Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Touchdown 10-23

Finally, I'm here, halfway across the globe in the world's dreariest city -- London. Yup, as you can tell, I'm not as half as excited to be here. If not for the fact that the only thing I'm looking forward to is my course. It's been drizzling non-stop for most of the first day I've been here, starting from the moment I exited Paddington station.

I went down to Guildhall today for enrollment but hardly got things done. Like everything else around here, administration for whatever setting (banks, schools, even the police) is unbelievably slow and I can only be fully enrolled by tomorrow. I just received my school timetable in my email and took a careful look at it. It's quite relaxed, with compulsory sessions taking place only once or twice a week, with the remaining projects listed as optional. Well, it is a postgraduate course after all.

Still feeling a tad jet lagged, as how I always do on the first day of getting off the plane. I had to re-pack at the airport due to overweight baggage, and as a result I was the last passenger to check-in for the flight. And because of that, I got assigned the worst seat imaginable. On my right was this big-sized guy who was so big he couldn't even use his tray table, and on my left was a noisy albeit cute toddler girl. The horrors!

Alright, I gotta catch some shut-eye soon. Hopefully I'll have a few more positive things to scribble about over the next couple days. Miss you all in Singapore. Homesickness is a little more prevalent than I expect!

F1 star Tay Kewei made a special appearance at
the airport -- thanks, babe!

The send-off gang at Changi Airport. Thanks you all!

Oh, and a big thank-you to my very sweet friends who took time to show up at the airport to send me off to London. I know I've changed my flight umpteen times but you guys were still so patient over the entire week to really wait until my real flight took place! Especially Juliet, thanks so much for rushing down after work and say goodbye over a mere five minutes. I really appreciate it!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fruity Beers & Such

Alright, before I even start on anything, here's a video clip which I chanced upon while browsing through Charles' blog. This is absolutely hilarious and a definite must-see. Now I know why I love the Japanese so much -- it has to be their unbeatable crazy antics! Well, chocolate-flavoured bananas, anyone? Heh.

Went down to Zouk on Friday night for a wee bit of partying. Haven't been to Zouk for quite awhile now (Winebar doesn't count!), so it was good to revisit that place a bit before I head off to London. Met up with Huishi and her friend, Shakun and had a couple drinks at Winebar before heading into Zouk for some Agnelli & Nelson. We weren't there specifically for them, they just happened to be spinning that night. Pretty good stuff though, I do quite like their brand of trance.

Huishi had a bit too many hotdogs from the hotdog stand though, so by the time Vanessa joined us (with her newly-found pal from Nethearlands!), she couldn't stay long enough to finish the bottle of G.H. Mumm before she had to head home and slowly digest all those hotdogs and mash! Well, nothing like some official F1 champagne to get into the F1 mood, I suppose.

Saturday night was spent at Holland V with dear April and best buddy Vyomar, along with Carol and Eftoni. Most of the night was spent at 2am: dessertbar, with the bunch of us wolfing down a chocolate tart, a twix and bottles of fruit beer faster than you could say "fat hips". Janice was very nice and hospitable and even gave us a free scoop of sorbet while we were still sitting by the bar, before heading over to the plush cushions. April fished out her camera and I took a couple "beer shots" for good measure.

The Timmermans were just simply heavenly!

It was a really great chilled out night, peppered with moments of remembering old acquaintances (aka bitching), updating each other on the latest ongoings (aka gossiping) and picture-taking (aka cam-whoring). Pretty much unavoidable, really! Definitely a great way to spend your weekend evening though, I must say. More to come, I hope!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Unhealthy Hate

This is just driving me crazy. I'm this close to wanting to slit the VFS receptionist's throat every time I speak to her. The people there have absolutely no knowledge about things called customer service or corporate responsibility. Their line is always engaged, and mind you, there's only one listed number which you can contact them at.

Ooh, how I wish I could just go there and run a sharp blade through the receptionist's throat, and watch her gurgle to death in her own blood as she slowly slumps over her keyboard/desk/phone, staining the entire area dark red. Okay, this is really driving me nuts. I think you can tell. By god, I'm so sick of their terrible excuses every time I call.

"Oh, the application is still being processed!"

"We don't know what's going on with the KL High Commission!"

"It's the peak period now, everybody has to wait..."

"When we say 8-10 working days to process, it's just the average time..."

