Anyway Mike is like asking me to update, so here I am in the TSD room typing on this computer in the too-low chair.
Anyway, yup been a long time, studies are ramping up, and dance is pretty much over at this moment.
Did I blog about danceworks?
Danceworks was okay I guess, marked a pretty large milestone in my RJC life. For the first time I was out there with a team competing in dance. And for a NPCC boy who just picked up six-step in Viet-freaking-nam, it's a pretty long journey and yadayada go read the very long Facebook note.
After that, hmm, there probably were a few other things, like the performance we had in school alongside our juniors. Kudos to Juliet haha despite the crap floor she pulled through and recovered super well.
Oh right! Our juniors.
(I hope they don't read this, else they'll get too full of themselves)
BUT they're such a dope, enthu, and bonded group that I'm super optimistic for the future of Street.
Would like to put the credit on our seniors and what we learnt from them, what to do and what not to do, that helped up select and bring up this batch well. Teachers too, with what they taught us and what they teach them. And our batch, for bringing up the rep of Street so that truly the best are interested to join us.
But of course, the main factor was the batch themselves. There are the natural leaders, there are the natural followers, there are those who provide order and direction and there are those who always inject fun into the day's activities. The batch is largely growing together, is largely doing things together, and not just dance, but even in schoolwork I see these clumps of Streeters around during the holidays studying. It's something that we never achieved as seniors, and I'm damn proud of the junior batch for being so bonded from the start. After all, as they say, a good beginning is half the battle won.
Sure, we could be ego and claim that meh, we planned this from the start. Us seniors gave them the juniors the pep talks, the scoldings, the right examples, the right atmosphere, we selected those who we knew would function best in teams and whatnot.
But at the end of the day, what we really did was find the most passionate dancers, those who loved dance for the pure joy of it.
And I guess that was enough. (:
Was a funnn time. Teletubbies Crew was an instant hit and the success was pretty exciting. regardless of all the digs I've made at Mike (both of them), mad props to both of you for setting up this gig, for flips and for pushing me and chiap to do it.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Last post was December 22. Whoa, it's been quiiite a while, dear non-existent readers.
Well, i'm back with a short update while I transfer music over to my phone. (:
1. Orientation! 2. Danceworks!
Those are actually like, just about the major things i've been living for in JC life. Oh, right, A levels too of course. But phew, it's not easy.
Aiya my phone finish transfering already.
Nevermind, i'll remind myself of stuff to add in next time.
1. SnD 2. Danceworks prep! 3. Orientation 4. New Year + visitings! 5. Homework.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Day 3 (no internet D: )
We’re at Can To now, it’s some small fishing area west of Cambodia. We came here by coach, but on the way we took a boat ride that stopped by a few spots along the Mekong River, a 1.5km wide river that leads to three other countries. On the way we stopped by at some Buddha pagoda thing, a giant statue of Buddha was there. Did you know that many Vietnamese were Buddhist? Anyway, didn’t take any pictures of the place (didn’t feel right, being Christian and all) but we took pictures of the flowers, which were really quite pretty.
Anyway, the islands!
First was Tortoise Island, an island named so just because it was pretty small. No references to any legends or anything. Had a short tour through a small part of the island, learnt why Saigon was called Saigon. Sai means “firewood” and Gon refers to some useful tree that was widely used in the history of the country, as fertilizer, as food, as construction, even medicine.
Learnt about the island’s culture of breeding fighting roosters, their methods of burial, their love for dog meat, and of course, the sad case of how urbanization has messed with the demographics of the place- there is hardly anyone between 18 and 40 years old there.
Of course, the “hellos”. Us foreigners to them are called Hellos, it’s quite funny! The guide recounted how the local chief will ask him “hey, how many Hellos today?” It’s because the first thing we say to them is Hello! And the only word they know is Hello too!
