Monday, October 15, 2007

Mongolia Day 3

Didn't sleep a WINK the night before!! Stomach started churning round about midnight and by the time dawn came around I was grouchy as hell and dying for some sleep. JJ raced off over the plains clicking away while I huffily tried to come to terms with the fact that there wasn't toilet within miles of where we were and that I would have to actually dig a hole in the ground and... you know. (horror of all horrors!) Well I had psychological issues with using the wide open plains as a toilet and so decided to soldier through the day and hope my tummy would sort itself out...

Drove up to the ruins if the 16th century Ovgon Khud monastery that was destroyed -
according to our guide, by the russians, and according to The Lonely Planet, Zanzabar's warriors - whatever.. it was destroyed. I personally didn't think it was anything to shout about but LP stated that a 45 min hike up into the surrounding mountains would bring us to a much prettier ruin. By this time my tummy was screaming for my attention and I had to finally relent - thank god for the hole in the ground with 3 wooden walls.

Background: My saviour!

Glad I was able to do the hike. It was an easy trek which allowed us the time to appreciate the stunning scenery and the fresh crisp air. The monastery was indeed much prettier and had alot more character and charm. The silence up there was mildly disarming and at the same time brought about a sense of peace and tranquility. I was content to just sit and listen to the sounds of flapping magpie wings as they call out to one another from their perches.

We arrive back to our driver and guide after 2 hours and it was off to the Mongol Els for camel rides! YAY!! We negotiate for an hour's worth but beg to be led back after only 20 mins - JJ coz his nether regions were giving him sharp reminders of yesterdays horse ride and me coz the up and down motion did NOTHING but aggravate my already grumpy tummy.

Once on
terra firma, we were invited into the camel herder's ger for a sampling of some airag - fermented mare's milk. It's got a pretty low alcoholic content - even 5 year-olds drink it - and involves a simple but labour intensive process of making. The milk is collected and poured into a large barrel where it is churned by hand, CONTINUOUSLY for 24 hrs. What you get is a thin, slightly sourish milk that if consumed enough, apparently keeps you from feeling hungry. Hmmmm... diet option? hehehe

Next stop, Karakorum, ancient Mongol capital ruled by Genghis Khan. Did a quick tour as it was already late and all the monks were pretty much done for the day. Decided to spend the night at a tourist ger camp where heating was in the form of a log fire YAY! not so great thing was that the fire tended to go out in the night and then I was reduced to a shivering bundle under the covers. Had a typical mongolian dinner of 'booz' - meat dumplings that were OH SO YUMMY but OH SO FILLING! JJ then had the bright idea of taking out his bottle of Chinggis Gold vodka and initiated drinking games. Silly boy! trying to win against mongolians!! At least I knew when to stop. Needless to say, he skipped breakfast the next morning and suffered a pounding head. Sigh....

Mongolia Day 2

Woke up bright and early, mainly coz the sun was streaming in through our little tent window. Had a lovely night's sleep... well as lovely as I could get sleeping on the ground, but my sleeping bag was so WARM! I actually had to take layers off in the middle of the night. Hooray for good quality sleeping bags!! Breakfast was of bacon and scrambled eggs on toast. (Hooray for our gas stove and pots and pans!!)

Bleary eyed and tending to the bacon SLURP!!

Packed up and headed into the Hustain National Park to try and catch a glimpse of wildlife and the takh - Mongolia's re-introduced wild horses and the last remaining ancestor to the modern-day horse.. The takhi are very shy and we were lucky to get as close as we did. Was slightly disappointed at the fact that apart from the takhi, marmots (which scrambled off too fast for me to take photographic aim), eagles and vultures were the only other creatures I was able to spy (oh and the mostly intact skeleton of a deer). Didn't realise that the red deer, gazelles and lynx were up in the mountainous areas - far far away. BLEH!!!

Headed back to the ranger's office for a spot of horse riding. I made sure our guide translated the importance of me having a gentle horse, but I guess she did too good a job coz the horse I ended up with not only didn't trot, it kept bloody stopping every 5 steps to EAT!! I swear a snail would've overtaken us at the rate we were going!! So while JJ and our guide went cantering up ridges, I was left to fight with my horse. The saddle I had wasn't very comfy either. A piece of leather was placed over a mongolian saddle (which is basically 2 slats of wood tied together) and that just kept biting into my thigh bone. JJ thankfully suggested we swap horses so I could get the rush of a faster moving beast. But took pity on him soon after and swapped back coz he looked like he was in pain on that saddle :p Enjoyed an hour of meandering and then it was back into our Delica and off in search of our next camp site.

Decided on a nice level spot at the foot of a stone hill (to block out most of the wind) not too far from the Mongol Els which is like the mini Gobi desert but with sand dunes. Scurried down to some dunes to catch the beautiful sunset which gave me lots of opportunities to experiment with the aperture settings and shutter speeds on the non-digital SLR I was carrying.

Back at camp, dinner of rice and mutton was ready to be served. Wolfed it down and with full bellies retired into my sleeping bag in anticipation for the next day.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Mongolia Day 1

Flew to Mongolia with D & L. Was grateful for their company. They made the flight and transit more manageable. Touched down in Ulaanbaatar airport but my bag didn't. Was told to call the airport the next morning. BLEH! Lovely way to start the holiday. JJ met us at the airport with a large bottle of Chinggis Gold Vodka and insisted on a welcome shot so that kinda made up for the mild annoyance. Damn it was good! Spent the night partying at the wedding of someone we didn't even know and only got in through JJ's friend. Free flow alcohol! Woohooo! Survived the night with no hangovers the next day. Said goodbye to D & L around 10a.m. and hello to our O & B; our guide and driver for the next 6 days.

First task of the day... grocery shopping. Since we were gonna be camping in the middle of nowhere, we had to stock up on food (rice, pasta, veges, pre-packed instant meals, fruit, etc...) and water. JJ stocked up on beer.

Drove 2 hours along dusty, bumpy unpaved roads to Hustain National Park. It was a beautiful day, 15 deg C, with cloudless blue skies that stretched as far as the eye could see. Set up camp just outside the border of the national park while O whipped up a yummy dinner of pasta (which turned cold in a matter of minutes). Didn't expect the temperature to drop so much so quickly (3 deg C). Scrambled for warmer clothes and sat down to dinner in pitch blackness save for the light coming from our lamp.

And then I looked up and was completely blown away. The night sky was dotted with millions of stars! Bright twinkling eyes looking down. Such a sight is truly a rare treat for me! (Think big cities) Ordinarily I would barely be able to see a handful of stars in the city sky let alone the Big Dipper sitting just above the horizon; We spent ages just absorbing the magic of
the night, the silence, the tranquility. After about half an hour or more (and a crick in my neck) we were preparing to crawl into our sleeping bags when I noticed a bright pin prick of a glare peeking from above a little hillock in the distance. I passed it off as light from a neighbouring village but the longer we watched, the brighter it became until we realised we were actually watching the rising of the full moon. Again we were content to just sit and watch till the moon settled into her place amongst the stars. I went to bed feeling like there simply couldn't be a better way to end a day. What a privilege!

Here are some pics from the trip... more to come once I sort the other set out.

The Big Dipper!!

Starry starry night

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Nothing Like the Flavours of Home

Was having dinner at my favourite Cantonese restaurant, Hengshan Cafe (on Hengshan Lu) when I noticed that the diners on the next table were having something that looked suspiciously like kangkong. I was suddenly struck with this overpowering craving for kangkong belacan. Called the manager, and with fingers crossed enquired if they had it. Was crestfallen when he replied with a 'no'. I spent the next WEEK (i'm not kidding) thinking about kangkong belacan and Malaysian cuisine. JJ (bless his heart) searched, and FOUND, a Malaysian restaurant that claimed to serve authentic Malaysian food. So decided to give them a try. Spoke to some guy who WHOA! turned out to be Malaysian, and I was quite taken aback to realise how THRILLED I was to speak to a fellow Malaysian... from Melaka!! He couldn't speak Malay ironically enough... (lousy Malaysian!) but knew EXACTLY what I was craving for... When asked if he served kangkong belacan, he answered "No belacan how to eat!!" oh my god I could've kissed him! Then he asked if I wanted Nasi Lemak rice! Walau, I can't remember the last time I had Nasi Lemak man!! I was so 'into' the moment of being in the presence of Malaysian food that I wouldn't eat it any other way but with my fingers... Otherwise where got 'shiok'!! The kangkong was great, the rendang was OK, the spicy assam prawns was 'power', chicken curry even more 'power', the eggplant was damn nice, and the yong tou fu was so-so... was never a big fan anyway... Next I wanna try their Bak kut teh. Better not be like Singaporean bak kut teh... It's been YEARS since I've had proper Malaysian style bak kut teh with 'you tiao'. Looking forward!!

