Sunday, December 15, 2013

ScreenSingapore 2013

Hey everyone! How's it going? It has been a while since I updated this space and I am delighted that you guys are checking this space out - keep it up! It only means you guys cared about me, and I do to you too.

It's December and the holiday season is here. All I see in the social media are travel photos, food and everything leisure, and I will not be spared from this too! I do tell myself to study everyday because this is what I really like to do for the time being.

Juggling is not an easy feat. I feel like a circus clown being trained to juggle a lot of things but I am not unlimited to constraints. So support from all of you guys is all I need really. I am only human, and to face a hurdle only natural!

Anyway, ain't got time to dwell on that because here's something interesting that happened this month; ScreenSingapore 2013.

With entertainer Max Loong at the opening party
held at SkyPark.
ScreenSingapore 2013 is Asia's freshest big screen event where film glamor meets cinematic greatness.  ScreenSingapore attracts some of the biggest stars and latest productions, and is supported by some of the most credible and respected names in the business.  From the premieres to the market floor to the conference rooms, expect nothing but the best.

Andy Lau and co-producer at Firestorm
premiere's red carpet.
I am grateful to be invited to one of the latest Asian movie premiere - Firestorm because one of Asia's hearthrob Andy Lau was there to grace the red carpet. Here's someone rollin' and no on hatin'!

Here's a synopsis of Firestorm -

A crew of seasoned criminals led by the notorious Cho Nam (Hu Jun), armed with high-powered weapons, pulls off another smooth and violent armored car heist in broad daylight in a crowded street. Whoever tries to get in their way, they will show no mercy. This puts the police force to shame and humiliation.

A hardboiled senior police inspector Lui Ming Chit (Andy Lau), hot on the trails of Nam and his tight crew, determines to put an end to this madness that causes the lives of innocent people. But he soon comes face with the cruel reality that the usual police tactics are too futile to send these armed thieves behind bars. 

Extreme crime requires extreme justice, even if it means crossing his moral line. To Sing Pong (Gordon Lam), an ex-con desperate to leave his criminal past behind, volunteers to be Lui’s informant in exchange for a fresh start with his girlfriend Yin Bing (Yao Chen). But little does he know what hellish situation he is getting himself into.

While Nam is putting together his next big score, the two colliding forces from both sides of the law, each at the top of their games, will soon face their archenemies. As Lui’s hunt heats up, their ultimate confrontation is about to take place on the streets.

As the storm passes through and the dust settles, whoever survives can hardly cope with its horrifying aftermath.

He's not as tall as I thought he would be. One of my friend told me that and I did not believe her at first but now I see some hope for vertically challenged people like me. I think I still have a chance to model for print advertisement!

So there is still hope!

With Joshua Tan from ABTM
at the premiere of Firestorm.
The following premiere was The Nightingale, a Chinese film directed by French director Philippe Muyl. While the first film entertained me, the latter moved me. Here's a brief -

Zhigen, an old Chinese farmer, has lived alone in Beijing for over 20 years after moving to the city to allow his son Chongyi to attend university. He decides to make the long journey from Beijing to Yangshuo to honour the promise he made to his wife to bring back the bird that has been his only companion in the city. 

His daughter-in-law Qianing, a beautiful rich career woman, asks him to take along his granddaughter Renxing, an only child brought up in the lap of luxury. While grandfather and granddaughter set out on their journey – one travelling back in time, the other discovering her roots – Chongyi and Qianing, ponder the meaning of the life they have led in the sole pursuit of success and money.

With Taiwanese TV host, Weng Tzymann.
My deep affection for movies remains etched in my heart I guess. When I was young, I am really attached to the television watching P. Ramlee movies and going through tertiary education, I was exposed a lot to short and independent films, and today, I can't miss the first day of a movie!

This sums up my early-December. The second half will be up soon in a bit hopefully. I would like to wish all of you out there a good break! I myself will be taking one because I will come back and ready for my finals. Happy weekend!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Digital Fashion Week 2013

Hey everyone! How's it going? Hope all is well because we are coming to the end of the week! Honestly, I never look forward to a new day because time seems to run faster than I do. That applies for 2.4 km fitness test too!

So today, we are going to talk about Digital Fashion Week 2103 that  happened recently all over the world. Yes, I said all over the world, not just in Singapore because this fashion week is world’s first shoppable live streaming fashion week. A joint partnership between DFW Creative, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter to bring the latest fashion to consumers in real time. I am really honored to be invited once again for this spectacular event.

This year's Digital Fashion Week (DFW) is special because we have supermodels walking down the runway and one of them was Naomi Campbell! The first day show ran about two hours behind time - but if you are in fashion industry, fashionably late is nothing new. Hence, the term.

Naomi Campbell in Zen Chi's. Photo Credit: DFW
DFW is more than just about models gracing the runway with beautiful outfits. You guys may be interested in them. I do but not as much as being interested in the concept of DFW.

