Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Endorphines in Tights

this must be my virgin experience to a comedic ballet. and coincidentally my virgin experience to the largest arts festival in the world: the edinburgh one.

i went to one performance by the dutch national ballet and the last segment of it caught my unawares. primarily since it stated that music was going to be by chopin, or rather inspired by him. so one would expect a rendition of pompous, patriotic marches or slow waltzes without any vestige of comedic essence. but it turned out that way, as things might go. it was actually a parody on certain groups of people going to the theatre. some artistic sycophants, the real enthuasiasts that annoy ironically through their enthusiasm and the dense-brains that only act as sideshows. it was stomach-turning funny, so much so it was out of whack of the situp-straight world of classical ballet. it was fun nonetheless and an eye-opener since the only ballets i've attended were those of romantic nonmenclature. oh and there were also pretend-rehearsals where one would be totally out of sync vis-a-vis the others and that was a total comic relief. this is thrown in sharp relief with the previous segment where it was avant-garde ballet where i was constantly trying to rationalize or hyper-interpret what possibly could be the hidden message behind the frantc swerling and leg-gyrations. but it was a carnal and raw concoction of movements and relations. it should have gome down well with the ballet suck-ups.

i have another performance to bestow my presence upon, on saturday- one of the premier orchestras in Germany. that should be good. will tell more once i've gotten wind of it. haha, get the pun?

i think i must make mention of my trip to edinburgh castle. probably the most celebrated of the innumerable castles in scotland. to be honest, i wasn't much impressed with it. there was only probably 2 pieces of crown jewels on showcase when it so mightily proclaimed to be the oldest royal jewels in all of the british isles. the wand doesn't count. there wasn't even an orb to beat. but the view up there was one to beat (yes yes, i'll have pictures in a jiff). all of edinburgh was in view and it was magnificent. although not quite jaw-dropping, it's enough to keep you spaced out for that good 15 minutes, even with the chills of winds plastering your skin. the mound up was quite a climb, not to mention that steep admission ripoff of £9.80, but i guess it's one of its league. one thing's interesting is the latin line adorning its gates: no one shall provoke me without fear of impunity. bite me.

edinburgh is full of charms that one cannot start describing. the history alone can set you back thinking my point i made in my last post: that people die fighting for the land. i'm lucky to be here. so come and visit me once you get the chance. the money's all worth it, trust me on this.

Up the mountain went a Singaporean and down came a Scottish

when one sees what what i saw here, one can only come to fully understand why people of ages past fight to their deaths for the land they call their country.

it's not a romanticised appraisal of edinburgh. what with the rolling hills with ruins of medieval chapels, proudly conserved buildings that reek of victorian, georgian and even renaissance heritage, and largely a deeply embedded sense of staunch nationalism, you have scotland. edinburgh is the epitome and probably the most complete encapsulation of this so-called scottish spirit. i was just walking around the old town and wham, at the end of holyrood palace (QEII's palace whenever she's here on her annual visit to Edinburgh), i chanced upon a mountain surrounded by a series of shorter hills, flourishing with wild flowers and willowing dried grass. and atop it i sighted the ruins of a chapel dating back to pre-renaissance times. i had to climb up and when i did reach the top, i sat there- gawking- at how i sit next to a 1400s relic overlooking a highly modernised city with a facade that doesn't look it. this sharp contrast is unbelieveable. and today as i walked along Princes Street (probably the closest thing edin has to our Orchard Road), i got an unobstructed view of the Edinburgh Castle up on the hill, almost like an eagle looking down damely. i can't do this better than the pictures i took, so take a look at them when they're up. well the camera technology is one thing the renaissance people was seriously missing out on.

and edinburgh has been really kind to me these two days- i literally brought the sunshine up from london. although winds got a little nibby, it was still alright to go out in tees. and this really facilitated sightseeing, a lot. even went to the new Parliament (new in more ways than one since it has been newly reconvened after the union in 1707 and the building cost a massive £400 million to build and only recently opened). and no i haven't tried haggis yet but heard it's not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. and surprisingly i've had little problems with the scottish accent so far.

on an entirely different note, i was wondering if creativity of the arts (of all branches) has anything to do with the geographical beauty (or lack thereof) of a certain terrain or country. singapore has flat as it can get, well, sure has a flourishing arts scene before massive government intervention. scotland, well, you get my point. and also i heard someone saying 'optimism is only for the rich'- i found that vastly amusing and frighteningly true. i hear the proleteriats growl, better shush with that now.

'As long as only one of us remain alive we will never on any conditions be brought under English good man gives up freedom except with his life.'