Oh man, die already, all of you! Incidentally, I read up on Wikipedia that VFS Global was embroiled in a scandal whereby the company's online UK visa application system was flawed and insecure allowing applicants identities to be stolen. This was, according to them, due to "organizational failures". Yes indeed, your entire organization is one big failure. Following official inquires and investigations, the UK Foreign Office has stated that they will terminate its relationship with VFS. I really wonder why this hasn't happened already.

Anyway, last Tuesday was another "last night at Cuscaden" business with the boys. As you can tell, I would've though the previous Tuesday would be my last night there, but to be honest I won't be entirely surprised if I have another "last night at Cuscaden" on the 30th. This time, Dennis managed to join us as he's currently in Singapore for a couple days. That poor fella was out by the time he finished his first jug!

JCT, I bet you miss us "tards", don't you!

Glamorous Albert after two jugs.

At the end of the night, Dennis actually threw up and guess what, he was forced to cough up $80 as a fine! This was, of course, immediately met with protests by all of us present. The management then took out a piece of A4-sized paper that stated out this "company policy", whereby which we were all taken by surprise. When queried further, the boss actually let us around the pub and showed us that there were indeed similar A4 posters put up at very discreet corners of the place. Which is ridiculous, of course. I've been there so many times, yet I've never seen it before!

Dennis, however, is quite the pacifist when he's drunk. Without a word, he took out his wallet at promptly paid on the spot! Upon further negotiation, we managed to reduce his fine to $50, which incidentally happens to be the amount you have to pay if you spit within the pub's premises. I kid you not, it's right there on the company policy poster!

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Frustrating Countdown

Haven't being doing much over the last few days; have been mostly sitting around at home playing Tales of Vesperia, meeting friends for dinner and drinks and stressing out about my visa. It's quite funny actually, I've been meeting friends thinking that it's going to be the last time we'll see each other for some time, only to meet again for another round of drinks or whatnot. I guess I'm not fated to say farewell for now.

Just checked this morning, my visa is still not ready. And oh, guessed what. Remember how I complained that their visa tracking isn't really tracking because all it tells you is whether it's ready or not? Well, I guess VFS read my last blog post about that, because they put in an additional message for me when I went to "track" my visa application. It now says,

"Your application is still being processed. Please avoid calling/emailing the Application Centre or the High Commission for an update. The website will be updated as soon as the documents are ready for collection. Your visa application has been forwarded to the British High Commission."

Usually what I get is simply just the last sentence, but I guess they've recognized me by now, going how I've been calling them everyday. But hey, it's for good reason! I didn't pay $267 in visa application fees only for them to doodle around and take their own sweet time. Such f**kers they are! Once I finally get my visa I'm going to submit a very heavy-handed complaint to VFS.

I spent the entire day yesterday playing Tales of Vesperia (it's really addictive!), and only stopped to meet Yiling and Lingna for dinner. I sympathize with those two, twice have they prepared themselves to go to the airport after work to send me off, only for me to ruin their plans at the very last minute! Still, we thought since we were all free anyway we decided to have dinner at Causeway Point.

Here's a great way to take a photo of someone
and yourself at the same time!

Cam-whoring after dinner.

I met up with Pin-Ji again a couple days back for another "farewell dinner" (a common tale of late). We were talking about arthouse films, specifically Boy A, and how difficult it is sometimes to get someone to watch an arthouse film together. Then, out of some burst of sudden spontaneity, we decided to just go "mainstream" and go catch Bangkok Dangerous! (Of all the worst movies one could watch, right?)

So we went to the box office at Shaw, only to be sidetracked by another movie which we went for in the end. The movie was titled Step Brothers, and I went into the movie theatre having absolutely no idea what to expect. Well, it turned out to be an immensely funny flick, with Will Ferrell being his usual obnoxious self to the utmost degree! I'm sure those who watched it will agree what a gut-wrenching moment it was during the scene where Will Ferrell's character took out a certain anatomy of his and started rubbing it on the drum set. (Yes, you read correctly: drum set!)

Well, I guess it's back to mucking around at home, trying not to spend more money when I've already stopped working. That means planting myself in front of my Xbox 360 and TV in hopes of trying to distract myself from thinking about the damn visa. Oh man, enough of this shit already!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Visa Woes

Dear all, I guess some of you might know this by now but today I had to change my flight for the second time again. This is all in no thanks to the bumbling, incompetent and lacklustre fools working at VFS Global. VFS is a commercial company, "working in partnership with UKvisas and the British High Commission here in Singapore providing services to help people apply for UK visas.".