And then Add in a Spell of Chilled Holidays...

Every time I tell people that I'm gonna be camping in -6 degree C (night time) temperatures, their reactions are always the same... "Damn that's cold! Are you sure you wanna do that?" I've heard that so often now that I'm gradually starting to doubt if it's such a great idea to camp... me, a camping virgin at that! I can't help but wonder if we're just really adventurous or have absolutely no clue what we're getting ourselves into! If you think about it, we're gonna be in some forest somewhere and therefore not have a source of light at night save the torch - so I won't be able to read, or write much. Secondly, it's hard enough knowing that i'm gonna have to (finally) pee in a bush, and now I have to do it in -6 degrees and in the dark?!?! Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.... I'm sure I'll survive it, but the thought just seems so unwelcome...

C seems to think that if I survive -10 in Mongolia I'll survive -30 in Harbin and so has proposed that we all go up to the Northern province of Heilongjiang next January for the Harbin Ice Festival followed by a skiing trip. I can't even bloody roller-blade properly!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

T-4 Days and Counting!

Godammit! i think I blew my entire October salary already on camping gear and windproof / waterproof attire. Bought sleeping bag suited for -17 deg C, waterproof hiking boots and a whole bunch of knick-knacks. Decided to rent a tent once we get to Mongolia. I still need to get my travel insurance, rabies shot, heat pads, film, water purifying tablets, more Cliff Bars (I seriously don't think JJ bought enough... I can get rather ravenous when it's cold :p), AlkaSeltzer, mild laxatives (all we'll get is meat, meat and more meat... but come to think of it, those Cliff Bars should have SOME form of fibre in them!!) and I bet a long list of other styff that I can't remember right now... sigh... But FUN FUN FUN!!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Frolicking with Reindeer!!!

Or so I'd hoped I would be when I get into Mongolia. Unfortunately, because we only have a total of 6 days including flights in and out, we were advised by a guide against doing the whole reindeer idea. I'm sorely disappointed. Was really looking forward to riding one of those beasts! I forget just how huge the country is and even 3 weeks wouldn't get you even close to finishing the Northern region (if you were to do a proper exploration). It would take us 24 hours in a jeep along dirt roads to get to the Khovsgol National Park (bordering Russia) and another 9 hours 'crazy driving' to get to the Dhuka (reindeer herders). We had the option of flying directly into Moron (just South of the National Park) but the available flights just didn't suit our schedule. Chartering a helicopter was out of the question due to rental prices (US$1,670 per hour and it's a 9-hour flight up!!) Furthermore, we wanted to camp and get around on horse-back and that would require so many more days. So we had to scrap that itinerary.

Itinerary #2 seems more do-able. Due to the fact that public transportation is almost non-existent and hitching appears to be the norm, we're considering hiring a 4WD and a driver... to help us maximise our time there. Hitching depends alot on luck and I'd much rather be hiking up an extinct volcano than sitting on my backpack by the side of the road waiting for a vehicle going by. So from Ulaanbaatar we'll head out to Khustain National Park (100km) to check out wildlife (
takhi- wild horses of Mongolia and the last surviving ancestor of the modern horse. Extinct in the wild, the takhi are slowly being re-introduced thanks to the park's Takhi Re-Introduction Project) wolves, red deer, Mongolian gazelles, marmots, birds, etc...) and do a spot of hiking and horse-back riding. We'll stay a night or 2 (we're gonna be camping btw!!The not so fab thing is that temperatures are forecasted to fall to about -6 deg C. BRRRR....!! Plus, the last time I came even remotely close to building a fire was when I went camping with the boyscouts in 1994... since then it's been charcoal-barbecue fires and I really don't think that's gonna help :p).

Next day, we'll head out to Tsetserleg, the capital of the Arkhangai aimag (province)400km from UB. Apparently a great place to stay the night. We can also stock up on food and water. (Heard that mongolian instant noodles aren't too bad at all.)

From Tsetserleg, we'll push on to Khorgo-Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park - home to The Great White Lake and Khorgo volcano. Great for fishing, trekking, and 'dramatic' sunsets. Will probably do more horse riding (though JJ's not jumping for joy at the idea) and try to get in at least one yak ride!! Stay a night. This time maybe in a traditional 'ger', the nomadic mongolian tent. Stay a night or 2 then head back to UB.

Stop by Karakorum - ancient capital of the Mongol Empire founded by Chinggis Khan. Stay a night.

Head back to UB.

So that's the rough plan but as in all holidays, you'll never know what's gonna happen particularly when you're in a country where the only paved roads you'll see are in the towns. But excited none the less!!!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Yunnan Adventure Day 2 - LiJiang

Am out of bed and on the streets by 0800hrs. Perfect time to watch the Old City waking up. I stroll along looking for a place where I can treat my taste-buds to the local specialities - namely 'Crossing the Bridge Noodles', yak butter tea and 'ba ba' - a kind of local flat bread in which you can stuff with meats and bits. There's another speciality that I don't bother seeking out - something that contains pig blood. I eat and try to plan an itinerary but all it does is leave me overwhelmed and frustrated. There's so much to see and do but so little time and I have to leave for Tiger Leaping Gorge tomorrow morning. I decide to rent a bike and cycle out to the surrounding area. Bike rental guy (Ah Guan of Nice Hiking Club) is really friendly and gives lots of information and advice on things to see.

First stop, Black Dragon Lake - sparkling green waters that hold up the majestic Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the distance, and is supposedly one of the best places for that perfect shot of the mountain. I on the other hand couldn't quite make out which it was :p

pic taken from

Spend ages exploring the Dongba Research Institute and a small museum that displays Dongba scrolls and artifacts. Dongba being the pictographic script that was developed by the Naxi people, and apparently really difficult to interpret. The language is verbally passed down to fultur generations by Dongba (Naxi scholar-priests). Unfortunately, the lack of interest from the younger generation is slowly leading to the extinction of the language.

Was trigger happy so took loads and loads of pics too. Skipped the Elephant Hill as incidents of muggings have been reported especially to women who'd hiked up alone.

Hop back onto my bike and cycle 7km to Bai Sha villag. Stop at Suhe village first thogh. Regret it instantly. Nothing but tourist shops line the streets and it's completely commercialised! Entry fee is
3o yuan but a guy approaches me saying he can get me in for 10 yuan via a back way. I agree. hehehe. Hang around for 2 hours then leave. One thing that struck me was the fact that the water flowing through what we would call road-side drains, were crystal clear!! People wash their clothes in there and I swear it looked clean enough to drink. Find out that the Dongba religion is "...based on the relationship between nature and man. In Dongba mythology, 'Nature' and 'Man' are half-brothers, having different mothers." WIKIPEDIA.ORG and hence respect nature and put alot of effort into protecting it.

Leave Suhe after 1.5 hours (was trying to take a short cut but got lost instead). Continue on to Bai Sha taking small dirt roads through villages and padi fields. Stop to ask a Na
xi woman who was leading a little girl (tourist) on a horse. Turns out they're heading in the same direction and they invite me to join them. I've got company! Chat with the dad who was born in Kunming and talk about travel. I'm impressed by my Mandarin! We get to Bai Sha and it's nothing as I'd been expecting. Thought I'd be going to a proper village where I could chat with its inhabitants. Unfortunately, this was a walled area with pretty much the same artifacts I'd been seeing the entire time. I can't help but think that I should walk farther into the area but I am 'fresco-ed' up to my teeth and I am in no mood to do anymore. Toy with the idea of checking out a couple of temples and pagodas but am told that they are at least 2 hours away and I still have to think of my return trip to the city. BLEH! I decide not to go.

