Sunday, October 31, 2004

A warm Halloween Saturday - the day before daylight savings kick in

Korean Lunch

Ten of us had a sumptuous Korean lunch at a traditional Korean restaurant off Tottenham Court Road. The food was good, the company was good, the price was good (only 7 pounds, considering the variety we had). And it always amazes me how the ang-mohs will persistently learn how to use chopsticks correctly, whereas our generation of Chinese (or younger) doesn’t really care so much. The Caucasians are really interested in Chinese culture, or Asian culture in general. Ricaldo was desperately learning how to use the chopsticks from me, without much success obviously. But it was still heart-warming to see how our culture can evoke the interests of so many people in a country miles and miles away. And then, we had a traditional Italian dessert (more specifically, it’s dessert from Sicily), with courtesy of Ricaldo’s girlfriend who brought it all the way from Sicily. So it’s like a cultural exchange, really nice.

National Portrait Gallery

Next, three guys had to head back home to work. So, the seven of us left decided to go to the National Portrait Gallery for some culture immersion. The weather was really nice and warm; the sun was bright and sunny, atypical of autumn weather. We didn’t even need a jacket to roam around on the streets. We spent about 3 hours in the gallery, good portraits as well, which includes both classic and contemporary works which gives a good overall impression of British history. It’s surprising how David Beckham is in as well. Anyway, it’s one more museum off my must-visit-museums list now. Hopefully, I’ll have the time to go to Tate Britain and Tate Modern soon.


Then we headed back home for dinner, which was very different from the normal dinners. We had dinner in the dark, with eerie music and skeletons hanging around the dining room. And of course, we had the pumpkins as well. Yah, it’s the annual Halloween (actually it’s the eve)! We didn’t dress up in weird costumes for dinner though.

Quartet Concert

After dinner was a quartet concert, which was again really impressive. The performance was fantastic, so did the red wine at the reception. I exerted control on myself this time round, so I had only three glasses (it was two in the first place, Yoichi instigated me to have another one). :p

Hampstead Crepes (again!)

Antonio and I felt hungry after the concert and wine, so naturally we need food to satisfy our hunger, and Hampstead crepes naturally came to mind. So off we walked to the Hampstead creperie atop the little hill. And man, this was the first time I saw such a long queue, maybe it’s because it was Saturday night, so we queued for 40 minutes before it was our turn to order (at 1130 pm!!!). I had a Banana Maple Cream Dream, which was incredibly delicious. This was my fourth Hampstead crepe for the week, by the way. I had Banana Rum in Dark Belgian Chocolate, and Lemon & Sugar on Friday, and Crepe Complete on Thursday. I’m half way through to trying all the 20 odd crepes they have on the menu. Yah, I’m that crazy about Hampstead crepes now, having it once every few days. Well, before I had Hampstead crepes, I thought the crepes at Marche were good, now I think the Marche crepes are crap really. Hampstead crepes aren’t famous without reasons. And oh yah, I was told the Hampstead crepes at the South Kensington branch were crap as well, though I haven’t tried them myself. So, I guess the original is still the best.

Daylight savings

Lastly, it is the time of the year to adjust our clocks and watches by an hour again. For the next six months or so, the time difference between London and Singapore will be eight hours, instead of seven. We’ll have shorter days and longer nights in winter soon, which I really detest. Anyway, it’s time to do some constructive work after the day off yesterday, so that I’ll be able to go to Paris next week without feeling guilty.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

I’m going to Peru!

It’s incredible that this time round, SPH took only one day to say yes to my Peru volunteer trip in summer 2005, whereas it took them 2 weeks to allow me to go for the YEP 2 months ago. What’s even amazing is that SPH has decided to waive my internship totally (they almost never do that!), even though I only requested for a reduction in the internship period from the initial 8 weeks to 6 weeks. But of course there are conditions attached if I decided to take up this offer - SPH will not pay for my round trip air tickets for the next academic year because “We do not fly scholars back for such a short stint. Scholars will have to purchase own round trip air ticket back.”…

So, to go or not to go is a huge question mark. If I do go, it will cost me a fortune - 1150 pounds for the Peru trip itself, at least an additional 800 pounds to fly to Peru from London, and another 2000 odd Singapore dollars to fly from Singapore to London if I do go home after Peru. So, after weighing the economical pros and cons, I might not go home next summer, since I do want to go to Peru after all. But then again, I simply can’t imagine myself not going home for two whole years. On the other hand, if I do not go to Peru, I’ll just go back to SPH and serve my normal routine internship for 8 weeks, and get paid for 50 bucks a day, and not only that, SPH will pay for my return air tickets from home to London.

Since money is the crux of the whole quandary, I relented and negotiated with Winnie that I’ll be able to squeeze out 7 weeks of internship, instead of the proposed 6 weeks. (That means starting work immediately after flying from Peru to London to home, and ending work 2 days before school starts.) And Winnie and the management relented as well, so I'm going to Peru next summer after all! What’s more, I get to earn some money while interning and I don’t have to pay for my air tickets from London to Singapore and vice versa. I guess that’s the best solution since I can’t think of anything better.

