Monday, October 30, 2006
After staying home the whole of Friday, I got up on Saturday morning with no plans whatsoever, but itching to go off somewhere on an adventure. All adventures start with a hearty meal, so I called up my foodie friend, Darren aka Jack aka Magic Wok. He told me he was off to extend his social visit pass (as he is actually malaysian), and then just randomly asked if I was up for a trip to J.B. Once I had confirmation we would be risking his car (and not mine), I readily agreed, and we set off to the "other side".
My family and I go to JB for one reason and one reason only! Beef ball noodles! Pandan Beef Balls they are called, and heavenly is the only word to describe how they taste. In the navigator's seat, I led the way only to discover as we approached, that the main branch was closed :-( We were about to make a U-turn and head off to their second branch, when a massive brand new structure came into view. A shopping centre that could have passed off as the Vivocity of JB.
Being singaporeans, we simply could not resist the draw of a mega mall, and the thought of ALL that stuff in ringitt just fuelled our resolve. Tebrau city as it is called is owned by Jusco, recently renamed Aeon. There is a massive hypermart inside, from which I bought some fruits for the family (Jambus cost 1 dollar singapore in Singapore per piece!)
The place actually had a decent tenant mix. And we got to shopping immediatly, happily converting our savings. Got a new book, on penang hawker food! It seems everytime I go to penang, Tiam has a problem finding places to eat (he's not so much of a foodie, any place with foo chok is good with him), not anymore babyzzz! I'm a man on a mission! I'm going to try every single hawker in this book! YATTAAAA!!!!
If you love penang food, and are heading down there anytime soon, you should definitely buy this book. Lots of info, from colour pictures, location maps, descriptions of the hawker down to whether the place is noisy or not!
We also finally found our gate remote controls! These little suckers can only be bought via the gate servicing companies in Singapore, and they cost 100 bucks a pop! In burglar friendly malaysia, all it takes in a quick trip down to your local mega mall, 50RM and you've gotten yourself a duplicate. And the damn thing works too (I told darren we would drive back down and vandalise the guy's store if it din't work, saved us some trouble!).
After we had spent a fair proportion of our ringitt (we spent until we had just enough for lunch), we set off, feeling very satisfied with our purchases. Mwahaha.
With some help from my father on the phone, we found our way to the other branch of pandan beef ball noodle, and sat down to systematically murder a cow.
I've been coming to eat this beef noodles since I was a teenager. Literally, my mum would give me half an hours notice, and we would head off, just to make it in time for lunch. The texture of the kway teow, noodles or beehoon is excellent. Very smooth, and refined. Not too heavy, not too light. The soup, is clearly laden with MSG, or magic powder and you get a tingling sensation on your tongue for a while afterwards, but boyyy is it tasty, and come on, you only live once! But really, its all about the beefballs which has just the right "bounce" and is full of flavour. Truly ... good stuff cannot bluff! Approval from the foodies of all foodies (Seetoh of makansutra fame is his disciple) does not come easy, but here you see him giving his two thumbs up!
The beef ball stall is going to paste up this photo with magic wok's signature as proof of it's culinary greatness.
The beef ball noodles (heavenly as they were), and our buys for the day while grossly satisfying did little to ease our desire for some adventure, so we decided to go for a car ride. But where to though?
Friday, October 27, 2006
Today is a very sad day. My family marks the passing of a dog we all loved. Our chocolate labrador, angel, succumbed to a cobra's venomous bite. I recieved the news from my brother as I was spending another lazy afternoon in camp. With a little time-off in tow, I drove home to see how my mum and sisters were taking it (They've always been closer to the dogs). As I did so, images of angel flashed in my mind, I had not noticed it, but in a way she had become a part of my daily life as much as any of my family members or closest friends.
The unwelcome feelings were oddly familiar. A mixture of sadness, anger, guilt and a tinge of hopelessness assaulted me. Sadness because I knew I would not be able to come home and see her lazily ambling towards me for an apple I had just cut. Anger at the vet for not saving her life. Guilt for not all those extra licks I had denied her whilst reading my morning paper on the patio. Hopelessness because I knew there was no way of bringing her back and letting her have that extra lick.
