Sunday, May 29, 2005

some people put me to shame.

i met this guy at an event on Saturday. He's not only a career military man, he sails, teaches lindy hop, writes freelance for magazines and also writes fiction, is a husband and father of two young kids.

How does he find time to do all that? unfortunately I forgot to ask.

He gave me a lift out to civilisation from the yacht club (where the emcee kept saying, unfortunately, YAWCH club) and he told me about his joy seeing his work published in the Silverfish collection as well as online. He's trying to do more freelance writing for magazines and maybe the newspapers. He's been teaching lindy hop for about four years and goes sailing twice a month.

I'd mentioned about wakeboarding earlier so he asked if I still do that.

Er... not for a while now...

Lindy hop?

er... not since uni...

So what do you do?

Er.... I swim and jog and have been failing in my attempts to get a regular tennis game going...

And later, do you write fiction?

I used to....

Why did you stop?

Writing became my livelihood and it's hard to want to write when I get out of the office. (it's a lie really, i just have never the commitment to see something through)

iTunes is currently playing Snow Patrol's Ways & Means

Thursday, May 26, 2005

eating and shopping, shopping and eating

So I just returned from a 5-night vacay in Hongkong. Got back just before midnight on Wednesday, took Thursday off because I needed a break from my break. Because, man was it a tiring holi-holiday.

I will try to condense it into one blog entry. And I must admit also straight off that I hardly took pictures! It's like when I visit BKK, I don't really know what to take pictures of... I guess I could've taken some pictures of food, and of the new friends I've made in HK. But, well...

To begin this, let me just say that I never really considered HK a top vacay spot. I've said the same thing about Tokyo. And I was wrong then and I am wrong now. It's a great city and after this trip, I realise that HK is what you call a city, not Singapore. Sg is hardly a city compared to HK with its towering skyscrapers and apartment buildings and packed packed streets.

I visited HK when I was in primary school - the only thing I remember of tt trip was Ocean Park, the trip to see my grandaunt and well, that's about it.

But this time, the shopping and eating, eating and shopping just blew me away!

We stayed at Tsim Sha Tsui and if I ever go back, I'll prob try to stay in that area again. The nearest huge-ass shopping mall is Harbour City but the important (well to me they're important) stores are all along the streets and in the smaller malls like Silvercord. But we also did check out IFC Mall (gorgeous place!) Times Square and some others in Central, oh and of course Mongkok.

I must first confess to not being a fab shopper. While my friends can drag home 5 pairs of shoes and many more clothes from BKK, my loot is far less. So I didn't go crazy over the many stores (that stay open sometimes until midnight even on weekdays!) but I did get...
- a skirt
- a zipfront hooded jacket
- a t-shirt
- a belt
- three earrings
- pants

and 2 t-shirts for my sister, as well as the usual snacks for pp.

But we walked until our legs hurt and the last couple of days, i found myself needing to sit down more often. Finding little cafes that we could chill out at (some cool places on the upper floors of buildings along the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui provided some respite near midnight as well as a nice view from which to check out what other shops we could hit at that time).

I was most impressed by the service there. The sales people were always most eager to help out, whether at a shopping mall or a small store.

Shopping aside, I got to visit the New Territories (and a private apartment on the ... er... 56th floor? with a gorgeous view of the bridge to... er... wherever... you can tell i was paying attention). Took in a tram ride up to the Peak. Of course the Star Ferry to and from the two main islands. Soho and the mid-levels. Jordan. Mongkok. Lan Kwai Fong. I'm sure I'm leaving plenty out. But here's the best part.

I ate all kinds of fantastic food.
but among my favourites: Dimsum at Miramar shopping centre (with this great coconut custard dessert). fish congee at Hau Fook Street (with zha leung). chinese desserts like walnut paste and steamed milk curd. wantan mee (with huge wantan filled with lotsa prawns)
altho honestly the best part was going into any cha can ting and picking stuff off the menu like macaroni soup, mixed grill with rice, and the egg and beef sandwiches (essentially corned beef omelette between white bread). And more importantly, being able to walk into these places at any time of the day (even after midnight) and still being able to order those very items.

I sure wouldn't mind more of those here.

What I do know is that while it is possible to get by in HK without knowing Cantonese, it's not a good idea.

When we stepped into those cha can ting places, they assume straightaway we're local. But after ordering (in English/Mandarin) or asking for an English menu, things change and at one place, we even were asked "Do you want a fork and spoon or chopsticks?" how gweilo we must seem!