Anyhow, I still need 2000 pounds!!!

Now, I need lots of luck to do some fundraising for the Peru trip.

Monday, October 25, 2004


The price to pay for breaking my pair of spectacles in London is 255 British pounds (800 Sing dollars). That’s for a new decent pair of thin lens, though I can get a cheaper alternative for 99 pounds with the standard lens. With that amount of money, I most probably can get 8 years supply of contact lenses back home. Argh… I doubt I will make another pair of glasses in my entire life.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Transport frustrations

The London transport system is getting on my nerves. The buses can change their final destinations anyhow while on the move, so passengers already on the bus who happily think that the bus is going to Hampstead Heath have to disembark from the bus halfway at Chalk Farm without any compensations and explanations, simply because the bus driver decides while driving halfway that the bus should only go as far as Chalk Farm. And how can I forget the bus waits as long as an hour, after which five buses of the same route arrive simultaneously? It’s ok for people like us possessing bus passes, but what about passengers who pay single fares? And single bus fares are going up to 1.20 quids with effect from next year. That’s a 20 pence (60 Singapore cents) increase, so naturally there should be a likewise improvement in bus services. But oh well, this is London, so I’m not expecting much.

Oh yah, how can I not mention the infamous London Underground, where services can terminate suddenly, where trains can reverse direction on the same track, where people can drop onto the tracks and run about and then disrupt the whole system (it just happened yesterday - a lunatic jumped down and jogged along the track at Piccadilly Circus Station, luckily we left the tube before this happened else we would have missed our movie), where the Metropolitan line can stop operating over the weekend, where the trains can derail many times last year??? And a single tube fare is an exorbitant 2 quids (6 Singapore dollars), and “as expected”, tube fares are also going to increase next year to “manage inflation rates”.

Ok, no use complaining so much. I shall tolerate this nonsense for at least 2 more years.

(On another note, “Old Boy” was an excellent movie and that sort of compensated everything described above.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004




刚过去的星期六的饭局,是和一些 YEP 的人聚会,才赫然发现原来 YEP 已经过了两个多月了,而我们大家都已经回到英国。于是,我们又想起在泰国的时光,实在逍遥快乐。每次聚会每人都会带一样吃的,或是喝的,从泰国到新加坡,都是如此。如今回到伦敦,我们延续这样的传统。只不过,伦敦少了泰国的阳光,还有伦敦人少了泰国村民的真心诚恳。


星期天终于去了 Cambridge ,不过我还是喜欢 Oxford 多一点。 Cambridge 确实是个读书的好地方,环境很清幽,不过有点闷,没有 Oxford 那样 vibrant。或许是因为《再别康桥》,所以对剑桥的期望太高,结果风景没有想象中的绚丽,有点失望。不过,徐志摩的剑桥还是漂亮的,只因这首诗。

(我们本来是想尝试 punting 的,结果没有勇气,怕掉进康河里。)

再别康桥  徐志摩








Saturday, October 16, 2004

A Little Tipsy on Tuesday

I guess it isn't really healthy to feel a little tipsy every few days. Downed eight (or was it ten?) glasses of red wine and a glass of white wine on Tuesday night, because the red wine is simply too good (the white one isn't fit for drinking) and I couldn't control myself. So there I was, feeling a bit tipsy again after the concert and reception. Nevertheless I still managed to help clear up the place, so I wasn't that drunk yet. Oh there's a quartet recital coming up next week, so that means there will be more wine to drink then! I'm starting to wonder if I'm attending the concerts because of the concert itself or because of the drinks served at the interval and reception. Well, I still have 2 bottles of red wine in my room, left from the reception on Tuesday. Hopefully, Neil forgets about that two bottles, and all will be mine.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Formal dinner

Friday evening was the formal dinner to welcome all residents in the new academic year, and it was really formal. Everybody donned the smartest suits and then we had the apertif first, followed by the traditional three course English dinner. I drank a bottle of beer for the apertif, quite a bit of red and white wine during the dinner and then unexpectedly got a bit tipsy after the dinner (oops!). Some of us (mainly Asians) weren't full after the dinner, so we went around Hampstead in search of food, and haha, in the end all of us couldn't decide what to eat and bought the Hampstead crepes instead. After which, five of us went to a pub and had more drinks (I had a bit of Guinness). Overall, it was just a short and simple dinner, but really a pleasant evening with lots of interactions. It's really, really amazing how cosmopolitan this place can be and all of us can be connected together via a common language - English.

The Chilterns

Nine of us went hiking in the Chilterns today, and amazingly all nine of us are from different countries - (1) Singapore, (2) Italy, (3) Spain, (4) Japan, (5) Trinidad, (6) England, (7) India, (8) Belgium and (9) Portugal.

Today was surprisingly sunny, the weather exceptionally good, perhaps its because we weren't in London.

The Chilterns lie only a few miles north-west of London in Buckinghamshire and yet they are an unspoilt area of rolling chalk hills, magnificent beechwoods, quiet valleys and charming brick and flint villages. A wonderful mosaic of woods, fields, hedges, sunken lanes and clear streams.

