of being even more beastly than the beasts themselves! I cringe each time I see animals packed like sardines in small cages. Why can't these people allow the animals to enjoy the last moments of their life? If a murderer were allowed the best meal before he is hung or electrocuted, then why can't we do the same for animals?

Please read the following email sent by my friend, Patricia Lim about how pigs are being treated in Mexico. The business people also have no regards for the poor Mexicans who are exposed to dirt, slime and unhygienic conditions! Please go into the website and petition for a change.

Dear friends,

Evidence is emerging that traces swine flu to giant factory pig farms that are dirty, dangerous, and inhumane. Sign the petition to the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization to investigate and regulate these threats to our health:

No-one yet knows whether swine flu will become a global pandemic, but it is becoming clear where it came from – most likely a giant pig factory farm run by an American multinational corporation in Veracruz, Mexico.(1)

These factory farms are disgusting and dangerous, and they're rapidly multiplying. Thousands of pigs are brutally crammed into dirty warehouses and sprayed with a cocktail of drugs -- posing a health risk to more than just our food -- they and their manure lagoons create the perfect conditions to breed dangerous new viruses like swine flu. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) must investigate and develop regulations for these farms to protect global health.

Big agrobusiness will try to obstruct and scuttle any attempts at reform, so we need a massive outcry that health authorities can't ignore. Sign the petition below for investigation and regulation of factory farms and tell your friends and family and we will deliver it to the UN agencies. If we reach 200,000 signatures we will deliver it to the WHO in Geneva with a herd of cardboard pigs. For every 1000 petition signatures we will add a pig to the herd:

Last week the flu was all that we talked about -- Mexico has been nearly paralysed and across the world leaders halted air travel, banned pork imports and initiated drastic controls to mitigate the spreading virus. As the threat shows signs of subsiding the question becomes where it came from and how we stop another outbreak.

Smithfield Corporation, the largest pig producer in the world whose farm is being fingered as the source of the H1N1 outbreak, denies any connection between their pigs and the flu and big agrobusiness worldwide pays huge sums of money for research to argue that biosafety is ensured in industrial hog production. But the WHO has been saying for years that 'a new pandemic is inevitable'(2) and experts from the European Commission and the FAO have cautioned that the rapid move from small holdings to industrial pig production is in fact increasing the risk of development and transmission of disease epidemics. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that scientists still do not know the extent that infectious compounds produced in factory farms affect human health.(3)

Studies abound of the horrific conditions endured by pigs in concentrated large-scale operations, and the devastating economic impact on small farmer communities of bloated large-scale operations.(4) Smithfield itself has already been fined $12.6m and is currently under another federal investigation in the US for toxic environmental damage from pig excrement lakes.(5)

But even with all of this damaging evidence, a combination of increased global meat consumption and a powerful industry motivated by profit at the cost of human health, means that instead of being shut down - these sickening factory farm operations are propagating around the world and we are subsidising them (6). In the wake of this swine flu threat, let's hold industrial pig producers to account. Sign the petition for investigation and regulation:

If we resolve this global health crisis boldly by reassessing our food consumption and production, and urgently calling for an inquiry into the impact of factory farms on human health, we could put in place tough farm practice rules that will save the global population from future animal borne lethal pandemics.

in hope,

Alice, Pascal, Graziela, Paul, Brett, Ben, Ricken, Iain, Paula, Luis, Raj, Veronique, Milena, Margaret, Taren and the whole Avaaz team

(1) Biosurveillance report tracing the disease to the Smithfields farm:
Reports on the link between the Mexican factory farm and the flu:,0,1701782.story

(2) WHO pandemic information

(3) FAO, EC and CDC reports on the risks of industrial farming on public health
FAO and CIWF and

(4) CIWF and PETA video reports of the disgusting conditions for animals in factory farms and the disease ridden manure swamps:

(5) Reports on Smithfield's animal welfare and environmental damage

(6) Reports on UK tax payers subsidising factory farms


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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Better Be Safe Than Sorry!


A signboard showing the location of fatal accident

Ever so often, we see the above signboards placed throughout Singapore. I was surprised when I saw the above signboard at the junction of Race Course Road and Bukit Timah Road, just beside the Little India MRT station. Apparently a fatal accident had taken place on Sunday, 19th of April, at around 3.29 p.m. Witnesses of the accident are asked to contact the police.

I have been living in Little India for almost two years now. I have often noticed that many people, especially the Indians in Little India seem to be quite nonchalant when they cross the road. Some even walk in the centre of the road! Many often jaywalk, and cross in between vehicles! My heart often miss a beat when I see the dangerous way pedestrians cross the busy roads of Serangoon and other adjacent roads like Syed Alwi and Kitchener.

My tenants Avinesh and Jasmin share with me that many of the Indians cross the roads in almost the same way that they cross the roads in India. They don't follow the rules.! Jasmin added that if a person can drive in India, he can drive in almost every part of the world. I guess I understand what he means for I would think it is the same for drivers in Penang or Bangkok. I think I will no longer dare to drive in my own hometown Penang.! It is ironical that it was in Penang that I learnt driving and obtained my licence! But having lived in Canada and Singapore for the past two and a half decades, I find the traffic in Penang too confusing. My second brother, Kee Seng said that if drivers are faint hearted in Penang, they would never be able to get out of an adjacent road into a very busy road.!