I personally think DFW 2013 isn't just about showcasing an array of designs by talented designers as well as renowned brands like Topshop but magnifies and emphasizes a point that digital media can be leveraged on a broader spectrum, not only to get wider coverage and audience who does not only get to be a part of the event through live streaming, but also helps businesses to get real time profit online!

Photo Credit: DFW

People from all over the world need not fly over to watch this, and it helps up and coming designers gain audience through live streaming, but also convenience of shopping of their designs via ASOS Marketplace. Analytically, DFW contributes more to the fashion micro-economy as compared to giants like New York or London Fashion week where they have buyers who can be market movers. Just a thought, will have to put that to study!

For those who are new to fashion, interested in it, or if you just wish to reaffirm your faith as a fashionista, DFW also streams make up and hair-do tutorial which is very engaging and educational.

Photo Credit: DFW

If you are those kind who has a lot of free time to hangout, but just don't know where and who to hangout with, you can always log into Google + Hangouts. DFW uses this by having a fantastic line-up of celebrities and icons from the fashion industry attending the event this year – Devyn Abdullah, Naomi Campbell and Jamie Perlman, just to name a few.

Now you'll probably start asking, if everything is digital be it networking, runway shows and shopping, what are we doing there really?

Well, I was there to eat the ice cream, and finish up the sponsored Fiji water as much as I can because it's overpriced in 7-eleven! I was kidding, sure the ice cream is nice and appreciate that we have water to get by but how much can one take right?

Most of us are there to support the designers, and models who walked the runway of course! Can you imagine not having anyone watching but just a camera on a stand right at the end of the runway? It's not only weird, it's just sad! Some things in life do need human touch.

Also, I found something really interesting. It's not related to fashion at all, but this thing is something I fail to appreciate at first, until I started touching it. On set there were two seats and table which is made entirely of Tri-Wall - some kind of high quality cardboard. It's amazing how the structure enables the furniture to not only look solid, but withstand human weight. And the best part, being the Asian we are - things has to be functional, it can serve as an ottoman too. Just that if it's going to be in the market, it better be waterproof! Nevertheless, amazing!

With Bart, designer of the furniture we were seating on.
So once again, I would like to thank you DFW for giving us the chance to support the designers! See you guys again!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fide Fashion Week 2013

This year's Fide Fashion Weeks (FFW) kicked off with two renowned ready to wear brands - Bread and Butter, and Pierre Balmain. These feature shows definitely set the tone of the event throughout the two weeks as trendy and loud. It's also almost impossible to let the fashion week escape from being labelled as one of the social events of the year in Singapore. I was really excited to attend this year's event for several reasons and I would love you guys to see the event for yourself the next time you're in Singapore. We are not as dull anymore!

I have been to Fide Fashion Week (sometimes referred to Singapore Fashion Week) here since it started in 2011, and it has been growing ever since. Sure we have fashion week in Milan, Paris, London and even New York, but why go so far when you can have it in Singapore? Better yet, it's happening right on our backyard. Besides, what's there is always available online - for a change, why not watch something that you've not seen or never knew before?

Which is why I always look forward to fashion week! Apart from meeting my gorgeous friends, I also get to see models donned in art. Anything that is wearable, but not practical is art to me. Don't get the wrong message, because I think art has to be hard to fit in otherwise it wouldn't be exclusive would it?
Sofia Wakabayashi walking the runway in Guo Pei's.
Photo credit: Jeri Soh
Guo Pei's show was amazing because it really set the bar for haute couture. Fashion too high no one can carry. It takes a really fit model to wear that and I am sure whatever Victoria's Secrets model were wearing on the runway, were not as heavy as this. It was crazy that for one of the dresses, they had to prop two men in order to support the train and the dress. It's a wonder how those female models don't sweat in that dress. Guo Pei really took suffer for fashion to a whole new level. Guo Pei was really over the top, I can't say enough on this. It is definitely a treat to the eye with her latest theme - 1002 Arabian Nights. Yes, 1002, not 1001. The show was full house - her designs speak for itself.

Flowy dress by Yumi Katsura.
Photo credit:  Jeri Soh

Yumi Katsura's has always been my ultimate favorite - her designs were more practical for wedding dresses (after all that was how she started) and her dresses were meant to be admired by many. She never fail to surprise her audience with her glow-in-the-dark Merlion that was embedded on one of her dresses, and dual colored dress. You know how some jackets are double sided, now apply that on couture dresses. Maybe to her, embroideries are little too cliche. She managed to put the basics to her intricate work which was really something worth clapping for. Some would call it cheap because of its dual function - well first of, we are Asians. We dig anything that's practical and maybe cost saving. Secondly, I heard that one of the dresses cost about 2.8 million? Not sure about that, but cheap or expensive, her business is still running! Of course, her show ended with a standing ovation from us - besides, the anthem was aired with models waving our national flag, it wouldn't be inappropriate to stay seated! We love her don't we?