Back to the Old City. My skin starts to prickle and sting as I've forgotten my sun-screen.
Fabulous! Silly billy. I'm going to regret this. We arrive back at Suhe (via the short cut I couldn't fine earlier :p). Dad is really nice and we exchange e-mail addresses before parting ways.

I'm beat!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Yunnan Adventure Day 1


Touch down at Kunming Airport. Weather's fabulous!! About 25 deg and dry. Seeing how I have very little time, I decide to skip Kunming and Dali, and head straight to LiJiang. Grab cab to long-distance bus station on Beijing Rd. Managed to buy last ticket on 1430hr bus. 174 yuan, 8 hour ride. Oh well... I realise i'm the only non-Chinese here... where are all the tourists?!?

I have time to kill but it starts drizzling. WTF! Plus it's getting chilly. Head to the toilets but let's just say my objective was not met. The doorless cubicles and the constant traffic of females waiting their turn don't help. Sorry to get a little too detailed, but bare bums were in all their glory as row upon row of toilet goers perch themselves over a narrow drain. I get as far as pulling my pants down.


We're off! I sleep for most of the journey.


Our first pit stop and toilet break. Now I understand why guys can't go when another is standing too close. Attempt No. 2. I freeze again, mainly because this woman is standing right in front of me waiting for my spot. My brain is screaming at her to get the hell out of my face but it's such a normal thing for them I knew she wouldn't understand. Someone else finishes before me and she goes away. WHEW! I vow not to drink anymore!


Arrive at Lijiang! I'm knackered. Who knew that sitting on your ass for a total of 14 hrs could be so tiring :p Weather has gotten cooler. About 21 deg. I get a bed at the First Bend Inn, in the Old City. It's beautifully lit, with red chinese lanterns, and twinkling lights and it's ancient style buildings with cobble-stoned streets make it easy to imagine the scene of long-ago China. Well almost if you ignore the masses of tourists clogging the streets. It's incredibly commercialised! I share a quad with 2 teachers from Chengdu who'd been on the go for the past 2 weeks and are heading to Szechuan the next day. Unfortunately our itineraries do not overlap. I call it an early night. Lots to do tomorrow!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Yunnan, Here I Come!

HAH! so much for not having a mini-vacation!!! What started with a 2 day trip down to the nearby water-village of Suzhou has now turned into a week-long exploration of Yunnan!!! And believe it or not it all started when i found out that Yen was in Kunming (well at that point I didn't realise that she'd left). Anyway, Yunnan has been on my to visit list eversince I'd gotten here, and since JJ'd been there, he highly recommended that I do it so, voila! I'm flying tomorrow morning at 8 am. Now I gotta do some speedy packing! JJ's making it so much easier by lending me his backpack, mini first aid kit, and all sorts of useful little nick-nacks to use on my trip... The interesting thing about this trip is that I don't have a pre-planned itinerary. A first for me. I hate not knowing what I'll be doing each day. It's unnerving. There's a first for everything I guess.

Ok retail therapy got a little out of hand so I'm not sure if I'm gonna be able to afford a mini-holiday after all :( but I've been presented with 2 options for which I'm grateful. First of all, one of the students from the English class I was teaching has invited a couple of us back to his home town tomorrow. I have no idea where it is but apparently it's quite lovely. And secondly, JJ's bought a new bike and said that he'd take a few half-days so that we can go to the outskirts and do a spot of cycling and kite flying! Yay! My diving has been put on hold as the the instructors would be away on some diving conference on the exact weekend I was planning to do the course. It sucks because that's the ONLY weekend I have off before going back to work. BLEH!

Sunday, August 19, 2007


And so it has begun, the celebratory activities that mark the end of 4 gruelling weeks of work, sacrificed weekends and daily 4-hour shut eyes. The splurging commenced on Friday itself, on Sasha's gorgeous gorgeous pizzas and happy hour drinks, after which all 16 of us piled into cabs and headed for an hour or 2 (make that 5 and a half) of karaoke and i can't remember how many bottles of Johnny Walker with Green Tea. Was pleasantly surprised to wake up the next morning with zero hangover and my voice still intact. Seeing how I was in such good spirits, some retail therapy was in order - no therapy's not the word - TREAT for surviving the month!! New phone, new external HD, new laptop cable, a BEAUTIFULLY quirky looking sake set from Spins (site currently under construction -, lingerie was on my list as well as a pretty little jewel for my piercing, to replace the one I'd lost a long long time ago, and not forgetting a trip to the nail spa, but couldn't fit them all in that afternoon as had a birthday dinner to attend. Teppanyaki eat & drink all you can for RMB150!! Copious amounts of sake and beer later it was on to Windows Tembo for more cheap drinks. Needless to say, I'm nursing a hangover today. But I still want my jewel so am forcing myself out of bed to get that taken care of before meeting Jess for brunch. groooooooooooooooan!

My yummy-looking sake set!

a sample of Spin

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Breaking & Entering

My poor sis got her apartment broken into and her laptop stolen. Bastards even had the luxury of opening her cupboard to take her laptop case to carry it in, together with her power cables and phone charger. Nothing else was taken though. Cash and jewelery still there. She's freaked as hell now. Apparently she slept fully clothed, with her shoes on and her house keys in her hand so that she could run out if anyone decided to break in again. It was made to look like they got in through her bathroom window but according to the police the dust on the sill had not been disturbed and it was more likely that it was an ex-tenant who still had the key to the place. Why she didn't change the locks when she moved in I don't know. Anyway, she's adamant about moving out of the place now.

And since we're on the topic, just spoke to T and apparently his wife's purse was stolen while they were on their honeymoon in London. Worse part was that their passports, phones, camera, etc... were all in there. So they spent the rest of the time at the embassy trying to get new passports... how sucky!!

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Friday, July 27, 2007

1 Week Down 3 to Go

TGIF MAN!!!! Week 1 of CELTA is OVER! Unfortunately, tonight is the only night I'm allowing myself to chill and party. Tomorrow, it's back to the assignments... sigh... I AM glad to note that despite the heavy-workload I'm actually enjoying the course. It brings a whole new light on teaching, and GRAMMAR! So much of the language is finally making sense to me now. hehehehe In celebration of our survival of the first week, course mates and I are gonna hit the town tonight, especially since it's the first time most of them have been to Shanghai. So agend: HUGE dinner at Chinese restaurant, (hey after a week of wolfing down cheap university food in 30mins... we deserve this) followed by COPIOUS amounts of alcohol and ending the night singing our lungs out at my fav karaoke place. Damn it's gonna be a good night. :D:D And DAMN I'm gonna have a bad hang over tomorrow!

"First You Scoop out the Flesh....

...of the pineapple / mango / melon, leaving the skin and t
hus creating a bowl in which you can fill with the fruite salad you're about to prepare." And that's the first step to preparing a thai fruit salad. YUMMY! Went for a thai cooking class on Sunday and had a blast! For an incredibly decent price, chef Alyssa Han of Thaifoodstation at The Melting Pot takes you through the steps of a couple of simple Thai dishes that would be a breeze to do at home, provided you have the proper ingredients. So on the agenda that Sunday were spicy Thai fruit salad followed by the main course of Massaman curry and a sweet water chestnut dessert to finish. Absolutely yummy!! My favourite part of the entire class was the fact that we could sit down and savour the fruits of our labour! Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh... AND we had leftovers that we could take home! YAY!!! C is now asking that I cook for her. I say "With pleasure!"

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Had a lovely Saturday afternoon on my bike exploring the city again, but this time decided to drag JJ along since he's alot more familiar with the little obscure lanes and backroads. Stopped for brunch at Embre - a quite little cafe/restaurant which is fast becoming a favourite spot with me, mainly due to their food. Their Big Breakfast ROCKS! :-)

JJ then decided to mess around a little with his camera. The Objective? Capturing the clearest image of a vehicle in motion. The Verdict? I took the best shot. MUAHAHAHA!

