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Archive for January, 2010

cny cny!

with a little lace

 

new dress, check.

 

 

flower, ribbon and polka dots, i like!

 

new shoes, check.

 

ok, i’m ready for the new year. ROAR~

 

 

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wedding bells a-ringing

one year from now, the friend whom i’d known since i was six will be getting hitched.

 

tonight’s dinner marked the first of many (i believe) brain storming sessions to come.

 

my first task as the main wedding co-ordinator: to conduct intensive research on www.stylemepretty.com.

 

luckily my primary role is to delegate jobs, so be warned, yz and my!

 

on the cab home, my asked, so how many times have you been a jiemei?

 

which started me counting, and to my horror, it’s gonna be the 8th! (and possibly one or two more to come..)

 

so if i ever remain on the shelf, you’ll know that the “not more than three times jiemei” rule is not mere superstition after all.

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happy days

Somehow i’ve never gotten round to look at the photos in the “farewell dvd” mr and mrs chua gave me till a few days ago. here’re some wacky shots to share:

 

 

 

with miss lu

 

 

 

 

so happy to see me go? =P

 

 

 

 

lan gu!

 

 

 

 

pat on the head

 

 

 

 

 

my travel buddy

 

 

 

 

 

qy brings out the multiple chins in me

 

 

 

 

 

the one i can see “eye to eye” with =P

 

 

 

 

 

so chic

 

 

 

 

 

like my mummy

 

 

 

 

 

mentor!

 

 

 

 

 

and the man behind the lens.. thanks!

 

 

P.S. If anyone is deeply offended by any of these pictures, please let me know and I’ll take them down. =)

 

 

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La vie est belle

A phrase picked up from French class last week. Simply means “life is good” and it is, cos I’m finally a qualified driver!

 

I suppose it’s more a feeling of relief than elation. Relief in knowing that I won’t have to go back to the Ubi driving centre for lessons, going through the near perfect warm up sessions only to screw things up during the actual tests. Ah.. how good to finally be able to say “those were the days…”

 

Anyway, the third time round didn’t go smoothly at first. First was directional change which went ok, second was the parallel parking which I totally cocked up.. and it’s sort of like deja-vu since it was the same item which caused me a failure in round 1.

 

It’s funny but I’ve always found parallel parking easier to execute than vertical. (yeah, beats me too.. ) So, after I’ve parked the car nicely, the unimaginable thing happened when I was reversing the car out. The poor pole was kissed too passionately by the rear bumper and fell ungraciously to the ground with a loud “clunk”.

 

I went, “Oh SHIT” while the tester tsked tsked very loudly and shook his head in resignation.

 

The first thought which went through my head when the pole fell was– shit, I’m gonna fail and I’m never taking the freaking driving test again…

 

The rest of the circuit items went well though, and as we were about to leave for the main road, I asked in a small voice: “Sir, is it not possible to try the parallel parking again?” NO was the stern reply.. but a few seconds later, he said: “look, don’t think about your parallel parking anymore, just concentrate on your driving.”

 

It sounded like an ominous statement cos I’m pretty sure the previous two testers said something roughly along the same line to me too. Off we went driving on the main road and halfway through it, the tester suddenly shut his laptop. That’s it, I thought, he has already deducted the full 20 points so he can relax for the rest of the test.

 

I drove back to the centre with a heavy heart and prepared myself for the worst. We got to the room, he printed out the test results, and placed it in front of me.

 

“You must be careful when doing parking ah,” he said. “But your overall driving is quite good, so I’m going to pass you.”

 

WOOHOO~~!!! 12 point overall, 10 for the pole which fell from grace and 2 for incorrect checking of blind spot/ mirror.. hur hur hur…

 

and that’s why la vie est belle!

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I’ve always enjoyed train rides for a number of reasons.

