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Showing posts from October, 2005

ghosts and witches

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Boys and girls, yesterday's lesson was in ghosts and witches. Pretty apt in a day-before-Halloween kind of way. J and I made our way to the Taipei Arts Park (we love parks!) - which is essentially the locale around the Fine Arts Museum. We didn't enter the museum, but wandered around in the drizzle to look at these groups of kids practising their dances. That's something we noticed in almost every park or large public square/space we've been to. Kids rehearsing their dances in groups of 5 to 30. Then we did the touristy thing and went house-visting by the Museum to the Taipei Story House and the Lin Tai Ann Mansion. The latter is a real beautifully conserved Chinese house from the 18th century (see pic below), and the former is the pseudo-French home of a tea-merchant. Very 家春秋 yah? image by J - click for larger view Sitting at the French cafe at the Taipei Story House , we quizzed the waitress in Mandarin (a tall willowy girl with bunned-up hair) J : Why is this

Believe what they tell you on TV

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...when it tells you Taiwan has some of the yummiest food in the world. All those Taiwanese variety shows on street food, theme cafes, and those well-designed restaurants - they are not lying. Our 30min dinner in 3 eateries (L to R): Wan Kuek or literally "bowl-cake" - rice flour paste with yam, tender pork chunk and salted egg yolk, to eat with the gravy, chilli sauce, garlic and vingear; You Yu Gen or Cuttlefish Starchy paste noodle; Ba Bao Bing or literally "eight treasures ice", shaved ice covered with groundnuts, red beans, kidney beans, gingko nuts etc that's been stewed with sugar. However, don't believe what you are led to believe about Taiwan from watching those scenes of fighting Parliamentarians in the news. The fights may actually happen, but what you should conclude from watching this, er, demonstrative commitment to political participation is not that everyone's a gangster in Taiwan. On the contrary, I think this is just one e
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You know the story for this drawing by now : )

The Amazing Race

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Both our alarm clocks failed to go off. When I opened my eyes and saw the light coming in through the window, immediately I knew… WE ARE LATE FOR OUR FLIGHT TO TAIPEI! In 10mins I got dressed, called the cab and was off to pick James up. What time is our flight to Taipei? 8:35am. What time was it when I left my house in the cab? 7.35am How long does it take to get to the airport from where I live? 30mins. At least. In the cab we said many a prayer, J and I. Getting to Taipei seemed a real challenge so far! But army-trained J, like all good Singaporean men, had the mind to make these plans: once we got off at Changi airport, I was to take the passports and proceed to the check-in, while J would handle the luggage and the cab fare. So once the cab pulled up by the kerb at Changi, it was Go! Go! Go! Sounds familiar? Yes, friends, meet J and Y, the latest participants on the Amazing Race! The check-in Manager at the Singapore Airline counter told us that check-in for our flight

steppin' out

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My sandalled foot and my red tote. I'm bringing all 3 - foot, birkies and red bag - with me to taipei I stepped out of the office at 9pm today. Not too bad. But at some point, I decided - staying in that cubicle and typing away is not going to change anything. And friends, immediately, I began to live this old wisdom that travel is not really about getting yourself up on a plane to some foreign land (well, most of the time it is!). It can't get more familiar and homely than sitting at our usual Bishan coffeeshop for a late dinner tonight (there, we are friends with another set of hawkers...this time it is Baseball Man who is part of "Chick n Grill", but more about him or the chicks that grill in another post.) Maybe it's just knowing that for the next 10 days I won't have to be maneuvering the intricate passageways of my work - the bureaucracies, the 4million bosses I am ultimately answerable to. Such that even before we even get to Taipei, just over dinn

a long journey

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Click for a larger view This is the other painting of a "series" about a rabbit who took off on a long journey in search of adventure, accompanied by an apple. There were supposed to be more paintings - set in the city, in the mountains, some surreal ones... but i lost interest after this second painting. Maybe Taipei will revive the series. Thirtypounces wrote some time ago in this post about how corporatespeak has an enduring fondness for the "journey" metaphor. Hence, terms like "milestones"...millstones, they mean. Well, I don't know where all this leaves me...but today, just 2 days before I leave for my holiday , my "journey" (that is, my work) threw up not just 1 but several major boulders (read: obstacles, pain-in-the-a** problems way beyond me at this stage) that has not only completely crushed the next milestone, but knocked me back several steps. And being the only person venturing on this journey at this stage, it sure looks

weekend blues?!?

