Who Inspired Me?

Being an accidental inspiration to a few people was not the intention of the blog. Stephen told me not once but twice that prior to this, he had never read someone's blog. A couple of people said the same thing over emails. I thought that was big deal.

One of my secret ambition when I was young was to become a writer. It was during the time I was at Primary 6. My form teacher Ms Ong had a habit to hand our essays to the Primary 3s to read. It was her idea of getting us aware of our work being read by a bigger audience that we were used to as an intention to spur us as well as allowing the younger ones in our school to learn from their seniors' brilliance... or ineptitude. All in all, it was fun for both sides.

Prior to that experiment, Ms Ong would always give me average marks for my language and organisation but top marks for content in my compositions almost every time. She seemed to appreciate my story writing and found that that might be the way to help the naughtiest student in her class. I was that bad and I bet she could still remember my name. Ms Ong would tell the whole class specifically that although I did not score the highest for most of my compositions, the P3s children would always request to read my compositions first. The readership was probably consistently highest among the rest. It seemed that within that period I had made a little name for myself, if Ms Ong wasn't telling a white lie. She told me it was a gift.

That pushed me on and I began to take note of my language. My grasp on the language was not excellent but decent enough to make ends meet. Whenever I took the effort to re-read my writings, I would score as well as the top students (who eventually made it to SAP schools) in language, which in turn made me one the the highest, if not the top scorer in that round of composition. I began to look forward to writing stories.

Regrettably I did not keep up with Ms Ong's efforts after I went to secondary school. I did not read a single book nor made effort to improve. My standard of English remained stagnant since then. The bad habit of not editing or correcting the grammar mistakes of my writings also returned. Recently I had a Grammar Nazi pointing out one of my expression error. I couldn't be bothered to edit any of my post grammatically once I clicked 'Publish'. The blog will be Hotel California to his chap, I'm afraid. Haha. Though I would never be good enough to be a writer of any sorts, I will never forget Ms Ong's special attention for me. For one, I knew I would be worse off without her guidance.

However, the purpose of this post was not to boast about my half baked skills. I want to share a story of a predecessor. A fellow migrant. Like the folks who gave me flattering feedback, I don't read blogs. I don't even read mine. But there is one, just one person's blog I have read not just one but every single post he had written. 

When I first started blogging, never had I thought there would be regular readers. But I could understand why now. I am an average or some may even regard me as below average man on the street. The guy that you probably wouldn't want to speak to if you meet him at Orchard Road. My story certainly gave the "If this guy can do this, I can too," vibe and that is where the blog stands. The blogger who inspired me was entirely different. I call him the Rolls Royce of blogging and certainly deserves it this label.

His blog was plainly designed, almost non-existing if any at all in fact. That didn't matter, for his writings blew my mind. It wasn't just his excellent writing skills but his thoughts that demonstrated how brilliant the man was. That was in 2007 when I found his blog in the cold bitter winter I spent in Perth visiting Jen, who was doing her master degree back then. I spent 2 nights in my room reading every single post of his blog from the start to end. His blog was more like, "How can I be as good as him," or "I wish I am that awesome," in comparison. He was a Singaporean son like me and made his move to Perth in mid 2000s. His was a much more perilous journey which every single Singaporean migrant would recognise. His story ended tragically and I felt sad that Singapore lost a son, a true talent this way.

It is a small world. The husband of the beautiful Singaporean daughter who drives the Ah Lianish yellow Honda Jazz revealed that he knew the author indirectly. Dennis asked me to share his blog to the younger Singaporeans who read this blog. To remind ourselves the existence of this legend, lest we forget.

Little did Dennis knew I was one of the fanatics who digested his blog in almost one go. I kept my blog plain not as to mimic him but did it out of respect for the only blogger who inspires me. I would never attain his level of intelligence and writing skills and I do not seek to inspire others as he did. He shall carry on doing that and my purpose here is to show you the man.

Thou shalt not be forgotten


  1. Would that blogger be Knight of Pentacles?

    I read his blog too. And I miss it and him. Very, very sad when he passed away.