 

# There is more space to move around and stretch on long journeys.

# I don’t get train-sick like I get car-sick, which means I can read and write.

# Trains don’t get stuck in traffic.

 

Hence, I was rather looking forward to our overnight train ride from Bangkok’s Hualumphong Station to Nong Khai, where we’ll make the border crossing over to Laos

 

As there is currently no direct flight between Singapore and Laos, one can only fly in through several destinations in Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, so we decided on the 12 hour night train from Bangkok. I booked our sleeper tickets via the State Railway of Thailand and the online booking system is actually pretty good.

 

Armed with our e-tickets, we took the Airport Express 4 to Hualumphong station and waited for our night ride!

 

 

Hualumphong train station, Bangkok

 

 

 

busy busy

 

 

There was a bit of confusion intially as we boarded the train. We were supposed to be seated in car 12, seats 15 and 16. But after we dragged our bags up onto that carriage, I found no beds at all! Puzzled, I kept walking up and down the aisle to find our beds, until a fellow traveller told me that the beds are actually stowed away and will be pulled down by an attendant when it’s time to sleep. ahhh….

 

 

the platform

 

our car

 

mom excited to be on the way!

 

Shortly after the train pulled away from the station at 8pm, the attendant came around to perform magic! He single-handedly pulled down the upper beds, pulled out the cushions on the lower seats into beds, laid the bedsheets and pillows, and there was even a blanket in a sealed plastic for us all. Efficient and clean!

 

 

 

hook...

 

drop...

 

lay...

 

there is even a curtain for privacy

 

mom getting comfy

 

in slumberland

 

And so we chooed- chooed our way across Thailand. All was going well and I managed to drift off for a while when the train jerked to a rude stop sometime after midnight. There were several attempts to get it going again, but something was jammed or wrong somewhere and it took them two hours to fix the problem. Naturally, we were two hours late getting to Nong Khai.

 

There’s a train service started not long ago, linking Nong Khai to Thanaleng, which is situated on the outskirts of Vientiane. After getting off at Nong Khai station, we bought tickets on the Thai-Lao train across the friendship bridge and arrived in Vientiane, our first stop of the Laos adventure.

 

 

 

train schedule and ticket price

 

Thai border

 

inside the train

 

Laos, here we come!

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meet Ted Van Eijk…

… possibly the most amazing 71-year-old I’ve ever met.

 

One of the nicest things about our Laos trip was that we met a few rather interesting individuals along the way, so I thought I’d kick off the travelouge with our chance meeting with Ted at Pha That Luang, the most important national monument in Laos.

 

We were walking past one of the two temples surrounding Pha That Luang when we saw an ang moh talking to a young monk underneath a tree.  I was curious about their conversation, so I delibrately slowed down to eavesdrop. (occupational hazard i know.. =P)

 

It turned out that the young monk speaks very little English and was unable to explain to Ted about the origins of the stupa. An exasperated Ted asked as I walked past: “Do you speak English?” and that’s how we started talking.

 

Earlier on, I had translated excerpts from the Lonely Planet to explain to my mom about the history of the stupa, so I basically rattled off the information that I can remember, and that rather impressed Ted. (LP’s really helpful when you’ve got no guide with you at such historical places.)

 

So we sat under the tree and Ted from Holland said that he’s on a cycling trip around SEA. He flew to Cambodia, cycled to Laos, and will be covering Thailand, Malaysia, after which he’ll be coming to Singapore to catch his flight back to The Netherlands.

 

The funny thing was that while planning this journey, Ted thought that Singapore is part of Malaysia, until I told him repeatedly that we’re not. I suggested that crossing the causeway would probably be a better idea than taking a boat from some little island in Malaysia/ Indonesia over.

 

He’s genuinely shocked that his boat trip was not going to work out and kept apologizing for not knowing that Singapore is a country.

 

Ted’s 71 but the robust man looks more like he’s in his 60s. An avid cyclist, he began his “mini” bike trips around Europe since he was 12 and got more and more adventurous as he got older, especially after he retired from his job as an engineer.

 

Countries that he’d cycled in include: Peru, South America, Japan, China, etc. His milestone journey was a 9 month trip around Australia when he turned 65.

 

“The country is huge and sometimes, I’ve to cycle a few hundred kilometeres in between towns. I have to carry all my food and water supplies with me on my bike.” 