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There are times when we all feel a little defeated and lost about the future. This heavy cloud hung over J and I the entire weekend, which was marked by stretches of talking and thinking - - and, of course, (for comfort and mental sustenance) book-shopping! One of the books we picked up from Kinokuniya is this illustrated story , Safe from harm by Rollo Armstrong (of Faithless) and Jason White. In the book , 10 year-old Jack decides he will stop eating altogether. But his decision gets him smacked, angry, bitter, confused, and determined to leave home. So he wonders out at night into the streets, which turn into woods, and there, together with a group of monsters, he journeys to the top of a mountain and comes face to face with himself. It's like an updated version of Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are , but also more. Chiefly because the narrative and illustrations run alongside a parallel narrative made up entirely of quotations from a motley of writers, philosphers

all in the name

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our friend, wings - image remixed by J Last night, the Jacky Wu lookalike who makes the world's best BBQ chicken wings sat down beside us at the hawker centre and suggested that we exchange phone numbers. *exchange in mandarin BBQ: Give me your number. J : Why? BBQ: When I run out of chicken wings or what, I can call you, warn you not to come down. Like today. J : Oh yah, good idea! BBQ : [looking at what J has wrote] Eh, I don't know English leh. J: No lah, it's very easy, Jam. BBQ: Ohr, JAM. Aiyah, your name, like the thing you spread on bread. ( He grins, showing a missing tooth and three more badly chipped teeth. Tearing off another little slip of paper, he writes his phone number and scribbles an English word under it. ) BBQ : Wings. J : Huh? Really meh? Your name, wings? BBQ : Yah, my name. [Smiles] Wings - so everytime I also win. And Friends, this is why he makes the world's best BBQ wings. It's all in the name.

the invisible man

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My brother E runs a do-it-all marketing business at my dad's printing factory . For 2 years now, he has hired Mr Kam, a contractor/carpenter, to help him construct the sets for the roadshows and other promotions E organises for his clients. For some reason unknown to E, Mr Kam has been avoiding his calls. With a project due next week, E decided he had to drop by Mr Kam's office to see if anything was wrong. "Hello, your boss Mr Kam in?" E asked Mr Kam's employee, who is busy sanding some wood at the ground floor of the shophouse. "Er...upstairs..." he freed a hand and pointed to the office at the second floor. Entreprenuer E trooped up the shophouse stairs to the second floor, wondering why the lights were all off if the boss was around. At the first door, he knocked and hearing no response, opened and peered into the dim and empty room. No Mr Kam. He knocked at the second door - Mr Kam's office itself. Again, it was dark behind the glass a

a slow boat to china

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This fizzy oldenlandia drink from China is the "Chinese Perrier" - click for larger view I remember the one time I've been to China. It was in 1996 and 2 friends and I decided that it would be fun to spend our summer vacation being a volunteer on the Doulos . The Doulos is basically a giant floating, non-profit bookstore that sails around the Asia-Pacific. Once on board, one of my friends got assigned to the book warehouse, another as a deckhand (er, it's more like "housekeeping" since toilet cleaning usually took up her whole morning), and I had the pretty cushy job in the pantry section. That meant I helped with serving the 5 meals daily and cleaned up the canteen, together with a group of women mostly from Korea, Philippines, Denmark and the UK. The ship docked at Shanghai after 3 days or so of bad-weather sailing from the Philippines. And I remember watching the scene from the pantry windows as the ship entered the Shanghai harbour and thinking

无印良品 No labels please!

