Friday, September 23, 2005

Trotting upon some rites of passage

i should be finally settling in. my bank account is finally alive, my courses are confirmed and friends are gradually piling along. and the best thing is, hold onto your tiny seats of self-contentment ladies and gentlemen, but i'm going to Paris for 5 days next month over reading week (it's a fantastic thing how not to have your parents knowing you blog). i got a cheap end of the deal but it also means i'm flying into bizarre, out-of-the-way airports and having to coach into the respective cities for a bit.

anyhow the highlands was an amazing trip. i think it's the first time i can say that my mere camera/photography skills do not do justice to the topograhic spectacle that i was presented with. the massive, rolling landscape is so dramatic that you stand amazed at its splendeur and wonder. it is obviously accentuated by the fact that i probably come from one of the most 'exciting' geographical country in the world. i would so immure myself in the landscapes that i saw only that i will probably get bored after 3 days without cyberspace. if u're keen, i actually went north towards this city called Perth from edin and onwards towards the cairngorms national park, which is incidentally the largest national park in britain. and we spent a night in aviemore, a medium-sized town popular with skiiers in the winter. then the next day onwards we went to Inverness after doing a short walk in the Rothiemurchus which has been quoted to be one of the 100 best places in the british isles. it was a wonderful walk around one of the lochs (scottish for a large body of freshwater)- Loch an Eilein. Inverness if the capital of the highlands but we went south instead to the all famous Loch Ness where we circled the loch and was absolutely taken aback by how marvellous it is. i haven't been impressed by pure scenic-ness for a long while now, well maybe given i always head to cosmopolitan areas for holidays. anyhow, we stayed a night at Drummanochit, which is the hottest tourist spot by Loch Ness because that is also where someone caught sight of Nessie, giving rise to loch ness fame. thereafter we headed down to Fort Augustus and Fort William and headed back to Edinburgh after quite a mishap enroute to the car rental site. so that's it. though pictures don't do justice, they still speak volumes of its immense beauty so go check them out if you haven't already done so.

alright i'm back to catching up with my european union law which i'm a complete daft at. check back at this space soon then.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Quick update

yes i'm very much still alive and i just returned unscathed from a trip to the dramatic scottish highland and no, not a trace of that illusive loch ness monster, or nessie as it is so affectionately known as. school officially started today and my courses are still left unconfirmed, plus more frustratingly my internet is still not up yet- expletives censored. the efficiency levels here will be the dearth of any singaporean civil servants who might visit here.

but more of the highlands when i update next, since i'm in the very private mass orgy of computers in the biggest academic library in scotland now. how's everyone doing? updates people!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Don't spray all over the law


'sorry ma'am, the size of your tootsies (breasts) grossly violates our human trafficking laws.'

crunch on it.


Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Rape of the Palates

and i embarked on the rites of passage to be fully assimilated into the scottish way of life- i had my first real meal of haggis. just for shock sake, haggis is actually sheep's intestines, kidneys and liver all meshed up and immaculately wrapped up in the stomach bag of the same beast and served right up after a good broil. i survived through it by consciously blocking out those lovely animals grazing the gentle meadows of the scottish countryside and then abruptly dragged into the abattoir and gutted out from the inside like a scene from house of the dead. but it's really not that bad in the end- i had tatties (scottish for mashed potatoes) and neeps (mashed turnips) to blend the taste in. to top it off the scotch whiskey did mask the taste a little, so i did manage to survive myself. plus i was quaffing on the red wine which aided in the swallowing process. so chew on that, mooncake peddlers (the title only serves to romanticise the experience).

today i had my another first- the scottish cold. the winds were burring, so bad they could blow out one's contact lenses with 15 minutes of it. it was 10 degrees when i went out to get myself registered at the university and the 15 minutes walk there was almost insufferable. it might be the litmus test that brolly-makers use to test the quality and rigidity of their brollys, mine was certainly put to the test, albeit to stunning results. but like a friend quipped, it's only the beginning.

allow me to utilise my whine of the day: I WANT an ipod nano! these apple marketing people are psychological witches, stop them before they come up with more gadgets i would kill to have.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Baile Átha Cliath

Ta me air meisce.

No, not quite the warm irish welcome one should be expecting but it's very close to the heart of the irish spirit though (pun intended)- it just means 'I am drunk' in Irish, or traditionally known as Gaelic.