 

Ted says that he never falls ill on such trips and I supposed it’s because he’s sweating it out everyday and taking in all the wonderful sights that he has no time at all to be sick. He laughed and nodded his head in agreement when I said that.

 

One thing that struck me about Ted is how meticulous he records all his photos. He carries an analog camera and keeps a short description of all the shots he makes in a slim little 1996 organizer-turned-notebook. In a digitized world, that kind of conscientiousness is hard to find. He develops his films after he gets back home and sticks them into a DIY album, copying the captions from his notebook into the albums. It’s inspiring.   

 

As he recounted his experiences, his expression showed how much he enjoyed his journeys and if I can ever speak about my life experiences in that same manner when I reach my seventies, it must have been a good life, spiritually.

 

To say that I admire his courage to pursue his love for seeing the world on his bike is an understatement. Hope things are going well for him on the road.

 

 

The man who's still cycling around the world at 71

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We missed the Tiger last night.

 

Come to think of it, it was ominous right from the start. A few minutes after we boarded the taxi, the skies opened and heavy rain brought the traffic to a standstill. It took us more than half an hour to get from the soi where the hotel was located to the main road.

 

Once out, conditions were none the better. Cars were barely moving at all and the motorcyclists were the only ones weaving in and out of the massively jammed up vehicles. gosh.. how I wish I can get on the bike and move fast, but then again, what’s going to happen to the five luggages in the boot?

 

It was a situation where you’re simply stuck with no other alternatives and you can only hope, pray and cross your fingers for the best. There was nothing we can do but wait. and wait. and wait. and wait.. you get my point.

 

A typically half an hour journey to the airport (the taxi driver claimed that he has done it in 20 mins flat before) took us THREE freaking hours. A combination of factors contributed to this unfortunate circumstance:

 

1. Traffic was just unbelievably impossible because of the rain.

2. It was peak hour.

3. There was a soccer match between Thailand and Jordan and the National Stadium and airport was essentially in the same direction.

 

It was around 7:45pm when we finally dashed through the doors of the airport terminal. A quick glance at the departures information screen showed the check in counter at row D, but yes, you guessed it, no tiger/tigress in sight.

 

On to the information counter where there’s another Singaporean couple asking for the next available flight. The uncle turned and asked: “You missed the Tiger flight too?”

 

Later, a whole bunch of youngsters (should be those who just finished their A levels and about to enter uni) came forth as well and was rather agitated in questioning the two ladies at the information counter.

 

We were told that the next available flights were on jetstar and sq, so everyone naturally flocked over to the jetstar counter. The two poor sales staff had to handle this surge of last minute passengers and was flustered beyond words. It was chaotic but rather amusing at the same time.

 

One of the youngsters recounted their taxi ride: “Can you believe that we had to stop at the train crossing for 15 minutes just to let the train cross?”

 

“And then there was an acident on the highway!”

 

“Aiyah, never mind lar, it’s an experience.. 破财消灾啦。”

 

What’s more, the roads were mildly flooded at certain stretches and it is indeed possible to stop at traffic junctions for 10 minutes just to wait for the red arrow to turn green.

 

Well, I guessed the biggest winner at the end of the day had to be jetstar. Ticket prices were increasing by the minute, but tickets were nonetheless snatched up by desperate travellers eager to get back home.

 

The total damage worked out to be 12 900 baht for 2 pax on a one way budget airline from BKK to SIN.

 

That concludes the Laos-BKK adventures of me and my mom and I’ll backtrack to blog once I upload the pics. =)

 

从老挝到曼谷,我们就已经对这座繁忙、人和车都很多的城市有点反感。

 

最后一天,让“老虎”跑掉了,害妈妈得跟着我在曼谷机场到处跑。她上机后第一句话就说:“以后我再也不要来曼谷了,请我来也不来。”

 

要是贴钱给你呢?我问。

 

“贴钱我也不来。”她回答。但过了三秒钟又说:“几百块我不会来啦,可是如果是上千上万我还是会来啦。”

 

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