Attempt #1

Attempt #2

JJ's Shot

Anyway, JJ was gonna have a BBQ (SLURP!) at his place later that day so went grocery shopping (YAY!!). Not surprisingly I got overly excited and started suggesting all sorts of things to accompany the meats, including potato salad, slices of eggplant topped with mozzarella and stuffed portobello mushrooms (sour cream and bacon bits! HELLO!!!). Unfortunately, JJ had much more restraint and vetoed everything I'd suggested except the potato salad. BLEH! Anyway, with bags of food and wine (and a pot of Basil!) hanging off our handle bars, we headed back for BBQ prep! Yours truly was in charge of marinating the chicken wings, (they had gotten very good reviews the last time I made them... hehehehe), while JJ tried to make mayo for the potatoes from scratch. Interesting endeavour. It didn't come out looking or tasting anything like the mayo as we know it but after the second try, pronounced it yummy enough to use. Mixed that with lots of sour cream and a sprinkling of chopped chives and it was fab! And then the boys came over and it was all gone in a blink of an eye... sigh. But was happy to note that chicken wings tasted even better than the last time. Woohoo!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Back to School

After all these months, I'm FINALLY doing the CELTA course. And damn it's more intensive than anything I've ever done. I mean 2 assignments given today and due tomorrow? heh... It's only Day 2 and I'm already doubting the fact that I'll make it through the rest of the 18 days. But perseverance it will have to be, I guess and until then, there would probably be very minimal blogging for me... :p

Friday, July 20, 2007

Transformers... Robots in Disguise

OMG!!! Watched Transformers yesterday and it was AMAZING!!! My childhood heroes on the big screen man! I mean watching Blackout and Frenzy in action was thrilling enough but
to watch Optimus Prime transform... I thought my heart had stopped! From then on I was just bolted to my seat, my eyes trained at nothing but the big screen. I was rendered breathless on more occasions than one and had goose pimples all over during the final fight scene!! OH! And not to mention the brand-spanking new Bumblebee!!! Admittedly I felt very cheated when he turned out to be a Camaro rather than his original Beetle but what the hell, he's beautiful just the same!

Awestriking scenes:

1. The first transformation of Blackout (heart thumping, jaw dropped!)
2. Optimus Prime driving up to Sam & Mikaela
2. Bone Crusher skating down the freeway
3. Scorponok flying through the air in pursuit of the survivors of Qatar base
4. Ironhide charging through the city, cannons a blazing
5. The Decepticons & Autobots transforming from robot to vehicle in mid-stride ARRRRGHHH!! How hot was that?!

OK, gushing aside... of course there were parts that didn't go down as smoothly with everyone. Chatted with a buddy and we both agreed that:

1. Bumblebee was the ultimate hero! He put up a better fight compared to the rest of the autobots. Or should I say, not enough screen time was given to the rest of them, Optimus Prime not including.
2. Optimus Prime was "too much of a pussy" - going down after being thrown around a little bit by Megatron
3. Ironhide's weapon abilities were grossly underplayed. Blackout displayed a much more impressive use of his weapons in the opening scene.
4. Producers shouldn't have sold out to General Motors. But I guess that was inevitable.

Anyway... must watch it again!! I'm gonna go watch 'Transformers: The Movie' now...

Blueberry Morning!

Made blueberry pancakes this morning with real blueberries! DELISH!!

I'm going to fly my brand new super-duper stunt kite tomorrow! WOOHOO!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

'Tis the Season to be Peachy

Spring was beautiful with all those shiny red, juicy strawberries. It was all i ate... I'd put them in desserts, eat them whole, blend them into my banana smoothies... and then summer came along and kicked spring out, sending the strawberries after it. I thought, that's it... I'm gonna be stuck with bananas, oranges, apples and watermelons. Not that I have anything against these fruits, I just want something that I can't get back home for really cheap. And then I tried the peaches and there's been no turning back. (I have to thank my fruit guy for that first experience) They're firm to the touch but when you bite into it, your teeth just cleave cleanly through the flesh sending rivulets of juice down your arm and smearing the sides of your mouth, leaving you a sticky sticky mess. But it's ABSOLUTELY gorgeous!! Sweet and juicy! I LOVE IT!!! Munching on one right now :D SLURP!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Don't Mean to Be Gross but...

*Warning: bloody pic at the end*

I had a stupid wart sitting on my thumb for ages and finally decided to get it removed. I would've preferred the less painful way of getting it out (cream with salicylic acid) even if it did take longer to remove, but doc wouldn't hear of it. He stabbed the sucker with liquid nitrogen and successfully blitzed the surrounding healthy tissue as well (which was unavoidable). I was then told that a big ass blister would form by the next day and that I should prick it and remove the skin. The wart SHOULD be at the apex of the blister and come away with the rest of the skin. So yesterday afternoon I performed a little mini surgery on my thumb, taking care to use alcohol swabs and a 'sterile' pair of scissors (since I didn't have a needle). The result looked pretty erm... bad. The wart did come off but instead of a thin layer new skin that I was expecting to see under the blister, I saw this... And you know what!! I think the root broke off and is still in my thumb!

I'm kinda in pain now... dammit :p

My Poor Week-Old Bike...

... is making squeeky noises :(

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Summer Adventure!

... a year from now :p My biggest travel project at this point would be a month-long backpacking trip in South America. 2 reasons: It offers loads of possibilities for an adventure holiday, and secondly, I will be completely immersed in a Spanish-rich language environment! My spanish SHOULD be pretty decent by then so my travelling there would be more to learn maybe street slang and to just enjoy the 'feel' of the language all around me! God I'm getting tingles down my arms!

Seeing how huge the continent is, I've decided to start gathering little bits of information from people who'd already been there and are therefore able to recommend places and sights. Up till now, Peru is a definite. Looking at the highlands - Cusco, doing the Inca Trail, Lake Titicaca, - and the Amazon. Will be pretty cold when I go but it'll also be the dry season so would make for more comfortable exploration. Average temperatures in the highlands are a high of about 20 deg C and a low of 1 deg C. Warmer in the coastal areas but not warm enough to appreciate the waters.

Slowly reading up on the country and what options i'll have. Will need to come up with a budget and therefore START SAVING!! I'll probably start buying one travel item each month instead of blowing $1000+ at one go closer to departure date. Makes it easier on the pocket :p

In addition, a possible country would be Bolivia. Seeing how the most I have is a month I might divvy it up into 2 weeks in Peru, 1 in Bolivia and hopefully 1 in Rio if J is still living there then. After 3 weeks roughing it out (as I plan to) a week in the city wouldn't be such a bad idea. EXCITED!!!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Let Us In!!!

I swear I have a knack of getting myself into trouble these past few days. My little accident was just one of them. Last night C and I got ourselves locked out of our apartment!! OMG! It was hilarious and frustrating at the same time... Both of us thought the other had taken the house key and because J was over, we had no reason to lock up when we left to the pool for a swim. Of course we knew we were in trouble once we got back up and realised that J had gone over to his buddy's place. So with no phone and no cash we went to K's, (thank god she lived nearby), towels draped around our necks, with wet patches around our boobs and bums coz we still had our wet bikinis on, just so we could get some cash for a cab and go hunt J down his copy of the key. C wasn't 100% sure of the address, and because she couldn't remember J's number we weren't able to call to ask. So what did we do? Jumped into a cab and prayed that the address she gave was correct. It took us 2 cab rides to get to the right place btw. Anyway, we eventually found the place (thank go they were home!!). Wasn't sure what we would do if they weren't :p

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Busy Sunday Afternoon

Woke up early this morning and was struck by the sudden urge to cycle all the way to City Diner for breakfast (it's a fair distance away from where I live) then changed my mind and decided that since I have a bike, I should take full advantage of it by exploring all the little roads and cafes that I've always wanted to but never really got around to doing. So at 10am, armed with my restaurant guide and my map, I was out of the house and on the streets. What I really wanted to do was cafe hop - spend like an hour or so in each just to sample their wares and see if I can find one that I call my 'hangout'. Things didn't really work out that way but I still managed a couple. First stop was a tiny Viennese cafe that had a simple brunch in progress when I'd arrived.
Käsespaetzle was on the menu and I was tempted to have some but it looked too heavy for breakfast. Ended up with ham & cheese scrambled eggs instead. Wasn't too happy at the fact that the eggs didn't come with a serving of bread. I had to order it separately. Even the butter had a separate charge!! Ordered some bread anyway but to my dismay, was served vollkornbrot - wholegrain bread!! I never could bring myself to appreciate German breads. I just find them way to heavy. I had 3/4 of one slice and wolfed down my eggs. Stayed for about an hour then headed to La Perla, a cafe within a bookstore.