I came home after camp yesterday evening to change as I had made a dinner appointment with darren and gang earlier. Strangely, my dad had just come back with the jeep, and I asked him where he had gone. He told me angel had killed a cobra, and they had just gotten back from the vet. I had taken her to the vet before when she got some venom in her eyes (A number of snakes have fallen prey to her, and she enjoys chasing my mum around the house with one in her mouth), and she had turned out fine, so I thought nothing of it and left for dinner. I got back home from the gym (after dinner), and was totally shagged, so I crashed almost immediatly.
The story goes, that when my dad had brought angel down to the vet in the afternoon, the vet had decided she had not been bitten and an anti-venom did not have to be administered. Put it down to a lack of experience, but that crucial decision cost us heavily. At about 10pm when my mum came down to the kitchen for a drink, she noticed angel slumped in a corner and on closer inspection, she was frothing. She was rushed down to the animal hospital, but the vets painted a grim picture. Nonetheless, my mum asked them to administer the anti-venom and do all they could to save her life. AT 415 in the morning, the phone rang and the vet confirmed angel had passed on.
It was wierd having dinner just now, and not seeing angel at the door with the two other dogs. I always liked her temprement the most. In the morning, when I'm out in the patio reading my newspaper, she would come by, and look at me, then give me a casual lick as though she had done it accidentally. Rocky on the other hand would just force his way through and keep on licking me in spite of my protests. And lucky, well that ruffian would simply come up, stick his head up, bark, as if saying "Pat me, cause I'm a top dog!" I've got to admit, Rocky is probably my favourite dog, as I admire his brute strength, and yet his restraint from using it, especially when "fighting" with the ruffian lucky, who is our local "ah beng". But angel ... well she was something special, and the fact she killed so many snakes also means she protected the family from possible harm.
Eating my dinner, and looking out to that empty spot and the two dogs, I wondered, do they feel a similar sort of loss now that their companion is gone? (Rather childishly, I think to myself, will Rocky be lonely sleeping alone outside?) Where do dogs go after they die? Perhaps they have a greater understanding of this than we do, and so do not grieve. I return to my human tendancy, and try to imagine she is in a better place, a place full of people to lick, apples to eat, and tennis balls to play with.
We shall miss you angel.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
It's been a real busy week! It's friday night, and I just got back from a Brazillian Dance Perfomance at the Esplanade. The event is called Parabelo and Lecuona by the Grup Corpo, and is part of the "dains" festival 2006. It's sponsered by Credit Suisse, so we got free VIP tickets! Yayyyyyyy!!! I love freebies. Gimme gimme!
Hehe, we also got an autographed copy of the programme and a free dvd!
Anyway, feeling a little guilty that I had not spent much of the week with my family, I agreed to attend the event even though my mum gave few clues as to what I should expect. I was on the way to the gym one evening, when she called me up, and said, "Friday night you free? Want to go see Brazillian dance?". I was about to say no, but I thought better, and set aside Friday for the family.
That plan was foiled slightly by the fact that my parents had decided against attending at the last minute. Nonetheless, it still had all semblance of a family outing with the two monkeys (Jiawen and Jiayi, L to R in photo), and my brother and sister in law, dawn.
By pure coincidence, I also met Tom and Xin Jin, my friends from the LSE at the event! It was a pleasant surprise to see them both, and having attended a recent alumni event, I had wondered how they were doing. In case anyone reading my blog is wondering, Tom is now working with DCM at Credit Suisse, and Xin Jin is with HSBC on their management associate programme! Such high fliers ah!
Enough blabber, what about the show then? Well I really had no expectations whatsoever. When my mum had mentioned Brazillian dance, the first image that had come to mind was Dustin Hoffman in Meet the Fockers doing his Brazillian "cock fight" (Don't ask me why).
There were two separate shows coregraphed by one person, Roderigo Pedernerias, suuposedly an award winning dance coreographer.