And the way the salespeople react after they rattle off politely in Cantonese only for me to say, I'm sorry I don't speak Cantonese...
I've met with a few shocked faces. and then a brief struggle to find the right words in English. But their composure and smiles return soon. Much less can be said about service in Sg. Service with a smile in Sg? I wish.

All in all, this was a great trip. Good company, new friends, great food, new clothes and accessories. And now somehow I have to work up the courage to go back to work tomorrow.

iTunes is currently playing The Observatory's Time Of Rebirth

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Is it because I lied when I was 17?

So i woke up at 6am to go for a jog, not really a stretch for me as I"m quite a morning person. Brushed teeth, combed hair, washed my face and trudged downstairs to pick up the papers. I step outside and I hear it. I feel it.

The drizzle, which turned into a slightly heavier drizzle.

I glare at the sky, take in the one free paper and the other somewhat free paper and head back in for breakfast with the cow that laughs instead.

Anyway, getting up earlier gave me time to read the newspapers (Life was chockablock with StarWars stuff... while I'm wanting to see the movie, there somehow just isn't enough excitement for me to diediemustget preview tickets) compared how the national was a less interesting read than the SCMP whose weekend edition i checked out yesterday. Admired the clean layout and font, and more importantly the ample space for book reviews, nice arts pieces (even one on the Sg Arts Fest).

Learnt to my horror yesterday that my beloved NY Times

On the online edition's front page, a notice from the ed-in-chief
The Times is announcing Times Select, a premium package that will include its Op-Ed columns, its special voices in business, metro and sports, and greater access to its archive. To learn more about the offering, which will be available in September, please read the news article and a press release.

Leonard M. Apcar
Editor in Chief

At least most of the stories will still be free unlike you-know-what. But Op-Ed and columns will be charged! But some columns are found on IHT, so maybe I can read them there or does it not work that way?

In other news, I'm heading off to Hong Kong on Friday and will be back Wednesday! I still havent a clue where to go! I do want to poke around Macau a bit. Dimsumdolly suggested Lantau Island and Soho.
Any suggestions? anyone?

Sunday, May 15, 2005


it always seems to rain the moment i step onto Bintan, that Indonesian island 1hr ferrry ride away (not to be mistaken with that other Indonesian island about 45 min ferry ride away which I have also sorta begun to know because of a story I had to write and made a couple of friends there as well!)

Anyhoo, got there Saturday at noon. Bintan Lagoon Resort. a good friend from JC managed to chope the PSA villa there so we had the whole place to the three of us - swimming pool, large garden, two whole fricking floors with FIVE bedrooms.

Having stayed at the Indra Maya villas twice, I must say that the BL villa was quite a disappointment. First of, the whole place felt like ... well.. suburbia. Identical houses laid out flat on a grid. All the bedrooms were done up in the same furniture and textiles, although with different sized rooms and beds.

The pool was a one without a view, unlike the glorious views that the Indra Maya infinity pool provides of the sea (and the occasional fisherman in his sampan)

Of course, Indra Maya does come at a price = a whopping $1,000 per night (divide that by four people and you can figure out how much i paid).
And while PSA does give its staff a v nice price (of just about $250 for 4 nights) a quick check on the Bintan Lagoon Resort website tells me that the Angsoka villa we stayed at could've cost us $1,600!!

Not worth it, not worth it at all.

But it was fun. We cooked lunch, dinner, breakfast, lunch and a snack to go for the ferry ride back, (and even washed up), swam, hit the beach and just hung out.

Thankfully, the Sunday was nice and sunny with not a drop of rain.

But unfortunately the sea sports did cost a pretty penny. With the wakeboarding at 30min costing S$70! Far more expensive than Singapore! Although it would definitely be more pleasant to fall into the sea than into the lovely waters of Punggol Marina, which now come to think of it, is something I've not done for months. The last time I was supposed to go, a few weekends back, I came down with a nasty cough that never really fully went away.

And so it is back to Singapore, back to rainy wet Singapore, where work begins again tomorrow (I don't work Mondays) until Thursday. I fly off Friday morning for Hong Kong! (yes, so in May it's been Bintan Bintan Hong Kong). Where to next? I don't know!

