Thursday, August 31, 2006


Woke up to heavy rain this morning. Such a refreshing change from the hot weather for the past few days.

Days like that, I wish I could just curl up with a good book, accompanied by a cup of hot tea and good music...

(Busy and Blind. In chinese, they have the same pronounciation)
Singer" Emial Chou 周华建

曾有一次晚餐和一张床 (once there was a dinner and a bed)
在什么时间地点和那个对象 (when, when and with whom)
我已经遗忘 我已经遗忘 (I've already forgotten, I've already forgotten)
生活是肥皂香水眼影唇膏 (living is like soap, perfume, glasses, lipsticks)

许多的电话在响 (phones are ringing)
许多的事要备忘 (alot of things to prepare)
讦多的门与抽屉 (doors and drawers)
开了又关 关了又开如此的慌张 (open and shut, shut and open in a hurry)
我来来往往 我匆匆忙忙 (to-and-fro, in a hurry)
从一个方向到另一个方向 (I go from one direction to another direction)

忙忙忙忙忙忙 (busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy)
忙是为了自己的理想 (busy because of one's dream)
还是为了不让别人失望 (or so that we will not disappoint the others)
盲盲盲盲盲盲 (blind, blind, blind, blind, blind, blind)
盲的已经没有主张 (blind till I've become indecisive)
盲的已经失去方向 (blind till I've lost of direction)
忙忙忙盲盲盲 (busy, busy, busy, blind, blind, blind)
忙的分不清欢喜和忧伤 (busy till I can't differenciate between happiness and sadness)
忙的没有时间痛哭一场 (busy till there's no time to cry)

To listen to this song, click here

忙是为了自己的理想 (busy because of one's dream)
还是为了不让别人失望 (or so that we will not disappoint the others

I hope everyone is busy because of one's dreams.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Music is a universal language

It's been a few days since I posted. The few times when I wanted to, I was so tired, I was falling asleep over my laptop.

I thought I'd be able to do it over the weekend when I don't have to work. But as usual, my weekend is even busier than my weekdays....

You know, I have often heard people comment that there's nothing to do in Singapore. I know I do that sometimes too (hey, I'm a Singaporean, so complaining is one of my forte). But if you look around you, there are actually lots of events going on...

Over the weekend, I attended 2 different concerts/events that could not be more opposite in terms of content and environment.

Singapore Symphony Orchestra SSO

The SSO was formed in 1979 and consists of local and foreign musicians. I don't think Singapore has enough of a pool to have a wholly Singaporeans only orchestra.... yet.

Attending the SSO concerts have been a regular thing for us for the past 10 years or so. I was initiated into it by hubby (who was my boyfriend then). It was one of our regular dates. I must admit, I probably would not have thought of attending a classical concert then. But hey we were dating and I was in love.. so anything for him lah.

Over the years though, I've actually come to enjoy the concerts. No, I don't know how to play the piano or the violin or any of the instruments for that matter. Neither am I very 'cultured' as some of my friends suggested.

I don't profess to like all the pieces and indeed, sometimes I go "huh?" at the end of a piece and occassionally I fall asleep too (which can be rather rather embarrassing, as our seats are rather in front and normally in the centre). But generally, they are rather enjoyable and I have discovered that I actually know many of these classical music... more than I imagined.

And when the musicians play well... it touches and moves your heart.. even if you are not musically trained.

The SSO has moved from VCH to the The Esplanade (or the durian as we locals would call it). Since the move, I noticed that the audience has become more well dressed. I don't mean they come in ball gowns or tuxedos but you can tell that they have made an effort to dress up and treat it as a respectable event. I think it's rather nice and makes the night special. Indeed, it's all rather civilised as people sipped their glasses of champagne or wine during the break.

That night's concert was entitled The Fire, The Romance, the Passion.
Royal Fireworks by George Frideric Handel
Oboe Concerto in D major by Richard Strauss
An American in Paris by George Gershwin (who could forget Gene Kelly dancing away?)
Bolero by Maurice Ravel

Just before playing the last piece, I asked hubby, as I sometimes do, if I knew the piece. He said "yes, it's a very well-known piece."

And he was right. It's not only well-known. It's a very lively and beautiful piece. Makes me want to tap my fingers and dance. Click here to listen to the music. (Credit- The MIDI HALL)

Did you enjoy that? I did. It was indeed a very pleasant way to end a night.

World of Music, Arts and Dance WOMAD

If SSO was quiet and civilised then WOMAD, which I attended the following nights were lively, casual and slightly wild.

WOMAD brings together musicians from all over the world- South America, USA, Indonesia, China, South Korea and India to perform.