  2. He passed away? Oh...so sorry to hear that. I did not know. What happened? When was his passing?

  3. If your ambition was to become a writer, then you have succeeded friend! The skill in writing is to evoke images and feelings in your readers that they can believe and relate to. The honesty in your writing shines through and it is comforting to readers to find that someone else has the same fears, joys, annoyances, griefs, in their life and that we are all in the same boat. Often times we believe we are the only one to feel the way we do and it is heartening to find a companion in the journey of life. AA

  4. I've never read any blogs, until I discovered this.
    I've been checking this blog nearly everyday since. Your thoughts have intrigued me, probably because I wished I had your courage, and wished I have seen the light earlier. What I cannot have now, I try to find some consolation in someone who did...
    Typical Singaporean eh?
    Crossing my fingers me dream will come true one day...

  5. I used to read sg serf's blog too.somehow,I think he is not dead,perhaps he lead us to believe that he died so that he could really start a new life in Perth. Could anyone verify what really happened?...Jt

  6. He died. His obituary was in the papers.

  7. I love reading blogs and am fussy about them. Serf's blog was extremely well-written, simple and straight from the heart. I don't know what happened to him but his blog remains one of the best.

  8. HI Everyone.

    Knight of Pentacles (KoP) was a friend of my ex colleague. My ex colleague also migrated to Australia, albeit to Sydney rather than Perth, however when the Knight died rather unexpectedly many friends from SG flew over to Perth to attend his funeral.

    Having never met the man,KoP was perhaps a pioneer, as he did his migration where migration was almost never heard of in SG. Perhaps he had foresight after all.

    If you read his blog, he had perhaps the worst possible background to start his migration process, he was an IT engineer, had not much funds and had to leave his girlfriend behind. Eventually found casual work as a pizza delivery man (in which many people in SG would look down on) and then finally found a permanent job in a field that he was not trained for.

    I find myself lucky to have followed his footsteps, however his courage far surpasses mine, even after 4 years here he is still an inspiration to what you can truly do if you put your mind at it.

    Nix : I would like to help out by answering some questions if I could?

    1. Dennis.

      Thank you. If you could shed some light. I was reading KoP's blog for some time - but I was wondering why had stopped writing.

      How did he pass away? Was it an illness?

    2. Doing a bit of googling, I found the following references:

      Seems he passed away several years ago: July 2006.

    3. Actually, CalamariForThought is my ex colleague who moved to Sydney 4 years back, same as me.

      He was the one who introduced me to Singapore Serf. Apparently, he died while in his sleep.....however I do not know the exact details.

      At the time, his GF/fiance whom he hoped so much to be able to bring over to Perth, said at the time she would complete the migration even though KoP died...I do not know, as I don't know her personally.

    4. That's very sad. A young life lost; one who inspired others to live their own dreams.

      Really hope he found the peace he was searching for.

  9. frankly, reading his blog sends chills down my spine... he saw what was coming 8 years ago!

    1. Same here! I realized it too late, used to be a die hard PAP supporter when I was studying and NS.

  10. I first heard about Singapore Surf when his passing-away was talked about on the internet in mid-2006. His blog was also my inspiration.

    His 1st post "Confession" caught me immediately. The secrecy, the guilt, the trying to reconcile being a heartlander and choosing to emigrate. Back in 2006, I was considering my exit possibilities and I had yet to figured out which country to head to, if emigrating at all. At that stage, reading his 1st post dated September-2004, I shared his confusion, his doubts, his questioning his loyalty to Singapore.

    His blog gave me hope and courage to apply for Canadian residency. At the point of application back in end-2006, I had never set foot upon North American soil and had zero contacts in Canada. In fact, I even considered re-training to acquire blue-collar skills (electrician and/or plumber) just to increase my changes of emigration, e.g. to Australia or New Zealand. His blog gave me hope and courage. Even to this day, I would re-visit his blog occasionally because his words of wisdom still ring true.

  11. Thanks for sharing about him.
    I agree that it feels so much like he was there way before our time, which makes his sudden departure all the more eerie.
    Yet at least he left words which have touched so many of you so relevantly down the years.

    In July 2006 our young family was 5 months away from visiting my brother who was graduating Tasmania, and half a year after our mother passed away from an unexpectedly swift brain cancer.
    Her estate matters hung heavily on me, and financial reprieve only but brought deepening fear of our ultimate financial future.

    He must have spoken out for me in my lonely fear too, but I could not hear, for I could not have known him, for I had not encountered all of you either.
    But somehow, impossibly through time, we already connected at some level, I'm forced to believe.

    What then, going forward?

  12. I hope like him, I shall leave behind my legacy when I'm done.