Steamboat dinner at Movenpick Hotel – Oct 31, 2012-10-31

Sam invited me to steamboat at Movenpick Hotel the day before – October 27, 2012 as she had enough “coupons” – basically 2 for 1 coupons. This is the concept – if half of the attendees of the steamboat bring their coupons, all attendees only pay half of the original cost. Anyhow, she picked me up or rather Bangkit since he’s the driver. The steamboat dinner was at Mee Wok or Wok Mee at Movenpick Hotel. Rather posh place I say. In total, there were 10 or 12 of us. Mainly Singaporeans. It’s really good to hear the familiar Singaporean accent again. J You know, it makes you feel at home. And there’s plenty of common denominator – Singaporean accent, places in Singapore like Hotel 81, Hotel Frangrance… (haha, for non-Singaporeans, these hotels are synonymous with hourly rate hotel or places where you bring tarts to…).  My group had the tom yam soup base. It was excellent. It’s spicy but not the hot-spicy you know. Had ton of the soup. Fish was nice.  Attendees were interesting – 2 diplomats/ministry of foreign affairs officers, 2 i don’t know what, an asset management manager who’s going to set up a branch of his bank in Singapore, etc.

I had to talk to Bangkit as Sam said that he used to go for western classical music concerts. It’s my forte, right and I can contribute quite a bit to it. Anyhow, we talked a bit. He’s into cello music. Hmm, I can only remember the Hiliary and Jacqueline movie (the one where the two sisters play the flute and cello), a Hadyn cello concerto and JS Bach’s cello suites. Anything else – nada. I told him I read quite a bit – my fave are fantasy books, especially those that involve magic, dragons, wizards, witches, etc. He mentioned this fantasy series to me – the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. 13 books in total. Oh my – it’s suicidal – I know I’m going to devour that series and not do anything else. Shit. Oh yes, he also mentioned about this film which he liked – it’s called Beseeched by this Italian film director. I’m going to check it out.

Oh yes, the Wheel of Time IS good. It’s pretty rich in its description. It’s not like JR Tolkien where the level of details is insane to me. WoT is very readable though it’s not like that magic flicks where you can just skim through with speed reading. It demands a certain level of attention. Anyhow, I’m in for a rolling good time with WoT!

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Sand dune bashing! Oct 31, 2012-10-31

I have been tardy in recording this chronicles of my life. Or rather my thoughtscape (hmmm, self-invented word – you have got landscape, why not thoughtscape?). tardiness – perhaps not unexpected given that I procrastinate a lot – I want to take my time to think through – but I guess there’s never enough time to do that. I reckon that I should execute more – just like in audit…

Okay. Last Saturday – i went to the desert with Samantha’s (“Sam”) family and 4 friends of Sam’s best friend. Sam’s family was visiting – comprising her mum and her mum’s boyfriend. Anyhow, it was 190 real per person. 5 of us in a jeep/4 wheel drive including Sam’s husband – Bangkit (wrong spelling). The drive to the desert took about an hour and 15 minutes – I think it was longer than the previous trip as there’s kind of a traffic jam en route. Reached the starting point of the desert – the hired drivers deflated the tyres. And then, off we went! We went up, down, left and right (the driver used some skidding technique), forward and backward (yes, backward as in the vehicle drove in a reversed fashion). There was this tall dune where we went down in a whizz – best bash of the trip i.e. the verb for travelling on the sand dunes to elicit excitement is “to bash”, if I got it right…