Sebastian Gunawan's designs were appealing because it shows a strong culture to his dresses - elaborated and sparkly floral. He won me in terms of color because he was one of the many designers that uses blue extensively - which is my favorite color.

Models donned in Gunawan's designs
in my favorite color!
Photo credit: Sebastian Gunawan
Also, Frederick Lee - he is the first Singaporean to showcase his dresses in this year's fashion week. He literally brought Halloween forward with his dark, mysterious and Gothic dresses.
A design by Frederick Lee.
Photo credit: Jeri Soh
There were many other designers that I wish I can talk about but we will have to leave that to another time, more pictures coming up next!

Thanks everyone who made my attendance possible! You know who you are! See you next year!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Men's Folio 16th Anniversary

Men's Folio just celebrated its 16th anniversary and I would like to wish them a happy birthday!

Men's Folio anniversary party was held at Chameleon club lounge and it was my first visit there. All these while whenever I'm in Dempsey, I'd just spend time like how Brits do - drinking tea and maybe have some ice cream but this time, it's a little different.

Located at the heart of Singapore, 22 Dempsey is definitely an ideal location for events because it has a restaurant, cafe and a club to choose from and the lightings make it look magical at night.

The party was amazing because I get to meet some of my friends whom I've not met for quite some time, and everyone was having their fingers crossed for the Bell & Ross lucky draw. Which was one of the reasons I was there - kidding!

Men's Folio has been my favorite lifestyle magazine because it does not only cover about fashion, but also dining, skin care and many more. They always have fresh faces and style which I can never get bored of. Being at the anniversary really makes me feel appreciated and honored! Their latest issue is out on the newsstands, grab them now!

This month's issue does not only have some of my favorite guys as the cover, it also featured one of my favorite athletes, Marcel Nguyen, looking sharp as ever in that suit for Ernest Borel. These guys does not only have the looks and money, but they have the drive. Which is really inspiring to me and should also be the same to you.

It was definitely a great start to the weekend because I was very surprised and thrilled to have bumped into one of my close friends! Thank you for having me Men's Folio! You can count me as one of your loyal readers!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sound of Ikebana: Four Seasons - Opening Party

Last night we drop by the Art Science Museum for the opening party of a renowned Japanese media artist, Naoko Tosa's latest exhibition.

Her latest exhibition entitled Sound of Ikebana:  Four Seasons features a series of four video artworks created by vibrating sound beneath painting, shot at 2000 frames per second with high-speed camera. I was curious about this art because it is not really a painting or a photograph but a slow motion video that allows us to appreciate life that pasts by us. It is a little bit like Time Warp in Discover Channel. Though science here were used in a whole new concept.

She has a Ph.D in Engineering (Art and Technology research), has exhibited her work at the Museum of Art in New York, New York Metropolitan Art Museum and many other museums, this must mean something right? So today, I would like to thank one of the National University of Singapore (NUS) professors who cordially invited me to view this spectacular art!

Yesterday's event was an evident that art and science can synergize. The full turnout for the opening party from different walks of life were there to grace the event. It does not only show how supportive these Japanese are towards art produced by their counterpart, but also support from international visitors from all over the world. Of course, not forgetting one unethical foreign visitor who violated the code of conduct of a social event. She was definitely one of the conversation topics over the standing table I'm sure.

The event introduced us to the exhibition - Sound of Ikebana which is an extension of her previous video artwork, An Expression.

One of the ideas in this project is to model the creative process of certain natural patterns - like the shape of snow or leaves, and then apply it in artificial process. Just like how you can make this art with computer graphics. But the downside of this is that, they tend to lack diversity. Hence, Naoko wanted something that is done using natural phenomena (in this case, sound) to introduce these creative designs - which are unpredictable.

If you are going to the Art Science Museum for this, you will learn that each art work refers to an absolute image of nature. What is it? Well you'll have to find out yourself! Sound of Ikebana will commence today till mid-January 2014. Catch it while you can!

On a personal note, thanks to one of my lovely best friend for accompanying me to this party. It was great meeting you and new friends!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Islamic Finance Services Conference (IFSC) 2013

Hello everyone! I hope most of my schoolmates are having a blast over the holidays. There are several hiccups in my schedule this week and now I am almost mentally dead arranging my own schedule but no matter I am doing as much as possible to keep myself optimistic. Funny thing, organizing your weekly schedule can take almost half a day. No kidding.