I hope that when people cross the roads, they will be extra cautious. To me it is alright to die for to us Christians, death has no sting. It is more agonising when one becomes a vegetable - neither dead nor alive, or become paralysed or maimed because of an accident.! My beloved papa, always reminded us not to rush frantically. In Hokkien he liked to say, "Ban jit jih, uak chap nee." Direct translation - slow a minute, but live ten more years." I would urge all drivers to drive more slowly when they are in Little India and be on the lookout for errant pedestrians. It is certainly better to be safe than sorry.

Gan Chau

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Kedong Dong Juice


The fruit stall which makes mouth watering juices from fruits and vegetables.

Kedong dong juice - uniquely delicious and thirst quenching!

Avocado milk drink - healthy and delicious!
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I had gone to show my client, Amelia's newly completed apartment at The Pristine Heights for rental. As it was about lunch time, we went to the neighbouring Pek Kio Food Centre. I was so thrilled to come across a fruit stall which sells Kedong dong juice. Kedong dong is a fruit that looks like a mango, but the fragrance and taste is unique. I love this juice when my relatives introduced it to me when I returned to Penang for holidays.

However, I could never find this drink in Singapore. Hence you can imagine my great joy! I also bought a glass of Kedong dong juice for my tenant, Jasmin, who had tried it before in Penang. Jasmin opened his eyes wide in amazement!

I asked the attractive lady who operated the stall about the juice. Ivy told me that as she hailed from Johore, she had introduced the drink to her boss who has also grown to love it. Once you drink it, you will never forget the taste!

The stall also makes a variety of fruit juices. I like their service because quality fruits are used and Ivy does not stinge. Even when ice is used, very little amount is put in the glass. It is really value for money. No wonder the fruit stall is always heavily patronised throughout the day! When you are around Owen Road, do not forget to drop by at the food centre and try Kedong dong juice!

Gan Chau

Starry, Starry Night


My favourite building - Parkview Square at night.

The Gateway Towers designed by world famous architect, Mr. I.M. Pei. The Singapore Flyer could be seen between the two towers.

Rebirth of Tekka Mall - introducing The Verge!

La Salle School of Arts - brightly illuminated at night
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I just love living in Little India. From Little India, my tenant and I could easily walk to Bugis Junction, Raffles Hotel, Newton Circus, Dhoby Ghaut at Orchard Road as well as Lavendar MRT and Beach Road, Golden Mile Complex.

My tenant, Jasmin, and I decided to do some walking exercises at night especially when the following day would be a holiday. I would arm myself with a bottle of water and my digital camera. The weather is often humid and by the time I reach home, I would be thoroughly drenched with perspiration!

Interesting how things look a little differently at night. Firstly, my favourite building which is Parkview Square is an office building located in the Downtown Core Planning Area, Central Region, Singapore. It is situated along North Bridge Road, and is near the major commercial hub at Marina Centre. It is next to Bugis MRT Station, Bugis Junction, and The Gateway, and straddles the Rochor Road and Ophir Road corridor.

Parkview Square is one of the more expensive office buildings in Singapore. The occupancy rate for this building was rather low when it first opened. However, as the economy improved, the occupancy rate for this building grew higher steadily. Besides commercial office space, Parkview Square also houses the embassies of Austria, Mongolia and the United Arab Emirates.

Parkview Square was designed by American Consultant James Adams, together with DP Architects of Singapore. It was built at a cost of SGD$87.93 million.

It was built as the last major project enterprised by the late Mr. C. S. Hwang, a Taiwanese tycoon chairman of Chyau Fwu Group. As his last project, he wanted it "imposing and monumental, yet stylish and elegant".

The office space on each floor is columnless so it can be reconfigured according to the tenant's wish. Although it is a modern building, having been completed in 2002, it is specially designed in the classic Art Deco style, following New York City 1929 Chanin Building as an inspiration. The exterior surface of the building is clad in brown Granite, bronze, lacquer, and glass.

The lobby is also designed mainly in the Art Deco style and features a 15m-high ceiling with handcrafted details. The bar in the lobby of the building has a unique 3-storey high wine chiller. The open plaza of Parkview Square is reminiscent of Piazza San Marco in Venice, with sculptures and statues surrounding the open plaza. There are many bronze effigies of some of the most famous figures in world history, including Sun Yat-sen, Abraham Lincoln, Salvador Dalí, Mozart, Chopin, Isaac Newton, Pablo Picasso, Rembrandt, Shakespeare, Plato, Dante, Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein.

The building also has widespread use of motifs, sculptures, and ornamentation. The building is "guarded" by eight gigantic fiberglass statues of men holding a light ball in their hands, four of them standing on each broad side of the building's crown. Another example is the gargoyles decorating the building’s exterior, which are said to be hand-crafted[citation needed]. In the center of the plaza is a statue of a golden bird. On the pedestal is written a Chinese poem:



The Gateway Towers look formidable with their unique design. The Gateway is a building complex comprising two 37-storey 150-metre tall office towers on Beach Road in the Downtown Core of Singapore. The buildings were completed in April 1990.

