For many expats, the mysterious, spiritual worlds of astrology and feng shui are shrouded with enigma, and those hailing from the West are likely to either shun it as a farce or deem it a magical art.
But, according to Joey Yap, the nation's premier Astrological Consultant, it is neither of those things. While there are limits to the influence that can be exerted on people's lives, Yap strongly believes that the future can be altered if people are willing to be more self-aware, and astrology is a tool by which those who are keen to make changes can achieve them.
Young, fresh-faced, and eloquent, Yap is able to put the so-called spiritual mumbo jumbo into clear, logical processes, and The Expat spent an hour with him, getting to grips with this seemingly-mystical practice and losing some cynicism along the way.
"It looks magical," says Yap, "but it's not; it's actually a whole technology by itself. What we are really studying is earth science; how energy is brought into the environment." Yap splits what it does into four, clear sections.
"Part one is about the human being, or ‘human science.' This is all about people and how they behave, and therefore what their future will be like. A lazy person with no drive and no discipline cannot have a good future. It's an assumption, of course, but the question is, how do we fix it?"
"We can fix it by looking at the environment that person is in. Environment – part two – is important because we've got to live somewhere, we've got to work somewhere, we've got to be somewhere, and your environment affects you. One of the easiest ways to change yourself is by changing your environment. If you are in a different environment, you feel different and you outlook on life will be different. The external helps you become better; that's feng shui. We know the problem, and so with the environment we can effect change."
In part three, "we look at gifts. Everyone has gifts or talents, and you don't want to find out your talent too late in life. The sooner you discover your strengths and your skills, the sooner you can enter the path of least resistance to your success."
"The first three parts are about what is inside you, the things that you can control through awareness, while part four is what comes to you. Astrology finds which years, where in the cycle, something new is going to happen so that people can be prepared for it."
The problem most cynics have, explains Yap, is that they "question the means," but he stresses that "the end result is the most important. Astrology is only a tool, not the only tool, but it is a tool. Whatever is helping to get the results that you want is key to you."
While there are people who may still raise an eyebrow at the practice of consulting charts to improve your life, Yap says he has only managed to build the empire he has thanks to "results. People wouldn't pay me so much money if it didn't work!"