Before i set foot on the capital of the Celtic Tiger that we call Dublin (or Duh Linn, meaning black pool), i was expecting Dubz to be the farrago of wealth, history, a deep sense of tradition and those left behind by the boom. it was all that but somehow a certain charm was lacking to complete this medley of magic that I feel in Edinburgh. the irish kazaam didn't quite work it for me but i'm afraid anything more would be deemed a sacrilegious cavil of the english/scottish-irish divide that history took so long just to bury or make it fade away. it's a personal thing in the end.

I amaze myself at how much i can conquer as a tourist in a day. a grand total of two days was what i required in the end to gobble up the main sights of the irish capital. i was actually left a little adrift of plans at 3pm on the second day and was relieved to be going home. it wasn't boring me per se but knowing no one and going to bars just in seek of company was just not aiding the entire process of getting to know the place just that little bit better. in a way, being alone has that side of its down. the up was of course, previously mentioned, the efficiency of clearing more attractions than i would want. good lad. for me the highlight was not the physical sights, but more the knowledge amassed that got me more internalised with the crafting of the irish state. in that sense, the visit to the dublin castle carved the deepest impression. it's apparently still the working place for the President (presently a woman, the second one on her second term, equating to ireland have to suffer through 21 consecutive years of women at the helm- imagine the matriarchy the men gets drowned in, ha, i'm only kidding of course). 800 yrs of anglo-norman rule the irish has to go through before attaining its hard-fought independence in 1922. it's also amazing how her language, gaelic, never smoulder away with time like bad mascara. the title of this post is incidentally city of dublin's gaelic name. the original 300-odd years of the guinness storehouse was something interesting and the christ church cathedral whose choir sang the premiere performance of Handel's Messiah Oratorio back in 1700s.

this is europe i guess. you cannot help but get sponged up by history like that. christ church cathedral has been around since william the conqueror invaded england in 1066- it's mind-blowing like that. the sense of national identity and patriotism is still so intact after all these times, it's hard to fathm where i come from, where national identity is awashed in a yellow sense of americanism and western media and the only last struggles to foster it back is the flimsy social glue of national education and silent threats. being chinese/singaporean has probably never been 'in'. but then again it'll be sad to update this sense of identity with a false sense of modernist injection and enforced ideals that almost has to be propoganised to work in some way or another. then again, football is that social glue that seems to be the modernist piece of equipment that works in europe- i was lucky to be amidst the action of this when ireland was against france in their world cup 2006 qualifying match and the fervent reaction to either sides is infectious. then again these things tie back in with this very entrenched gut sense of nationalism that runs way back. the reception at my hostel was slightly appalled to see the french people bringing down their flag and decorating their faces with the trois coleurs that she said, in half-jest, "they sure do bring their football everywhere." this is what i'm talking about, the entrechment of nationalism. so either way, we're all screwed, patriotically-speaking.

but i ramble. dublin is quite an eye-opener. they're really very proud with their literary exports. i've known more about james joyce and ulysses than i ever had in my life. he actually had a full schema to the book and a device to getting the whole thing started, it was almost scientific. scary.

and is it the mid-autumn yet? the closest thing i'm getting to snow skin is its inspiration of the actual climatic snow. so spare me the digs.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Skirting on the rims

if u thought edinburgh was beautiful, the outskirts of her adds light to the beam. i troddled onto the rosslyn chapel in roslin (i have no idea why there must be 2 spellings to a same place) and to stirling. rosslyn chapel is of 'the da vinci code' fame, of which i can't quite recall which part of it it materialises. but the engravings and carvings of the pillars and stained glass were of divine beauty. it stood from 1466 or the likes and again it's just amazing how the preservation just stands intact and one can live side by side with the 15th century in 2005.

stirling was the icing on the cake though. 2 places were of promience- the first has to be stirling castle (castles are like diamonds to women, what they are to scotland) and the second is the willam wallace monument. both were spectacular. william wallace is braveheart, now do i get some connections? yeah it was 246 steps up the tower but you get spectacular views of stirling and firth of forth (the main waterway of edinburgh and its regions). and through it i got to know much more in-depth of scottish history, like the most interesting things i gathered from my trip were scottish inventions- to name some, the photocopying machine, the fax machine, tar (on roads) and penicillin. stirling castle was not too bad as well. i think by the time i'm done with scotland i'll be the castle specialist, though i must get myself acquainted with the terminology and such then i'll truly be in style of a castlist, so to speak.

how's everyone doing back home? i'm starting to feel the itch of hawker cuisine, can u believe? oh well guess i've to get suited to food here. but it's not as bad as everyone's been warning me. at least the thai food here is rather glorious. woohoo.