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 If you don't, I daresay you're very, very outdated at that time.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!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Post NS - Thank You Note

Hello guys! I hope all of you are having a great weekend because I am having a good one right now. It's too good that I fell asleep while unpacking all my duffel bag. It's weird that I enlisted with one duffel bag and end my service with three of them.

Whatever it is, it is over for now - until reservist comes. So here's a follow up on our farewell trip to Genting. Our friend, Andika has made a video for this trip for memory's sake and I would like to share it with you guys! Be prepared to be surprised watching this video. Haha!

Moving on, there are so many people to thank to in this entry. I understand, it's common for every Singaporean son to say their thanks in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all other outlet. Rather than I too, fill your social media news feed with my long winded entry, I might as well write it here and only indulge those who has been following. My National Service (NS) life is a unique one for me. It's the most valuable intangible asset that no other can take it away from me. It's etched in my mind, vividly. I can even remember how my first day in National Service started.

Let's start from the beginning.

First, I would like to thank one of my close friends, Khidir for meeting me in the first place to give me a heads up on how army life is going to be like before I got enlisted. We come from a different background in school and I know nuts about uniformed life - school uniform doesn't count! At least he does and had experienced it first hand. I wouldn't want to enter not knowing anything at all - which I didn't until I met him and it was really helpful. Thanks a lot!

During the Basic Military Training (BMT), I would like to thank my battalion of friends like Syaz, Khai, Fiz, Niz, Amin, Elf, who had been texting me to ask how is it like in camp - although it may seem they asked out of curiosity than concern (they know I'm a survivor!), I appreciate it a lot especially when I felt really odd being thrown on an island and mix with a bunch of people I don't even know. It. Is. Just. Odd. How can it not be? Back in my schooling days most of my friends were females and better yet, when I was in poly, there were only five boys in a class of twenty. Then again, I did not regret making tonnes of female friends even if my mum asked me to make more male friends. In NS, what are the odds of seeing girls! Haha, ironically my BMT coy had a platoon of girls.

A thank you note to Vasudevan, my buddy is not forgotten as well because at times when I was weak and needed his help, he has always been the stronger one. Despite being very weak in his English then, I know he has been working hard to keep up with the Singaporean lifestyle. He was in Singapore for only about five months before being enlisted. He was one of the most challenging buddy I had in my NS life but that's just due to language barrier. Other than that, I am one of the most challenging buddy anyone can have in command school - everyone was dying to shut me up!

I also would like to thank my relatives and friends for attending my Passing Out Parade (POP) now known as Graduation Parade (GP) - because recruits do pass out from that long walk, the name has to change. Just kidding! It was really heartwarming since you guys had to wake up early and bear the stench. I had no idea how smelly we were until I started helping out at the GP as a specialist. You can smell them from the grandstand!

By the time GP ended, I was quite accustomed to the lifestyle and got into the Specialist Cadet School (SCS). Honestly, I was initially disappointed for not being posted to Officer Cadet School (OCS) because I was very sure I did my best and did quite well. Or at least that's what I thought! I even expressed interest during my foundation term in SCS to cross over to OCS. I even made a deal with myself that if I go to OCS, I would consider - I repeat - consider - signing on (hmmm... what was I thinking!). But that didn't materialize. Some people even told me that I should express interest in signing on before asking to be posted to OCS or something.

But as they say, God works in mysterious ways.

Today if you ask me if I'm proud to be a specialist, I'd say I am. But about a year ago, it's like I'm being forced to come to terms with my fate.

After graduating from SCS with a third sergeant rank, I got posted to where I came from: Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC). My state of mind was really in a mess at first because I just don't know should I be a trainer, or something else. There were like three options. But my intuition kept on pushing me to express interest in something I never had in mind since the day I was enlisted. Never, not at all had I thought of working in an office in military uniform. But guess what, that very same thing happen for the following one year I was posted there.

That wouldn't have happened without the help of many people. Firstly, Sufiyan for being so ever nice to me. If I had the chance then, I would hug you so tight your brains will pop out. Secondly, Ian for being such a wonderful human being. You are one of the many reasons why I get to shake hands with Commander last week. And of course, Haikarl, you were there to welcome me on my enlistment day and was there to welcome me again to give me a heads up on how office work is like.

By the way, if you think office work as a specialist has its rewards - know that it doesn't come without challenges and responsibilities.

I also would like to say many thanks to my upper study, Oliver for being very patient and nice in teaching me how to run the office. I know I can be a little bit slow sometimes because there were so many things to digest but when I knew you, I was fond of your quick personality. Today, I've grown to be a little just like you!

Next one is for you, Ashraf. I really would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to take up this appointment. I really can't thank you enough. If it's not dramatic enough, know that I'm writing this with my heart filled with tears! I am indeed indebted to you buddy. You were my listening ear when I had trouble at work!

Subsequently, thanks to all my colleagues and equal for the great time when I was in the office. People like Ashraf, Dehao, Chris, Jason, Andika, Kuang, Silas, Poh, Kenneth, Ashraf, Scharwin and all the new members. You people are the reason why I am laughing like a mad man before bed sometimes. You guys definitely enlightened, and further brightened my NS life. You guys think our office is for Fifty Shades is it!

To colleagues in Kestrel and my recruits, although I was only down at coy line for only three short weeks, it only made my NS experience more worthwhile and more interesting for me to take back.

Ultimately, a huge thank you to my mum, dad and my two younger siblings. My parents were the ones who gave me consistent support throughout my army life, and youngest brother, thanks for cleaning my bedroom for me while I was busy training back then. That is very sweet of you guys! You, my family, I am always indebted to. Forever and will be.

And of course above all, to the Almighty, thank you so much. There were moments in my life that did not go as planned but you brought me to a better place I never thought I'd go. To those whom I forgot to mention and is a part of this,