Friday, October 29, 2004

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Be careful what you say

It was a slow day at work yesterday, and as I lurked around various sites, this particular one reminded me of the bloopers my teachers made back when I was in school:

Scene 1:
(During a lecture, our lecturer was exhorting us to be more vocal in class)
Mr Y: Par-sur-pation is good, everyone should par-sur-pate in
Students: Did he say mas-tur-...? heehee
Mr Y: (oblivious) It is very important to par-sur-pate as much as
Students: heeheehee
Mr Y: What? What? What are you laughing at? What's wrong with
Scene 2:
(During a computer tutorial, our Aussie teacher was trying to show us how to manipulate images)
Mr W: Let's pick any image...(look through his list of clip
) ah, let's use this banana. So, if you want to make my banana bigger, all you have to do is click and drag it...look how big it is now!
Students: *much glee*
Ah those crazy school days. How I miss them!

Monday, October 25, 2004

Korat slum, 15th October 2004, Friday

The kids from the slum

On our last day in Korat, we visited a slum. World Vision does some work there, running a Children’s Centre, taking care of and teaching the kids, and doing some humanitarian work within the slum. The slum is located slap-bang in between some railway tracks, and people cross between the tracks with nary a thought. There is no set schedule for trains, so you don’t know a train is coming until you see or hear it coming. Fortunately, the trains are so LOUD there is no way you can miss them.

We were driven to the slum by a World Vision worker in the back of his pickup, and I enjoyed the ride there. It’s nice to sit al fresco (so to speak) and look around the town with an uninterrupted view and enjoy the breeze and the sunshine. Then we turned off the concrete road and onto a dirt track leading away by the railway track. We passed rows of makeshift one-room zinc and billboard affairs, and saw the occupants, who were in turn watching us curiously as we made our way to the Children’s Centre. We had entered the slum.

The Children’s Centre is better constructed than a lot of the houses, even if it’s a one-room wooden house. As we approached the doorway, I saw grey specks swirling in the air. Being warned earlier of lice and ticks, I was a little apprehensive. “Errr…”, I said to one of my teammates, “Is that what I think it is?” “Urr..I’m not sure,” she said, eyeing the specks nervously. On closer inspection, we found out it was just ash. Phew.

There were about 26 kids waiting for us in the centre, with ages ranging from 6 months to about 10 years old. They were adorable, and when we greeted them, all of them put their hands together in the traditional Thai greeting and bowed their heads, chanting in unison, “Sawadee kha/kap!” And with that, we were sold. We sang songs with them...

organised relay games for them…

acted mimes for them, made balloon sculptures for them, and distributed the little bags of toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and shampoo we had bought earlier on in the trip. We also gave out milk packs for them to share.

In turn, they blessed us with three dances and their ready smiles and infectious laughter. I was admiring some of the girls’ pretty highlights in their hair, and then suddenly realized those highlights weren’t the kind you get from a hair salon or even a home-dye job. Those golden streaks were from malnutrition.

While the kids were having lunch, we did a quick walk-around the slum. Some houses were more ramshackle than others, and some were more well furnished than others. One of them even had a TV in the room. That astonished me as it had been pointed out to us that the slum didn’t get any clean water. Whatever water they used was bought for them by World Vision, if not, they subsisted on the dirty, muddy puddles that surrounded some of their homes, opening themselves up to diseases such as cholera and typhoid. So if they couldn’t even afford water, how did this family get the TV? Perhaps it was a gift? And did they even have electricity?

Our final stop was to pray for a man who had HIV. He was an old man, wearing only some loincloth rags and lying on a platform in the front of the house. He was gaunt, and so skinny that you could count every single rib in his body; his skin had numerous sores with pus running out, and his eyes had a rheumy look. One look and you knew this man did not much time left. By his side, he had a dirty bottle of some sort of liquid. His grownup son moved to the back of the house quietly as we entered and did not attempt to talk to us. The moment I ducked under the shelter, I had to try very hard not to gag from the smell. The little space surrounding that man was just filled with rubbish everywhere. Months worth of rubbish, like empty bottles, paper, kitchen utensils were scattered everywhere, trodden into the mud so much that they formed a kind of floor. I felt so incredibly sad when I looked at the scene. What had happened to reduce this human being to this state? I couldn’t go in much further, so overpowered by the smell, and instead hovered at the edge of the platform. I am ashamed to say I was more aware of my surroundings and of the smell to really concentrate 100 percent on the man. One of my team-mates however, who is also a fulltime church worker, moved right in and despite whispered warnings from other team-mates, touched him gently while she prayed for him. We prayed for final moments of peace and a release of pain for this man, whose face betrayed no emotion throughout the session.

That is a picture I carry with me now that I have left Korat. The smiles of the kids and the joy they exhibit, while not far down the track, an old man lies there waiting for death on the platform in front of his house.

Love-love tennis

(From I love cute tennis outfits

I am now nutty about tennis, even though I suck at the game. On Sat night, I caught Wimbledon with a friend, and we oohed and aahed at the sexiness of Paul Bettany, lusted after Kirsten Dunst's cute outfit, and held our breath at the tennis-playing moments. At first we thought wah, Paul Bettany's playing is not bad, and then later realised that the actors had been filmed doing the strokes first and then the ball was added in digitally later. Chey. But it was a nice mushy romantic chick flick that I'd watch anytime again.