Meanwhile, hucks beat me to it, but here goes:
This is my current CD Wishlist.
Aimee Mann - The Forgotten Arm
Teenage Fanclub - Man-Made
The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday
the delgados - Hate, Universal Audio
jolie holland - escondida
Ben Folds - Songs For Silverman
Of Montreal - The Sunlandic Twins

iTunes is currently playing Tori Amos - Don't Make Me Come To Vegas

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

on my desk

Photos of holidays - Tokyo, KL, Cherating, Montreal and Prince Edward Island, Radiohead's Thom Yorke playing live in Sydney - family and friends line the walls (if they can be called walls) of the cubicle, as does a mini poster of Zatoichi and some stickers that the previous occupant didnt know what to do with.

Some dictionaries and notebooks fill the shelf on my right, and a mini Ah Meng dangles precariously over the edge, next to a mini lion, while boxes of my name cards lie scattered around.

A pile of rough paper lies next to some post-it notes from various places including the School of Communication and Information, MoneySense, and of course, the company I work for. Next to that is a sad old analog phone, whose cord is turning blue from the ink stains that i, well stain it with during long and boring interviews.

One of those in-out trays, in fashionably-dull gray, is filled with notes from various other stories, more notes and files are stashed in the cupboard that never locks.

In my top drawer are stationery odds and ends, a Heineken bottle opener, some paper and claim forms that i dont know why i'm hanging onto (proof perhaps?).
The second drawer is the one i reach into when i'm starving - wafers and crackers. green tea and darjeeling are my staples.
It also holds namecards collected fr various pp i've met, a tissue box and my voice recorder.
The last drawer is where i dump my bag, and i've also got three tennis balls in there.

Under my desk, we have the motherboard and a large boxful of things that i've not unpacked - mostly art books from lasalle after the director decided that this plebian shld broaden her knowledge of art. A purple umbrella from Simply Her that has simply never been used. Another set of drawers, this time made from cardboard, from Agnes B. It was a Christmas present from the company. Of course it was more than the drawers... there was bathrobe/bathtowel/bedroomslippers within.

I've also got a damn REadypack courtesy of the ministry of home affairs. i cant remember what's in it now but i think there's a first aid kit. so u know, in case someone crashes a plane into some part of this building, i can reach for my readykit or watever its called, and be u know, ready!

and in case of a real disaster, i have a bottle of red, just next to the kit.
altho i do not have a wine opener! damnit! i'll have to invest in a cheap one and then i'll be all set to hold it out for a few days in the office under my desk in event of a disaster.

iTunes is currently not playing anything cos this damn pc does not have a soundcard.

Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi

This 2003 film took 2 years to reach Singapore screens but at least it actually did. much less can be said about the many films that have fallen by the wayside, never to grace our movie theatres.

This Israeli film is a heartwarming little coming-of-age story. A little predictable and a bit fairy-tale like, but sometimes, that's what is needed, minus the razzle-dazzle that is the usual Hollywood feel-good flick filled with big-egoed stars.

It was quite a charmer, an easygoing and easy-on-the-eyes movie to see on a tuesday evening, when the weather spoiled my tennis plans.

There was honesty and a little rawness that perhaps would've done better if the skin could've been peeled back a bit further to expose that underbelly beneath.

Maybe that's cos to me it was a bit too much of a disney-sweet ending. Quite predictable how it would end.

Then again, like i said, it was an easygoing film. why end it in on a bittersweet note when you can top it off with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry? and while whipped cream is in no way good for you, sometimes sneaking a spoonful of it could put a smile on your face.

and somehow, today, i had a smile on my face for most of the day. altho ben told me i'd looked frazzled in the morning, and i admit i was, things didnt seem to matter anymore after lunch. my colleague had told me something that i frankly wasnt too pleased with (not about her, but well, i'd rather not say what it was) somehow i just shrugged it all off and thought, why should i care? i'm not hanging around for that much longer! and then the skies cleared and i just felt a weight lifted from my shoulders. (ok well the skies didnt technically clear, it was goddamn dreary the whole damn day)

iTunes is currently playing Aerosmith's Dude (Looks Like A Lady)

Monday, May 09, 2005

lazy monday

my sis got back from amsterdam/madrid today with a nice bagful of goodies including those great waffle-biscuits, neuhaus chocs and more!

anyway, after a lazy sunday i decided to continue with the lazy stretch and take it into the monday as well.

but i did decide to slave in the kitchen for a bit to pull together a decent lasagne. it was going quite well, the meat sauce was simmering, the cheese sauce was a nice consistency, when i remembered Id forgotten the damn eggplant! so out of the fridge, slice and dredged in some flour and into the frying pan they went. meanwhile, stirring the cheese sauce periodically because it'd get all lumpy on me.

and then the layering began. my favourite part.
meat sauce, pasta layer, eggplant slices, cheese sauce and repeat. top with some shredded parmesan and then pop into a heated oven! and wait.