Islamic Finance Services Conference (IFSC) 2013

Although some things may not go as planned, I am grateful that I am able to wake up today and drag my feet to the Islamic Finance Service Conference (IFSC) 2013. This event is held to discuss on the niche market in the banking and finance sector; Islamic banking. Its aim is to build a community of top service providers especially among companies and entrepreneurs in Malaysia and Singapore who are constantly seeking new ideas and providing solutions and services in the Islamic Financial sector, to create value for their customers, stakeholders and the industry.

I am so grateful to have been invited to this encouraging event. There's a lot that we don't know that I've learnt and whatever that I've learnt, I'll always feel obligated to share. Be it haunte couture, sports, study tips and everything else.

Before that, let's talk about the event. I mean, this is my first time attending a conference as a delegate. Back when I was in school, I was just a paid volunteer collecting pay check about a month after any event that I worked for. Now that I am on the seat as an audience, it allows me to pay more attention on what was being taught.

Oddly, I did not think through of my outfit. I was this close to wearing just tee and jeans. Luckily I checked out their website and happen to see some of their past pictures. Only then I was aware that I had to pick something presentable. Next time, it would be nice if they can put it in black and white on the dress code. Even the makciks there were well dressed in fancy turbans.

The event definitely attracted more Muslims naturally because they feel obligated to find out what's in there for them (we'll dive in later) and there are a significant number of non-Muslim attendees who are industry players. It was really good to see the former Member of Parliament, Dr Ahmad M Magad, and former Senior Minister of State, Mr Zainul Abidin Rasheed.

So briefly, what topics were covered in the event? It's an eight hour event, you should attend next years.

In the early part of the event, they mentioned about the Islamic finance ecosystem, the technology, guidelines set by each country's authority and the different views of Singapore and Malaysia towards Islamic finance. The jist of the talk was that in Malaysia, industry players see Malaysia's plan as wanting to be the Islamic financial hub of the world. This can be clearly seen in the robust effort that they had put in since the late 90's with the start of Tabung Haji (Haj funds), takaful and so on. Singapore on the other hand, sees Islamic finance as a subset. Which means to say, Singapore aims to be a financial hub, with Islamic finance in it as a niche market. Hence if you are aware, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has implemented some framework to assist the transactions in Islamic finance. What the speaker (honestly, I don't remember names, apologies much, but be honored I remember what you said) was saying was that the Middle East (where majority of the Islamic funds are) wants to see a collaboration between Malaysia and Singapore, working together for a better system because Singapore has the technology and Malaysia has deep knowledge in Islamic finance. So by synergizing these two together, it will produce a better ecosystem in Islamic finance. One of the challenges that they are facing now is the demand because in this region there's a pool of talent in banking and finance sector as well as Islamic finance. However, there's a lack of transaction in this market segment. Here's why -

To put it in simple terms we have a dual financial system namely the conventional system - our mainstream system where you earn interest, and the Islamic system - which is believed by Muslims as the halal (permissible) way of banking. However, apart from shariah (Islamic law), the system depends on the sub laws by scholars (fatwas) too. It is unsurprising to see a dual financial system where they have purely conventional banking, and either shariah embedded banking products or shariah compliant Islamic banking product. These two are just different. How so? Shariah embedded are usually products approved by the scholars, has so called the Islamic spirit in it, where as compliant are created by bankers but complying shariah. It's a little bit confusing but it's just like the difference between 'No pork, no lard' and certified halal food. So one of the reasons why the transaction volume is low is partly because consumers are confused and inconfident of the system. Or rather, illiterate about the system. However, we are just talking about Islamic banking in Southeast-Asia (SEA) as a whole because, while two-third of the Islamic assets are in the Middle East, two-third of the Muslim population are here in SEA.

Whether the financial product is shariah embedded or compliant, both are still acceptable from the shariah's point of view. But take note, 'no pork, no lard' still does not constitute as certified halal, buyers discretion advised! Another challenge faced in this region is that we want to close the gap between shariah knowledge, and financial knowledge. There are many scholars out there who are graduates, who are well versed in shariah. However, it is also imperative for them to have the financial knowledge of conventional banking. This way the industry can leverage on human capital of the shariah scholars.

While Islamic finance is still new and being explored, it is also important to know the type of financial instruments that Islamic finance uses because there are certain criteria that determines whether that financial product is Islamically permissible or in other words, halal. For example, in the issue of sukuk (Islamic equivalent to bonds a little bit like a zero coupon bond. According to Investopedia, the issuer of a sukuk sells an investor group the certificate, who then rents it back to the issuer for a predetermined rental fee. The issuer also makes a contractual promise to buy back the bonds at a future date at par value. In Islamic finance there are few requisites that an instrument or investment has to meet. So that you can digest easier, here are the main points, less elaboration.
  1. No elements of interest.
  2. No elements of gambling. 
  3. No elements of uncertainty.
  4. Should there be a mixture of halal and non-halal elements, the quantity has to be very small. (For example, to invest in a supermarket that sells non-halal food, the ratio of it has to be very small)
  5. Ultimately, it has to respect the adat (culture) of the location you are at.
The next question comes, are non-Muslims allowed to participate in Islamic finance?