We stopped at 3 places for some photo taking. The first was at the top of this dune and it leads to a body of water. It’s kind of shallow. The gradient of the dune makes it perfect for taking a tea tray / tray used in canteens/cafeteria and sliding down on it! Actually, some kids went down the dune on their butts. After say 5-10 minutes, the bashing continued. The second place we stopped at was at the top of another dune, though there’s no water to see then. By this time, which was about 5ish(?), the moon was up, concurrently with the sun. The comingling or rather coexistence of the reminder of day and night makes this day truly unique. I must also point out that there’s no clouds at all in the sky! You just don’t see any of the puffy white cotton pads up there. Simply because there’s hardly any moisture in the desert to create them. (i remembered memorising the cycle of water in my secondary ½ days and it came out during the test for which i scored 96/100!). the last stop was at the touristy camp. Guys were playing volleyball to the tune of some western dance music – surprise surprise, apparently western R&B / pop music is immensely popular in doha.  You/i would have thought that they listen to Arabian/Indian/etc music but apparently not! In the same vein, i guess it would be unfair to presume that as a (Singaporean) Chinese, I should be listening to Chinese music… but instead this little prick digs western classical and western indie folk. All right, but hey I was in the Chinese orchestra for 2 years and played the Chinese fiddle for about 4 years, okay!

Back to the touristy camp site, there’s say 5 tents pitched adjacent to one another. These are family sized tents which can probably contain 5-7 people. There’s remnants of a campfire in the middle. Next to it was the volleyball net and the guys playing the game (kinda strange seeing them fully clothed and some wearing pants. Strange as in, dudes in American shows almost inevitably show guys wearing beach shorts while playing beach volleyball – I hereby convict myself of stereotyping and being conditioned by the American tv…). the entire campsite is located by the sea/ocean (what’s the difference, incidentally?). note that this camp site is private, exclusive only to folks who paid for the entrance/tents/etc. There was this jeep that suddenly appeared and drove along the shore – kids, families had to get out of its way. If i may pass an judgmental, that driver is either idiotic or inconsiderate. I mean, he probably knew that he’s going to enter into a private camp and yet he still proceeded with what he was doing. Oh well, such is life.

To conclude on the trip, it was thoroughly awesome. Something that I would not do again, since I have done it already. Except for the steep ride down the dune, the rest of the bash is not as exciting as some of the Disneyland/Sea world’s rides. But, for first – timers, I would definitely recommend sand dunes bashing – it’s an essential desert experience, albeit a touristy one. !

Day trip to the desert and the day after

Friday – Went to the Babu John’s house. Watched the Nepalese workers work to get the camp site materials and equipment ready for transportation. Reached the desert. Tires were deflated till they are about 18 psi – this makes driving on the sand substantially easier. En route to the camp site, one of the vehicles in the entourage got stuck in the sand. Our car made a u-turn to help the damsel in distress. Originally, the driver wanted to hook up the stuck vehicle to the back of his car. But our vehicle ended up being stuck in the sand as well. We started to push the first stranded car from the back, with the engine running. Hurray. Rescued one. Pushed the second one. Hurray. Rescued another one. Another vehicle of our group was stuck. Massive joint effort made it possible for that car to be rescued.

We reached the campsite at about 1pm. Another person had already set up camp on the location/spot that Babu John had in mind. Even though he had applied for a campsite permit previously, it’s to no avail. Spots in the desert is based on a first-come-first-served basis. Apparently, Babu John and/or his friends went to look for another suitable spot. We hung around, drank beer, talked a bit. It was time for lunch – at 3pm. Chicken briyani. Huge portion.

After lunch, the search for a suitable campsite continued. I hopped into a car and joined in the search. Saw the border of Saudi. Amazing. Went up and down the sand dunes for a bit due to a change to the driver (previous driver was pretty conservative with driving and didn’t want to cause damage to his car). The driver and the guy next to him found 2 potential spots and took some photos and presumably emailed it to Babu John for his consideration. Then, the car stopped somewhere and we chilled out.

About 30-45minutes later, we drove to another spot in the desert which turned out to the site for setting up camp. All of us helped out to set up 2 tents and the toilet. It took us like 4-5 hours of pulling canvas, ropes, digging and shovelling sand, moving steel bars and frames, etc. Exhausting really. At about 9pm, the bulk of the camp setup was completed, though they still need to erect a “fence” around the campsite… one of the uses presumably to protect the women from the stray eyes and harassment of other men.

Saturday.