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iTunes is currently player Feeder's Dove Grey Sands

Saturday, May 07, 2005

new music

the Hold Steady's new album sounds good.

but havent even bought the delgados which i've been meaning to get my hands on! we were supposed to do an online buying spree after CNY.
alamak cny how many months ago already?
now have bust my budget with three mini vacays this month - bintan (indra maya) bintan (PSA villa at bintan lagoon) and HK.
i think i might have to waste my 10 days leave next mth and just seriously chill out in Singapore.
i could... spend hours at the pool - reading books and soaking up the sun and oh yes, swim too. i could... take walks in botanics or other parks, with a good book, ipod and some sandwiches.
i could... roam the malls and watch movies on my own. i could have coffee and cakes.

and now i have to go and talk to my supe who apparently's got some new story.
it's already 535!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

there's a lot of unhappiness just oozing from me nowadays.

is it about job dissatisfaction?

but what if it isn't? what if i move into another job and then find myself equally unhappy?

was i ever a happy person?

what if it's really just me?

(i can see it all now.... i'll be the grouchy old hag sitting in the corner desk complaining about the coffee and tea, complaining about the aircon, complaining complaining complaining)

i have to do the very sad job of forcing people to answer some surveys later today. at raffles place. and for a story that's not even mine.

on another note, the dean asked if i liked my job, saying that i look quite happy. maybe i shld've told him the truth, that i was only happy that night because i was out of the office! and the noise and the crowd was appealing to the side of me that likes the noise and the crowd.

but sometimes, i just feel like i shld go live on a mountain for a while. i was just remembering the blissful quiet that was margaret river. where the next residence/vineyard is more than 10 minutes away and you have all this open space to drive through. the nights are so quiet, you strain to hear something but there's not a sound. it takes some getting used to but by the end of it, you are just so appreciative of the stillness. you feel rested, calm and refreshed.

i think i need to feel like that. i need to .... rejuvenate. god i hate that word. sounds so spa-like. its like in bintan, when i woke up before the others to take a swim and just stare out at the sea. and not think about anything.

and not think about anything.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

up and out

i decided to brave the morning and wake up before seven in the am. it was easier than i expected although the past three weeks i've been lazy, only going swimming and not jogging at all.

i guess the heat helped a bit.
i'd tossed and turned and got up at 2am to turn on the a/c and then at 4am to turn it off. (i've got one of those old laopok type a/cs where it doesnt come on and off at intervals, neither has it a nice remote control)

anyway, the point of this entry is that after the jog i was feeling all cheery, and i started singing for some reason, Adia. (which is why i later had to pop in the cd .. yes i do own sarah mclachlan's cds!) but yes, indeed the am exercise put me in a chipper mood. something i've not felt for well... three weeks! (*lightbulb goes off in my head* so that explains it....)

of course god knows if i'll wake up early tomorrow or decide to hit the snooze button for another hour.

the update shall come then.

iTunes is currently playing Sarah McLachlan's Building A Mystery (*GASP!*)

Monday, May 02, 2005

indra maya

Just got back from one day in the sun at Bintan's lovely Indra Maya villas.
Same great group of people as last year (plus one more), unfortunately not enough alcohol (altho i got to try some excellent new wine) and alas, the first day was drizzly.

It was quite a disappointment to arrive at the ferry terminal and spot the dark storm clouds looming. While waiting for the bus, it began to pour.

But somehow, it cleared up when we reached the check in. After chowing down on some lunch and snacks we hit the pool, and then of course, it had to start raining. Sometthing we decided to ignore - after all we were already in the pool - and it drizzled several more times before we got up to have dinner.

I love the place. the infinity pool with a nice ledge to lounge on. it's nice spacious rooms and furnishings are not bad. the gorgeous unobstructed view of the sea.

but i hate the food. the kelong (some seafood place) is edible and so is the food at nirwana (which we drive our little buggy to) but this time we had dinner at the Thai restuarant nearby. It looked pretty promising. But the food was just well, expensive zichar. I can't even compare it to a Thai restaurant cos it was really that bad. Only the tom yam was good (altho tasted a bit suspect) and the dessert of fried banana with pandan ice-cream was not bad either. But overall, two thumbs down.

the wine more than made up for it and i'd made a brownie so we had that dessert. as usually janice went off to sleep real early and so did ash. so the remaining three took it outside by the pool for a chat under the stars

we finished off the second day with more swimming, more bad food and a decent back massage.