Didn't get around to checking out the cafe though. How could I with all those books around me! Managed to find a Spanish section and bought myself a short mystery novel which I'm quite glad to note, is actually part of a reading series for learners of the language. There are even questions at the end of the book to test the reader's understanding! (I'm proud to say that I got past page 3 :p) Walked out of the store with 3 purchases: my novel, a little Moleskine 18 Month Weekly Planner (set me back by 130RMB - bloody hell) and the printed version of a movie that came highly recommended - The Secret by Rhonda Byrne - that claims "you will come to know how you can have, be, or do anything you want. You will come to know who you really are." What can I say... I was intrigued.

Next stop - Taikang Lu. More precisely, Lane 248. A unique little place where trendy meets traditional and . Once you get past the middle aged men playing cards and the vegetables spread out on the road for sale, you find yourself stepping into what would closely resemble a street in Paris. The shikumen that line the lane that are slowly being restored and converted into pattiseries and cafes, make for delightful places to catch up with friends over a cappuccino or two. The boutiques are also very tempting to poke around in. I plonked myself down at Cafe Mojo and didn't move for the next 2 hours, taking my time to slurp my peach-banana smoothie, my 2 Coronas and a chocolate mousse pudding. Sigh! By the time I left it was 4pm and I was ready to call it a day. The trip home was long but totally worth it! I now have a rough idea of what roads are in the area and what shops can be found on each road. FANTASTIC!

The Strength of a Woman

For me, the thought of having a child when you're not ready is hard enough, but to have one when you're not ready AND have your boyfriend walk out on you is the absolute pits. I'm not gonna turn this into a bitch fest like I'm tempted to, instead I just want to say how much I admire the woman who accepts the responsibility of having the baby, knowing that it's going to be more than a challenge to be doing it alone, who can put aside her heartache and disbelief at the fact that her partner kicked her out of the apartment and doesn't want to have anything to do with her or the baby; I admire the woman who despite all that, still doesn't want to consider the options that could so easily make everything go away.

So this is to F, who is now the proud mother of a beautiful baby boy, and to J, whose journey is only just beginning. You gals have proved to me that even though women may be stereotyped as the weaker, more emotional sex, they can be so much stronger and braver at the times that really matter.

Accident #1

And I had my first ever biking accident in Shanghai... stupid rain! And silly me :p Going down a wet ramp and squeezing the brakes harder than is necessary is not a good idea. I think I busted my knee :(

Friday, July 06, 2007

Out and About Again

The whole 'Don't drink and drive' tagline has basically come to mean, don't drive your car after you'd downed a few. But it never really crossed my mind that the advice would extend to cycling and drinking, until today. Was introduced to a gorgeous little bar that's advertised as "The best kept secret that you want to keep" or something along those lines. A place that's so obscure and out of the way that you don't really know it's there unless a regular takes you there or you happen to live in the vicinity. It's akin to what the brits would say "our local" where they go to have a few pints, and it's just full of regulars. Conversation going nowhere? No prob, just grab one of their board games or have a round or two of gin rummy. Beer is cheap and the food palatable. But what I REALLY love about the place is the atmosphere. Rustic, cozy, familiar... despite it being my first time there. Sorry, I'm digressing. Anyway, took off from work an hour early and got there in time for Happy Hour - 1-for-1!! hehehehe. 2 beers later and I realise that I have my bike parked outside, and I didn't really know where I was. Interesting. Didn't think it would've been a great idea to attempt getting home tipsy. So reluctantly shared my third beer with colleague while she donated hers to one of the boys. Oh well. Shall think of that little issue the next time I feel like a beer. :p

Oh btw, it was bloody 36 degrees C today but because it's been overcast for the past few days, I didn't really realise just how hot it actually was. So did loadsa cycling today (in a sleeveless top) and I think I managed a sunburn. My arms are tingling the way a burn would usually make them feel and my face feels a little sensitive. :p I guess I can understand why so many local women cycle with these HUGE visors over their faces. And I mean HUGE. They look like they have on those protective face shields welders put on when they work. SERIOUS! But still cycling is fab! If you don't mind how sweaty and grossly sticky you become, that is. I should really consider getting 'cycling clothes' that I can chancge out of once i get to work... hmmmmmmm....

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Mah Hot New Wheels!

I've FINALLY bought myself a bike! It's 3 days old today and been out on the road twice. Seeing how it's only a 10 - 15 min ride to work, I figured, why not invest in a pair of wheels! No regrets (so far). The only con is that bikes get stolen so frequently here that I was told to count myself lucky if I still have it after 3 months :p:p Bugger! So I bought myself a super-duper chain lock and try as far as possible to secure my bike to something grounded. I'm actually PARANOID! I can't go into a store for 2 minutes without having to fight the urge to look outside and see if my bike's still there. The pros outweigh the worry though so what the hell... I LOVE MY BIKE! And the great thing is I pay more attention to road signs and my surroundings so I not only get my exercise, I also get to know my way around better. Whoppeeee!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Summertime Dinner

Co-hosted a dinner party at JJ's for a couple of his friends and it was fun!! Being in his kitchen is like being in a candy store for me!! He's got this wonderfully equipped kitchen with all these little knick knacks that I would love to have! And because he's into cooking (hence the well equipped kitchen) we were able to swap cooking tips as well. Anyway, he was in charge of the appetiser and salad while I took on the challenge of the main course and dessert. After our dinner at Finestre's JJ was excited to experiment with one of the appetizers they had on their menu - a variation of a watermelon and feta salad that is a common dish in Israel and Egypt, with tomatoes and a sprinkling of roasted pine nuts added, as well as a dash or two of chilli flakes to give it some bite. But instead of serving it chopped into bite sized cubes and mixed in a large bowl, JJ decided to get creative and dressed large slabs of watermelon with the salad and topped it off with a lemon-mustard-honey dressing. So refreshing on a hot summer evening!

Main course was white fish-fillet in lemon butter sauce. I usually use john dory but since everything here is in Chinese, I'm still not really sure what I bought. The texture turned out pretty good though so I don't really care :p Lemon-butter was the only sauce that was simple enough and that I could do from memory. Just a cup of dry white wine, lemon juice, shallots, garlic, orange juice, salt and pepper and unsalted butter. The original recipe called for about 250g of butter but the thought of all that fat just makes me cringe so I cut it down a little. It didn't turn out as pale a yellow nor as creamy as it ought to, and it definitely had a sharper tang to it, but that was neutralised once eaten with the fish. Served it up with fresh greens and buttered boiled baby potatoes.

Dessert was really simple but such a bitch to prepare! Valencian Caramel Oranges.
Since weather's been so muggy, I figured something light and fruity would be perfect, so oranges it was. The last time I did it I added strawberries to add some colour to it but seeing how we're in the middle of summer, fat chance. The tedious bit about this recipe is the fact that you have to separate the oranges into segments by removing the membranes! Arrghhh! But after that the rest is easy. Again tried doing the caramel from memory but I now realise that I'd forgotten to add water to the sugar BEFORE melting it over the fire, so when I added some during the boiling process, the caramel started crystallising and I lost about half of it to a hard shiny lump of sweetness (which i enjoyed :D) . Managed to salvage the rest and the slightly burnt taste it had complemented the oranges rather nicely. JJ had a brainwave just as I was about to dish out the oranges, and splashed a capful or Cointreau over them. A Fab idea! Went really well with the caramel. We then washed it all down with an eiswein that P brought along. Can't say I enjoyed the combination though. I mean the wine was great but I think I would've enjoyed it more if I wasn't having it with the oranges and caramel which were sweet enough.