I think it is like the food analogy again. If it's not against their moral principle, a non-Muslim is still able to eat at halal restaurants, don't they? Unless stated by their own religion that they are not supposed to get involved in any of religious trade or customs. Islamic banking here provides an ethical space for those who wants to comply to the above elements stated. Hence the term, Islamic. It becomes a little bit like an adjective to show a characteristic of a banking system.

One of the non-Muslim participants asked the panel. What is the significance of the Islamic finance in Singapore? And why can't Malaysia, who are have more and better Islamic banking products bring it in to Singapore?  It was responded by also a non-Muslim (moderated by a Muslim) and the response to the first question went like this. The MAS recognize the existence of Islamic finance, which is hard to ignore because of its robust growth albeit being still a small segment. The growth of Islamic finance in fact is way robust than traditional finance. However, not much publicity was given because this must not be seen as a favor to a particular religious group because what was provided are frameworks. Whatever that MAS does bound to have media fanfare and if these news were to be widely spread,  it will send a wrong signal to the majority who are non-Muslims - who still has concerns and reservations towards Islamic finance. It was also added that if the Islamic financial market is beginning to fade, their jobs would cease to exist!

The reason to the second question was that to bring in these products we need the capital and technology and should there be no demand - especially from the Muslim population in Singapore, then it would be a waste of resources. Hence, it is not as simple as it seems.

Honestly it was great that this kind of initiatives were taken to shed more light onto these vague issues. Afterall, religion is a form of guidance and innovations (bid'ah) have to be made to cater to modernization. That's all I have to share with you beautiful readers. I hope with this all of you learnt something new and valuable. See you again!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Jakarta, 2013

In the light of recent haze, I decided to visit Jakarta to meet my Indonesian friends to resolve several haze issues. Yes, it was a political trip - just kidding! Apparently, Jakarta is not really affected because the blaze came from Riau, way above Jakarta.

Once in a while, I'd love to feel like a millionaire so where else can you feel like one other than Indonesia? The exchange rate is in thousands and the food there is so cheap I can just stay there and grow fat. But I can't do that because the following day I was back it's a day before fasting month. I can't really extend can I?
I visited places many tourists had not been to because Plaza Indonesia, Senayan City and anywhere around Menteng (where President Barack Obama grew up) can be found back home. Of course being a tourist, you're still bound to visit common places like Waterbom and Istiqlal Mosque. One of the significant museums I went to where most have not visited is the textile museum and the Monumen Pancasila Sakti.

Textile Museum, Jakarta
The Textile Museum was founded in 1976 as a result of a concerted effort spearheaded by the Governor of Jakarta at that time. It was officially opened on 28 June 1976. There I learnt about the different types of batik from all over the Malay Archipelago like Madura, Sumatra, and Jogjakarta to name a few.

I also managed to learn something about Indonesian history at the Monumen Pancasila Sakti (Sacred Pancasila Monument). Pancasila in Indonesian politics refers to the five philosophical foundation of the Indonesian state. The word pancasila is derived from old Sanskrit which means five (panca) principles (sila).

Sacred Pancasila Monument, Jakarta
The museum showcased the 30th September Movement whereby a self-proclaimed communist organization of Indonesian National Armed Forces members who, in the early hours of 1 October 1965, assassinated six Indonesian Army generals in an abortive coup d'état.

We also visited the Istiqlal Mosque - the largest mosque in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. This national mosque of Indonesia was built to commemorate Indonesian independence and named "Istiqlal", an Arabic word for "independence". The US President and the First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama visited this mosque back in 2010.

Istiqlal Mosque - Largest mosque in Southeast Asia

Apart from sight seeing, I tried a lot of street food and here are the several food you should find and try out if you happen to come across.

Sate Padang - Served with ketupat and thick spicy gravy.
Sate Padang - Beef meat and offal satay in thick yellow sauce. Which is something I really like because, I'm not a fan of peanut sauce where as this Padang food uses spices for the sauce.
Kerak Telur - Betawi traditional snack. It is a spicy omelette of duck or chicken egg mixed with glutinous rice sprinkled with serunding (sauteed grated coconut). While it's nice, the texture is very dry probably because of the serunding.

Kue Tete - Something like pancake, usually green in colour and may have a variety of toppings.
Since A&W is not available in Singapore, I had a bite there too!
There's many more to this this trip like going for a swim at Waterbom (Jakarta) they have another one in Bali, sight seeing, eating, and a little bit of shopping for home.

Sliding down at Waterbom, Jakarta
I would like to thank Dhany, her family and friends for being so hospitable and such a wonderful host. Till we meet again!

Back to reality!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Kabur - Pentas Budaya 2013

Ahmad, Sarah dan Hariz merupakan sahabat sekelas yang berbeza latar belakang. Kehadiran mereka bertiga di dalam alam tersebut mencetuskan sebuah pengembaraan yang penuh ujian dan cabaran. Melalaui pertemuan dan kejadian yang tidak diduga, mereka akan mengenali kekuatan masing-masing dan juga mempelajari erti sebenar persahabatan.

Credit: NUS Malay Language Society
Last Friday, we attended a really amazing theater performance that showcases young, and promising talent from various schools. They were handpicked by the NUS (National University of Singapore) Malay Language Society through a camp to be a part of one of the latest production hosted by the NUS group. According to QS World University Ranking, NUS is one of the top universities in the world.
I am really proud to say that one of the directors is one of my good friend; Syaz. Congratulations!

With the show towkay (boss) in the middle.

The story was about three classmates who has different background and personality. They were picked by their teacher to work as a team for a project although we can see that there's bound to be a personality clash. So, something mystical happened in a scene that brought them to another world.
Ain't gonna spoil it with the details!

Curtain call.
I honestly think the story line carries a lot of moral value in it - which is ever vital in a play. In terms of stage set up, it was really minimal where there is little usage of physical props, yet alternatives of stagecraft like projection, sound effects and lighting were used. And it really worked well because it doesn't only cut costs, but saves time on interval too. It's a theater performance, not a bloody musical!
One of the reasons for me to be there was not only to give my full support but also to meet old acquaintances. It was really great to keep up with the few who matter because social media can be too loaded with updates. I could really use technology detox because sometimes it can too overwhelming. Oh God, is this a sign of aging? So here are the few people that I have not seen for a very, very long time.
With the gorgeous primary and secondary schoolmate.
Ex-classmate in my tuition class!
With an old classmate in Higher Malay - he was really short then!
Photo bomb in the middle (kidding!) with another old classmate back in Higher Malay.
There you go, flower power. Only kidding!
A selfie can never go wrong!

Monday, June 24, 2013

STOMP - Second Decade on Broadway

"If you haven't seen STOMP, go! If you haven't seen it, take someone who hasn't and share the pleasure." - Boston Herald


Recently I went to STOMP - dance, music and theatrical performance that uses everyday materials like shopping cart, matches, cans, bins and such into wonderful noise. Noise with tempo, beat and rhythm is definitely music to my ears.

STOMP started early in there 90's and if you're born in Generation Y should know what STOMP is. If you don't, I daresay you're very, very outdated at that time. Only kidding! I started to know STOMP when I was in primary school, when my music teacher showed us one of the videos during music lesson. Apparently our music lesson was not about reading musical notes, but assimilating ourselves with the pop culture - which I really appreciate very much. Otherwise, I wouldn't know who's 'N Sync or Westlife for that matter.

It was really extraordinary how simple things like plastic bags or brooms can be made into a musical instrument. Something that seems cheap, useless and probably trashy was turned into something melodious. This only shows how one can turn their life over with what they have - not what they don't. Espeically when you're not on your own where you can make louder and better music - just like what STOMP does.

What I really like about it was not only the music which can be downloaded, or viewed on YourTube. It's the synchronization of their acts like passing cans without losing a tempo that makes their hard work paid off. STOMP is on its 11th year in London's West End and its 20th year on Broadway. It does say something about it's awesomeness.

So if you happen to miss it in Singapore because it's already over, feel free to fly for their show on Broadway, or even their world tour. For STOMP, it's worth paying a little bit more.

Funny thing, the purpose for some of us to be there was to feel the venue and I was told that Esplanade is better off than MasterCard Theaters. Which is kinda true. The acoustic and the lush feel is just not there. Oh well, I'm not a sound expert (although I studied a little bit) but you can feel it. But I've got to say, I love the simplicity of the front of house. All white and glass, it felt like I was at The Guggenheim in New York.
Enjoy your week ahead!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Mummy: Secrets of The Tomb

I've been to one of these mummy exhibition when I was eight and as always, the mummy exhibition tend to be popular. Seems like there's magic to it. Learning about the mummy exposed me to new knowledge that I've not known before, and a little bit of revision of how Moses dueled with Pharaoh at that time.

Sweat the stress out!
Early that morning we headed to the gym for a quick workout. As it was real hazy, outdoor activities were avoided. That is why Amin and I decided to go to the gym and the the Art Science Museum. Life still goes on albeit the haze!
We took the public transport to the museum because the parking at Marina Bay Sands is not only hard to find, it is expensive - it's not even easy to find your car back! I didn't want them to incur charges while I look for a parking spot. "Ka-ching! Ka-ching!" Also partly this is mid-June and I need to remain frugal and prudent on my expenses should I want to remain unemployed for the next few months. Moral of the story, to play hard, you got to work hard.