We took a train to Chalfont and Latimer, after which we walked about 10 miles in the Chilterns in 5 hours. A pretty relaxing walk with plenty of down-hills and up-slopes. The landscape was fantastic, but not the best I've seen (Peak District offers better views). Nevertheless, everybody agreed that it's a good workout on a Sunday and heh, Yoichi was almost half dead in the end.

Should be going somewhere next weekend as well. :)

Friday, October 08, 2004


School has officially started on Monday, and its been barely a week and readings have already piled up. One list of readings every lecture, and that amounts to many many lists (note: it's lists) of readings for many many lectures per week. Deadlines are already nearing as well... argh... I have one in 6 days time! But lectures have been interesting, so reading the so many readings is rather enjoyable though its still a nightmare. Doing clinical psychology, health psychology, perception, attention and action this term. So studying stress/anxiety/depression when I'm already very stressed/anxious/depressed myself is actually pretty interesting. In case I go mad, I know how to analyse and treat myself. So its not a problem whether I'm stressed or not... Ok, I dunno what I'm talking about now. :/

Will be designing our own experiments this year, and running the subjects ourselves and analysing the data using SPSS and then the finale is writing the lab reports. Will be continuing German as well.

Sounds a lot of work, but I am still going to go travel. I don't care. I need to get out of dreary London.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Happy and cool :)

I’ve been a happy man these few days because:

(1) I’ve finally started on my exercise regime. Started jogging around Hampstead. Maybe football in Primrose Hill. Will be starting to gym next week, as soon as lectures and lab classes fall into place. :)

(2) I’ve found the legendary Hampstead crepes on the hill! And I totally love it, who doesn’t? Will be frequenting La Creperie de Hampstead very, very often, I suppose. :)

(3) I finally went to the National Gallery yesterday which I’ve always wanted to go. With more than 2000 European paintings on display, National Gallery is one of the world’s largest and finest galleries, and everybody knows that. So even though I don’t really know how to appreciate the paintings (well, at least one of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers is here), National Gallery is still a place worth visiting. This is also the first time I actually saw people seriously setting up their easels and equipment in front of the various artists’ works, and enthusiastically duplicating the works. Spent a couple of hours losing myself and watching people in the arts labyrinth, absolutely cool. :)

(4) I went to Brent Cross Shopping Centre (Zone 3) for the first time today and bought a Topman jacket for autumn. And yah, North London isn’t that isolated, at least there is a huge (and I mean really huge) shopping mall. And the people in Brent Cross shopping are comparable to the crowd on Oxford Street. Cool. Maybe shall go to Croydon one day. :)

(5) There’s a fellow Singaporean here as well. Now I won’t be that lonely. :)

(6) I’ve finally started planning on my weekend and holiday trips again. Hopefully (*fingers crossed*), I’ll be able to set foot on Africa this year - go to Egypt for Christmas. :)

Friday, October 01, 2004


奇怪,回来伦敦 10 天了,竟然完全没有想到家,是现在在这里想写点什么才意识到我并没有想家,“想家”这个概念才出现在脑里。想家是个怎样的感觉,我已经不知道了。我想我已经忘记怎样想家了。以前会天天听 933;现在已经完全没有这个习惯和冲动。以前会天天上 Straits Times 和早报的网站;现在反而天天看 Financial Times, Daily Telegraph 还有 The Times。以前会很渴望可以吃到 Laksa 还有 Cha Kway Teow;现在只想吃 Four Seasons 的鸭饭还有 Hampstead crepes。以前会很希望可以和岛国的人讲 Singlish;现在听到 Singlish 反而觉得有点刺耳。以前会几乎每星期打电话回家;现在已经 10 天没有打回家也不觉得怎样。

对家的思念没有了,反而越发想念起伦敦的一些地方,比如 Camden 还有 Covent Garden。现在每天搭 168 巴士去学校都会经过 Camden,每次经过都很想下车。今天在唐人街附近,就萌起了走去 Covent Garden 的冲动,结果我真的情不自禁走去了 Covent Garden,听到熟悉的四重奏,看到熟悉的 buskers,还差点就买了熟悉的 Thornton’s icecream。即使是冬天,Covent Garden 也会很温暖,很活泼。我真的很喜欢 Covent Garden,比喜欢我在岛国最喜欢的东海岸还要喜欢。

可能是刚离开不久吧,所以有关家的一切还算犹新,因此脑的神经中枢决定并没有必要启动“想家”这一程序。是好是坏我不知道。还是我已经对“家”这个概念变得越来越麻木?是自己因为新闻工作而变得冷血而且 disillusioned了?是自己开始嫌弃岛国?还是自己比较崇洋了?我现在实在说不上来。


*每次听到现在的背景音乐,我就会想起 Covent Garden 还有它给我的感觉。
*Yo yo yo… alas I finally found the legendary Hampstead crepes… and they are indeed heavenly! One more reason to love Hampstead. :) :) :)