But all in all, our guests were happy, and JJ pronounced it a success! YAY!

NEXT! BBQ on the 8th of this month!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

My Social Calender

It's a worrying day when your friends are better clued in to your social engagements than you are :p Why am i so distracted today?!

A Foot Above Sea Level

Ok talk about mood crash... From
up in the air la la la I'm somewhere closer to the ground floor of my apartment and feeling like crap. I know perfectly well why, but it still sucks to lose the high :(

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sparkles and Rainbow Skies

I have no idea why I'm thinking of Sparkles and Rainbow Skies but that's how I've been feeling these past few days - all shiny and sparkle-y and light and colourful! It's such a great feeling! Listening to The Bird and the Bee's "Again and Again" makes me feel that way too, eventhough once you pay attention to the lyrics 'happy' really isn't the emotion I should be having :p

Had a fabulous Spanish class last night. I actually feel I'm getting somewhere!! I read 4 short passages and could understand 80% of them (new vocab aside), could even paraphrase and answer questions!! albeit rather haltingly... Went for that Spanish Design Exhibition and found that I was able to translate SOME of the information in the coffee table book they were selling with info on the pieces.

Was chirpy today that I treated myself to a nice longer than usual lunch with colleagues, then proceeded to get a foot massage!!! Of course now I pay the price of having to work at home but it was worth it! La la la!!!

Monday, June 25, 2007


Well sort of. Would prefer it if the air was drier but I might as well make the most of the day. After spending a couple of hours at a DimSum brunch (yum yum!!) the next hour or so was spent checking out the Shanghai Art Museum. The main aim was to check out the 300% Spanish Design exhibition which showcased the uniquely spanish designs of lamps, chairs and posters within the last century. Saw a few pieces (lamps) that would be great to replicate and have at home! Also checked out the 'Infantization' exhibition which was yummy and definitely struck a chord with me. The bright colours and style not only brought back memories of myself as a kid but also made me think of my little ones at school, which kept a smile on my face. There were several others on display but can't quite remember the names. I particularly liked a series of portrait photographs. I don't know what technique was used where at first glance you'd think it was a pencil sketch but upon closer inspection, they were really photographs. The models were well known figures such as Kate Moss & Devon Aoki but instead of glamour shots, these were raw black and white ones, that perfectly captured the emotions etched in their faces, the thoughts in their eyes...

Anyway, stepping out of the museum into the sweltering heat brought to mind visions of ice cold beer and so I promptly decided to pass up throwing a ball around with colleagues in favour of Scrabble at Cotton's accompanied by buckets of Coronas! The weekly Sunday barbecue was well underway by the time we got there, but since it was already about 5pm, I decided to dig in. At RMB88 for unlimited meat and salad, it was too good a deal to let go. Lamb chops, chicken, sausages, ribs, meat patties for burgers, and about 8 - 10 varieties of salads were enough to satisfy me for the next 3 hours. Not bad for a Sunday ;-)

A Gourmet Night Out

I can't believe just how incredibly humid the weather's gotten lately! Think Singapore on a post-rainy afternoon, and double that. There are days when you can almost see a film of fog in the air, heavy with water particles that stay on you when you walk through them. And because it's humid, no amount of shedding of clothes would ease the situation. The air still presses down and threatens to drown you in your own perspiration. And this when you're sitting and immobile!!! Not good for someone who overheats pretty easily. Thank god the nights are cooler and more bearable.

I'm just glad to note that the damn weather didn't stop me from having a fab Saturday night, despite the very real possibility of the evening not taking off at all! Armed with an invitation to a wine tasting, I'd asked JJ to come along (mainly because he would've appreciated the event much more than I). But just as I was about to leave the heavens decided that the earth needed a little washing and dumped a torrential amount of rain on us, which first of all made JJ late getting home coz of traffic, and then made it impossible to get a cab (not surprising). It was more than 45 mins into the tasting and we'd still not left the house so we decided to just skip it and treat ourselves to dinner at Finestre on the Bund (hunger pangs were beginning to set in, and there is NEVER any argument when my tummy starts grumbling). Rain stopped just as we arrived allowing us the beautiful view of the twinkling lights of the surrounding buildings from within a cupola, 11 stories up.

Dinner was awesome... We had the duck confit with salami and proscuitto ham, and a
Ceviche for starters, both of which were simply gorgeous; the meats not too salty and hence didn't leave your mouth dry (and you thirsty), and the cerviche had just the right amount of tang and sourness that complemented the oh so fresh seafood (prawns, squid and scallop.... SLURP!!) perfectly! For the main course I had skewered swordfish with courgettes. The portion was pretty generous - 5 sizeable pieces of meat and about 5 large golf ball sized courgettes. Unfortunately the swordfish came overdone and hard so we sent it back (me feeling guilty the whole time for making them do it, with JJ reprimanding me for feeling such :p I know I can be quite the idiot sometimes). Anyway the second serving came and it was delicious! Succulent and tender! No regrets with sending it back :p Had the diced strawberries in a syrup of balsamic vinegar for dessert, which was divine when followed with the white wine we were having YUMMY!!! Was so stuffed by the end of dinner
I didn't wanna move, but still managed to drag myself about a block to De La Coast for an after-dinner cocktail (BELLINIS!!!) It wasn't very cold though, which marred the taste a little but what the hell, the view made up for it. ;-)


De La Coast

Sunday, June 17, 2007

When Two Become One

After telling my sis that Y will be tying the knot next year, (which is so bloody exciting!!!) she's gone into hyper excitable mode and is now trying to plan MY wedding - doesn't matter that I have yet to have someone actually propose to me first. She's even on the lookout for 'suitable gardens in MELBOURNE' (because she says so and also so that she wouldn't have to fly anywhere else... THE CHEEK!) in which to hold the ceremony, and she's even decided on the PHOTOGRAPHER! (her other half :p). I swear if I ever do get married, I probably won't EVER have to lift a finger... she'll handle all the planning and all I have to do is agree or disagree. It's not that bad an idea actually. hahahha

Wining & Dining

These few days are gonna revolve around a string of sinful dinners - every single night from this past Friday till Tuesday, because E is up for a holiday from Singapore! And Wednesday is ladies night out at Magnolia with the mums from the school. They're a pretty funky bunch. So Friday was Shanghainese, Saturday was All-you-can-eat-all-you-can-drink Japanese (hence my previous post). Tonight will see us up high above the city over looking the Huangpu River - dinner on the Bund. Not picked a restaurant yet though... I've been given that task :p We'll see what happens...

To Sake!

The great thing about sake is that it doesn't give you a hangover. Well, I have yet to experience it anyway... But like any alcohol, it forces me awake by the ungodly hour of 0530 on Sunday... I really shouldn't complain though, I had copious amounts of it and apart from still feeling a little drunk, I'm perfectly fine! Sake rocks! Especially when you're allowed unlimited amounts hehehehhe

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Over-Enthusiastic and Just Plain Silly

My 2pm class got canceled so guess what i did... I RACED down to the field for a spot of gaelic football. Unfortunately, because I was kinda late, I didn't stretch all that much and of course paid for it during the drills when I strained both my thigh muscles :p So I'm now reduced to a hobbling granny Arrrghhhh!! And I'm supposed to go clubbing tonight! Phooey!

Bruised Ego

I'd always known that I can be kinda stubborn and that I have a pretty sizable ego, but no one had ever really pointed it out to me save J. until a couple of weeks ago. Eversince I'd gotten a job I'd very often insisted on paying for whatever I bought, especially meals, or I'd at least split the bill. (The guys didn't always have a say in the matter unless it was a date of course).