I put that sentence in quotation remarks because, despite them writing that down on their website, it is to me just utter, complete nonsense. So if VFS claims to do exactly that, I would like to question how "working in partnership" means having to send visa applications to the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur for processing when Singapore has one right here. I would like to question why your one and only telephone line is engaged all the bloody time. I would to question why your so-called "VFS Tracking System" only tells a person whether it's ready, or not. That's it, only two options. How does this qualify as "tracking"?!

I would also like to question why VFS takes 8-10 working days to process a simple non-settlement visa when, from your very own website, it states that UKvisas themselves process all straightforward non-settlement applications within 24 hours, 99% of the time. So is this now a case of UKvisas being actually productive, whilst the incompetent lot of you at VFS are taking your own sweet time sending courier dispatches up and down the North-South Highway? Is that it?

You guys have been a pain in my ass, a thorn in my side and a splint in my eye for the past week. I hope to never have to deal with such a bunch of unskilled, hopeless and ineffectual people like yourselves ever again. I have now changed my flight to the 29th, which is next Monday. If I can't leave by then, I swear my grievances towards VFS Global will go beyond just a simple blog post.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Poetic License

So, you must be wondering where did that poem come about. Believe it all not, it's actually a poem that Tony and me came up with, taking alternate turns to come up with the lines. (I did the 1st and 3rd line, Tony did the 2nd and 4th line). For those of you who can't read Chinese, it talks about a person leaving his hometown in search for greater things ahead, not knowing where fate will bring him. However, the memory of his supportive friends back home help keep him sane.

Interestingly, this is always what Tony and I do whenever we've had a little too much too drink, and the intoxication is fuelling our emotional and literary tendencies. Then again, I guess that's how it was always done during those ancient days in China! This is definitely not the first time we've come up with something like that. Admittedly, I did receive quite a bit of help for the 3rd line!

In his inebriated state last night, Tony also wrote another poem dedicated to my departure. (That sounds a tad off.) I'll be putting it up soon!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Peachy Pêche

Pianissimo Pêche all the way straight from Japan, courtesy of Rachel! Who, by the way, had to go to so much trouble to get it for me. Ever since Japan introduced the new ID verification system on certain vending machines, tourists or visitors haven't been unable to buy anything from these machines without a proper taspo card. (The horrors, right?) So, Rachel had to scour supermarkets that were selling pêche by the pack and not by the carton, all the while trying to navigate her way through with only a handful of Japanese phrases. That's real dedication!

Well, the accompanying (and very fitting) lighter is also Rachel's, from Japan. The Japanese really come up with the craziest stuff! There's actually a little mini figurine floating about inside the lighter fluid. How ingenious is that. Well unfortunately I finished the pêche in a day and a half. Gone all too quickly!

Last Sunday I went to catch Babylon A.D. with Rachel and Cindy. Michelle Yeoh was in it and boy, was her character an exact mimic of her character in her previous movie, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. In both movies, she plays a mother/mentor figure to a girl who, from young, has been destined for great things or endowed with great powers. She then accompanies this girl through a series of adventures where both of them discover themselves and grow closer, only to have them bitterly separated through Michelle Yeoh's premature death towards the end. In her dying moments, her character will then whisper to the girl's love interest or to the protagonist, asking him to take good care of the girl when she's gone.

If you've watched both movies, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. I just find it amusing how, for both back-to-back movies which she starred in, her characters could have so many uncanny similarities. Still, despite all these stereotypes, it's good to see a prominent and talented south-east asian actress like her getting some good screen time in Hollywood, through hard work and proper acting talent. Definitely beats the skin-deep character that Fann Wong played in Shanghai Knights, which I thought was quite dreadful to watch. In Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post actually stated that she "seems set to displace Lucy Liu as Hollywood's Asian babe du jour". What utter rubbish!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Angel

Last night, she paid me a visit. Clad in white, face aglow; you could see that look of tenderness almost mixed with a tinge of bitterness and sorrow. It was almost ethereal: her presence, her voice and her touch. She stood over me and smiled, whispered gently in my ear while I laid in bed drowning in a stupor of misery and poignant thoughts.

My eyes half-closed, I could feel her comforting presence, the warmth and tenderness of it all welcoming me into another realm of peace. She then took me into her arms and studied my face, my expressions, my thoughts. A sweet lullaby escaped from her lips, and it was one full of hopes and dreams for the days, months and years to come. My consciousness floated in and out of paradise, soaring above the waves and clouds as I beckoned her to follow me.