Monday, August 29, 2005


i'm finally in edinburgh after all the anticipation. flight was quick: 50min or so. and just 10min into the airport bus ride into the city centre, one can sip up the charms of Edinburgh pretty fast. the castle is beautiful at night and the hills around it beam with scottish beauty. no tall buildings here at all, it's really living in an archetypal old European city, very un-English or rather un-London. apparently Edinburgh sits on a bed of granite and that also hinders skyscraping developments but really you wouldn't want to taint this medieval aura with modernistic gore. i haven't had horror stories of the incomprehensible and utterly inaudible scottish accent yet but my chances will come in abundance. apparently i live in the old town and the castle is just right behind me, not literally but some distance back, so it's all lovely. and the scottish pound looks like currency Aragorn would use to pay for his beer at the Prancing Pony.

this is all in stark juxtaposition to the rambanctious, over-the-top alive London earlier this afternoon where i braved myself with Gwen down at the Notting Hill Carnival where throngs of people were soaking themselves in bohemian love and proletariat joy. it was fun, until the grime of sweaty Caucasian men gets to you that is.

so yes i'm in Edinburgh, will dish out more when i explore more tomorrow and hopefully catch some fringe events since the Arts Festival is still running. and yes that bank account dread shall be extinguished tomorrow and no more shall it rear its ugly head.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

To retrieve what had been lost

some things are just not meant to be gotten back- once lost, forever out of sight. of course it could relate to philosophical lifetalk but i only meant to refer to my ring. it really did not augur well within me that when i finally reach the bohemian sector of London that is Camden Town, the upstart jewellery designer that once offered just refreshing men's jewellery was not there anymore. and thus i'm still left ringless, frodo would have been so disappointed.

the weather here has almost been alternating between dreary rain and bursting sunshine. i stayed home yesterday, believe it or not, in probably the most exciting city in the world, entirely just sponging up bad daytime tv, reruns of Friends and DVDs like house of the flying daggers. today's been beautiful although winds were a tad chilly and i braved it for like an hour in my happy orange sail shorts and cotton tee. i think the passers-by at high kensington street must be so amused at me. today i also revisited my nifty little crepes place near gwen's place which was such a delight, still. i had this thing called crepe complete which had a soft egg layer beneath the crispy crepe layer and smouldering so sultrily atop my ham and cheese stuffing. slurp. but still give me 3 bowls of laksa and i'll gobble them up in a blinking second. you guys must know how lucky we are to be blessed with the most ingenious food concept in the form of hawker centres. you can get nothing filling here below four quid. save the occasional mac specials, how gastronomically exciting.

and get this i have not gotten myself a single piece of garment, accessory or ostentatious item since i stepped foot in london. i must be attaining financial-scringing nirvana. come to me and get healed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Simmering patience

oxygen doesn't keep one alive here in england, it's patience. without which, you would probably start drowning yourself in your own bath tub or something. or then again i think it's always more fun and sensible (yes no wrong choice of vocabulary here) to take those people responsible for erecting the red tapes and worshipping bureaucracy as a religion, down. and if you're not patient with the weather conditions here and grumble all day like Singaporeans do, be it too much rain or too much sun, you're gonna have one tough time here. it's raining now and on monday but at least i was compensated with a lovely day yesterday, which we aptly spent in the museums and galleries. see, if you're not patient with the weather, you can kiss cheeriness goodbye and say a forever hello to underbreath cursing.

speaking of which, i thought the national portrait gallery that i went to yesterday was a pretty nifty place. as the name suggests, it hangs all portraits and photographs of various people important in the UK. joan collins, greta garbo, the royal family, statesmen of past and present and an impressive collection of queen victoria, of whom one shows her so graciously presenting a tribesmen from Zanzibar a bible and making him much better with the locks of English imperialism. the English sure has a way of euphemising her encapsulating hoods of colonialism. as with the British Museum i suppose- the world's largest publicly-displayed loot warehouse. from egyptian facsimiles to greek doric orders and parthenon parts to Tang porcelain in flawless condition, the English might be the most daring and care-less thieves of all times. hail the glories and might of english imperialism.

coming back to 2005- yesterday was indeed gorgeous for just spreading out on the grasspatch in a park and having a sandwich and orange and carrot cake from Tesco's (it was the cheapest pleasure we could find in london at £1.49!). and slow walks by the Thames where the wind's slightly nibby and the sun's still up.

so how's everyone back home, in the promising vibrant global city-to-be? =)

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The archetypal English beginning

and so it begins, my english one year. i'm in London for slightly more than 24 hours now after a crappy flight with seats highly inconsiderate to my legs. so i was left groggy and slightly PMSed when i arrived at heathrow. food was good though, so at least that saved me from shooting everyone on board. of course, i'm kidding, even my subconscious ain't that exciting.