Met a potential buddy for dinner, and (embarraisingly enough) only had 200RMB in my purse as I'd forgotten to get more before meeting him. Now because this was a friendly dinner we were gonna go dutch, no doubt about that, but couldn't that day, so we agreed that I'll get the next round. Unfortunately, he got the next dinner as well and I actually got annoyed and blurted out "I'm quite capable of getting a dinner!". I know, I know, any girl would smack me on the head and say "WHAT YOU ON ABOUT?? LET HIM PAY!!!" But I can't! There's this voice in my head that keeps telling me that I'm independent I can spend my money anyway I choose to, and goddamit I can buy dinner once in awhile if I feel like it! I don't need no guy to be flashing his credit card around. Friend of mine insisted that this is all due to the whole feminist thinking but seriously, it's not about that. I just hate being treated or thought like I can't manage by myself. Maybe I'm just over reacting :p Oh bleh!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Effects of Working Out

As expected I am now one giant mass of aching muscle... but it's a good thing, it makes me feel that I've thoroughly worked my body. The not so good thing about last night was that fact that I ate an entire 10 inch pizza and a lasagna when I got home :p Training aside, the girls in the team are lovely! They were warm and welcoming, and very encouraging, which means I'm now doubly motivated to attend trainings. YAY! Tomorrow would be fitness training so there's gonna be lotsa running around. It's a real shame I can't make Saturdays. Would love to get at least 2 trainings that involve playing the actual game! I could learn so much more from it than from just drills. Oh well, gonna have to make do with what I can get.

*on a side note, one of my colleagues has suggested I drop by whenever he and his friends get together for some American football to throw the ball around a little, AND a bunch of us are making it a point to go rock climbing on Sundays! I can just see those muscles toning up!*

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Footie 2

So, just had my first ever Gaelic Football training and I had A BLAST! It's so much fun, and it's great to be able to run around and play strategy again. Despite never having kicked a football before, nor was any good at volleyball (two skills that you need in Gaelic), I thought I did quite well for my first day. My previous experience in field hockey and netball helped ALOT in terms of positioning and catching. But i tend to freeze when I get the ball coz instinct tells me to pass the ball netball style when I should be passing volleyball style or kicking it :p But I know I'll get there! :D Anyway, great 2-hour run-around and I'm soooooooooooooooooo gonna ache tomorrow! :S

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Let's Do It!

I don't know why, but lately I've been so inspired and motivated to get all sorts of things done! Getting back into sports (as I'd mentioned in my previous post), getting my PADI license, buying a bike to get around and thinking about LASIK so that I wouldn't have to fuss with my glasses and keep trying (in vain) to source for that PARTICULAR brand of contacts that I can wear enough without my eyes drying out. I want to do them ALL NOW!!

*there's also a field hockey club that I would love to join, but they only train on Sat, the day I have to work.... so no can do... DRAT!*

Playing Footie!

After months of being idle and bemoaning my lack of physical activity, salvation has just been delivered to me in the form of Gaelic Football! A game that to me, seems to be a cross between football & rugby and a smidgen of volleyball. A most unusual but highly interesting game! Went down to the field today with an existing player to have a look see and I was thrilled to see how fun it is! So starting Tuesday evening, I'm gonna be down on that field doing the drills and getting down and dirty, not to mention sweaty. The great thing is, the team plays in tournaments as well, and they'll be going to Singapore in about 2 weeks to compete. I'm gonna train for the September one in Dali! How exciting! Time to get kitted out! with proper boots and sports attire! The club also has a touch rugby team, a contact rugby team as well as an Ultimate frisbee team! Unfotunately, due to the fact I work on Saturdays (and most of the trainings are on Sat), I have to be content to settle for one, even though touch rugby does interest me! The scary thing is I'm so out of shape and my stamina shot to shit, it's gonna take me awhile to be able to last long out there... we play 7 a-side instead of 9, on a standard sized football field! :s Good luck to me!!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Cool shot of the month!

To Living Life the Way I Want to...

Damn I'd forgotten how great it is to know someone who not only gets excited about the same stuff I do - like flying a kite and messing around in the kitchen, or loading up on flowers and playing board games, but also enjoys trying their hand at something new! FUN FUN FUN!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

And Then There was Light

Wow I must finally have peace of mind, coz after several nights of restless sleep and heart racing nightmares, last night, I dreamt I was surrounded by baby animals of every conceivable species! From wolf cubs to ladybugs! I slept through the ENTIRE night and woke up this morning with this warm glow and a mixture of contentment and happiness.... Oh it was such a nice feeling! Nothing could've ruined my day. I had to interview 3 potential sets of parents who wanted to send their children to our kindergarten and while I would usually freak out at the thought (seeing how I'd never done it before), I was so relaxed it didn't faze me one bit. Parents walked away happy, and one immediately decided that she'd send her youngest to us instead of another school she was initially considering. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! What a great day!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Spanish National Ballet

Oh wow! The Spanish National Ballet will be performing on the 29th of this month!!! Damn need to get tickets, like RIGHT NOW!

Friends, anyone? 2

Well I must say lunch went very nicely... Chatted for about 2 hours about random stuff, travel, life in China, our jobs... Seems like great friend material, so hopefully there'll be another 'meet up'. Sigh, still can't believe I'm doing this..

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Friends, anyone?

I've done one of the things that I never thought I'd do... I registered with the Personals in order to find new friends :p After 6 months here, the people I've met just seemed too much like floozies and pot heads, and since I rarely go out nowadays, I've resorted to advertising myself :p Just had a chat with someone who sounds pretty interesting. We like similar stuff including the outdoors, travelling and reading. So we're meeting up tomorrow for lunch to swap books hahahahaha.


There'll always be points in life when you find yourself caught between a rock and a hard place. Two options you're simply not keen on but are faced with anyway. About a year and a half ago, I found myself in a similar situation, trying to decide if I should stay in Singapore where everything was safe and predictable and, just go insane; or pack up and leave to go do something I'd always wanted to but was just too scared to do coz of the uncertainty my life would take on if I did. My boss said something to me that I will always remember: "Pick the option that you're most afraid of doing because that will show you what you're capable of and how far in life you'll be able to go." I got out of that dilemma pretty easily though coz a third option materialised and I'm now in Shanghai.

Unfortunately (or maybe it's a good thing), right now, I've got a mountain on my left and a ravine on my right and I already know which one scares me more. So this time, I'm gonna go down that ravine and I'm gonna prove to myself that things will indeed stop being scary coz all i have to do is look it in the eyes and just believe in myself....

Run Run As Fast As You Can...

Awwwww man! Just watched the season finale of Scrubs and I just wanna kick Eliot! JD I can understand if he's getting cold feet about Kim, but Eliot doubting if marrying Keith is the right thing to do?! What's wrong with her! She's got such a good thing going for her, a guy who loves her like crazy and would do anything for her (I mean seriously, the kind of control freak that she is, I'm surprised Keith even stuck around that long) and what does she do?? Freaks out and starts questioning herself... is Keith the right one... am I doing the right thing... And now from the looks of it, she's about to mess things up. Great! Fabuous! Well I hope she does, I guess she's one of those people who needs to keep messing up to the point it gets so bad she finally wakes up and realises that you can't run away from life! GOD!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Arrrghhh!! I'm a masochist!!

OMG! How annoying is it to be in the middle of a series and not be able to find a particular episode!!! Arrrrghhhh!!!!

On a side note, I can't believe JD and I have such similar tastes in music hahahaha....

"Just a small town girl, livin in a lonely world
She took the midnight train goin anywhere
Just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit
He took the midnight train goin anywhere..."


Friday, May 11, 2007

Across the Continent Once More

When I get upset, I usually change my hair. But after spending 720RMB once before on a perm that didn't even last, I figured I might as well put that money to better use... like a HOLIDAY! Granted the satisfaction is a little delayed but what the hell, being in a different country lifts my spirits no matter how low they are!