Parabelo, the first of the two shows, had a modern twist to it, that was alien, yet at times beautiful to behold. It involved a number of group dance routines. The background had images projected on black screens, the main installment, being five skin heads shouting out ... (Contemporary culture is wierd). It started out oddly, with the dance troupe on their backs and thrusting backwards and forwards on their arms and legs. It got better though, and the colours of the outfits exuded vibrancy. The movement was clearly spectacular and quite something to behold. The sheer energy taken to execute one dance routine is just staggering, and the movements in tune with the music, which had a modern kind of "loungy" feel to it. You know, the kind of thing you might expect in Buddha bar. I thought it was decent, and tried my best to appreciate it.
The second show, titled Lecuona, and inspired by Cuba's own "Gershwin" opened after the interval. That was DA BOMB, and the reason why I'm even blogging about this dance troupe. The dance had a mixture of influences I could actually identify with, i.e., Flamenco, Tango, Salsa, the Waltz, and of course some modern tricks here and there. Each set comprised of just two dancers, and they danced to the tune of Opera music, which was simply heavenly. There's something about opera music. It may be in a foreign language, but unlike other genres of music, you don't need to understand the lyrics to feel the song. It reaches out to you. The dances were coreographed perfectly to each song and singer, and the dance routines were absoloutely mesmerising. When two become one like that, and blend effortlessly into the music and the stage, that's the time you appreciate dance, and as a language it touches you (Ah ben, your education begins soon!).
The finale was simply the icing on the cake. "Mirrors" of a sort came down on either side of pairs of dancers, the beautiful ladies dressed in white gowns and the men dressed smartly in black, and they started waltzing. The multiplicity of images had the desired effect, and their routines were regal and calm (as exemplified by the waltz), in contrast to the earlier "courtship" routines which had demonstrated elements of the "tug of war" reality of relationships.
Afterwards, we were ushered out to a private reception where we were to meet the dancers. Me and the monkeys were pretty psyched out about this exclusive opportunity, but after fifteen minutes, only some of the guy dancers had come out, and I certainly was not standing around for guys in spandex. Some of those female dancers were soooo beautiful, it's not even funny, but we left, happy with our night and freebies. On the way out I got the soundtrack for Lecuona. Opera music filled my XC90 all the way home!
Sunday, October 15, 2006
We waited, and waited ... ... the anticipation teeming. Was this guy going to break the all time record by failing the lifeguard proficiency test miserably? Hey, he looks like he's struggling! We better send somebody in there after him ...
"I want my doughnut! I want my doughnut! Just a little bit more! ROAARRR!!!"
No scene in baywatch Singapore would be complete without the token ang mohs cheering and clapping in the background. Notice how close they were to the shore. The performance clearly inspired confidence.
Ok lah, enough meany ming. Gen is right, Tua Kee actually brings out the mean streak in you. Mr H actually passed his proficiency test. Well done my man! Doughnuts on the houseee!!!
We lingered for a while more to watch our hero huffing and puffing for water. He was shagged! Like I would be lah! Right there and then I set myself a target! Let it be known! Ming is going to condition himself to do the test! And break all the records!
Anyway, back to the transformation of sentosa. Palawan Beach is now a really cool place to just "hang out". I mean, save for the view of container ships on the horizon, the lagoon looks inviting and the sand fine. Also, there are numerous eating and drinking outlets, like Movenpick Ice Cream overlooking the infamous "Southernmost point of continental asia" which is linked to the continent by a bridge, a bridge and then another bridge.
Besides Movenpick, and the Kou Fu Food Court, there is also an expansive 24 hour 7-11 (Commonsense prevails!) and numerous other shops, like one selling beach wear.
There's something else too. As I was ambling along the beach path, I noticed music playing in the background! The folks at Sentosa have installed an outdoor speaker system! I thought it was quite a cool idea, and was about to suggest the idea to my father for our garden ... until I had a closer look!
Bose acoustics for crying out loud! Pretty cool.