And of course, their motorcycle culture. Taxes on cars are super high, in a bid to reduce road congestion. Cars take up much more space than motorbikes, see. While a bike can be brought super-cheaply, (about 3-4 thousand), a car costs maybe five to ten times more, excluding the tax which apparently goes up to another 80% of the car price.
This causes a pretty big strata rift between the car owners and bike owners, and even among the bike owners there’s class differences. In fact, so much so that marriage in Vietnam is dependent on your means of transportation. Big bike, = girlfriend, bicycle = forever alone, and car = king. Quite sad really, but at least I know where to get a girlfriend in the future if Singapore girls don’t like me. (:
Oh right. Second Island!
IT was largely a trip of sightseeing on the second island (Coconut Island.. I think! ), we were brought from place to place to experience their culture. Had a performance of some singing and their guitar-like instruments made out of jackfruit tree wood.
Digress abit: It was hilarious to hear our hotel playing old western music during our breakfast! Because they were playing music from the vinyl disc era, heard a couple of breakbeats being played, was pretty hilarious, especially when my parents started reminiscing about the past and how they liked those music. I started beatboxing and they stared at me funny.
Lunch was on the islands too! Their fried spring rolls are fab. Had an awesome looking fried fish that was eaten by wrapping in vegetables. Not that nice, but the presentation was worth it. Heh.
Beers are super cheaaap there~ like, 80cents! Been drinking it more than water hahaha.
After that, went to a coconut candy factory (I say factory loosely, it’s more of a family of people working by hand with about two machines in operation.)
Here on the island, they produce coconut candy from scratch (ie, the coconut from the tree) and it goes through a somewhat simple process of extraction, mixing with caramel, cooking and then cutting. The speed where they do it is pretty intense tho. And it tastes awesome when it’s hot! Cut a few myself haha whoo.
Extraction is just simply breaking a husk of a browned coconut and putting it in a grinder to extract the white meat inside. The coconut water can’t be drank already, but apparently it’s great for bathing sensitive skin! Just like beer. They do love their beer, don’t they? Our guide said he was bathed in coconut water when he was young. Other richer families use beer. XD
After that it is washed and compressed to extract coconut oil and coconut milk! The oil will float on top, it’s skimmed and exported. The milk is combined with caramel, cooked for an hour or so, and then it’s done. Another household makes the rice paper through a similar process, and the first family uses the rice paper to wrap the shaped and cut coconut candy. Rice paper is the edible transparent film, you would recall them from the “white bunny” sweets.
After taking a long car ride back across a 3km long bridge, we were back to a new hotel for R&R in the evening, had a pretty cool dinner! Barbequed snails and crocodile meat. (:
Oh and three beers.
They didn’t have internet though, pretty pissing.D: ---
Back to Saigon!
Woke up in the morning feeling like P.Diddy.
A P.Diddy feeling freaking sleepy.
Supposed to wake at 5am, as we had a floating market to explore. But my mum’s alarm rang at 5am Singapore time, which is 4am Vietnam time. So we woke an hour early and had to sit around in the lobby waiting for breakfast.
Breakfast was a hurried meal of beef stew and bread. Quite oily! But all Vietnamese food I’ve eaten so far is pretty oily, so I’ll have to be consigned to praying for clearer skin.
And we were off! Back on the main bus with the chio angmoh (seriously, one was super pretty!) and we went back to the river to catch the floating markets in action.
The river access and the proximity to Cambodia means that almost 30% of the traders were not locals, and in fact many of them were large-scale traders! They don’t buy for their household use, but for their businesses, maybe a hundred or two hundred kilos of goods at a time.
Anyway, the first river market was that type, and the boats had a healthy mix of sanpans, double-deckers and metal craft.
Hang on, where’s my notebook? I wrote down some noteworthy stuff.
Oh right. The door with the heart graffiti! The boat brought us along the river, and all along the banks were buildings, homes on stilts. Most were old and tin-roofed, pretty much run down. Admist the junk and clutter, one solitary tin door had a single heart spray-painted on it.
