Thursday, October 23, 2008

Swiss Sayings

Tuesday came and went, and I spent a very enjoyable quiet evening in Bulle, Switzerland here with Foi and the Glion company. Foi cooked me mee goreng for dinner, and they even came prepared with a very fruity cake. Not forgetting how I celebrated my birthday in old-school fashion: cake only with no alcohol. Yes, amazing ain't it?

Just a quick question though: when it's that time of the year and everything is singing your happy birthday song, do you sing along? I remember singing "happy birthday to me" at Wala's onstage last year when I celebrated my birthday. I did it again this year, as you can see, because it felt weird not to sing and just stare at the cake!

Switzerland has been beautiful so far, but I haven't got much done since I got here except stay indoors and complete essays for Foi and her flat mates. Of course, I charge, though my rates are pretty cheap. The current going rate is 10 Fr. per 100 words, so a 2,500-word essay will only cost you 250 Fr.! It comes with complete in-text referencing and bibliography too. Not bad, eh? I've done a couple essays and editing work since I got here. Maybe I should just move here and set up an English tutoring business. Or open an English language school. Heh!

Still, we'll be heading out to other bits of Switzerland over the weekend, so that should be fun. Still have yet to pig out on cheese fondue and chocolates! Foi and I went down to Lausanne to pick Dong Young up earlier this morning. They're really the sweetest couple right now! I would go on how they were mollycoddling up to each other on the train in front of me, but I guess pictures would work better.

Romantic picture #1

Romantic picture #2

Romantic picture #3

Oops, sorry, wrong photo for the last one! Alright now, that's just about enough. Winter's setting in now and it's getting pretty damn cold over here in Bulle. The elevation here is more than 700m above sea level, so as you can imagine it's rather chilly here! Still, it's definitely way better than London. The air is so fresh and crisp here you almost wish you could eat it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Birthday Note

Just to put a quick note in before my laptop battery dies. Thanks so much to all who sent me very kind birthday wishes! I guess it's only once a year when you wake up and find more than 50 new notifications on Facebook! Heh. Wish I could be celebrating it in Singapore, but guess that'll have to wait for now.

I'm sitting at the airport lounge waiting for my flight to Geneva, where I'll be spending my birthday night there -- can't wait! Will post pictures up soon. Much love to all!

Edit: Notifications just went up to 77. Whoo! Bulle, Switzerland is awesome.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Racial Murmurings

I've noticed something quite interesting that's been happening recently since I got here. This evening I was at the Tesco's near my place getting some beer, and I got carded. Well, no big deal, right? (Since I look so unnervingly young, thank you!) So I proudly handed my Singapore NRIC to the cashier, who happened to be this nice Puerto Rican lady. Upon looking at my IC though, she remarked, "Oh my god, why is your race printed on your identity card?!"

Indeed, this isn't the first time it happened; last week I was also carded (at the same Tesco's), and the dude behind the cashier who as a Black British also remarked in dismay how my race was printed on my IC. The first time it happened, I was rather nonchalant about it as everybody gets their race printed on their IC in Singapore. However, I did have quite a difficult time trying to explain to him that Singapore is a multi-racial country and we have four majority races in Singapore, hence we are distinguished from each race by having it printed on our IC.

I suppose to both the cashiers, they found that the act of printing one's race was an act of subjugation by the government, where racial labels like these have been applied to us for perhaps more sinister reasons. I can completely understand why they felt this way, though. If you think about it, having your race printed on a card seems to be parallel to how Nazis made Jews wear armbands during WWII, if only to segregate them from the rest of the community.

Having my race, Chinese, printed on my IC seemed to them as an act of oppression, where one needs to be identified as such for whatever the reason. However, back home in Singapore, I guess nobody gives two hoots about our race being printed on our IC, because back home racial tensions are minimal and everybody gets along fine in a multi-racial setting. However, here in UK where racism, though not rampant, is still an issue, having your race stated on an IC might seem like a very harsh thing to be dealt upon.