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"Art for art sake? art for business sake?....I say why not just art for goodness sake!" This was the answer of a senior civil servant everytime he was asked for his views on the role of the arts given Singapore's commercial values and economically-driven development. Both J and I are rather fond of him - I like to think he is a daydreamer too. 4x4Episodes of Singapore art . Channelnews Asia will probably do re-runs of this series about 4 Singapore artists. (I found it a tad pretentious and trying...OK, Director, I know it's a show about ART already, you don't have to keep reminding me how I should find this difficult or strange.) Somewhere, sometime in history, art became known as art. It must have started with those steam engines.... They gave birth to industrialisation. And industrialisation created, other than mass-produced consumables, labels such as the artist, the engineer, the designer (I think the craftsman got beaten back to the diseased dark ages)

off to the bat cave

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My fav cinema is all abandoned and Gotham-like now - Image by J These batman comics are absolutely addictive. My lunch break was spent sitting in the office meeting room eating cold brown rice and wondering just why is it that Nightwing (he's the first Robin who grew up and - you know, anyone past 16 can't be wearing bright green undies with a red vest and still be answering to a name like Robin!) had left Batman and what was his relationship with Tarantula , who has absolutely no fashion sense. Maybe it's just a perfect escapist fiction. Stories of physically perfect beings, who nonetheless are still nursing childhood traumas and living out teenager angst. Thankfully, my superhero is less elusive. But for those of you who cannot stand superheroes of any sort, here are some comics (graphic novels - call them what you will) lying around my room at the moment that are excellent reads in their own way. So if I had a batcave, I'll just load it up with books like

an unremarkable life II

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larger than life Here's the drawing i promised for the post below. It's also a companion to this drawing - I like this couple.

an unremarkable life

(check back here for the drawing tomorrow...off to bed now) I was sitting in an extremely long meeting on Friday and, naturally, my mind wandered. I don't know what triggered the thought (maybe the sense of what a waste of time the meeting was!), but I was suddenly thinking about how the past 10 years of my life had gone by real quick. It was not uneventful and there is much to be thankful for. But how quick the time had passed and... well, the point is I realised that the next 10 years would gone in an equally brief blink of the eye. Oooh, by then I would be 41... Ah, so I guess this is the start of a mid-life panic. And after this weekend, I could perhaps call this a "Tony Takitani-phobia". J and I watched Jun Ichikawa's Tony Takitani at the Singapore History Museum yesterday. This is another Murakami-related post , since the film is an adaptation of Haruki Murakami's short story of the same title (there's an English translation of the story by Jay

food so tasty you want to hug it

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Are you stressed out by work? Crazy relationships? The news that tells you the world does not deserve mercy or desires more mercy? Nothing is more therapeutic than making something with your own 2 hands . So when J's birthday came up, I decided to return his lovely lantern gift with something handmade too. Being a true daughter of this food-loving island, I decided to make him a food doll . So friends, the weekend's coming up. If you have some time to kill but you are not sure where and how to start with your DIY project, ampulets is happy to give you here a step-by-step beginner's recipe for a simple food doll (click on the pics for a larger view in flickr). Step 1: Decide on the seafood/vegetable/fruit/edible thing for the doll If your stomach cannot decide, let your materials decide for you. You need some buttons, thread, stuffing and fabric. The type and colour of your fabric is most important. I recommend you rummage through your cupboard and dig out 1 or 2 re

destination formosa

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Seeing train commuters in this pose tells me that it's Monday again. Monday morning in the office lift, a colleague pulled a face and swore: "...and I just paid for my tickets to Bali on Saturday!" I didn't say anything, just a little surprised perhaps. What could I have said? Encouraged her to go ahead with her holiday there? Because her tourist rupiah matter to those who must still go on working and living on that island? The ex-Malaysian PM in his recent speech at the Suhakam's Human Rights Conference got his hobbyhorse, actually, two hobbyhorses. The first being the hypocrisy of European and American international policing efforts; the second, globalisation. Both he links up in this one statement: "The globalisation of concern for the poor and the oppressed is sheer hypocrisy." That got me thing. Except that globalisation in his speech takes on this one particular colour: The map of the world today shows the effect of globalisation, as interp

happy children's day?

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What? No presents?!? - image by J Overheard outside a childcare centre yesterday, a weary 5 year-old: "I hate children's day! So many things! So many presents!" Well, for those of us who didn't get any presents, hope you have a happy Children's Day.