--warning, bullshit ahead----
Something so commonplace, something so ordinary as graffiti jumped out at me, just like that. Admist the beauty around me, the sharp contrast of the starkness of the single shape against the clutter around it provided a beautiful frame for the message of strength and love.
It was the ordinary-ness of the thing that drew my attention. Like a rose standing defiant in a plowed field, it is a testament of the power of love to stand and take root anywhere, be it in a dingy stilt-tin-shack on the banks of Mekong River, the colorful walls of Los Angles, or the tree on a hill at the back of a small town. The heart shape is universal, and looking at that door transported me to a hundred, a thousand different places and times of love and strength.
Plus, it was a pretty arty photo moment, provided I had the gadgetry to take a picture.
Okay stupid chiayoon tell me faster blog. Hrmph.
Alright, so we arrived at the market! First thing to greet us was a small sampan with a smaller outboard motor operated by a mother, and her two young children at the front. They were waving and smiling, and shouting Hello! Us tourists were so taken with them we started taking photos.
Then they suddenly adopted a serious face and saluted!
We all but melted from the cuteness.
And we bought a couple drinks from them.
Their way of making a sale is pretty unique! Drive up next to your boat, grab a hook and hook anything you have sticking out of the boat, and then cut their motor and drift alongside showing their wares. They sell everything from seafood to vegetables to even hot coffee! Saw a boat cooking and selling noodles. Crazy..
We went to another boat, who sold us coconuts. It was super cheap! Like 5k dong. That’s 30cents?
Oh, and their currency is the dong. One thousand dong, two thousand dong.
Guys, stop snickering.
Went to another market, nothing much happened.
On the way back, I sat with some Englishman haha. He was bloody funny, swearing left and right, and being happy about the cheap beer here. Their colloquial terms are hilarious, like “I spent the flight getting piss-drunk” and “then I was like, fuck it, ya know?”
Plus the accent is sexy.
Westerners are such free sprits! He’s 20+, came by himself for 3 weeks, no idea what to do here, probably gonna go find a train to a beach to kitesurf.
I like his style.
My ass hurts from all the sitting, gonna go take a bath and sleep.
Heading back home tomorrow! Singapore, watch out. (:
Monday, December 20, 2010
Day 2: Cu Chi Tunnels!
Woke up early, went for breakfast! We had a place to visit today, the Cu Chi Tunnels, an iconic battleground during the Vietnam War and a symbol of Vietcong guerilla warfare.
Breakfast at the hotel was pretty decent, and for a tiny three-star hotel, we were very impressed by the décor of the place, and how they managed to utilize the super tiny floor space to the best benefit. Cu Chi Tunnels! Went on a small minivan with 6 others from the same hotel (Queen Ann), and that minivan joined up with another tour bus! It was quite a cool arrangement, which meant that to give greatest flexibility, our tour was not organized by a single agency, but rather just joining other travel groups who happened to go towards the same area at a certain time. Today’s travel was with TNC travel agency.
The bus had a lot of westerners! Prettaee~
Okay. So what is Cu Chi Tunnels, and why is it so signifigant?
Cu Chi was a farming village north of Saigon, and it provided some vital path to the city and neighboring American bases if I’m not wrong. However, shelling started, and the farmers were forced to dig tunnels to hide from the mortars.
From farmers they became soldiers, and they put up heavy resistance to the American forces with their complex, tiny, booby-trapped tunnels, hundreds of kilometers in length, dug by hand with a small bamboo basket and a hand spade.
The tour brought us to the village of Cu Chi, where traces of trenches were still visible everywhere. The smell of cordite hung in the air- punctuated by the sharp reports from a nearby war-weapons shooting range.
First stop was a video showcase, where we sat in a hut the size of a large classroom, and a video was shown to us to give a general outline of the history. It was quite a refreshing change from the usual American version of the events, and it was pretty funny to sneak peeks at these gweilos every time the heavily accented narrator talks about the peaceful village being razed by American bombs.
