Sunday, December 25, 2005


So for the first time in a month, I'm blogging from my home desktop. We're back. Actually, we got back last night, but we were too exhausted to drive across the island and then lug the multiple pieces of luggage ten floors up; even with the lift, it's quite a challenge, so we bunked over at my parents' and only just came home.

The flight was relatively painless. The airline allowed ALL our luggage on for no extra charge so that was all good. I watched 2 1/2 movies. The plane landed before we got to the end of The Island so now I'll have to go out and borrow it sometime.

Christmas was predictable. Too much cold cut meats. To prepare myself for that particular onslaught, I'd lined my tummy, with my mom's help this morning, with fishballs. But it wasn't enough to allow me to get through lunch and dinner gastro-intensinely unscathed. So now I feel the urgent need for Chinese tea, but I think I should just get my sleep deprived self to bed.

It would be nice to reacquaint myself with the bed after the affair I had with very very lousy lay of a spring mattress. I'm grateful that it's a forgiving mattress and will always take me back no matter how long or far I've strayed. And by extension of that, the house. I was antsy being back in Singapore and having not gone home. I guess I never realised how attached I'd grown to my house. I guess, it being my house had a great deal to do with it.

Whatever it is, it sucks to be back in Singapore and having to face the reality of work but it does feel nice to be home again.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 23:18

0 thoughts...

Friday, December 23, 2005

Weight Gain

Tomorrow we leave. Tomorrow, we swallow the blue pill and return to reality.

So today, there has been frantic packing.

The problem with being away for the duration before Christmas is the need to do Christmas shopping here. That in itself isn't too bad except there is no the need to bring all of that back. And the almost budget airline that we took here allows us 20kg each. No more, no less. Actually AUD$17 for every extra kilo added. What I consider extremely expensive weight gain.

It's bittersweet to have to pack and leave. As Packrat woefully reminded me, we're headed back to small-mindedness. But I guess knowing that we have a plan makes it a little bit easier for me to endure going back. Add to that, I'm having extremely severe fishball withdrawl symptoms, that I strongly suspect I won't be able to quell till Boxing Day. The 6kg of ham we are bringing back is indication of the type of meals we're going to be eating till New Year's.

And on top of that, I think Packrat and I realised how we have outgrown student accomodation. Sleeping on a threadbare Ikea mattress on the ground with the springs poking into your back is just not something you can deal with when the incoming new year will see you round thirty. I think being a working semi-adult has spoilt us. We can afford air-conditioning, which makes 38 degree days like this bearable. And today is cloudy. So there are reasons to go home.

So what did we do here?
Slept a lot-slept too little-ate Krispy Kreme-walked a lot- lay long while Nguyen got hung-explain to countless people that they couldn't believe everything on the Australian media- got picked up- was freezing and hot, all in one day out-went to the Blue Mountains- stayed in a B&B that felt like Laura Ashley designed it-had strawberries in champagne-went horseriding-saw Packrat go swimming with his horse-cried some- laughed a whole lot- discovered grilled pumpkin-discovered mosquitoes in Oz-dreamt the bizarre- visited the Sydney Fish Market 3 days in a row- rented a 1.3 litre Hyundai Getz and a Holden 3.8 litre Commodore with a navigational unit-drank some wine- ate much sushi- discovered low fat burgers and cardiac arrest-inducing burgers-fed gulls-chased gulls-won $12 on the pokies-decided Virginblue was the way to fly domestic-bought hot sauce that was very hot-bought hot sauce that was disappointingly not hot enough-ate cherries- craved for more cherries-went to a protest rally- petitioned to John Howard and Kim Beasley jointly for something (not sure what)- went to a restuarant on its opening night and got superb service-tried to be Aussie and do a barbie but there was far too much wind and it was too cold-drank tea at a tea shop-visited tea shop at least 8 times (for free tea)- bought a lot of tea products for Christmas present- hunt for a box to put all the tea presents to bring back- was stunned and awed by the Lion King-watched an entire movie at the cinema in a bean bag- ate chick pea burgers- saw how one could make a souvlaki in 16 seconds with the help of TNT - custom make a bag at Crumpler - go to a Bo-ho market where people were selling Moroccan hash openly- discover Glycemic Index count on supermarket food, 9 grain bread that could slap Bonjour * bread around a bit- learnt how to cook clams in white wine- cooked a lot of clams- watch clams breathe in water- eat swordfish- overhear a conversation where the topic of discussion was "how to smuggle drugs into SEA" and the conclusion was to put it in Ziplock bags in an airtight container so that sniffer dogs couldn't suss it out. I mean, how dumb can you get???- visit the Shrine of Remeberance- talked a lot- held hands a lot- ate a lot of gelato- walk down the street and try different gelato stores-get sweaty soles because of the heat- watched the fire show- had smoothies in the middle of the night-shopped in the middle of the night-walked in scorching sun-walked in the rain-Christmas shopped in a foreign country-scratch head about how to bring Christmas shopping home-order Kosher meal for Packrat for the flight back- was hungry all the time- was full all the time-take 2 hours to write this post-....

The list goes on. Anyway, it's too hot to go on and our friend who is flying back with us is freaking out because her luggage is 12 kg overweight and she has AUD$480 worth of abalone that she has to check in.

* Cannot find website for Bonjour bread

Ondine tossed this thought in at 07:43

2 thoughts...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Half Pipe

Yesterday was one of those days where it was so hot that all one could to was hop from mall to mall in the vain attempt to keep cool. So, we saw Prime at the new cinema in the city. And it was way cool. The most surreal cinematic experience I've ever come across. Better than the GV Goldclass. This cinema could only house 42 people and the tickets cost the same as the regular ones. And there were no seats because.....

You sat on beanbags!

Bean Bag Cinema

First, the usher comes in with you and asks you to pick your beanbag. Then he fluffs it with all his might and it puffs up to hip level. Then you're left to climb and sink into it, where you will remain for the entire movie duration.
Bean Bag Cinema

It was like being at home in your own cinema on your own bean bag. With THX surround sound but hey, if you're dreaming, why have anything less? Of course, for me, it was the perfect place to fall asleep. So I missed the bit where Meryl Streep puts two and two together and figures out her patient is seeing her son. Oh well. The only problem with these bean bag seats would be when inconsiderate patrons spilt drink/pop corn and other gross things on it. Or people had smelly feet. That's why we decided now was a good time to go see what it was about. Whilst it was new.

And it really was an out of this world experience. The only thing was pop corn was AUD$7.50 and it was salty popcorn. So I had none. Maybe that's why I fell asleep. There was nothing to munch on.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 14:56

1 thoughts...

Monday, December 19, 2005

Poor Birds

While Christmas shopping today, we came across a cruel form of bird abuse perpetuated by Polo Ralph Lauren. What did the poor flamingos do to deserve such awful treatment? And this was advertised as a perfect Christmas present. Now, whatever the poor sod did, no one deserves a shirt like that.


Packrat thinks that there will be people who have absolutely no taste whatsoever who will provide the performance bonus for those colour blind designers who probably also think polka dots and checks are a good way to go. I can't wait till we spot one of the on the street. But I think we'd be more likely to find them on a golf course somewhere worn most likely by someone of Asian persuasion.

I remember last year when we were all forcibly hauled to the Bird Park for some conference at the Flamingo Lodge where we spent most of our time not paying attention to the speaker but to the flamingos. We came up with lame birdbrain jokes about what the very "luk-sek" (washed out) pink birds did everyday. "Today, I'll stand on my right leg. Tomorrow, I think I'll stand on my left. After that, LOOK MOM! No legs!" This year, no such luck. I was hoping for the zoo. Then I could have Ben and Jerry's after or during perhaps.

Before I finish off and have some grilled chicken for dinner, I should chirp on about the other bird abuse that we were introduced to yesterday.

Kfc Cruelty

They were all standing outside KFC where people were marching out and making their own stand with big take out paper bags of chicken. And I think it might have had the reverse effect. Packrat took the flyer, read it and asked if I wanted some chicken for lunch. Haha, now what would those activists who were trying to promote a chicken substitute (mock eleven herbs and spices KFC chicken) say about the effect of their flyers? I did manage to dissuade Packrat from stepping in and buying a bucket because even though the flyer seems to have the reverse effect on him, I was all sympathetic (although I hate mock anything). I'm an activist's wet dream. I'll stop eating anything once they tell me it's cruel. Hence the immense guilt when I ate foie gras before we came here. Same reason I don't eat veal and venison. I know, the cow and chicken I eat aren't exempt from the cruelty, so don't anyone leave a comment about how they're abused too, please? I know they are, but I have to practice selective hearing/reading/acknowledging here otherwise I will just end up eating nothing but fishballs for the rest of my life. And then someone will tell me about how the fish got harmed in the process of producing fish balls then I'm screwed.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 15:30

3 thoughts...

Saturday, December 17, 2005

What holidays are meant to be

We go to bed about one or two in the morning, watching Fraiser Season 1 on DVD and we get up about ten or eleven in the morning. It takes the two of us about 2 hours to get out of the apartment whereupon we deliberate where we will have lunch while walking to the city.

And we let the rest of the day just unroll ahead of us.

That's how everyday seems to pan out. The weekdays and the weekends don't seem much different. Although today, we've spent most of the day in front of the television. Beside me, I have 3 books, all of which I don't really want to read. One's too whiny and I just want to reach into the book and slap the protagonist, the other I tried reading when I was 14 and got stuck and right up till today, I still fear picking it up. And the last, it's trashy and has a bright purple cover and belongs to one of my kids.

I did manage to find some fake DVDs round the apartment and we've got Mr and Mrs Smith playing in the backgroung. Problem is it's not just a fake copy, it's a copy that was recorded off the screen in th etheatre so there's an occasional head and there's talking in the background. Oh well.

This is what holidays are meant to be. Lots of sleeping, eating (Oh, I forgot to mention we're baking ribs, wings and pumpkin in the oven as I write this), walking and everything else the doctor ordered. It doesn't matter if we're sleeping on a springy mattress on the floor and the apartment doesn't have a couch. It doesnt' really matter either that the dining table and chairs are patio furniture.

Only thing is that this sojourn from reality ends on Christmas eve and we land 40 minutes before Christmas leaving very little time to do Christmas shopping. How like that? I don't know and at this point, I'm finding it hard to care. Maybe metre long Toblerone bars all round. =)

Ondine tossed this thought in at 14:35

0 thoughts...

Friday, December 16, 2005


After coming home from the Lion King, which was absolutely breathtaking and awesome, and while waiting for Packrat to finish with the bathroom, I wonder across to Tomorrow and discover news that has caused cries of anguish to echo and resound through the empty streets of Melbourne, all the way back to Singapore, into Orchard Road.

Mango went on sale.

And I wasn't there for it. I'm sure many are rolling their eyes as they read this but too bad! One does not mess with tradition. And tradition since 1999 has it that I am in line at the one of the town outlets, first thing in the morning, even before breakfast. Most times, I'm done before the rest of the shops in the city begin their day.

But it's more than that. There is a strange sense of nostalgia in all that madness and chaos and the mountains of clothes. It was there that I discovered my ability to try clothes in the open and without taking off the clothes that I originally had on. It was also there where I discovered that Packrat was the one for me. He'd stood in line for the cashier for more than an hour while I trawled for good buys one sale and then at another sale, he found himself a seat and parked himself there with my PDA and played Text Twist while I periodically came round to deposit my treasured finds. And despite the cerebral challenge that he was facing during hours that usually find him asleep, he guarded my spoils like a rabid pitbull would his maggot ridden bone.

So I'm sad, that I'm not there. It's a little bit like missing my anniversary. But I'm just being silly. Tomorrow, I'll go shopping in the children's section at Target. I have come to realise that I don't fit into any of the adult sizes available here. And on top of that, the unfavourable exchange rate doesn't bug me as much when I shop in the children's department.

For now, I shall forget about Mango till I get back till Singapore.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 20:37

0 thoughts...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

500 miles

We've been away from Singapore for 17 days and so far, the holiday's been great, despite the hanging, the riots, the evacuation from the hotel and the horse that went swimming. Oh right, I forgot to mention that. Packrat and I went horseriding in the valleys of Blue Mountains on the day when it was 38 degrees and Packrat's horse, Marty, decided when we stopped for them to have a drink, that it was time to go swimming- with Packrat on his back. We found out after that how water proof Timberlands were. We also discovered how difficult it was to actually kick a horse in its belly.


This is Marty. Horseriding would be great fun if there weren't flies or severly bruised inner legs the next day which meant walking the next day was a big problem. And seeing that our preferred mode of transport this holiday seems to be walking, that meant hanging out in front of the telly. Before we left, I listened to a proposal to introduce the 10 000 Steps programme in Singapore and wondered whether it could work. Then we came here and walked and walked and walked and I'm certain we do cover 10 000 steps a day.

So we get our requisite amounts of exercise a day and that allows us to eat all the rubbish that we do. I think tomorrow, we're going easy and doing sushi. Today, we had hot szechuan noodle soup and dried chilli chicken that made my tummy extremely unhappy with me.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 21:50

0 thoughts...

Retiring from Active Duty

I just realised that after 3 days back from Sydney, I haven't really blogged much about what we did in Sydney. So here goes.

There was the wedding. The only wedding that I've been to where every other person got sun burnt and this was not a beach wedding. It was also at this wedding that I realised why wedding gown designers asked where you were getting married before designing your wedding gown. Some gowns are just not meant for garden weddings, especially in summer with all the insects in full force.

Picking out insects

Packrat commented that we looked like little monkeys picking off fleas from one another while we were doing that. Yeah, insects, twigs and layers of chiffon do not go. Truthfully, when I wore the gown 3 years ago, I had no idea it was so compelling and inviting for the little winged pests.

But at the end of the day, the trapsing through the gardens and escaping the customary maid of honour speech, it was good fun. However, I have decided that this is the last wedding I'm going to do as matron of honour. I've done, I think, 4 or 5 weddings. Thankfully, most of them as matron of honour and not the maid of honour. So, I've escaped the "three times bridesmaid, never a bride" curse. It is always nice being part of the bridal party, but I think it'll also be good fun to attend the wedding and not have to worry about the bride and her stepping all over her train while worrying at the same time that I might trip on my own.


It's been an honour to be part of the bridal party for some of my best friends and like dancers who retire from the stage at the height of their careers, I think I shall do the same. Not when I've tripped on the flower girl and fallen headlong down the aisle. Packrat still thinks I should go into the business of organising weddings for people. I don't know really. We've been talking a whole lot about alternative career ideas and we've just come back from dinner with some friends; one of whom has a Masters in Media Communications and is actually doing his second year of apprenticeship to be a carpenter, so anything's possible I guess.

Holidays are nice because we actually have time to think and talk about things like that. At home, we're just concerned about getting through the day and we don't realise how little time we have to stop and smell the roses until we leave it all and put some distance between us and work.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 21:24

1 thoughts...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Resume Regular Programming

We're back. From Sydney.

But we're still not back in Singapore. We're in Melbourne now. And will be till Christmas Eve when we board the plane with 6ft tall amazonian stewardesses that speak only German and play Sudoku in the galley when passengers are dying of thirst and looking for water.

Sydney was boiling. And it wasn't just the weather. What started out as an attack on lifeguards last Sunday has become the worst race riots Australia has ever seen. This morning, we were unceremoniously thrown out of our hotel room at 8 in the morning. The entire hotel shut down for an emergency evacuation drill. So we were left wandering the streets of Sydney. 2 suggestions came in. Both required us to slap on some sun block and head out to the beach. Unfortunatetly, the beach was the last place any of us wanted to be at today.

People aren't surfing. They're throwing stuff at people. And it's not just sand. It's filled beer bottles, bottle shards, cricket bats, rocks and everything they can get their hands on. Add to that, they're jumping on cars and breaking windows and attacking people who are going to Christmas concerts. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite end there. They send out text messages declaring war with a specific time and date. They declare all this is done to in the name of being Australian.

Now that's what I call sedition. And people here are responding, so no. I'm happy I'm back in Melbourne and no where near the beaches in Sydney.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 21:27

3 thoughts...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Why Melburnians don't wear skirts

apart from the fact that slightly less than half of them are men and are not Scottish.

Windy did not begin to describe it.

Skirts not encouraged

I think at some time, I was in the danger of flashing the city and let me just say it is not that easy to do a Marilyn Monroe. And it is extremely unglam.
Blow wind blow

A closer look at how windy it was. T'was a good thing I wasn't wearing a hat. Otherwise it'd be in Tasmania by now.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 22:22

2 thoughts...

Alter Ego

Today I became Sharen, the PhD student at Melbourne uni, happily married for 3 years with a 15 month old son named Joel.

I'm not crazy. And I do not have a spilt personality either.

All I was doing was biding my time walking around the city while Packrat was off at his usual comic haunts when all of a sudden a short swarthy man comes up to me and asks if I'm lost.

I give him a puzzled no and prepare to walk off when he launches into this thing about having seen me from a far and thought I looked great and now that I was in front of him, I was gorgeous.

Yupo. Excuse me while I roll my eyes.

This guy wasn't taking no for an answer. He wanted me to join him for tea, there and then. When I looked like I was going to say no, he asked if my boyfriend would mind. When I replied that my husband might very much, he exclaimed that I looked like I was 22 and didn't look old enough to be married. Without any sort of preamble, he lifts my hand and examines my rings, all the while exclaiming that my fingers are so long and slender and could not belong on the hand of a thirty year old.

He enquires further, all the while, encroaching into my personal space, making me take steps back constantly and taking a stance I can only assume said "Please stay away and don't come any closer". But he is unfazed and starts talking about how men and women can be friends without being in any sort of relationship. Yes, I believe him, I am twenty-two and was born yesterday. So, I continue spinning the yarn, creating a home, a 15 month old child and an academic career all the while, looking for an exit strategy which wouldn't open up since I'm in a foreign city and the only people I know can be counted on my long slender fingers.

Packrat is plenty amused. He marvels at the forwardedness and unabashedness while I continuously bash him with my empty water bottle for not being more sympathetic to the fact that I was held in conversation hostage by some guy trying to get laid.

When I wondered about how men could be so forward, Packrat's reply was that desperation bred confidence and that persistence was how ugly men ended up with beautiful women. He, on the other hand, said he prefered the more subtle way of insulting the colour of my mobile phone.

So, what's going to happen is this guy is going to call me sometime this week. On a number at a residence that I haven't lived at in the last 4 years this Christmas asking for me by a name that is not even mine.

And he can go right ahead and do all that while I suffer temporarily from OCD and wash my hands incessantly to get the feel of scum off my hands and slender fingers.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 14:40

3 thoughts...

Friday, December 02, 2005


Before we left to come here, my brother texted me to tell me to lay low since Van Nguyen would be executed while we were in Melbourne. I have Aussie friends and we had lunch with them yesterday. Inadvertently, the topic of Nguyen came up. We were evasive because the truth of the matter was we didn't really think the Singapore government should have granted clemency to the drug trafficker.

Anyway, today's the day and the whole city is in uproar. The law courts held a minute's silence for the convicted criminal. A QC even compared the current Singapore government and the atrocity of Nguyen's death to the atrocities that occurred in Changi Prison during World War II under the Japanese. Seriously.

It's all over the news. Apparently thousands stood in vigil, all over, including the Singapore High Commission in Canberra. Many cried because another country had hanged a drug trafficker who had enough heroin to kill a whole lot of other people.


Singapore has not only been accussed of a human rights violation, hanging Nguyen, it's been accused of being cold and unfeeling because the authorities did not let Nguyen's mother hug him before he was led to the gallows. Apparently, they were only allowed to hold hands at some point.


I'm not sure what I make of it. There was an interview with a guy who lost his son to a heroin overdose. Apparently, he doesn't think Nguyen should have been hanged either because he could have been rehabilitated. Dude, how do you rehabilitate a drug trafficker?

Anyway, I recall what K once said about how some Singaporean diplomats behaved overseas. In Singapore, being more educated and having been exposed to the world, they are the harshest critics of the system. But stick them in the foreign land, and they become conservative, defending Singapore and perpeutating the very values they might have vociferously opposed previously.

At lunch yesterday, the discussion of the death penalty led to the discussion of capital punishment and how we actually also cane people in Singapore. Of course, that was met with stunned and thinly veiled outrage that we didn't think much about it. Later on in the same conversation, one of my Aussie friends talked about how his ten year old had played hooky and skipped out of school to go to the movies. And her punishment was the rescinding of television privilleges for a month. At that point, I thought about what would have been the consequence if our parents discovered us skipping school at ten years old. There would be the cane and the inability to sit after that, I suspect. And perhaps, the lowered probability of the same thing occuring again. Maybe that's what the girl needed.

But then again, how would I know? I come from a draconian society where we fine, we cane and we hang.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 15:40

1 thoughts...

Switching Channels

I need to stop blogging about food. Maybe tomorrow I'll blog about the weather. Ha! How mundane.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 00:10

1 thoughts...

Got Cake?

How much is that chocolate hazelnut nougart bar in the window? Or that nut flan? Or that baci royale? Or the raspberry swirlly thingy?

Choices. Too many choices.

And what happens when you are faced with so many choices? You either buy everything or you walk away.

Guess which one I did? =)

Ondine tossed this thought in at 00:02

1 thoughts...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Food For Giants

It's the end of Day 2 in Melbourne. We haven't done much although I've managed to catch myself a cold. Typical of me. Well all the while there's work to be done and the first minute my body's got time to rest, it crashes on me.

Oh well.

We promised everyone at home we were going to take it easy and rest. Well, our bodies are still 3 hours behind so we're not sleeping enough yet. Especially since it's bright at 5.30 in the morning and dark only at 9.30 in the evening. Who can sleep when it's bright out? Plus, today was a blistering 34 degrees! And on average Packrat and I are drinking 5 litres of water but are still feeling parched like camels (not that I know how camels feel).

One thing we've done a lot of is eat. And one realisation we've come to is we can't eat as much as we used to. Either that or the portions have grown.

Exhibit A

Food for Giants

Giant scone that I had from Thresherman's Bakery. We used to live a stone's throw away from here and on our list was to come back here for breakfast. I don't remember the scone being so big. I had the thinner half and brought the other half back.

While I struggled with that, Packrat was doing much better.

Exhibit B

Big Brekky

He had no issues finishing it but bemoaned the fact that they stopped serving it with spinach. The spinach was a good thing to have when you had so much grease but the breakfast is a beautiful sight to behold.

And the greatest gluttony of the day was Sofia's Pasta Mista

Exhibit C

Pasta for 2

Apparently, this was meant for 2. 2 what? I don't know. Because four full-grown adults only made our way through half of it.

So, I think I'm going to have salad or soup tomorrow. There has been too much rich food. Thank goodness there's been lots of walking to work it all off.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 20:39

0 thoughts...

" Far in the stillness, a cat languishes loudly"