They are not your usual pop groups and most of the time, I may not have heard of the artistes. It does not mean that they are not well-known. It just means that their music is not played on the local radio stations 24 hours a day.

Like SSO, we have been attending WOMAD at least 8 out of its 9 years here... if not all the 9 years. I didn't need hubby to ask me to come along for this. We were both interested.

Attending WOMAD is like going for a big picnic outing.

Held at the Fort Caning Park, the place has a carnival feel to it. Most people would pack a picnic basket, bring along a mat and generally just chill out under the stars. For the classical concert, infants or toddlers aren't allowed in- which is understandable. But for WOMAD, it's really a family and friends event. Drinks, food, music and family/ friends. What more can you ask?

But if you are asking for more.. than there are always the little stalls selling nick-nacks, palm reading and workshops to attend. In fact, we always felt torn as many events overlap.

What I've always found special about WOMAD is the energy and liveliness amongst the crowd. Who said Singaporeans are not spontaneous? They should come and see how the crowd would be grooving away... including me. And some of these artistes do really play up a storm that gets you on your feet.

Dancing the night away

Have you ever heard Indian, Korean, Australian and African music being played together at the same time? No?

Ahh...I did say music is a universal language didn't I?

One group that I was particularly interested in was Dulsori from Korea (for obvious reasons). Someone has put up a short clip on Dulsori on Youtube. Take note of the short part where a group is playing on 3 big drums. Click here

And here's a photo of this very dynamic group, consisting of mainly young girls.

WOMAD plays around the world in different countries, with different artistes. The next stop is... Korea! But no go, hubby said no, cannot go... :-( Guess I'll just have to wait for WOMAD to come around to Singapore again in August next year.

Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without. ~Confucius

Let the music play on..... ^^

Friday, August 25, 2006

The efficient civil service

The Singapore government has always harped about productivity and efficiency. Of course, at the same time, must also be courteous. The civial service departement especially, is always coming up with new ways to improve and be more productive. On Wednesday, I came into contact with the efficiency of a civil service department which.

I had to renew a license for hubby. This department was located in the super, grand IRAS building - Revenue House.

Finding the place was easy... the rest required a little more work.

The departement was on the 9th floor. There was no reception counter and the door was controlled by security pass. You have to press the bell and then yell into the microphone for the whole office department to hear the purpose of your visit.

As I wasn't too sure if it's the right department, I thought I'd make a call to confirm.

You know, all these recorded phones information is supposed to help you right? But seriously? Most of the time, you just want to stranggle the phone.

"To hear this in English, press 1. To hear this in Chinese, press 2."

And then it's repeated in Chinese.

"Press 1 for xxx, Press 2 for xxx, Press 3 for xxx".

And then you duly press 2

"Press 1 for xxx, Press 2 for xxx, Press 3 for xxx".

You didn't hear anything that seemed to be the right department. So you press a number that you think might be the right one.

"Press 1 for xxx, Press 2 for xxx, or Press 0 to speak to our officer."

You still don't hear anything that seems to be right, so you press 0 to speak to a human being.

"All our officers are engaged at the moment. Your call is important to us. Please hold and we'll get back to you shortly."

This is followed by some Richard Clayderman or Kenny G music over the phone. I'm assuming the music is supposed to calm you down.

After about 1 minute, you hear the "your call is important" message again and so you listen to the very soothing music on for another minute. And then this message comes on.

"I'm sorry all our officers are engaged at the moment and cannot attend to you. Please press 1 to leave a message or you may continue to hold."

You didn't want to wait anymore, so you press '9' to leave a message and is greeted by this:
"I'm sorry the message box is full. Pleaae call again later."


Ok, ok, the above was not exactly what I went through when I called but it was close enough. You can imagine my frustration then.

Anyway, I finally managed to get into the office, only to find out that the cashier may be closed.

Wait, I didn't tell you about the timing? You see, you can only go down from Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 12.30pm and 2pm to 4.30pm. They must all think we don't need to work and our sole purpose in life is to go down and renew a silly license. I mean, you can't even opt to go down during lunch time!


The officer was kind enough to check to see if the cashier is still opened, so we trooped down to the 7th floor.

Why? Because the cashier is on the 7th floor.

Luckily it still was. I managed to pay and collected my receipt.

And then I had to go back upstairs to the 9th floor again... to collect the license.

I guess there must be some logic behind this arrangement and I'm sure it's probably the best solution, after much deliberation,.

But I'm afraid the reason has escaped me, the normal citizen.

Maybe that's why I've never applied for a job in the government sector. I'll never make a good civil servant.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

All the world's a stage

It's been a long time since I watched a Chinese play.. 真的是好久,好久。

I'm not sure...but I think one of the first Chinese play I watched was probably the play, 我在湖边等你 (I'll wait for you by the lake) by 戏剧盒 ( Whilst I can't really remember much about the play, I do remember that there was a beautiful song in it.

The theatre scene here had it's infancy when I was in the university..which was a long, long time ago. Theatres or dramas were not as common before then and many of the 'veterans' today were involved in the varsity theatres then. Karen Tan, Daniel Boey (who is today a hugely successful dance choreographer), Ong Soh Chin (who is a very respected senior editor in ST). In fact, The Necessary Stage was formed back then.

I remember the times we often skipped lunch to go to lecture theatre 13 to watch a play. It was always fun to watch somebody you know on stage. Wonder if they still stage plays during lunchtime.

Anyway, thanks to CDAC (hahaha!), I got to watch a Chinese play last Friday night.

Snakes and Lover (再见白蛇传)

Produced by ETCeteras or 海燕等人, it stars Cai Li Lian (蔡礼连) and Shen Wei Jun (沈炜竣).

It's sort of a play-within-a play, love story.

The play, "Madam White Snake" is being restaged one last time. Cai Li Lian (蔡礼连, as White Snake) and Wang Jia Yi (王嘉翊,as Master Xu) are going to get married the next day, after finishing the final night of the play. Shen Wei Jun (沈炜竣, as the abbot 'Fa Hai') has been in love with Xie Pei Shan (谢佩珊, as Green Snake) for 10 years. He has already proposed to her 98 times and has been rejected each time.

Li Lian, Pei Shan and the stage co-oridnator (oops, can't remember hwe name) have been good friends since childhood, with Pei Shan always taking good care of Li Lian.

As the story unfolds, we find out that Pei Shan is pregnant and the father is Jia Yi. Incredibly, it was Pei Shan who seduced him and yet, she doesn't love him... Her heart already belongs to someone else.

Complicated? Not really...

Boy loves girl...girl sort of loves boy...girl loves girl....

Seems everyone is doing a gay theme nowadays with the 'liberation' of the arts scene. Maybe the novelty of doing what was once taboo will wear off later.

Anyway, back to the play.

Perhaps because I did not have any expectation, it actually turned out to be better than expected.

The 3 femaale leads were actually pretty good, especially Pei Shan. The 2 male leads were so-so.... But Wei Jun drew much laughter from the audience, esepcially the children with his 'wooden' performance as Fa Hai.

However, the script was rather loose and many scenes involving the 'extras' were not necessary. Actually, at times I couldn't hear what these 'extras' were saying.

You know it's not easy being stage actor. It's very different from being in a drama or movie.

In plays, there are no re-takes, so if you make a wrong move, you have to think your way out of the tight spot quickly, on your feet. Acting before a live audience means that you get the response and reaction from them immediately. I find that rather nerve wrecking. There are less distractions in terms of sets, costumes and action, so all 'eyes' are on you. You have to ensure that you speak loudly and clearly. And whilst you should act more 'natural' in movies, it is the opposite for plays where every action have to be exeggerated.

And yet it is because of this interaction that I find plays so enjoyable.

Not many movie actors can be stage actors. But, there are quite a few stage actors who are good movie actors. Many actors who want to challenge themselves or want to be seen as credible, serious actors harbour thoughts standing on the stage eventually, someday.

I wonder if BYJ, with his habbit of "one more time" would ever do a stage play. It would be interesting, don't you agree?

For additional information on the story of Madam White Snake, please click here and here

Friday, August 18, 2006

Tired Tiffany

Am tired for the past 2 nights. Too many late nights...surfing the net and watching TV..... oo many things to do, too little time.

Must really try and sleep early. Ok, a little earlier than my usual 3 in the morning. Getting panda eyes and wrinkles..

Wanted to do a review of the books that I read during my holiday in Phuket but think will do that another day.

Hubby has recommended that I read this..

Hmm... is this his hint to me that I'm rushing around too much? Guess will start on that when I've finished my current one.... which is this:

What's so special about this book? Hehe! It's in Korean with English translation. Hmm... I guess the review will be done over at my Kimchi blog when I've finished reading it.

Why aren't there 36 hours in a day?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Be With Me- Eric Khoo

I finally caught the movie, "Be Wth Me" directed by our very own Singapore director, Eric Khoo.

"Be With Me" has been showcase in a few international film festivals and seemed to have received substantial rave reviews. And I did like "12 Stories" so I have rather high hopes of this movie.

"Be With Me" deals with love in different aspects through 3 different but linked stories. It is very, very quiet, especially in the first 20 minutes or so, with only one line of dialogue. And yet, far from being bored, I was captivated by the scenes and how they tell the story.. if you watch carefully. Think April Snow... though without any the good looking actors and pretty scenary...

And the music score captured the mood beautifully.

The only snag is, the character that was a link to the 3 stories- Theresa Chan.
Theresa is a real character, who is both blind and deaf. In the movie, she plays herself and the movie is based on her biography and the people that she met over the years.

Unfortunately, her part felt too much like a documentary and did not quite go with the other 3 stories. This is not to say her story is not worth telling. But perhaps it may have been better if it was dealt with separately. And it seems most critics did agree on this.

Still, it was well worth watching and I enjoyed the movie. The following would contain some spoilers to the movie, so be warned...

Meant to be
In this segment, Eric deals with love eternal and the pain of losing it in the twilight years. The movie opens with an elderly couple closing up their provision shop for the night. Somehow I find this scene very strong and moving...despite the fact that not a single one was spoken. In a way, that's how it is with old couples. Words are not needed. And then you see him in the market and subsequently cooking up a storm.....for his wife. Remember the scene in April Snow when In Soo was feeding his wife? In that scene there was no love though he was doing it dutifully and craefully. That was because they did not love each other any more. Here, in this scene, it was different as he lovingly, quitely fed her with the soup that he cooked painstakenly over the charcoal fire.

The old man (played by Chiew Sung Ching) does not say a single word during the whole movie. But you could feel his pain at tthe loss of his wife. He does not open the shop anymore, his wife's bowl and chopsticks is there next to him at mealtimes.

After a lifetime with your partner, what do you do when she leaves you? Because there is a void, an sense of emptiness in your everyday life, rituals and chores...especially the simple thing like food... there is no one to cook for anymore.

So In Love
If the first story was a quiet, plodding pace, then this is the opposite. Surprise, surprise... it is about 2 young girls in love. (Hmmm...the MDA actually passed this through) It is still a silent segment though as the young do not 'talk'. They text messages, they e-mail, they msn. I was not aware about this part as I didn't read the synopsis earlier, so I was quite surprised to find out that "Sam" and "Jackie" were 2 girls. And it was clever at the way it was revealed too.

2 pretty girls, in their teens...having a great time because they have found each other- their 'soulmate'. It is puppy love, yes. But as those of us who have been through this stage...a puppy love brings no less pain than a real love. And when one party loses interest and the relationship ends, it does seemed like the end of the world then.

How did the song go? 'Puppy Love' by Donny Osmond? Something like: "And they call it puppy love.."

Finding Love
Fatty Koh is a fat, sloppy guy. he eats alot. He shuffles and twitches his eye. In short, he's someone who may not be quite right, someone to be wary of.

He is secretly in love with this woman executive in his office.

He is well aware that it would not be possible but still he tries to work up enough courage to talk to her. We see him 'watching' her in the security cameras (he's a security guard), staring at her from her house below and following her from a distant as she goes shopping.

Ok, I'm a little biased here. I find the above slightly creepy actually. I'm not sure I want someone following me at my every move. But I'm sure if the character was played by a handsome Korean actor, I would have been melted at his love for her.

But seriously this guy is a mushy at heart. Because he finally took the step to write her a letter on a flowery paper. We also found out that he doesn't have a great supportive family and was probably even abused as a child. All these are through hints only- no script or dialogue. It is really amazing how words are often unnecessary.

I guess we all often talk way too much and do not listen and observe enough.

Theresa Chan
Theresa is a remarkable woman. Deaf and blind at a young age, she lives alone and takes care of herself very well-- including cooking and cleaning the place. She also learnt to speak English and type as well.

She is truely an inspiration. Unfortunately, her segment doesn't quite gel with the other 3 stories though she is the link in the final end.

And how does it all end? Ahh... there is a twist to it...I shall not reveal it here as I think you should watch the movie yourself. Let's just said that I found the scene when the old man and Theresa finally met really touching.

Here's some reviews and infomation about the movie.

Official website

And oh.... food seems to feature alot in this movie. Perhaps because it plays such an important role in our life and amongst Singaporeans. Coindentally, I'm also talking about food in my other kimchi blog. Click here if you want to read about it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The shampoo lady

On Sunday, an auntie tried to sell me shampoo

I was in my neighbourhood store. The shelves are very close to each other. The aisle is just enough for 2 person...with their butts almost kissing each other. Any bigger butts, and they would be arrested for being obscene.

And in this very narrow aisle, the shampoo lady worked her sales pitch.

She approached this woman who was looking at the various shampoos on display and stood next to her.

"Your hair very dry. Why don't you try this?" she said.

The woman said nothing and continued looking at the shampoos.