She rested my head against the pillow, and ran her hand through my hair, leading every follicle of my being towards her gracefulness. A parting shot, a departing murmur, a longing sigh. Then I looked up, and she was gone.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I, Gossiper

I guess I woke up this morning feeling particularly bitchy, so today will be the day where I'll finally post up the infamous "can-I-get-to-know-you" message Kewei received on Friendster a few months back. Now, I must tell you to steady yourself before reading this as this will most probably land you in stitches by the time you reach the end of this paragraph.

Note that I've not made any changes whatsoever to the paragraph below, so you can grasp the inanity of it in it's full glory. Formatting remains the same too, but for sanctity's sake I've left out the poster's name and number.

good evening.just eaten dinner .did not went anywhere . just sleep after come back from work at abt 1pm. not feeling too well .... having headache and diarrhoea .eaten congee for dinner .do remember to grab yr dinner soon .drink plenty of warm water as weather quite cold .raining .mind be a friend ?.let me intro myself first ... A*** here, 23yrs old Singapore Chinese guy , height 1.72m n weight 60kg .
Short profile of myself. Single.completed army last year sep . wrking in sale line for coke. Tend to care for others more. Tend to be truthful to others .wrking hard and hope to get my car licence so can drive mitsubishi lancer .love to eat dim sum and drink Soya bean.hardly clubbing , maybe once a year ,no smoke .do sincerely hope you give me chance to know you more.sometime do help out in housechores . tend to always help others .always tend to care for others .do hope you give me a chance to let me know you more.but i do drink , only abt twice in half a year .
hi . as i seldom log on to friendtser as my friendster got some problem . you can sms me at 9******* if you don mind de .do sincerely hope you able to recieve your sms .
next time am i allowed bring you go into malaysia to eat?do sincerely hope you give me a chance to know you more .
next time i make beer fried chicken wing for you to try.
do sincerely hope you give me a chance to know you more .

Wow, awesome stuff, eh? I think he would make a great example on how to attempt to pick girls up online. The only thing worse about this is poor Kewei, who probably receives random messages such as these so many times over!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

To Remember Is Divine

I was just looking through my Singfest ’08 photo album and realized again what an awesome festival it was to attend. Rocking away with Rey and Dennis, getting to meet April and Vyomar, desperately trying to get in some good pictures of Alicia Keys, wolfing down kebabs like hungry ghosts after the show; all great times!

Tonight was an unbelievably wet night at IndoChine. Rain seems to pouring at the most random times of the day in Singapore as of late, and I’m not even talking about that hot Korean star. Tonight’s torrential downpour started at 11 at night. Coupled with the fact that it’s a Monday night, there were only like 6 customers left at IndoChine by the time Linda, Daniel and myself were done with our last set.

I went clubbing with Kewei, Dennis, Phoebe and a bunch of random friends last Saturday. Like, what’s new. It seems that as of late, imbibing alcohol has become quite a pastime for me. Not that I’m complaining, but it does make me think that there has to be some better vices in life to aim for. Or so I would think! Well, I guess being blameless and pure would be a better option, but for that one I’m still working on it. We dropped by Taboo, where they were having their BodWatch fashion show featuring Sportsmen Asia products.

Now according to their website, they claim to be “the Definitive Men's Shop for the trendiest sportswear, swim wear and underwear”. For the fashion show, however, the focus was definitely on the last two listed products, and not the first. I think Dennis and myself were more dismayed by the fact that we have such inferior, dreadful physiques (as compared to the hunky models) rather than the fact that we were two heterosexuals trying to look like we were having fun at a (gay, no less) male underwear fashion show.

We headed to Butter Factory shortly after and met up with April (left) and Alfred, who were already partying the night away with their respective friends. Dharni was there as usual, and it was good to see him. That lucky *beep* is opening Kanye West’s show here during his Glow in the Dark Tour. Gotta give it to Dharni man, he’s the real shit!

Ah, damn. Just thinking about the very busy week ahead of me is enough to stop me from thinking what else to fill in for this post. I’ve got a couple weddings lined up, plenty of rehearsals, the usual gigs and most importantly, I need to get my damn student visa done. It’s been quite tough over the past week, having to break the news of my sudden departure to all my students. Underneath every student’s mother’s congratulatory remark, I can tell that inside their brains they’re fretting over who to get as their next piano teacher!