I have 2 options,

i) to go in August during the school break
ii) go in October during the week long National Day Holiday here

Now, WHERE to go... Very important question. Because this holiday is meant to be one of soul-healing, it has to be either a very zen / back-to-basics place or with friends and family... so my options are:

i) finish my backpacking through Vietnam since I wasn't able to the last time.
ii) backpack through Cambodia (colleague did that last week and she said she loved it!)
iii) visit my sister and friends in Melbourne (which was the original plan anyway)
iv) go home to mummy & daddy, then make a trip down to S'pore to visit friends

Might have to toss a coin on this one :p

"When The Lord Closes a Door, He Always Opens Another..."

... according to Julie Andrews at least in the movie, Sound of Music. For the first time in my life, after having a door slammed in my face, I prayed, asking God what plans He had for me, what I was meant to do, where I was meant to go, to give me the strength to accept what life has dealt and to take with me the learning I got out of it... and then begged Him to tell me that no matter what happens, that everything will turn out OK.

Today as I was about to leave work, I found a door opening. First, I was told that I'm being considered for a promotion, secondly and the most exciting, would be a potential move at the end of 2 years... or thereabouts. Without going into too much detail, if everything goes as planned and should I choose to accept, I might find myself in California, or more specifically, San Jose. It's not Spain, I know, but seeing how the majority if the population speaks Spanish, it would be right up my alley... But 2 years is a long way away and everything's still up in the air. For all you know I might end up in bloody U.K (No offence to my English buddies) :-) For now, I'm not gonna fight life, but let it take me where it feels I should be. It's tiring to keep wanting something so badly and then not getting it. Maybe I should just chill for awhile, and not take life too seriously. *shrug*

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Tuesday Morning Blues... cont'd

OMG YES! It worked! Drawing my curtains worked! Actually, I think it worked too well coz now I don't wanna get out of bed :p

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

World Politics...

... or politics of ANY kind simply do not appeal to me. I vaguely remember names of presidents and prime ministers, but most of the time am unable to place them to the countries they govern (though if they're famous enough I can :p) I switch off almost immediately and all I hear is white noise which gradually fades out and is replaced by what sounds like the surfing of radio channels, you know, like in the movies... Actually it would be wrong of me to say that politics do not appeal to me, it's actually quite interesting IF I don't have to read about it. But, as long as there's someone who's willing to just sit and blab to me about the different ideologies, I'm quite happy to sit and listen... just don't expect to draw me into any bloody debate about it.

Am currently being enlightened by my 19-yr old darling on the relationship between the U.S & North Korea, as well as the political state of the latter. Apparently, he's got a big big interest in the U.S, N.K WWII and the USSR and I have a feeling I'll hear about all 4 before the end of our conversation tonight :D

I really should read more journals related to my job, instead I'm scanning biomedical journals and browsing scientific research papers... I MISS SCIENCE!!! hmmmmm apparently there's gonna be a new kind of supernova...

Tuesday Morning Blues

Yeah the not so great thing about summer is that the sun rises much earlier, and if automatically waking up at 0730hrs on weekends is crazy enough, try waking up at 0500hrs on weekdays because of the light that comes pouring into my bedroom in the mornings :p. I really should start drawing my curtains... Sleep is such a precious thing... sigh

Monday, May 07, 2007

Picnic Weather is Here!!

Had a lovely decadent Monday at one of the very very few parks in Shanghai that actually allow the general public on the grass. So with a couple bottles of wine, water, orange juice, choya and cookies and crisps, we lounged and lazed under the afternoon sun reading tarot cards and 'predicting' our futures. The two that i did came out eerily accurate to a certain extent of course... but whatever it is my 'future' is pretty bright and cheery... yay!

Preen, ladies, preen...

Ok, I'm convinced, no matter how laidback or blasé a guy may APPEAR to be with regards to how much effort a female puts in her dressing, (and there ARE such guys) the way she looks still matters - ALOT! Be it long-term boyfriend or husband of donkey years, a guy still likes it when his woman gets all made up. Oh they can complain about how long it takes us to decide on what to wear, or what style of makeup to put on, or if we should wear our hair up or down, and why we insist on spending money on waxing and spas, etc... but at the end of the day, they appreciate what we do. They LOVE the end result. So the next time any of them grumbles about the clock ticking away and how late you'll be for that dinner, ignore him, coz he'd rather be late than have you looking like a disheveled chicken with half-drawn eyeliner... :p

Video & Pics of Desert Safari

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Siiiiiiiiiiiigh.... I'm sighing not so much due to my departure from the city as it is for my having to say goodbye to J.... yet again. But still, it was a a perfectly fabulous week in every sense... the weather (which got crazily hot at times), the heavenly beach, having breakfast at 0730hrs and going back to sleep till 1030hrs, riding a camel, driving down sand dunes at awesome inclines, having a splashing great time at Wild Wadi (pics taken
on old-school
camera so must be developed and scanned), and did I mention my tan?!? I was wined and dined at chic little cafes (one I particularly liked called Central Perk... yes after the coffee house in Friends!) and impressive restaurants where you sit in ornately decorated tents and puff on shisha the whole night - VERY GOOD shisha... better than any I've ever had in Singapore; driven around in a boxster... In short, I was treated like a princess ;-)

Though I must say that Dubai wasn't exactly what I thought it'd be. Yes it does have a
certain amount of grandeur, it IS terribly modern and the architecture of certain key structures really are impressive, but on the whole I don't think it really lived up to any of the descriptions I'd read on the net about it. The hustle and bustle I'd been expecting was surprisingly absent, apart from the jams you're unfortunate enough to get stuck in; the landscape was marred by the on-going construction every few hundred yards; the villas appeared to be rather boxed in - like a very spacious cube (I like open spaces, though I must say the villa J lives in is SWEEEEEEEET) and save for the hip and trendy cafes and night spots, I found the city rather low-key in general. There wasn't that buzz and electrical pulse one would usually feel when in a fast-paced city. I guess high expectations will always eventually spoil things for you :p But then again, maybe I misunderstood the articles and Dubai really ISN'T a fast paced city...

And another point I must make here, something I also found not to be in accordance to all the articles I've read online. The women here dress to kill!! Not all of them and certainly not the locas (I guess) but there were more short skirts and cleavage revealing tops in the shopping mall than in Attica. And here I was being all prudent and packing decent trousers and tops and holding back on the shorts and tubes. The advice that kept repeating like a mantra on the websites about being careful not to offend with the way you dress is really completely unnecessary.

Anyway, but then there's old Dubai, which I love, with its souks and narrow alleys, alot like Little India back in Singapore... where you don't see a single Westerner save for the red-faced, sweaty tourists in their shorts and sun-burns. This side of the Creek felt more authentic with none of the fancy-shamsy shingdings that one would see on the other side. I had a lovely time window shopping there. Had a little chat with the merchant at one of the spice souks about Indian cooking (Oh and I managed to find vanilla pods! Hello puddings!!!), brought J up to speed with what to look out for when buying a diamond ring at the gold souk (Was ONLY sharing some information... I swear!), took a ride on one of the many abras that lined the banks, bargained for a camera I could ill-afford (i got the currency exchange wrong :p), bought myself a pair of cute but oh-so uncomfortable pair of Aladdin-looking slip-ons after being assured that the leather would stretch-out once I wore them a few times...

Anyway I could go on... and then I wouldn't have any space left for pics. So here they are... some taken when I was there, some from J's stash when he first moved
over. Didn't think it necessary to take duplicates...

Note: Madinat Jumeirah is definitely a place of note. I guess it could be compared to Chijmes in Singapore in terms of concept and clubs and restaurant, but that's about it. You step into the main archway of this Arabian Resort and
you're immediately blown away by it's opulence... It's like you'd been transported into a whole different world that exists only within those 4 walls, a hidden fairy-land of lights and decadence. People lounging and puffing on shisha, catching up on life, drinking in the night... It's apparently styled to resemble an ancient Arabian citadel, with courtyards and waterways where hotel guests are transported by boat. It simply takes your breath away. Unfortunately I got drunk rather quickly thanks to the fabulous cocktails, and so was unable to truly appreciate the sights of the night time desert as seen from another bar perched at the very top of the building :p Oh well...