"Your hair very dry! Try this one." she said louder, pointing at a particular shampoo

The woman ignored her and tried to carry on but she was obviously not comfortable with someone shouting into her ear on a Sunday morning about the state of her hair.

"Your hair very dry lah. You should try this." she said in a very determind voice.

By now, everyone in the aisle and probably half the shop was well aware about the condition of this woman's hair. Poor woman. She gave up and walked away from the aisle quickly. Needless to say, she didn't buy the shampoo that was supposedly good for her dry hair.

There was no one left in aisle. I knew I would be next so I tried to make up my mind quickly.

Too late. The shampoo lady saw me.

"Try this one. This one very good. Lots of advertisements. Top in Malaysia."


Lots of advertisements = Good shampoo?

Ok, ok, I know it is often the case.. we are lured by advertisements. But err... isn't this a case of being too direct? How is that supposed to convince me that the shampoo is good for me?

Then again, it's not easy selling shampoo in a neighbourhood grocery store. Sometimes though, you don't need shampoo ladies to push the product, you just need the right face on it. Don't believe me? Read about it HERE

I grabbed thhe shampoo that I wanted and almost ran off...before the shampoo lady tells the whole world about my hair.


And writing about buying things from the local neighbourhood store, I was reminded of an interview that BYJ did once. He said he couldn't just go downstairs and buy a pack of sweets (or something like that), his assistant has to do it for him. In my opinion, it's really quite easy. He just need to now how to dress. Just do want all the uncles/aunties do on a Sunday morning.

1- No make-up, better still if unshaven
2- Make sure hair is not neatly combed
3- Wear a striped t-shirt in dull colors and a pair of long shorts
4- Wear black sandals
6- Bring along a market trolley

I am sure no one will give him a second look.... unless the shampoo lady catches him.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Last but not least...

Well, I guess that pretty much concludes my Phuket trip. Sorry if my posts have turned out to be like a holiday resort brochure. Hehe! But I do hope that some of you will visit the place sometime.

Oh before I end off... do you know that the Koreans really, really, realy like Phuket? 진짜! I think half of the guests at my hotel are Koreans. hehe! Of course, I took notice alot more and prick up my ears when I hear Korean. I tried very, very hard to understand what they wree talking about but unfortunately, sigh...
성생님, 미안해요.

And during the diving trip, we met an American with his Korean girlfriend. He commented he realised how strong the 'Korean Wave' was outside of Korea as everywhere he went, everyone seems to be interested in his girlfriend. (Maybe he was disappointed the spotlight wasn't on him?) haha! Me too! Me too! I wanted to try out my borken Korean with his girlfriend but was very shy. I was afraid they would think i was some lunatic ajuma. Anyway, he was asking us about the Hallyu in Singapore and I had to literally stop hubby from telling him that I was involved in a fan club! Gasp! I would have been so embarrassed.

But I did tell him that I was importing in Korean books and magazines as there was a market. But I'm sure he noted the eagerness in my tone and how I pricked up my ears when they started talking about Korean stuff... hehe!

Hmm.... he said there's a market for teaching English in Korea. Perhaps I can persuade hubby to do that and then we can move to Korea.


Ok, ok... one last photo from the trip....

I want to go on a holiday again!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Here, fishy, fishy....

Well, we had only one more day left, we were leaving the next day. There was only one more thing left to do- diving. Phuket is well known for diving, in case you didn't know.

Not me. I swim as well as a rock. Hubby of course. But I tagged along as well though by then I had developed the worse possible cold and cough. So it wasn't as enjoyable as it should be.

We went to Ko Raya Yai/Noi, which hubby went some years before...when he was free and single (I did quized him about any holiday romance then but he has adamantly denied having had any. Hmm..)

They did 2 dives- one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Again, all drinks and food provided. But simple meals lor. And oh yes, I discovered some basic dos and don'ts on a diving trip:

1) Do not go to the toilet when you are near the diving site, especially if you're going to be doing some 'major' business. Why? Because, it's straight from the toilet into the sea. So imagine if you're a diver beneath the boat and you suddenly see a piece of brown bit floating down... not very nice.

2) No throwing of paper or any none edible stuff down the toilet or anywhere into the sea. And in case you're wondering, there's a basket inside the toilet.

3) If you are going to throw up, do it stern (back) side of the ship. Nobody wants to see what you've eating for breakfast or lunch.

Hehe! Am I making you all lose your apptite? Again, not so bad lah. It's all quite logical.

Actually, you can also snorkle and swim..if you can't dive. But I'm afraid I can't do those either. :(

This dive company is quite good. They have a dive master with each group, which is normally a pair. Now that's another job you can consider if you're free and single and want to travel. Get a dive master's cert and then get a job as a dive master as you travel the world. Many of these diving companies hire freelance help.