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Orange Payphone

So, over the weekend I dropped by Tat's place to help out a little with Kewei's ongoing recording project. It was my first time to the famed Tat Tong's famed home studio, and boy did we manage to get things flowing! All of Kewei's tracks are sounding better and better with each passing day, under the maestro hands of Tat, who is helming almost if not all of Kewei's music production.

After our little jam session, we headed down to Purvis Street for some good ol' chicken rice at Yet Con. I'm sure anyone who's been there before will never forget how impressively old-school this restaurant has managed to remain. Established all the way back in 1940 (according to some quick online research!), this Hainanese eatery is famed for the elderly gentleman who we all assume is the owner standing at the counter, watching the room with an eagle eye and barking orders at the matronly staff while running the accounts on his abacus. Yep, a real abacus.

But we spotted something just as interesting as a real abacus sitting on the counter as well -- it was one of those nostalgic orange public payphones which used to be found aplenty at your void deck kopitiam! We were so awed by the sight of it that we didn't dare to pick of the receiver to check if it's even a working phone, lest we accidentally defile and deface a national history monument.

The phone that was all the rage back then.

Yeah, I remember my lower primary school days, using these phones to ring up my mommy from the mama stall where I used to frequent after school ended and telling her I'd be heading out to cycle someplace somewhere before heading home. And of course, who can forget the iconic 8-step illustration printed on the phone to demonstrate to every user the proper way to use a coin-operated payphone? Awesome, isn't it. Then there's also that little vintage LCD display at the bottom which would reflect whatever number you were dialling.

Back then we had pictorial guides for everything too.

After dinner, Tat left for Joo Chiat while Kewei and me went shopping at Raffles City before stuffing ourselves silly with J.Co donuts. I was quite surprised when we walked past J.Co and Kewei took the initiative to walk in and start queuing for donuts without any prompting from me. We settled for half a dozen of those heavenly things, and proceeded to gobble them down without much guilt. At one point Kewei remarked, "I feel I must relive the good old KL days!" For those who don't know, it was in KL where Kewei had her first taste of J.Co donuts. I can safely say she has never looked back since.

Posing with our bounty.

After that, we then proceeded to Taboo, then Butter Factory with random groups of friends joining us throughout the night. Speaking of which, I must mention my randy new green shirt which I bought just before the donuts. See, I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon with the SAF changing their No. 4 camo to a digital print pattern and all. Well, that was the closet to a green digital print pattern I could find at River Island. Whilst hoping that perhaps the camouflaging nature of my shirt would serve to hide my beer gut, I was severely proved otherwise after our donut-indulging expedition.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Moments of Inebriation

So, here’s a wrap-up of what happened over the weekend – but, first things first, I’m glad to actually announce that I’ve been sleeping quite regularly for the past four days or so. This, all should know by now, is quite the phenomenon for a grossly irregular sleeper like me. Anyway, my work load seems to be lighter for the start of September, so I’m trying to make the most of my time at home, spending time with my family and doing normal things like drinking coffee in the morning. Not quite there yet when it comes to that elusive morning jog, but hopefully things will get there.

I met up with Phoebe and Cindy over the weekend, where we went to dbl o and we were joined by Celyn and Si Ming. I don’t pay a visit there often, so the $3 shots proved rather formidable after a couple trays ensured that everyone was sufficiently sloshed, most of all Cindy. (That’s Celyn on the right though, not Cindy. She’s going to have my head for this picture should she ever stumble upon my blog!) Still, the bak kut teh which we had at the end of the night served well to clear our heads before heading home.

Come Monday, however, Cindy & I were still really game for another round of drinks so we met up for dinner after work before heading to Winebar with Phoebe for another session of martinis and Hoegaarden. Still, it was a decidedly more reserved night that night, with almost nobody at Zouk (except alcoholics like us).

And as if we couldn’t get enough of each other, we met up again yesterday for coffee and KTV, this time joined by Rachel and Wei Yap. It’s been a while since I’ve gone KTV-ing twice in two weeks; the last time this happened was when Ben, Shi Wei and I were crazy about belting out Mandarin hits at the wee hours of the morning. It being a Tuesday, however, I had to end the night with my regular beer-chugging session at Cuscaden Patio, and for that Albert very kindly obliged in joining me for some drunken debauchery.

Well, and before you know it, it’s already mid-week Wednesday. Feels like yesterday when I went to catch WALL-E with Vanessa last Thursday. Great movie there by the way; everything about it is so polished I don’t know where to start. I never knew, though, that an animated movie about space-faring robots falling in love would be able to tug at my heartstrings. Quite amazing, indeed.