A look-back to 2022: Harrowing adventures in times of COVID

My year in pictures. Work at Palate Sensations Culinary School goes beyond cooking. It's about building a community, sharing smiles, and celebrating life.

As 2022 draws to a close, I reflect on the year that saw me navigate through work-life balance, celebrate the life of a loved one who passed, and keep a business afloat armed with nothing but my steely determination and hard working staff.
How did you fare in 2022? Let’s swap stories and give each other the gift of encouragement and inspiration. After all, beyond a cooking school, Palate Sensations is a community we built together through the years. Thank you for making last year a good one!

Travelling During COVID

With borders open, I finally was able to book an overseas flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia. I had imagined the trip to be a much-needed respite from two years of being trapped in Singapore during the pandemic, a break from the anxiety of it all.

Ever since I started Palate Sensations in 2005, I have never had a mental day off. As long as I am physically in Singapore, I am also physically working 7 days a week. With that in mind, I tried to take some time off, but never imagined it would come with some consequences.

I almost never travel without my laptop and data plan. When I travel, I always try to travel business class and the hotel must include WIFI and a good gym or wellness program. Without these, I will avoid making the trip as time is so precious for me. I always need to hit the ground running and I always try to combine both exercise and work together hence the hotel room is equally important. If the accommodation is not home away from home, then you won't find me there. The only exception I would make is if I am on a trek.

I went to Siem Reap in Feb when all we needed was an ART test on arrival and a negative PCR test before departure. Little did I know that I was the only foreigner to test positive on arrival, dooming me to a 10-day quarantine until I tested negative with a PCR test.

With a stroke of luck, the accommodation brand I had booked owned two hotels and a row of villas. They assured the government that I would be appropriately quarantined by designating an entire hotel for my use. Since I was the only guest at Shinta Mani, I was given the run of the entire hotel with the largest suite available for my use. The chef specifically cooked meals I wanted to eat, the staff sent me whatever I wanted, and I could walk around and use the swimming pool as I needed. It turned out to be the best holiday I had in forever!

Having an entire hotel to myself.

However, the catch was that I continued to test positive on a PCR test every 2 days and with no end in sight, I was at my wit's end. After 10 days and a very big hole in my pocket, the PCR test was negative, and I flew out the following day.

In April, I returned to Sydney to spend time with my family and to attend the Crowded House concert. I waited for 26 years to see them having missed their farewell concert on the steps of the Sydney Opera House back in 1996. 1996 was the year that I left Australia for my first overseas job in Singapore. I have not lived in Sydney for more than 3 consecutive months at a time since then.

Early morning run at The Blue Mountains

In July, desperate to be outdoors, I flew to Darwin for one incredible week to trek and camp with World Expeditions at Kakadu National Park.

Majestic view.

In November, I flew to Koh Samui for a much-needed week to do yoga, HITT, meditation and breath work at Samahita Retreat.

In December, I flew to Phuket for 4 amazing fun-filled days full of exercise and laughter to celebrate my friend Angela’s 50th birthday. 

Celebrating Angela's 50th birthday!

Being in Singapore is basically all about work. My sister Sharon and my mum visited me separately during the year and I found some time to spend with them.

With my sister Sharon and my brother in law Andrew and my helper Cecil

I found pockets of time where I could enjoy the outdoor cinema at Fort Canning and at Sentosa but I also had to cancel many pre-booked tickets. One thing I learnt from COVID and being an entrepreneur is to never plan too far ahead and to remain flexible. 

Enjoying the outdoor cinema at Sentosa


On one of my work trips to Kuala Lumpur, I caught up with my Aunt little knowing that that would be the last time I would see her. She passed away shortly after. I am so happy to have spent some time with her and my cousin.