Rested at home. Had blood in phlegm for the past 2 days. Today’s phlegm was the worst – about 90% of my phlegm comprised of nearly black coloured blood. Gross. Roy went with Boram to get alcohol and pork. Had lunch at home and went to see a doctor after that. Spend about S$100 which includes 2 x-rays. Doc said that he thinks I might have bronchitis. He put me on antiobiotics for a week.

Peaceful week though with greenish phlegm!

Oct 14, 2012-10-14
This week nothing much. Went for Thai food with Roy at this park. Great tom yam, fried rice and crispy appetiser and stir fried vegetables. Went for Chinese / Japanese Tim Sum buffet on Friday morning.  The soup based wonton was pretty good. Highlight of the deserts was honey dew sago. Went to Caluccio for brunch / lunch on Saturday morning. One of the best meals I have had in this place. Had seafood salad. The prawns and mussels were bloody fresh. Caught a movie after that – Frankieweenie. Points worth mentioning – it’s black and white, theme was death of one’s loved one and great desire to bring that loved one back to life, 3D. Wasn’t spectacular. Thought that the movie was more meant for adults than kids, few laughter filled moments / scenes.

I finally received electronic study package. Over 800 pages for a paper. Omg. Espanol – spent a tiny weeny bit of time on it everyday. I am struck by this sentence in the FSI study materials “to acquire fluency requires a lot of work, most of it repetition and boring”. At least I know what to expect when i’m going through the verbal drills…

Life after bermuda

Oct 10, 2012
Fleeting thoughts. Been over a week here. quick recap. Left Bermuda on Saturday. Transited at Washington DC. Stayed over at the Westin which I got over Hotwire. $72. No internet though. That cost another $10. Bed was super comfortable. Guess the body can never get used to the floor (was sleeping on the wooden floor at home for more than a month after I sold the bed). Jogged a bit the next day. Asked for a late checkout. Left at 1pm.

Was sick. Could be due to dehydration – was walking around on feet under the scorching sun. Horrendously hot. 35c. Shirt and pants were soaked through. Feverish in the evening. Kick-start natural therapy – minced/sliced raw garlic soaked in honey. Did that for a day. Grossed out though taste was all right. Had garlic pills. Bought more potent garlic pills. felt better today. though was coughing my lungs out. Researched on fever. actually, the body raised its temperature so that certain virus/bacteria can’t survive in the higher temperature environment. taking paracetemol / acetamin / ibufupin is really to make the body more comfortable (and it’s implied that the temperature doesn’t really drop although it created the illusion that it’s lower).

hanged out with Roy’s friend, Bohram. From Nepal. Works as a petrol gas attendent / works inside the gas station. He earns like US$300 per month. [There was this song playing in Roy’s car – the lyrics mentioned something about success in life is attributable to 70% own efforts and 30% destiny. I recalled that I’m a lucky bastard to be born in Singapore where English is our first lang, there’s jobs etc. Incidentally, this ties back to a sermon I heard in Bermuda. The pastor was saying that Bermudians are one of the luckiest folks on the planet – they earn high wages, etc. Which is bloodly true. Where do you get this in the rest of the world – a truck driver earning US$4k per month?]. Reminds me of my insistent and constant whining about work on the island. Guess it’s uncalled for?

Loved the idea of meeting Ken and Ann in Chicago. But it would mean having to stay for another 3 days. Sigh. I’d better watch my wallet and save up since I’m unemployed now. Frivolous spending is not the way to go.

Random thought – there’s this movie Blindness playing on the telly now. Seems to be about this contagious virus that resulted in tons of people becoming blind. They had to reside in a facility for treatment. Some of them ganged up and restricted the food supplies and robbed the rest of them. Later on, the bad gang (comprised whollly of men) demanded sex from the women in return for food. So on. Life of the blind. Again, we are lucky bastards aren’t we?

I owed farewell messages for quite a lot of folks on the island. shit. procrastination. seems like work.

pretty happy with myself today. learnt about the meaning of differentiation which is the process of deriving gradient function. and to prove the few rules. learning takes on new meaning when you understand. very different from my A and O levels where I memorised without much understanding.