There was a cutout diagram of the tunnel system, pretty cool! The tunnels were broadly classified into three levels.
First level was 2-3 meters underground. This was the living quarters, and ambush areas. Concealed exits too small for Americans (but about right for Vietnamese) were scattered everywhere, in every household, in forests, in neighbouring villages, even 70 km in the city of Saigon itself. How the digging was done, I have no idea. Sheer grit and determination. :/
Second level was the stockpiles, bomb shelters, and booby traps. Booby traps are crazy. But that’s for later.
Third level was the escape routes, the long-dist tunnels, and entrances to the Saigon River.
Overall, it was a pretty self-sustaining feature, with wells and escape routes within the tunnels. By day, they were local farmers, by night, they turned into the Vietcong, fighters for liberation. They developed a saying: A rifle in one hand, and a hoe in another, that’s the spirit of the Vietcong warrior.
Okay I digress.
Next was a visit to the tunnels! We went down one of the concealed exits (it’s really like, concealed into the forest floor you know) and found super narrow paths la! Have to do some kind of duck-walk to get through, and it totally kills the knees. Without some electric lamps, it’ll be completely pitch—black. Quite scary! My mum was freaking out after about 10 meters, and we left the tunnel the next exit. Or not it would run up to about 150 meters.
We saw the traps next. Pretty gross stuff. Most were concealed animal traps made larger for human purposes. There was the traditional bamboo spike-pit trap, a few traps that drove iron barbs into you as you fell through, a really devious one called the rolling log (two logs with short spikes sticking out, so if you step on one and try to step away you’ll just fall into the other) and another with a variation of a seesaw with spikes.
The tour guide activated each on in turn by prodding a stick through, and it was really quite disturbing. All the iron barbs are made like fishing hooks, with a wicked backward-pointed barb that causes serious damage when attempting to pull out. Hope to get pictures out soon!
Hmm what else what else.
They made shoes! Vietcong sandals. Made out of truck tires. They’re surprisingly sturdy and comfortable, and best is that they don’t use any glue! So it’s practically impossible to spoil. Most of the security guards in the area also wear these sandals.
Went back, shopped abit, and now yeah, it’s pretty late. Going Mekong River tomorrow, hope there’s internet access there!
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Holiday time does seem to run quicker.
It seems like it’s only 11pm, but actually it’s 12!
Oh right, cause of the time difference.
Here I am, sitting in a hotel room with a laptop in my lap and a tenuous internet connection. I’m on holiday with my parents and my grandma, which means that the bulk of communication I’m going to get is in Hokkien, which I sadly don’t understand. That does leave me much time to type, to let my mind wander, to fully absorb the sights and sounds of this wonderful, unique place.
Ho Chi Minh! Pretty awesome experience to be back in Vietnam. The last time I was there was filled with great memories, during my OIP trip. This time, we’re in the grand old city of Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh.
Was super tired when I woke up, didn’t get a great sleep the day before (That’s another story for another time) but I guess nothing’s as invigorating as a cold shower at 4am. (:
Picked Grandma up at her house, went to the airport, (cab fare was like.. 30!) and went to budget terminal! Was quite cool, despite being a so-called budget terminal.
Went on the plane, knocked off straight away and only woke up about 2 hours later during landing.
Some angmoh guy beside me had a Kindle, he had some problems with it. I was holding my book and feeling smug heh.
By then, it was about 9am, and the rest of the day was free! The tour agency sent a cab to bring us to our hotel, and then we were supposed to go free and easy for the rest of the day.
First time for all of us being tour-less, and could tell that we were all quite excited!
Asked the concierge where to shop, they directed us and made broad gestures saying “big shopping very close!” in heavily accented English.
Following their hand signs, this unlikely quartet left the hotel into the crazy streets of Vietnam.
We walked for ages, I tell you.