Our next stop was the Sentosa Sky Luge. I had been there a couple of months ago with Tiam, and actually enjoyed myself. Ben and Gen had not been before, so off we were. We took the new tram to Siloso beach and then the chair lift up. Thanks to ben's pretty friend who admitted us for half price.
I'm not very good with heights, and midway up, I dropped my poor camera (Thank god it wasnt my nikon!). I saw it rolling down the slope, and thought it was all over for my trusty Sony T5 ... but I was determined not to let it spoil my ride, or my bid to break my previous speed record
After Ben and Gen had a taste of my trail of smoke, I approached one of the staff who very kindly climbed up the hill to get my camera.I turned it on with eager eyed anticipation already thinking about which new camera model to get, but HEY PRESTO! The thing works! And not even a scratch worse off! Thanking god under my breath, the only trace of regret came from the knowledge a great afternoon was soon coming to an end.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
It has been a goooood week. On wednesday, I got an unexpected afternoon off from camp after having run some errands for my CSM. Called up Ah Ben and Ah Gen, and they said they were heading down to Sentosa.
Now mention Sentosa to most Singaporeans, and I think you'd get a blank stare. I mean, what is there to do on the darn island of tranquility?
It's a sad story really of Pulau Belakang Mati (Former name of the island which means Death from Behind... kinky). As a kid, Sentosa used to be da bomb! I mean no shit, maybe the whole expectations thing comes into play here again, but my mum just had to mention sentosa to me, and I would be wooo hooo hooo hoo! I LURP YOU MUMMY!
That's sentosa ... and me ... back in the day.
I'd only been there three months ago with Tiam, on his first visit to Singapore, but we hadn't bothered going to the beach. Instead, I took him to all the attractions. Underwater World, Luge, 4D Magix. For me ... it was OK, but still a little pricey. I've got high standards, and when I'm thinking theme park, I think six flags superman ride (Not that I have the balls to go on that).
In any case, with an afternoon free, and an invitation from Ben, I set off without any expectations whatsoever.
The first sign of change, came in the form of the carpark. Carparks in Sentosa used to be such a hassle. Far away from the points of interest, and little more than dirt-tracks, I hated having to get my car washed after. Not any more. Check out the new beach carpark! It's humongous, and spanking new.
Now the beach is huge and there are three of them, Tanjung, Palawan, and Siloso. So I had no idea where to find ben. Beach patrol to the rescue baby!
Tua kee is a part time lifeguard at Sentosa, so he got one of his mates to give me a lift on the beach patrol-mobile.
The beach patrol "hut" wasn't quite the attap roofed structure I had in mind. It's actually a rather nice little out building by the beach, with comfy sofas and friendly smiles all round ... and a training aid, which would do alot better if it was female I suspect ...
After the initial fascination with the training aid subsided, it was off for the best cheese burger in the island. In case, you havn't noticed, we're all about the food. And Ben, was dying to let me try what he felt was the best cheeseburger money can buy in Singapore.
Hard rock cafe? Hardly! Try food court. Yet another new development on the beach. Food used to be crap and expensive on Sentosa. I mean, I remember having some economy rice at the food court at underwater world, and thinking, camp food tastes better than this shit, and I had to pay for it.
This ... is the new foodcourt.
And there's gen, grayson, and ben arguing over exactly HOW MANY burgers we should eat ...
Well here it is! At least half eaten, sorry, after all that suspense, I couldnt wait any longer, so I bit into mine first! This is actually Gen's half burger, which she took pains to cut into half as I messily navigated a way through mine.
And the verdict is .... 5 chopsticks baby! With Ben's staff privileges, the cheese burger cost a mere 4 bucks, and truth be told I would have paid three times that amount. The cheese was glorious, the patty fullsome, and tasty, and the bun had just the right crunch to it. Five chopsticks! Well done auntie donna!
Ben promised me a good show after lunch. Mr Hasslehoff (A fake and discreet name has been used to mask his identity), also a parttime lifeguard at sentosa, was due to take his lifeguard proficiency test, which involves sprinting 200m to some potted plants and back, swimming out 200m to a mark and back and sprinting the same distance again.
Apparently Mr H, is a right old prat. A self proclaimed "hunk", he "charms" women off their feet, with his 24 pack, and his exploits as a lifeguard, having executed all of this year's 130 rescues single handedly. The lifeguard contingent loves him so much, all of them made it a point to come back on their off day to watch him. I felt truly privileged. Ladies and gentlemen, Singapore's very own Mr David Hassleohoff (CUE Baywatch Theme Song, "Cause I'm always ready, I won't let you out of my sigghhht!"). Notice that great pains have been taken to ensure his anonymity, he is too charming for public eyes. WHAT A SEXY BEAST!!! GROWWWLLLLL!!!
And .... we're off to a running start!!!
We waited, and waited and waited. So you're going to have to wait another blog entry to see at least ...
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Went to Vivocity yesterday for it's soft launch. For those not in the know, Vivocity is Singapore's newest and largest shopping mall. As if we din't have enough. Well, for three bored Singaporeans it was quite a fun afternoon out actually. After gorging ourselves on the best teochew porridge in Joo Chiat (Which we din't have enough cash to pay for!), we decided to go kaypoh.
They had all these "characters" role playing. This "traffic warden" was well up for it, and getting into the groove. I really don't know how he's going to live with himself. Maybe his gf will fancy a little roleplay with him in that outfit ... err ... maybe not lah ...
These guys are quite cool actually. They're supposed to give you info when you need it. But when you ask them, they actually say, errr I'm not sure, I'm just as clueless as you are .... this place is new you know ... quite nice ah ...
Check out the modern day slide!!! Aint it cool!??? I was half tempted to kick those kids off and get on ...... a good twack on the head, some hokkien expletives, gor gor wants to get on, so beat it kiddo!
My friends weren't with me on that one though ... aiyahhh .... insteaddd, they were content to head off to Toys R Us for the second time in a weeek (Third for them)! Ah ben and gen, I love you ... and so does geoffrey the giraffe ... ben the tua kee took the gay photos as I had to maintain my ultra suave persona ...
Yeah thats it ... right there!
Next, we were off to Villa Bali to play Uno. Gen is a cheeky cheater butt ... here she is working her magic. I mean I started with 7 cards, she started with 11! And she still won! What a hustler ... I'm watching you ... ...
Villa Bali is a tropical oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of the city! I discovered the place quite a while back and brought some friends there, making them swear an oath of silence ... oh yeah did that work(They all brought their dates ... it was over from then)! It became sooo crowded, I havnt been back there for 2 years (I hate crowded and noisy places)!
Thankfully at 5pm on a Saturday, we had the place all to ourselves and the mosquitoes.
The weekend is almost over :-(
Saturday, October 07, 2006
"Passion makes the world go round. Love just makes it a safer place."
I've always been a little bit of an extremist. When I love something, I put every ounce of my being into it. I really can't recall when I became this way, but it's given me a genuine sense of contentment. I have countless passions, and only one life in which to fulfil them with. Those who know me, will no doubt have heard at one point of time or another my incessant ramblings about great people I want to emulate. Lee Kuan Yew (Statesman), IM Pei (Japanese Architect), Henri Cartier Bresson (Legendary Photographer), Peter Nicol (World's former No1 Squash Player), Bill Gates (He can buy your mama), I think you get the picture.
These people all had one thing in common I believe. And that is they were passionate about what they did. They reveled in every moment, soaked in every challenge, and had a "Bring it on!!!" attitude to life. They were good at what they did, not only because god had endowed them with innate and sublime talent, but also because they truly loved doing it. Is it about the money for Bill Gates? To extend his empire and his seemingly endless fortune? I seriously doubt it. Sure, the perks are great, but if money is the end game for you, you might be able to do well, but I doubt you'll ever be GREAT. You'll never be extraordinary.
Don't get me wrong though. You could be passionate in something, and still not achieve greatness in ANY measure. However, like our dear brain below, hey at least you had a damn good ride while you were at it. And how many people can actually claim to have had that?
Stay tuned to this blog. Cause ming is going to be doing the same thing he does every night. Try to take over the world!