then came the tedious immigration process and the lugging of the 4 pieces of luggage that had me wanting to shoot everyone around me. more so the former- menopausal nurses pretending to have PMS while efficiency levels were clearly reflective of their age. so i waited. waited. and waited. and reached my place of accomodation only 4 hours later. all in the name of world famous english efficiency- how archetypal and cliche.

but at least i'm safe and no major hiccups burped in my face. except for maybe that minor glitch of me forgetting to collect my sharp items from baggage retrieval and thus i effectively said au revoir to my sweden souvenir nail clippers (i never knew someone could kill with a nail clipper, or endeavour to teach me how) and my scissors. and also i realised i forgot to bring my phytomer after-shave solution. but putting these aside, i was blessed with disturbingly good weather by standards of an approaching London fall. there was sun, breeze, all at a comfortable 20 celsius. and i donned the Borough market with my presense with a light breeze on my back. haha. and caught up with a primary school pal, who i haven't seen even in the vaguest form for almost 11 donkey years. how we age.

so for those who don't know, i have an english mobile number so get it fgrom me via email or hsien has it as well. miss all you guys already and i'm temporarily striking out Buble's 'Home' from my playlist, just in case.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

It's a Goodbye

Farewells are never easy. especially when one wants to package it as a surprise (haha).

but all went well- simple, cosy and nice. so much for my grand entrance and to-death rehearsals of feigning surprise. i guess everyone thought it was out of the bag, there wasn't much else to, well, surprise. the tables were turned on me when i was actually one of the earlier ones to arrive, so another time perhaps. food was great though, a galore of localities, enough to make me miss them even more as i embark to a land of culinary obliqueness. my taste buds are going to have such a tough time over there. and when the silence arrived after the food settled, i became more lucid, for better or worse. i was thinking of the new excitements that will beface me, and how this is the first time i'm absolutely going over the safe bounds of my comfort zone. it's a collage of fear, adrenaline-rush and worry. as i see my friends before me, it's a mish-mesh of emotions colliding with rationality. how i will get new friends, new experiences but yet apprehensive of what's to come and uncertain how i might deal with new circumstances. i understand that it's probably pre-departure jitters, thus i'll still manage and embrace with open arms.

then today i'm awakened from my jitters and startled into reality when my packing came up to nearly 40kg. i need someone to cast some semblance of weightlessness spell on the check-in weighing belt, fast.

p.s. pictures, not too many since photographer du jour was fired midway the party, are at 'Farewell' Album

Friday, August 05, 2005

Reluctant awakening from a misty dream of reality

As the title goes, i am still officially cocooned in the hong kong dream of 'shopping-eating-shopping-eating-and then more shopping'. for the first time i gladly submit myself to the harangues of modern day bureaucratic-advertising: hong kong tourism board should be so proud, they should crown me the foreign mascot or the likes. and for the record, before i get serious flak from people bitten most unguardedly by the green monster from the relating of such events, i'm only here to record for the souvenir of my memory and dare not serve any other purpose otherwise. thus i have been absolve of all liabilities and responsibilities arising forthwith.


divine doesn't even start to describe it. and since i have to cut down on the usage of 'gorgeous', i'll just leave it as that it was great. i might have cleared out half of adidas' storage in hong kong and it has definitely found a new spokesperson for its vintage line. along with my decadence with gagdets, which was unbelivably cheap over there, i singlehandedly engineered the crater hole in my wallet. the exercise of shopping had never set my mind so settled on spending and the resolve to keep going is something i've probably rarely felt, where spending is concerned. it was an out-of-body experience but definitely one to remember and revisit. if i shall proceed with this, it might rescind into histrionics so let the goods do the talking. and they sure spoke volumes, as some would attest. curb my enthusiasm, someone.


came in little packages of delight and generous servings of ala-carte heaven in posh restaurants i can almost not afford. it was a good balance though and it was good that even right up to my last meal at the airport food court (which was a butt-slapping delicious serving of roast goose noodle with some hell of a gravy) there was hardly a whine of a complaint. i had the flakiest warm egg-tarts, char siew which could not be compared with here, dim sum which i do not think it wise to start describing in fear of an intestinal riot and other miscellanous foodstuff that i just wanna eat NOW. so much for that. curb your saliva flow, everyone.

and plus the business class arrangement, it was a nice icing on the cake to the entire trip. i am left satisfied but now have to resort to rationing for food back home. of course i'm exagerrating but in the event one reads this and sympathy compels him/her to contribute to the 'repair-GJ's-bank account-fund', your kindness would not go unappreciated. london's gonna hate an impoverished student, sigh.

back to reality, visa application is finally completed, just hope that things proceed well and they nip-picking of documents will not get onto my application. God forbid.