So, the question now is, even though race-labelling on Singaporean ICs might be nothing more than an administrative procedure, do we really need this? Do we really need our race displayed on our ICs for all to see? Six years back ICA removed the blood group detail from our ICs. It was first introduced for times of emergency, to facilitate blood transfusions. But from what I've heard, now they just go ahead with the transfusion of O-positive blood in emergency situations, hence negating the need for our blood group to be printed on our ICs. So then, exactly what purpose does it serve to have me identified as "Chinese" on my identity card?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Absolutely Wicked!

Admittedly, I've been feeling rather lazy to post updates recently. Still, there's so many random thoughts flying through my head I don't really know where to start. Oh wait, yes. There was that cab ride which I took two nights ago that lasted a grand total of 10 minutes but cost me a whopping £17! I've taken cabs a couple times here before but this has got to be the most expensive yet. I swear, they have different meter tariffs at 12am and 2am!

I managed to catch the West End smash hit musical Wicked last Thursday, with Sarah and her colleagues when they were in town. As usual, I always come out of a West End production blown away, telling myself this has got to be the best musical I've ever watched so far! In short, it was worth every penny of the ticket price. I won't want to spoil the story for you, but it was very well-written as sort of a different perspective to the well known The Wizard of Oz storyline. This musical is based on the book of the same name by Gregory Maguire. I should be giving that a read sometime soon now!

Most noteworthy though, was Alexia Khadime's absolutely brilliant performance as Elphaba. I've never heard "Defying Gravity" sung in such stunning fashion before. Each time she opened her mouth to sing, my hair stood from end to end! She's really such a talented performer, singer, and actress all rolled into one. Stephen Schwartz really wrote a clincher with this very beautiful song.

Some photos from before the musical started. As usual, Sarah is never shy when it comes to dragon-like poses right in the middle of the aisle of the stall seats. Oh, not forgetting how she couldn't keep her eyes off the actor who was playing Fiyero onstage, Oliver Tompsett.

Sarah doing a pre-show pose. Awesome.

Sarah, Jolene and Cody and an awesome copy
of the Wicked programme.

Before I go, here's a quote for you that lifted a smile on my face today.
"At times, doing a good job is like wetting your pants in a dark suit, you get a warm feeling but no one else notices."

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Boating Beatboxers

What better way to pass time on a sunny autumn's day whilst on a rowboat than to form your very own vocal percussion ensemble? Check us out as we bring da house down yo, right in the middle of the lake at Regent's Park!

Featuring MC Bruce Lee, DJ Potty, The Fart King and, uh, Foi the Drummer.

Yes, we're cool this way! Kudos to Charles Wong who showed me how to beatbox decently for the very first time. He's the champion! Check out his beatboxing videos here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Weekends & Whatnot

It's been two very crazy weekends since I last updated, and much has happened since. Not everything was as cheery as I hoped it would be, most unfortunately. The weekend in Sheffield went very well though, I must say I enjoyed myself a bit too much! It was nice meeting Robyn & Jinn, as well as their friends in Sheffers. All of them were accommodating and just about as fun-loving as one can get, so it was all good. Nevertheless, these weekend getaways also involve plenty of binge-eating, so I guess that means stepping up the calorie-losing regime. Not that I've been having a great start to it in the first place.

This weekend was spent mostly with Foi, who's in town for the week. In fact, she was supposed to return to Leicester on Friday, but two days later she's still here. Guess Switzerland isn't working out too well for her either! On Thursday evening we checked out the club METRA, along with Andree, Lee, Dong Young and Dong Hoon. Yes, that girl -- always reveling in plenty of attention from adoring males! (Did I say Koreans?)

Getting in some touristy shots with the lion statues
at Gerrard Street, Chinatown.

Partying the night away!

We even had time for "artsy" shots in the middle of the dance floor.

The Asian gang at Trocadero.

Friday saw us ambling around Chinatown again for most of the night. We had Korean for dinner, followed by a stroll to Trafalgar Square to allow Andree (who was in London for the first time) to soak in the night sights. We managed to procure some beer en route, so we just sat around, chilled out and took more photos before our game was discovered and we got asked to leave. Yep, drinking isn't allowed on the square (when in UK you can drink on cross country trains and in parks)!