The haze in town was a lot worse than back home probably because town is closer to the open sea, which is where the smoke came from.
We got the tickets right at the counter and there's discount for locals! So please remember to bring your identity card! Okay, the discount isn't much but for something that's brought over from Egypt to Britain to Singapore; it is worth paying for.
Credit: ArtScience Museum
As you enter, you're greeted by a photographer who will offer to take your photograph with an Egyptian background and props. Although it's optional, and you probably won't buy it, I'd recommend everyone to take it. Because you don't know how good you look in ancient times.
You should find out what time is the next 3D movie screening because they have a thirty minute video showing the autopsy of this mummy of a temple priest - Nesperennub. I probably spent the entire time before entering perfecting the pronunciation of his name. Anyway the video introduces you to Nesperennub and will probably be the bulk of your tour. Don't miss this!

There they will show you how a mummy is embalmed.
Credits to one of their beautiful staff.
As you go along, you will see the hundred plus artifacts and the six mummies. Apparently they have approximately two thousand Gods - which will take you about five years to pray to one each day. For a belief that has that many God, the exhibit is quite small honestly.

Had I not read, just take a peek and go, I'd have finished the exhibit in fifteen. But of course, for someone who has interest in this kind of thing - like yours truly, he'd spend about two hours absorbing everything like a sponge.

The wall with empty spaces! Credit: ArtScience Museum
Here's a constructive feedback. While it is very informative, it's a small exhibition let's face it. I don't know why they'd spend lots of money building humongous hollow walls for division and paste decals which is not only small, but come in only two languages. I don't know if the curator is made in China, or Britain or Singapore (face palm) but we can guess he doesn't know his demographic. Hey, I'm just saying. For a start, next time, why not we put them in four languages first, yeah?
If SMRT can do four languages, if IKEA can do probably all languages in the world, why can't this - for an educational and cultural place that wants to put itself in the eyes of the world? Tio bo?
About the haze...

It's nice to read jokes about the haze in Facebook. It enlightens the mood in the so called darkest hour - but just one night is enough! And let's stop complaining without valid suggestions shall we?

The haze as seen from The Helix Bridge.

We complain so much as though the minister or the farmer who burnt their land is in your friends list.
Yeap, we know we can't see our beautiful skyline, we can't breath, those with medical problems are facing medical problems and those who are driving can't see clearly. Even I can't sing for my throat is dry! I can't agree more life is a little bit more expensive here too because of insurance and stuff but in my honest opinion these are external forces that some of us just can't control. What we can do is to control our actions. Hopefully all will be well.

Have a lovely weekend!

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Rose Veranda

Last weekend my friends and I decided to hangout at The Rose Veranda. Since we've not met a for a long time, we could use a quiet place to catch up, enjoy the privacy and exclusivity of the place. There were many food to choose from the the desserts are crazy. Home made ice cream and strawberries dipped with chocolate are just the few irresistible delights.

Enjoy the exquisite pictures because we won't be sharing what we talked about over Ace of Hearts tea!

All of us finally unite after how many months? Welcome back Niz!
A gift from Taiwan by Niz.
They have so many teas to choose from. Spent an hour choosing.
Macarons, cheesecake, and home made vanilla.
Well that's that for my weekend! We dropped by ION Orchard to window shop and bumped into one of my ex-recruits. And we saw this Style Magazine competition! Below is our submission. We did it by impulse.
For Style Magazine, we swallowed our pride to pose in public!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

S.E.A Aquarium - 3 Tips

Hi guys! Hope you guys are in good spirit and health, and enjoying the days ahead of you. As the haze is setting foot in Singapore, I'd like to remind everyone else out there to take care of yourself. Stay hydrated and stay indoors whenever possible. On the upside, those smokers out there can save money since our neighboring country might be burning the remains of pot and weed farm before they get caught. Only kidding! But if you do cut down, you can save money and promote a healthier lifestyle!
There are not many options for outdoor activities since it's hazy. It's not wise to go for a picnic or even a long run because it contradicts healthy lifestyle. Yeah, go run and inhale the haze. I thank you for sucking in the dust for us. But haze doesn't mean you can't keep fit or do fun things like sight seeing. So let's welcome you to the largest aquarium in the world to date, the S.E.A Aquarium! Have fun keeping check all the 100,000 animals inside...