Hubby getting ready for his dive. There's this big piece of oxygen tank you have strap to your back and also weights to bring you down. Oh, another piece of information. If you're fat, you will need more weights coz it will be harder for you to sink. Hmm.. wonder how much weights I would have needed.

Each dive takes about 45mns to 60 mins- depending on how good you are,ie. how fast you use up the oxygen. The first dive is always the scariest I would imagine.

Initially I thought I would take a nap whilst he was diving but how to sleep with views like this?

And yet, what made the whole trip memorable for me was this:

These fishes and many others were swimming close to the boat. The water was crystal clear and it seems I could see the bottom of the sea. The joy and thrill I felt when I saw them was unimaginable..I know, I know, they're just fishes but it's really quite something to see a school of fishes swimming so close that you could almost touch them. If I could swim, I would have been down in a second. Oh well. This is a case of if I can't go to the fishes, then the fishes will come to me. hahaha!

Another photo with more fishes.. and no, we didn't have them for dinner. ^^

Nice hor... : )

Suddenly, the cold and cough didn't matter any more.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Big 4Zero.. finally

I had a very pleasant surprise when I got back to the hotel room after the island hopping.... ^^

It was a cake, courtesy of the hotel management...

And no, I did not put 40 candles on it. Don't think there's space on the cake. But it was such a nice gesture from them even though the cake wasn't err...very nice. hehe!

That night, we dressed up, booked a cab and had dinner at a very nice and posh restuarant. The Boathouse This restaurant has won many awards and I can only agree with they deserve to win. The food was superb. The service was just right. I only wish I could post a nice photo of the place but unfortunately, the camera doesn't work too well at night. So...don't have.

Yes, yes, I've kept the photo small deliberately coz I look very fat. hehehe!

When I first started this blog at the beginning of this year, the title was THE BIG 4ZERO.

I did not know what to expect when I actually turned 40, afterall it is supposed to be an important milestone. But when I actually reached 40, I hardly thought about it.

There was no sudden enlightenment, no dramatic changes with flashing thunder and lightening. Whatever changes that occured, they did over the years gradually.

And I realised that most things aren't as important as I think they are. At this point, my good friend, Yee Lee would probably have given me some insights or quotes on zen. Me? I've not reached the nirvana stage yet.

But I've seen my fair share of marriages and divorces, births and deaths and had my fair share of heartaches and happiness.

Life can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be or as sad or as happy as you want it to be. If I'm going to be have to live another 40 years, then I would rather expand my energy on things that make me happy...

I think my baby niece has the right idea, don't you think?

And on this note, I would like to wish Singapore a very happy birthday and may it enjoy peace and stability forever.

Happy 41st Birthday, Singapore.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

My name is Bond. James Bond

Special occasions with hubby are normally 'out-of-the ordinary'.
Our first holiday together was in Vietnam. We were climbing hill on an island off Sarawak on Christmas Day some years ago. Our honeymoon was in Cambodia and 2 years ago, I spent my birthday climbing yet another hill in Wales.

Comparatively, my birthday this year was rather mild really. We went island hopping.

Island hopping is a great actitvity to do and it can occupy you for just a day or more.. depending on what you want to do. And the views on these island are just breathtaking. We took up the Phang Nga Bay tour, which is at the northern part of Phuket.

You have to walk out to board the boat... and no.. this is not the boat... (Thank goodness). It's a medium size boat and fairly comfortable. All meals and drinks are provided for on the boat. Hubby's only regret- No beer lah.

Phang Nga Bay is well known for the limestone fomation...just like the Halong Bay in Vietnam and Guilin in China.

As always, when I see the vastness of nature...I realised just how small we humans are....really...

Our first stop was Lawa Island. It's supposed to be a sandy white beach for us to relax and swim. Unfortunately it was rather crowded. You can do some canoeing though which was quite fun...especially when you don't have to do the rowing. hahaha!

And then we visited the James Bond Island. Why is it called the James Bond Island? Because the movie 'The Man with the Golden Gun' was filmed there. We arrive on the island on a sea canoe and was immedtiately struck with the commercialism of it. There were rows and rows of stalls selling touristy stuff. But I guess that's normal. By the way, most of the sellers were Muslims, wearing their tudong. I read later that a good 35% of the residents in this region are Muslims.

Arriving on the island on a sea canoe.......

and inside a cave on the island..... (Below)

Presenting the James Bond Island....

Frankly speaking, I think it would have been a better experience if we had a little more time to explore but I guess that's one of the drawback of joining a tour. Still the view was good and it was quite fun.