So now I want to be a tennis genius and look oh-so-cute in the all-white outfits (OK I admit, half the attraction is in the outfits). Admittedly, will never get to look like or play like Sharapova but I can pretend lor. In fact, I will be pretending tonight at 8pm. Hopefully it will not rain. Watch me run after those balls.

UPDATE: Bah, the rain has spoilt my dreams of pretending to be a tennis pro. Will try it again on Wed. Meanwhile, will go bouldering at Climb Asia instead.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Snapshots in Phi Mai

A temple we passed by on our prayer walk

A rice mill which unhusks rice.

Photo-friendly boys who had just finished a football game

During prayerwalk, we split up into teams and handled different parts of the town. We're walking towards the old entrance of Phi Mai where people come to pray every year.

Regathering at the PCC after prayerwalk. 10 year old Thom is the boy in the blue Hawaiian shirt holding the yellow balloon.

'Na rak' little girls in kindergarten and cute little schoolbags all in a row

Handing out tracts to the shops. I loved looking at the gowns.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Phi Mai

Taken 12 Oct 2004 (L): Prayer walking around the town at dusk, (R): A main street in Phi Mai just across the road from our guesthouse

Phi Mai is a small town about an hour's drive northeast of Korat. It has some ancient ruins from the old Angkor Wat days, nowhere near as magnificent but still just as important as part of the country's history. As small towns go, it isn't the poorest, as there is electricity and lots of little shops. It's not exactly a touristy spot and the normal kinds of visitors this town gets are backpackers travelling the country and people en route to further north Thailand.

I liked Phi Mai. I liked it for its small charm (the entire town is 2 sq km), untouched by commercialism, its charming little shops of sundries, tailors, motorcycle repair work, the easy langour of the people as they sat tending their shops from early in the morning at 7am to closing at 6pm.

There is only one church in Phi Mai and it is called the Phi Mai Christian Centre (or PCC for short). It was started by this energetic and tireless lady whom we called Arjan Ju, who took us everywhere and introduced us to some of her little flock. There's Gan who is a kindergarten teacher, an entire family who has converted to Christianity, 10 year old Thom, whose mother does not allow him to go to church - all of whom have amazing stories of their faith and trust in God.

A night market set up beside the town square

We stayed one night in Phi Mai and spent the first day prayer-walking around the town with some of the church members, handing out tracts and inviting people to visit a park where we would be having a mini public performance. After the performance, we walked around the poorer area of the town. Arjan Ju introduced us to one woman who has HIV and lives by herself in a small one-room house. Her children had abandoned her and gone to Bangkok to live. She was small and looked rather frail. We prayed for her, but beyond that, I felt so helpless. How would she survive? That was my first time in contact with someone with HIV.

The next day, we visited the little kindergarten where Gan teaches. Her school had about 26 kids. I learnt it cost about 5 baht a day (S$1=25 baht) for these kids to come to school, and there were still some parents who could not afford that amount. The kids were adorable, and we sang songs to them, played games, made balloon sculptures and acted out a mime for them. I really wish I could speak more Thai to them, beyond telling them they were very "na rak" (cute).

When we were in Phi Mai, we had lunch at a small stall across the street from the PCC. Noodles were served from a makeshirt cart by a woman, while we sat and waited behind her in a shady alcove with tables and stools, while her kids played behind us. Lunch was a choice of a bowl of pho or kway teow, dry or with soup with shredded pork and pork fat and some spring onion sprinkled on top. It was really delicious but such a tiny serving, in two mouthfuls, all the noodles were gone. So all the Singaporeans had a second helping. We must have seemed like a really greedy bunch of people to the Thais, so piggy! All having second helpings, shocking! To make matters worse, one of the church members from PCC insisted on paying for the entire lunch, for a team of about 12 people. She was a smiley lady who had worked in Hong Kong before, and could speak flawless Cantonese. She said it was an honour to pay for us and she wouldn't take no for an answer. My second bowl of noodles sat guiltily in my stomach. By the next day, everyone was familiar with the Singaporeans' large appetites, as when the noodles were finished, Arjan Ju called out, "Who wants second bowl?" and proceeded to order more for us.

I am so amazed at Arjan Ju's love for God and the people around her, her tireless enthusiasm at everything she does and her unquenchable spirit. Nothing daunts or discourages her. When she sings, she closes her eyes and claps her hands, swaying to her own beat, and sings with such vigour and spirit, drowning out even the guitar, completely giving her heart to the music. She exists in that moment, singing of her love to God.

Arjan Ju, pra chao wai pon. God bless you.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Everyone should have a Friday afternoon off

Tea at Ah Teng's Bakery, Raffles Hotel, 8 October 2004, 4.30pm

My friends from Oz were in town for a day, so I took Friday arvo off to hang out. We ended up having chicken rice lunch at Far East Plaza, tea at Ah Teng's Bakery, a sundowner at the Long Bar, and dinner at Newton. And then we sent them off, completed sated, on a plane to Scotland.