After that we headed back to The Exchange Bar (a common haunt of late), where we went for another round before deciding that it was FINALLY time for Andree to leave. Originally supposed to catch his bus to Aberdeen at 11:45pm, we rushed to Victoria only to have Andree discover that the coach was full. Since he failed to buy tickets in advance, he had no choice but to stay for one more day (along with Foi). Right after that happened, we launched into a very mad rush to find a hotel for the night. It was only then we discovered that it is almost impossible to walk into a decent hotel and expect an available room here in London at 12 midnight. After ambling around the city like lost puppies for over an hour, we finally managed to find a room at Thistle Marble Arch.

Here are a couple of whacky photos we took at Trafalgar Square. Note how none of the photos contain pictures of landmarks, and only pictures of us goofing around. As usual.

The great piggyback competition.

Lee putting his newly-formed biceps to the test.

Saturday was mostly spent at Regent's Park, where we went boating and had an impromptu champagne picnic on deck chairs whilst watching the sun go down. Oh, not forgetting the awesome lunch we had at Bayswater -- yep, you got it, we had duck! I'll be posting up a whole slew of really crazy photos and videos up soon, so watch for it.

In the meantime, I shall leave you with this absolutely hilarious video taken during Music Idol, which is the Bulgarian version of the world famous TV format, Pop Idol. This, really, is a must see.

Absolutely classic, Ken Lee.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Stripped Bare

Just got back from Sheffield earlier today, only to realize what a bumbling fool I was. In my dazed state of packing up from Robyn's place this morning, I grabbed my laptop but left my laptop charger behind at her place. Dammit! So right now, I'm writing this blog entry using precious battery power (67% remaining!) and I'll probably be able to hold off for one more day before my laptop dies out on me.

I've asked Robyn to post it back from Sheffield for me, hope it doesn't cost more than me having to go back up myself to collect it. Oh boy, the horrors! No working TV, no microwave, spoilt fridge and soon-to-happen no laptop. Great. I wonder what's going to go next, the heating?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Trudging Along

It's barely half a week here and I'm already half-wishing that I never left Singapore. Went for my first class yesterday, and I must say it was really good. I've a good feeling about the rest of my coming term, and I'm really looking forward to the rest of my classes. Music college here is quite different from Singapore; everybody is ahead of their game and musicians (or at least my course mates) here are all mostly like-minded.

But, other than that, London's a real drab. It really is. I've been staying indoors most of the time, watching movies and the latest episodes of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Summer Glau just looks simply amazing, it's hard to keep my eyes off her. The season debut for Season 2 was such a great episode! It's a pity that viewer ratings in the States are dropping for this series; it would be such a tragedy should the studios decide to can this excellent series after only two seasons.

I also managed to catch Hancock, Speed Racer, The Happening and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Okay, the first three I watched on the plane here. I actually quite enjoyed The Happening. Actually, I've always quite enjoyed all of M. Night Shyamalan's works except for Unbreakable (which was quite favourably reviewed by critics). The Happening was apparently a bomb among critics, but I really did quite like it's premise and setting. Mark Wahlberg was a cringe to watch in terms of acting though, I don't know what went wrong with him in this one. It was simply dreadful. Co-star Zooey Deschanel was even worse.

I've been doing mostly administrative stuff over the last few days, trying to settle in. Things like trying to open a bank account, getting a UK mobile number up and running and getting a Criminal Records Bureau check done are just about the most mundane things you could possibly come up with. What loathsome chores indeed, especially if you're trying to work around the lack of efficiency that so permeates every pore of society here.

I'm heading up to Sheffield this weekend to meet up with Jinn and Robyn. I'm really looking forward to that, I think seeing warm familiar faces should soothe my nerves just a little. Speaking of which, I better go pick Robyn a birthday present for her before I leave! Also, it's be good to get out and mingle (in Sheffield, no less). I've been living with the caveman syndrome over the past few days; this streak of alcohol abstinence just isn't quite my game yet.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Contact Update!

I've got my UK mobile phone number up and running. About time, right! Please contact me here instead over the next couple months till I'm back in Singapore on 24th Dec. The number is...

+44 7826 143 044

I'll still be keeping my Singapore number, and it'll be switched on at all times. However, I won't be carrying that phone around with me wherever I go, so I guess the UK number's best. Thanks!