There are three major tips I would like to share.
  1. Get the damn tickets online. The weather here in Singapore is torrid and humid. A few minutes on the line will cause you to wait a little longer at the main entrance, and sweat just by standing. So, order the tickets at the comfort of your hotel room or home. Besides, by doing so, it will give you more time to think of the options available to you online. I don't even want to think of anything else (even if they offered) while queuing but to get the hell out of the queue as quickly as possible. Erm, I'd appreciate a typhoon fan yeah. Like how train stations do.
  2. Consider signing up for the RWS Invites. There is a lot of benefit to having this card if you frequently patronize Resorts World Sentosa. One of them is that you get to skip the queue at the entrance of the Marine Life Park. Only thing is, there's an annual price to it. On top of that it did state that it's by invitation only. You may apply for an invitation online which I am sure most of you will get. Please, allow me to invite you to pay me some money so that you can skip queues! But do check it out, there are more benefits than just skipping the long queue. I asked the girl at the counter how long do I have to wait for the queue without the RWS Invites, she said approximate one and a half hour. Urgh, school holidays! Thank God there's RWS Invites.
  3. Come early. It's open from 10am to 7pm. Hence, come early to enjoy everything Marine Life Park has got to offer. For SGD$33 (just to S.E.A Aquarium and Maritime Museum) you might as well spend the entire day there to learn and experience something new. Tell me when else will you have the time to check it out again? And as a Singaporean, I am indeed culturally kiasu, so with that amount of money I spent, I'd better utilize and try out everything.
Replica: Zheng He's ship - Bao Chuan
As you enter the Marine Life Park, you will be greeted by a full-sized replica of the bow of Zheng He’s treasure ship - Bao Chuan. There you will be able to learn more about his voyages from China to the ‘Western Ocean’ and his fleet during the 15th century. The introduction to his voyages from China to the ‘Western Ocean’ during the 15th century is told through a short animated video in a modern open-style theatre.

As you move in further, you will get to explore the exhibits like the souk, maritime archeology gallery, vintage collections and of course the renowned Jewel of Muscat. This exhibits are created in a sense it engages your fives senses as much as possible, complete with interactive activities to give you an inkling of what life was like in those days.

Then on we went down to the S.E.A Aquarium - which had a long queue as well. It's crazy!

Not even close to entrance.

In there you will be greeted with some fishes from the typical underwater tunnel - pretty much to make you feel scammed I think, but as you enter don't be surprised if you ever gonna ask youself,
"When is this gonna end?"

Because I did. I saw too many fishes I started to imagine weird things like Finding Nemo, Spongebob Squarepants, about killing and eating them fishes (I'm not a vegetarian, respect that), and even thought about what these fishes were thinking about behind those inches thick glass panels!

Anyway, there you will be able to see sea animals from the Straits of Malacca to as far as Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. All the ten zones that you'll go to is amazing and breathtaking. The sea creatures looks healthy and most of all, happy in their own habitat. I must say I love the jellyfishes and the bottlenose dolphin. The bottlenose dolphin is like one of the cutest creatures on the planet. It's so smiley and cute! Its lips are so voluptuous I can kiss them all day. But when I saw them fart or probably take a dump, that turned me off. Hah!
While I thought the bottlenose dolphin is the one thing I'd be awed about, I totally forgot about the centerpiece of the S.E.A Aquarium.

The Open Ocean tank.

Open Ocean Exhibit

The Open Ocean exhibit holds approximately 18,000,000 litres of water and in it contains about half of the animal population in the Marine Life Park. It has the world's largest viewing panel, with a width about 36m, and 8m tall to date. While most might think that it's for the world record, it is in fact created to give us a better experience by giving the impression that we are in the ocean.

I was really in love with the Giant Oceanic Manta Ray. It's a beautiful creature that is endangered and S.E.A Aquarium is the only place where you can see them. It houses the only giant oceanic manta ray in captivity.

How can this place not be unique?

The only Giant Oceanic Manta Ray in captive.

Having said that, I do have some pet peeves.
The S.E.A Aquarium is the last place to go for dating during school holidays. If you intend to propose to your girlfriend over these dates, be prepared to look like a fool. I have a scenario in mind,
"Darling, will you marry me?"
"I said, will you marry me?"
"Sorry, I didn't get you. What did you say?"
"Marry me!"
"Oh! You're proposing! I can't hear you baby. Sorry! Yes, yes!"

The feel-scammed-tube.
It was not only crowded but it was bloody noisy. Kids not behaving themselves, screaming, shouting. Worse yet, they push and sneak around to get to the front of the exhibit. Any more pissed, I'd just throw them to the sharks.

Don't get me wrong, I am pro-kids, just that you parents ought to take care of your own kids. It's dark and crowded, people do kidnap kids you know. Maintaining the world largest collection of marine life may mean spending lots of money so if they happen to not able to afford shark's food, your kids might as well be.

While this is a pun, please take this note seriously. Don't make your kids a burden to new couples who are going to get married! I happen to saw a number of young couple dating there so here's my two cents. I can assure you these pushers ain't tourist. Show them how wonderful it is to have kids.

One funny question, why are they selling Tiger Balm at the souvenir store? And not shark's fin soup?

Fishing for... I don't know.
Davy Jones! Back in tank.
Makes me wonder if that thing ever get entangled.
This is not a crab but it reminds me of Krusty Krab!