This was followed by lunch on board. Yummy...and believe me... sea air does make you hungry so the the food was simply delicious.

After lunch, we visited the highlight of the trip...visiting the 'hong islands' or 'room island'.

You have to depend on the tide to visit these 'hongs'. It has to be high enough to float a sea canoe to go in but low enough for us to go through the 'doors'. At times, we have to lie flat on the sea canoe.

Entering the 'hongs'........

It does get rather crowded at times and this was considered as low season. Can you imagine what it will be like in high season? Nevertheless, it is well worth the trip because you are rewarded with these sights upon entering the 'hongs'.

During low tide, it is completely dry inside the 'hongs' but during high tide..this is what you get.

Our tour guide told us that during the tsunami 2 years ago, he was trapped inside one of these 'hong' for over an hour. He didn't know what happened and couldn't understand why the water kept rising and rising. I supposed in a way, it was lucky for him as he escaped the calamity.

It was really, really, really beautiful inside these 'hongs' and makes you marvel at the wonders of nature.

The tour guide (Alan) and his colleagues were all great and very considerate. I think they're called the James Bond tour or it might be the Sea Cave Canoe, I'm not too sure. He kept telling us to please spread the word to our friends if we find their service good.

Actually, the Thais are very easy-going and proud people. Unlike some of our trips in other countries, we have not encountered pestering, asking for tips or hassling etc (except for the tailors). They are quite happy to work to earn their keeps. So if you really want to help Phuket and its residents who were affected by the tsunami, then go visit the island. Contributing to the economy as a tourist is a much more sensible and sustainble way of helping them back on their feet.

At the end of the trip, we still had a little time left, so the tour guide said we could swim around for awhile... which a few did. Hubby of course, was one of them. How could he miss such an opportunity? If I could swim, I would too because the water was really clear.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Life beyond the beach and the deck chairs

Now in case all of you think we were just lazing out by the beach the whole week (tempting as it was)...we did make an attempt to 'see' some parts of Phuket.

Our hotel has a sister hotel called Peach Hill on Karon beach. Got free shuttle bus.

The free 'shuttle bus' from the hotel. Of course it wasn't really a bus per se. But this type of vehicle is very common in Phuket, together with the tuk-tuk and the regular taxi. Not very fast but all very colouful.

Peach Hill Hotel had just undergone a renovation but we felt it was too 'hotel-like' for our taste. But I did like their pool bar..

And then on another day, we rented a jeep. Very cheap jeep = 1,000Bht only for a full 24 hours. But the jeep hor...

- had shift gears that groan and groan
- had a hole on the floor. I could see the road as we drove along
- had an air-con that barely works. It fact it was cooler with the windows down

But, it does work. Oh, you can rent motobikes there. Very cheap too but I wouldn't recommend it. Phuket has a high rate of accidents involving motorbikes.

Anyway, on the trusty jeep, we went-a travelling.

Central Karon Village
This was the hotel we would have stayed in if it wasn't full. Very nice and their restaurant The Cliff is very well known- both for the food and the panoramic view of The Andaman Sea.

The entrance to The Cliff
One of the room.

We had a very nice lunch here. (Come to think of it, our own Sentosa Hotel also have a restaurant called The Cliff. Wonder how is it like)

Kathu Waterfall
Phuket has a few waterfalls. We didn't have much time, so we went to the nearest one-Kathu Waterful. Wasn't much of a waterfall though, more like Kathu Tricklefall.

But what made it interesting was the dog that followed us all the way up to the waterfall, waited for us whilst we look-see-look-see and then followed us all the way down again. It was really sweet as he would stop and wait for us to catch up and then sat beneath our seat as we rested up at the waterfall. It even followed hubby to the toilet.... hmmm...

And oh...we almost became this spider's lunch. Kidding.. but it was BIG. I'm not joking. It was one mean looking spider.

The dog, the hubby and the cheap jeep.

Patong Beach
Now in case most of you didn't know...the action is actually at Patong Beach. So we went there for a look and stayed for a full 2 hours, of which 1 hour was spent inside Starbucks. To escape from the heat and the tailors.

What I didn't tell you guys about the famous tailors of Phuket? Well, you can't miss them coz they're everywhere and they make sure you see and hear them.

"Suit sir?" "Shirt?" "Where are you from? You want to make a suit?" "Good day sir, come on in and have a look. I give you very good price."

At the risk of being rude, the only way was to ignore them. BUT we had absolutely no problem from the others...just the tailors.

So the only photo I took of Patong Beach was this. See the many, many motorbikes?

We must be getting old... Ok, ok, we are getting old. We actually had no desire to stay on at Patong Beach to see the night life. Instead, we drove to Laem Phromthep. This is the southernmost point of Phuket. It is popular with the tourists as well as the local Thais for views of the sunset.

Laem Phromthep
After Patong Beach, this seems almost civilized.

Unfortunately, it was cloudy that day so we didn't get a good, glorious sunset. This was the best shot..Still, it's rather peacful, isn't it?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Chilling out.

Well, after such an exciting start to our holiday, we felt the need to replenish our energy...with breakfast (got no food during the journey) and then we were off.... to bed! Hahaha! Hey, it's a holiday and the beauty of it is that we can sleep as and when we want to, without feeling guilty. Which was pretty much our pattern for the whole week. Wake up- Swim (Hubby, not me)- Breakfast- Nap- Out.

Good right? Remember my blog about Time No Enough? Well, I actually managed to actually do nothing much for a whole week, which was a real pleasure.

But really, that's what most of the tourists do on the beach...
including hubby dearest. Bascially you rent a deck chair for 50Bht (about S$2), buy a bottle of beer (50Bht) and just chill out. You can sit on the deck chairs for the whole day if you like. It was very relaxing, just starring out to the sea, with a drink and book in hand.

Of course, if you get bored, you can always do some people watching. From the young to the old, from Europeans to Asians. In fact, you can even catch a few women's assets which were 'hanging loose and free'. Actually it's something that was explicitly mentioned as a 'No-No' in many of the brochures. Hmmm...

And without fail, every evening, no matter which part of the beach you were at, this scene comes on. Asia's favourite game- Football

And oh... there are lots and lots of dogs around, all having a good time. Not many cats though.

The Dogs of Phuket
Having a drink.
Having fun in the sea.

But this dog really captured our attention...especially its ears. hehe! ^^ Btw, that's it's owners having a snooze in the background. What do they do? Rent out deck chairs. Good job hor? Hubby was tempted to go and ask for an application.

What more can you ask in a job? Sun, sea, fresh air, flexi-hours and a beautiful sunset...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Can you hurry? We've got a plane to catch!

Well, my holiday got off to an exciting start, I must say. It almost became a holiday that never we nearly missed our plane.

I had gone to bed that night (or morning), expecting my trusty alarm clock (hubby) to wake me up in time. Unfortunately this time, the alarm failed.

Hubby woke me up and said calmly: "It's 5.50am", like it was perfectly normal.

But of course it wasn't. Our flight was at 7.05am!!!!!

Up to today, I still couldn't understand why and how he could have been so calm about it (His reason was that it was no point panicking me). But surely this is major panic time...NO???? But people who know my husband know this this is him. Now me? I would have gone screaming around the house:"Arggghhh!!!!" But therein lies the difference between hubby and me.

Anyway, back to my story.

So, there we were, hurrying as much as we could in record time.

I put on my jeans. %$#@*&^% I forgot about my bloated tummy after my operation and could not zip up my jeans! I grab a pair of pants (making sure it was a drawstring pants) and stuffed everything into my bag. By now, I was looking like a mad woman- no make-up, uncombed hair, mismtached clothes, panicky look.

Made it into the taxi at 6.10am. "Can you hurry Uncle? We've got a plane to catch!"

No way were we going to make it in time. Tried calling all the available Jetstar numbers.

"Our office hours are from 9am to 5.30pm, from Monday to Friday etc....." ARgghhh!!!!! I know that!!! I need to speak to the counter staff. Of course, that most important number was nowhere to be found. After 10 minutes, I gave up.

As we neared the airport, hubby and I got into a slight argument.

Hubby:"You run to the counter and check in."
Me:"I can't run at my present stage. I think you should run to the counter and stop them."
Hubby:"But I can't check in without the lugguage anyway. I think you should go and I'll come with the luggguage."
Me:"But you'll be faster."

It sounds funny now but we were dead serious then.

By some miracle, we reached the airport at 6.30am and managed to get to the counter quickly. Thank goodness for budget airline.. their check-in and boarding time is sooo.... much later than international airline. We couldn't believed it when they actually let us check in!

Still in a dream, we walked towards the boarding gate. Or rather, hubby walked whereas I waddled (as fast as I could).

We got into the boarding gate and then..... waited for the next 10 minutes in a queue to board the plane. Sheesh... I could have waddled a little slower.

Hehe! I shouldn't complain though. We were just so relieved and thoroughly shocked that we didn't missed our plane. I think we remained in shock for the rest of the journey.

After all this drama, it was such a joy to reach our hotel. And these greeted us from our room and the hotel. Sure made up for everything.

From our room

From the lobby

The lobby

Our holiday has started. ^^