The architecture of The Gateway has been described as "world class" by the National Library Board. The local Singaporean architectural firm that worked on this project was Chua Ka Seng and Partners Chartered Architects T.Y. Lin Structural Engineers from San Francisco also collaborated on the project.

The shape of the buildings is trapezoidal, which is similar to the form used by I. M. Pei in the critically acclaimed National Gallery of Art East Building in Washington, D.C. Locals refer to the buildings as "two towering cardboard boxes".
The two buildings are named "The Gateway East" and "The Gateway West".

As we turned back from Beach Road where Shaw Towers is located, we passed through Liang Seah Street. It was still abuzz with late diners and pub goers. Is Singapore becoming a city that never sleeps.? As we were nearer towards home, we saw the Verge beautifully illuminated. The anchor tenant is Sheng Siong, which is well known for its fair pricing and good service. The La School of Arts, with unique design, also look somewhat imposing at night.

We get to see more things when we walk. We also get to remember the names of places and ensure that we know where we are heading to. The above photos were taken by Jasmin as he is better at photography and has steadier hands.

I have always loved buildings but since I do not have the brains to study architecture, (I'm easily fazed by mathematical and scientific subjects) I could only be a property agent ...but an agent who is thrilled by gorgeous and fabulous designs of buildings in the world. A thing of beauty is a joy forever!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

A Bustling May Day!

As an agent, when others are enjoying their public holidays, I have to work. But little did I expect this May Day to be such a busy and bustling day!

I had advertised to market a unit in Pacific Mansion and Mirage Tower. I was surprised by the endless phone calls I received from buyers and agents. Right as early as 7.45a.m. I received a call enquiring about the properties. Another buyer called at 9.00a.m. and asked to view almost immediately. Since he was not someone good with directions, I met him at Mustaffa and brought him to view a few projects. My phone rang continuously and in all I had received 38 calls from interested investors for the two projects. While waiting for the bus, the private bus that plied between Plaza Singapura and Tiong Bharu Plaza came along and I hopped onto it as I could walk back to my home at Little India from Dhoby Ghaut. The bus was full and when we alighted, there was a long queue of shoppers waiting for the bus! There was a long queue for taxis too as shoppers armed with huge bags of shopping would probably find it inconvenient to take the bus or train.

As I was walking back, I saw that almost every restaurant and cafeteria was crowded with diners. In the open spaces at the shopping complexes, groups of youngsters were gathered together and enjoying their own entertainment. Many of them were smoking.....yes, smoking cigarettes that cost more than my favourite box of Ferrero
Rocher chocolates. For a moment I forgot all about the recession that was supposed to have hit home in Singapore.

"What recession?" I wondered, smiling and singing along as I walked. There was a spring in my steps as I thanked the Lord for His blessings on our little nation. I had the feeling that my client's unit at Pacific Mansion would be sold before the week ends and I was absolutely right.

As I was almost reaching home, I decided to drop by at Sheng Siong which was celebrating the store's opening ceremony at the newly retrofitted building, The Verge. It was very crowded and shoppers were given fans to commemorate the opening of The Verge. Sheng Siong also gave away balloons and ice cream to customers. I bought myself a little hanging plant grown in a lovely shell for $4.00 and bought my tenant, Jasmin, his favourite bottle of sparkling grape juice... a little reward for May Day!

On this May Day, I am reminded that I can work till my face turns blue, but unless the Lord builds the house, I build in vain; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman guards in vain. It is important to stay happy and healthy, and above all, to continue to have that little mustard seed of faith to help us stay positive and peaceful at all times.

Gan Chau

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Old Wooden Rocking Horse


The unwanted wooden rocking horse

The hard wood could withstand my heavy weight!

When I arrived at my block after showing clients some properties, I was surprised to find an old wooden rocking horse thrown away at the rubbish bin at the lift lobby. I rocked the horse, and was surprised at its pristine condition. Hence, I decided to take it home, as my little nieces and nephews would enjoy rocking the horse when they come a-visiting.

I tried to sit on the horse and to my surprise, it did not creak under my heavy weight. I was able to rock the horse and enjoyed being a little child again! It brought back memories of the time when papa had put me high up on one of the horses in the merry-go-round. Though we were poor, papa always brought us much joy by his thoughtfulness and sacrifice. He always made sure we had the best he could give us, while he would stinge on himself.

It is amazing the things that people would throw away, even things which are still in very good condition. Anyway, I am at least comforted that it is a wooden object that has been thrown away and not some living pets! Once I was at the Pacific Mansion to do an open house and was shocked to find two cages of 8 hamsters discarded at the lift lobby which were later brought to the garbage dump by the cleaner. I asked to be given the two cages and saved the hamsters on time, or they would be crushed alive in the incinerators! The hamsters were later put up for adoption.

Now I am so happy I have something at home to entertain my little guests.

Gan Chau
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