The stupid shopping centre (It was more of a bazaar, like Bugis Street messiness combined with Mustafa variety.) was like freaking far away la! Walk and walk and walk. Stopped for free ice-cream, (some shop had a promotion) and we reached the place. Saw awesome dance shoes in a shop along the way, but didn’t stop and look. Kinda regret it now, cause the bazaar didn’t have any, and we didn’t find the shop on the way back.
Had my first pho ga in 2 years (chicken noodle soup)! Felt nice. The food’s definitely cheaper here, but not by much. Or perhaps it was because these are tourist traps. Vietnamese have a habit of bringing their own utensils, I think! Saw quite a few eating who brought their own. I guess it’s cleaner that way. Good for the environment too.
Went back laden with stuff, got a taxi (we were ripped off haha, paid 20plus sing, for a ride that should have cost about $4. But it’s okay la.
The rooms are nice! May take a picture.
Dinner was at a restaurant nearby, who was obviously catered to tourists. Food was surprisingly cheap, had beef soup hotpot, claypot rice, and some cool rice vermicelli springroll wrapped in herbs and lettuce. Cost about $4 each, including our drinks. They were playing a cd that had the “happy birthday” song in all the major languages. Korean sounds cute.
And now I’m back in my room, feeling prettyyy tired. Long day tomorrow, the tour’s starting!
----------- Should I blog about the camp?
Bleah, tired. Let Zanthe do. (:
Nightoes, Singapore! I’ll be back in 5 days.
You better get better looking ladies okay! Vietnamese are pretty. (:
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Hmm, okay. Haha nothing much to say! Prom's over, had fun, now mayybe countdown's a no. But meh.
Going for camp and then overseas on 16-23! Hope I enjoy myself (duh, I will haha.)
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Had a new dream. Was QUITE DISTURBING so I didn't feel like writing it down. I'll just summarise it abit.
Halloween! Our school had some survival camp in a forest. We were in small groups, crawing through undergrowth, trying to be as stealthy as possible. Why, I don't remember. The next scene was of a giant stage in the forest, and the rest of the "school" was already gathered. There were a few people on stage, what I understood to be the school board, and they were all dressed like, or were actually monsters. I noted that the guys all were vampires. Maybe it's more classy then werewolf that's why.
Then an external person came, he did some complicated choreography which we couldn't follow. He then laughed and said he was just proving that he was capable (of what? I remember feeling it was not dance related). He then changed into a vampire too.
Remember cooking something (chicken?) by placing tinfoil over a brick, then using a flamethrower or something.
Okayyy whatever next.
2nd part: the weird shit.
Next, it was IHC! INTERHOUSE CHAMPIONSHIPS.
But it wasn't just any event.
It was interhouse warfare.
Each house assembled at a different area, and all of us had a choice of weaponary to take. Most of us took assualt rifles.
I'm not sure what happened after that, but I lost my rifle, and bumped into mike on the way. He told me of an excellent spot where people didn't see you till it was too late. It was a broken staircase of sorts, extending halfway down from the second storey to the first. Hiding there, you could pick off people who walked right by you without looking back.
So there I was, holding a fistful of keys, wondering if I would be able to jump on any non-MTian and ram the keys into their throats. Some girl was giving me cover from another angle as well, I forgot who. But she had the rifle, I let her keep it instead of me.
Nice to know I had morals even in these shitty dreams.
No one was killed though, and we went back for debrief. The death toll was pretty bad, we were passing around an attendance list, only about half was still there.
And it was only half-time, we went to another room, this time stocked with grenade launchers, carbines, and other huge weapons that I didn't know about. ---------------------
I woke up.
Crazy dream, right? I'll analyse alll my previous dreams soon, just to give myself a morbid christmas present. -------------------------------
Oh, and strawberries are flattered that people like them, but still, that's no reason to over-eat them. It's not a very balanced diet, and strawberries also get worried when someone craves them for so long. Stop eating strawberries, there's plenty of other stuff out there. (: