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Monday, January 20, 2014

Running the Last Leg of 2013

~*New Year's Eve Eve -- Sub-Division Cohesion Day*~

On the 2nd last day of 2013, we did not have to report to office as it was the sub-division cohesion day. The day started off with a picnic in the morning, a tour around the Yakult factory thereafter, followed by an end-of-year lunch.

What was meant to be a sub-division cohesion picnic became a department picnic. It was really difficult to be cohesive in too large a group and so, the various departments sat together in their own clusters and did not really mingle around.

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Left: The egg mayo made by one of my colleagues was a great hit! I only had half the bread spread with egg mayo and completed the other half with seafood spread from the can.
Right: I was trying to make tapas from the leftover tomatoes.

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There seemed to be some sort of colour coordination in our dressing and where we sat that morning.
The bright red and pink with a grey one trying to squeeze her way in.

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The basic whites.

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The dark side.

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After the picnic, we proceeded to the Yakult Factory. Before the tour, we had to sit down in a classroom setting like students listening to the teacher in front. We started reminiscing about all the different kinds of classmates.

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The presenter was engaging and funny. I learnt a lot from the presentation than from the tour itself. Each "student" had a free bottle of Yakult in original flavour. The most important ingredient of Yakult is the live Lactobacillus casei Shirota. Each bottle of Yakult contains over 30 billion (3.0 X 10¹º) of the active Shirota strain.

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We also had a sample cup of Yakult Ace Light. Yakult Ace Light contains 3 times more live Lactobacillus casei Shirota (30 million) but with 30% less sugar and 30% fewer calories.

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The simple flow chart depicting the whole process of manufacturing Yakult.

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Culture room.

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In each "container" are Yakult being fermented at different stages. At this point of time, our guide handed out a bottle of super thick and sour Yakult for anyone who wanted to try pure Yakult without sugar.

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Shrink-packing section.

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When I looked at this section, I simply wondered about the monotony of the job of the people packing the Yakult bottles.

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Printing, filling and sealing section.

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Same goes for this section with regard to the monotony.

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Seed room.

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There was a huge crowd and I had since stopped listening to the guide, who was out of earshot, to know what these were for.

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Bottle moulding room.

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This machine produces batches and batches of bottles within seconds.

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Quality control room.

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This room looked pretty bare.

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Growing the cultures.

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It was cute to see the airy light bottles flying up the tubes.

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They were packing the original flavours in the afternoon. In the morning, they were doing the grape-flavoured ones.

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Shrink-packing section.

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This is the level one of what we saw from upstairs earlier on.

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Yakult around the world.

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Older generation Yakult bottles and packaging around the world and through the years.

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More recent Yakult bottles and packaging around the world and through the years.

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Other health and beauty products manufactured by Yakult.

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Yakult loot for both sides of the family by the end of the tour.

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After the enriching visit to the Yakult factory did I realize just how good Yakult is. No other probiotic drink come close to Yakult as only Yakult contains L.casei strain Shirota, the unique probiotic strain specially developed by their founder, Dr Minoru Shirota. The uniqueness of this probiotic strain lies in its strength to survive the gastric juice and bile to reach the intestines alive, where it works to maintain the balance between the beneficial and harmful bacteria. I was particularly intrigued by the video about how this strain helped NK cells to kill cancerous cells in the body.

More interesting facts about Yakult

♥ Yakult is made by fermenting skim milk powder, sucrose and glucose with their uniquely strengthened probiotics, L. casei strain Shirota.

♥ A bottle of Yakult contains about 70 Calories, which is the same amount of Calories in an apple. It is fat and cholesterol free and contains no preservatives or stabilizers.

♥ A small amount of sugar is added to Yakult to provide nutrients to the probiotics in order to keep them alive during shelf life. Sugar is also needed to counteract the sourness of Yakult and enhance its taste.

♥ In Japan, Yakult is acknowledged by the Japanese Ministry of Health as a "Food for Specified Health Usages" with approved health claim "The Lactobacillus casei Shirota strain reaches the intestines alive, so this product maintains good health by increasing beneficial bacteria, decreasing harmful bacteria and improving the intestinal environment".

♥ Yakult comes in such small bottles as Yakult should not be drunk as a beverage but to be used additionally, and not instead of, other products like yogurt and milk.

♥ Yakult only comes in 1 flavour because as a health drink, Yakult only contains the ingredients necessary to deliver the live bacteria into our intestines. Yakult does not contain any unnecessary additives such as colouring substances. Different flavours usually require adding in of colouring and preservatives.

♥ Singapore is the only country where Yakult also comes in grape, apple and orange flavours. The presenter was telling us not to complain about why there are only 4 flavours as Singapore is already fortunate enough to have 3 more flavours.

♥ Singapore is also the only country whereby mini straws are provided in the Yakult pack. I don't use the straws and I find it a waste of plastic. Even though there are many people who don't use the straws, there are still about 80% of people who do according to a survey that Yakult conducted in Singapore.

♥ Yakult can be drunk at any time of the day though it is more effective to drink Yakult during or after meals when your stomach is less acidic, so even more of the Yakult bacteria can reach your intestines alive.

♥ It is not a problem to keep Yakult outside of the fridge for awhile. The Yakult bacteria slowly become active at temperature between 15 to 40 degrees Celsius. It will begin to produce lactic acid, which will affect the taste and make it sour. When there is too much acid produced, the bacteria will die, and the product will be less effective though drinkable still.


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~*New Year's Eve -- Department Healthy Day*~

While most people work for half a day on NYE, the boss of my department would declare NYE as a healthy day cum department cohesion. While 2012 NYE was spent walking the trails in the Botanic Gardens, 2013 NYE was spent trekking the Southern Ridges.

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No fishing...

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My boss was very cute. When he saw Courtesy Lion, he asked for somebody with camera phone to snap a picture for him. So I did. I also sent the picture to the department Whatsapp thread and some of my co-workers who did not join us for the walk remarked that it was a cute picture.

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Everybody loves Courtesy Lion so here we are with Singa the Courtesy Lion to mark the end of the walk.

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The only males in the department pitted themselves against each other in a game of "soccer".

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Whatever calories we burnt during the morning walk were replaced with more calories from the Korean BBQ lunch after that. It was the end-of-year lunch for the department and also a farewell lunch for one of our colleagues who would be joining another division.

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I really love to eat Korean side dishes.

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Beef wasn't included in the ala carte buffet and my table of beef-lovers who sat together for an agenda had to order the different types of beef separately. They were all so darn tender, juicy and tasty.

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TL & TR: The pork was good too though I still preferred beef.
BL: The fish was overfried and hard.
BR: Great tasting beef soup.

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Heart-shaped water melon to end the meal.

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The last major walking in my Asics.

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Some random updates of 2014

The past week hadn't been going well for me. I was trying very hard to alter my habits and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Some of you have followed me through my insomniac periods and know how I often lack sleep. Some of you also know about my plaguing gastrointestinal issues.

For the past week, I had been really exhausted both mentally and physically. I came home from work feeling so tired that I could only eat my dinner, suffer from tummy ache, shower and then drift off to sleep before midnight. This is the first time in the week that I'm at my desk, on my laptop doing proper constructive stuff (like blogging... lol).

Over the months, I have gradually gotten used to the gastrointestinal pain but for the past few week, the pains were back to the prolong intense ones which lasted throughout the night till the next morning. There was one night when I was jolted out of my sleep covered in cold sweat even though the air con was blasting. I was having spasms and such intense cramps in the tummy that I actually groaned so loudly and woke the hubz up. When he did his usual placing of his warm comforting hand on my tummy, I screamed in pain and pushed his hand away. Accompany the pain was the white-out that I sometimes experience, followed by wave of nausea. Aside from the pain, I seemed to be having IBS as I'm going to the loo more frequently.

Tonight's tummy pain is manageable. There was some pain after dinner but it is subsiding as I'm typing this. Let's hope everything would be back to the normal bearable pain from now on. *fingers crossed*


  1. Oh no, you're part of the dark side!!! :)
    I was going to ask what was in the 3 pop-top cans...I guess it was the seafood spread. I take a probiotic capsule whenever I have to take an my digestive track stays sane(ish). Was the group allowed in the aseptic room or was that off-limits to avoid contamination? The barbeque looks good. Once a month I take my staff on a mini-field trip instead of having a staff meeting that week. The weather hasn't co-operated recently, but we'll get back on track soon.
    That's awful about the pain. Do certain foods make it worse? I hope you find relief!!!

    1. It's always fun to be on the dark side. I love jumping from side to side. Yeap, the 3 cans were tuna and seafood spread. I'm taking probiotics by the packet now. I don't like those plastic-tasting capsules. I hope yours tastes ok. We were not allowed into any of the rooms. That's really nice of you to take your staff on field trips. That's the kind of superior people would like! I can't find any correlation between the types of food and the pain. Only the timing of the day.

  2. The food makes me so hungry! Even though I just ate lunch haha. But that's so funny that you color-coordinated--my chemistry table at school always does that on accident too!

    The process looks so interesting--glad you got to take a peek into that! Those gardens are equisite too. I'm so sorry to hear about your health. Please feel better soon!

    1. Thanx for dropping by and for your concern. It is always fun to see spontaneous matching! I'm sure it is always a pleasant thing seeing the colour coordination!

  3. Well, starting at the end, wishing you healing of a quick and total nature and, at the very least, relief.

    Your company outing looked very cool. I like checking out factories and seeing how things are made. I once went to the Boeing plant in Seattle and toured where they make jumbo jets. That blew my mind.

    Wonderful shot that one with your shoes, by the way :)

    Oh and that outdoor set of shots! What a lush, fun place. I so want to be the courtesy lion's best friend. Your boss is such a good sport. Like your Affliction shirt too. Very cool and edgy. The color-coded people shots were hilarious.

    Wonderful post with so much cool stuff :)

    1. Thanx, Rick. You're always so sweet. I sure wish to check out a Boeing plant too! That's must have been really fascinating. Courtesy Lion was everyone's best friend when we were in primary school and then some people also criticized the fact that we needed a mascot for courtesy campaign. Gee... I like my Affliction Tee too. It's my most expensive Tee ever esp when in the past, I don't believe in spending so much for T-shirts.

  4. Jo! I always love your photos! You have such fun adventures :D Also, I am dying for Korean BBQ! That looked devine! haha. Yes, also I did follow you in Instagram! ^__^b

    1. I'm so glad that you're back from your busy-ness. Don't leave your readers ever again! lol

  5. This looks really interesting, It would be cool to go and see all of that and learn how they make the cultures and stuff. Super post doll. I hope you have a great week xx

    1. I love factory tours too. I've alays enjoyed learning how things are made!

  6. nice photos and so interesting... looks like you had a great day :)

    It’s a GIRL Thing

    1. Thanx for dropping by blog. Love seeing newcomers here. =)

  7. Hi Jo! How cool is the Yakult factory, I would like to visit it too since I often drink it and I find very good for health. Your photos always make me smile. Im sorry for your tummy ache..I can get you since I suffer of it too sometimes so the best thing I do is massagine it and prepare a hot water bag. Hope you get well dear, kisses! xo

    1. You drink Yakult too? Yay... I don;t usually hear of people from European countries drinking Yakult somehow. Ah, yes I remember you also suffer from tummyache pretty often. You take care too! =)

  8. I'm worried about your stomach Jo. This has been going on for so long. Have you been to the doctor or professional? It just doesn't seem normal. I really like the way your boss promotes a healthy lifestyle for his employees. I always enjoyed visiting or rather taking tours of industries to see how they operate. You can learn so much and it sounds like a great product. Love the picture of everyone with the lion. Too Cute!

    1. Hey Kim. Thanx for your concern. Yup, I've been to a specialist actually and I did a Barium scan. The scan did not pick up anything abnormal. I found out from the specialist that it's very common to have chronic gastrointestinal problems that some people suffer for life. He did not recommend going for more invasive tests since my weight and overall health isn't deteriorating to be suspected as something really bad. So I shall take it as I'm having chronic gastrointestinal problems.

      I love factory tours too as I enjoy learning more about how things are made or how things work. Those always intrigue me. Courtesy Lion made everything cuter!

  9. The yakult factory looks like such a fun place to visit! We sell it here in England too =)

    Corinne x

    1. I don't really hear of people in European countries drinking Yakult. Do you drink Yakult?

  10. So nice to know more about Yakult, since I have fond memories of drinking it during my childhood! It's fascinating to see the cultures grown in that dish, haha.
    Seeing KBBQ just now has really sparked a craving for it...IT'S YOUR FAULT.
    (I agree with Kim--have you seen a doc/professional? That kind of chronic pain needs to be checked, no matter the expenses :( )

    Vanessa | Citron and Guavaberry ʘ‿ʘ | Makeup & Silly things

    1. You drink Yakult when you were a child? Why don't you drink it anymore? You should as it is so full of yummy goodness. Hahaha... I hope you settle your Korean BBQ craving soon!

      Thanx for your concern, Vanessa. To repeat what I told Kim, I've been to a specialist actually and I did a Barium scan. The scan did not pick up anything abnormal. I found out from the specialist that it's very common to have chronic gastrointestinal problems that some people suffer for life. He did not recommend going for more invasive tests since my weight and overall health isn't deteriorating to be suspected as something really bad. So I shall take it as I'm having chronic gastrointestinal problems.

  11. Good selection of the topic, really appreciate it


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