In other noos, yep I'm back from Korat. It was an amazing trip and I have so much to say I'm in danger of boring the ears off anybody who comes within range and asks "How was the trip?". Have just uploaded all my photos. Will write more on the trip in days to come. In the meantime, have lots of work to catch up on. Ugh.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

See you later, alligator

Off to Korat on Mon. Will be gone for the whole week. This should be interesting.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Abba dabba doo

(Taken from the Mama Mia website) White lycra is soo fat-making

"People with nervous dispositions are to be warned: white lycra and platorm boots will be used".

And with that, Mama Mia started. Quite enjoyable, and I was surprised to learn that I know almost all the Abba songs. Overall verdict: not bad, good for the 2.5 hours, but is fairly forgettable. The first half of the show is more fun, the second half is quite draggy and I remember thinking, OK let's get on with the story. Not that there is much story to begin with.

Also, I was expecting more dancing and nicer looking sets. Maybe I have been spoilt by all those fabulous musicals in New York. oops.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

This October, I am into...

my pink Dr Scholls sandals, all things green, Glory ground peanut cookies, Wee Nam Kee dumpling soup, my mission trip to Korat, re-reading old classics, America's Next Top Model, getting ideas for Christmas cards, getting back into rock climbing and tennis, not doing any shopping, the last wedding of the year, my sister's 21st birthday, rojak from Canteen 2, catching up with old friends.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Happy, happy

My weekend happiness has spilled over to today. Mainly because:

1) I got to eat steak at a bbq party
Is good to have lots of friends, because lots of friends means lots of birthdays, and lots of birthdays means lots of parties. This one was a 'supplies' birthday party for a friend, Fear Factor style, where we made him eat dried frogs and baby bamboo shoots with vinegar and lick up a 'blowjob' shooter before he could receive his BIG pressie of an iPod. (Or was it an iRiver?)
Food was lots of STEAK, bratwurst, potato salad, chicken wings, ribs and lasagne, and of course chocolate cake and Ben & Jerrys Cherry Garcia, washed down with a lot of vodka cranberry and red wine.

After the gorging was finished and we had dried up all conversation topics and as we got sillier, we played six shooter roulette - with bacardi, baileys & whipped cream, Sprite and dried frog. Bonus, everytime I had to drink, it was either baileys or Sprite. No frog for me. hurhur.

2) I went to Happy
The bar. After bbq party, three of us adjourned to Happy at Neil Road, formerly Taboo. Happy is still predominantly a gay bar, but was very relieved on seeing that all the men had their shirts on, there was actually space to walk and there were more than 3 girls in the place. Also, there were some straight men, but I couldn't really tell. My gaydar has gone a bit wonky. Damn this metrosexuality! I had a yummy lychee martini and we danced to disco until the lights came on at 4am. Whee!

3) I ate Krispy Kreme doughnuts on Sunday
Got a call from friends who had just returned from Sydney armed with a big box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, to go help them consume some for tea. I have not met a single person who is a larger doughnut nut (hurhur) than WL. She is so rabid about them she will proudly announce to anyone that she has missed a flight from NY to S'pore because she was too busy buying Krispy Kreme doughnuts. But having said that, I can why she likes them so much. My favourite is the chocolate icing ones. mmmm. Dooooh-nuts.

4) Uni has finally announced 5 day work-week

E-mail from the Vice-President of HR says:
    To: All NTU Staff


    1. In line with the Government’s pro-family initiatives, and to help staff strike a healthier work-life balance, the University has decided to implement the 5-day workweek with effect from 1 Nov 2004.

    2. The official operating hours for the University under a 5-dayworkweek are as follows:
    Mon - Thurs : 8.30 am - 5.45 pm - (includes 45 mins lunch break from 1 to 1.45 pm)Fridays : 8.30 am - 5.15 pm

Just tag on 15 min to go-home time, and take away 15 min for lunch. I can handle that. No more working on Saturdays from Nov onwards!

5) I have a half day on Friday, and don't come back to work until the 18th. hurhur.
Ex-housemate is passing thru S'pore on his way to Scotland, so that gives us 24 hours to give him the grand tour of the island. Plans are already underway to consume lots of alcohol and bring him to Little India to eat with his hands. *cackle cackle*

So, no Monday blues for me today. Exxx-cellent.

I'm in a haze

My burfday colour

Pantone sez that Purple Haze is my burfday colour, and that I should surround myself with this shade in order to "join with another person without the fear of losing [my] individuality". Mmm, sounds a bit the hippie and new-agey, but this colour is quite nice lor.

Get your own colourstrology here.

Friday, October 01, 2004

I can sing a rainbow...

Red and yerrow and pink and greeeen, purpur and oleng and brruu...

Just like LMD, I oso lurve stationery. While she ventures to Evergreen, I went to my canteen supermarket this afternoon and picked up a 80 cents packet of magic markers. I can tell it's branded magic markers, because the packet has a picture of Lady and the Tramp on the cover.

Now I am at work happily doodling away on plain white paper. Doodle doodle.