Friday, December 09, 2005




Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Breaking my b**d?

Breaking my b**d?

I never thought the idea of breaking my b**d would have crossed my mind.

Until today. After an unexpected discussion with my professor.

Yes, I’m seriously thinking about the feasibility and plausibility of breaking my b**d now. But I cannot afford it, I know. So I will not break my b**d, unless somebody is willing to pay all the money (an astronomical 6-digit figure) for me.

Morally and socially, this is wrong, I know. My mind is clear. My professor told me, “This is clearly trickier than I thought.”

“Is it the government or a private company?” Prof P.H. asked.

I told him explicitly, “It is private, but somewhat controlled by the government.”

“What if I write a letter to your company?” Prof P.H. said.

Oh wow, I wish that letter will work. But I told him directly, “Unless I can pay for what I owe them…”

“I see... but I will be happy to do anything else to help.”

“Let me know if I can do anything, if you decide to…” He then repeated.

Suddenly I feel free in my career options. I AM thinking of going into academia after what he said today.

I am still ruminating…

Thursday, November 24, 2005



我知道我离开后一定会想念 Hampstead ,但是直到昨天我才发现我会多么想念这个地方。绕着整个村庄走了一圈好像在梦里游走一样,可能是起雾的关系吧,朦朦胧胧,这样的场景我记得只在电影里看过,还以为现实生活根本不可能有这么一个地方。至少,Hampstead 跟伦敦市中心相差十万八千里。一处传来法国煎饼的诱人香味,理所当然把我引了过去。然后潜意识坐在 Haagen-dazs 外面吃着比在法国煎饼店卖的煎饼还要正宗的 Hampstead 煎饼,我知道我一年后会想念从法国老板娘口里吐出的每句浪漫法语。

听说布拉格也像 Hampstead 一样迷人,挺期待的……

Sunday, November 20, 2005




Wednesday, November 16, 2005



法国发生暴乱,我偏往法国去。结果,在脑里设想的各种刺激遭遇我什么都没有经历,离开 Lyon 后,那里才发生暴乱。早知道我就在 Lyon 待多几天。


原来,去了 Andes 一趟,其他再美丽的风景也只是一般。

Wednesday, November 02, 2005



读完 Hiram Bingham Lost City of the Incas,我发现我始终放不下秘鲁。

通往Machu Picchu 的火车轨道前几天因为土崩被埋了许久,许多旅客因此被困在古城上面好几天,无法离开,高兴得不得了。我现在多么希望我那时候在山上也遇到土崩,这样就可以在古城过夜看日出。



Friday, October 28, 2005









注:布莱顿的英文名为 Brighton,是英国东南部靠海的城市。布莱顿海边有的是独特的石滩,海浪声与一般的沙滩不同。

Sunday, October 23, 2005



The Program Administrator says one year is possible and in recent years, a number of Singaporeans have managed to complete it in one year. She added that if my Chinese language skills are sufficiently advanced, then I “should certainly be in a position to complete the degree in one academic year.”

Chinese is definitely not a problem. What’s worrying me more is the requirement of switching between both languages, which I am still not quite comfortable with, even after so many internships.

But I really do like the wide variety of the courses available at H University. There is even a full module on learning Cantonese from scratch.

However, she said that they can only confirm after I have received an offer and only after I have matriculated. So, now I have to think of ways to convince my sponsor… and then make sure I get an offer…

Friday, October 21, 2005

Painful Process

It helps having only a few hours of lessons per week. At least I have ample time to do my psychological research and to complete my applications to graduate schools. They seem to be on the right track currently: I am almost ready to run my experiment on people, I only need to change some experimental variables. Applications wise, everybody is giving me their support, and I really feel pampered and lucky.

Letters of recommendation

I was discussing with Professor H regarding his letter of recommendation, and I told him frankly, “I really have no idea how you are going to write since I am not doing Science anymore, but am applying for a Humanities programme.” But he reassured me, “Don’t worry, I’ll write all the flattering stuff. I’ll make sure nothing goes wrong. I’ve got your CV, your academic records, your draft statement of purpose to Harvard… everything will be fine.” (By the way, Harvard’s program is a 2 year course, SPH won’t allow and I’m just applying for fun. Will negotiate with SPH if I do get in.)

Just when I am still dissatsified with my third draft of the statement of purpose, he added, “Your statement looks good. Really helps me in writing my reference.”

And then he asked me when the deadline is. I said “Late December, early January.”

He replied without hesistation, “I will finish the reference by next week.”

My second referee, Dr L, was also very supportive and he said, “You know what, my PhD was in Philosophy, maybe I can write that in and say that I know the qualities and skills required to do a Humanities subject and that you possess these, to make my reference more convincing. Moreover, I am switching to do Psych now, so I don’t see why you cannot switch also.”

Dr L then added, “I am going to the US next month, visiting Berkeley and other universities, and will be meeting some senior professors. I’ll get their opinions on how to recommend and what admissions committee in the US usually look for, and see what I can write for you.”

My third referee, Mr C from Zaobao, was the first person I approached and he instantly agreed to write a reference for me. I still cannot forget his four words “全力支持”, when I first made the request when I was still interning in September. I am counting on his reference since it should be the most relevant to the course I am applying.

I really don’t know how to thank them.

Statement of Purpose

I have already spent 3 weeks on this and I am still not satisfied, and am working on my fourth draft. What makes this task worse is that different schools have different requirements. So, I am writing 2 versions for different schools. The US ones are fine, the UK ones are disastrous. Cambridge initially wanted a short piece not more than 720 characters long. Note that it's not words, but characters, including spaces. I was wondering if they want me to use bombastic vocabulary and idioms? Just when I finished and managed to condense my original statement of 800 words to 719 characters (about 100 words), Cambridge said they want 4 pages instead. I almost want to kill myself when I read that from their email.

But I am thankful that friends have been critical and giving me their comments. Dr L even edited my second draft. So all the more, I shouldn’t let them down and myself down.


This is the worst nightmare I suppose. I am confident in my essays and the maths section, but not the verbal part.

J took the test recently and he said he might have to retake because he did not get 800 for maths. I said, “HUH? 770 for Maths and a total of almost 1500 still not good enough?”

J explained, “Applicants who got in to that course in that university got a minimum of 800 for maths.” (the maximum score one can get is 800).

I almost fainted on the spot.

In that case, do I need to get 800 for my verbal?

But I seriously do reckon that I have to retake the test, since I haven’t started preparing at all.

J said he had never seen most of the words in his life.

H.M said mugging might help. Well, I just printed out the word list.

But I've got only 5 more days.


Saturday, October 15, 2005


身边的每个人都在为功课忙碌,我却整天想要去哪里玩。那天订了去 Prague 还有 Budapest 的飞机票,然后一口气又订了去 Brighton 和 Canterbury 的车票。现在除了在策划埃及的行程,也在勤读英国还有欧洲的 Lonely Planet,打算在近期内又收拾背包去法国和德国旅行。现在想去 Munich 附近的 Neuschwanstein 城堡,还有法国的 Lyon 和 Nice 和 Cannes。我还想去 Arles 看梵高的那间咖啡座。本来也想去希腊,可是机票贵得离谱,只好暂时放弃。英国呢,最想去 Lake District 还有 Cornwall。当然还有 Scotland 的 Loch Ness。

我已经打算考完 GRE 还有完成报考研究所的程序后,每天都去旅行,除了星期二和四上课以外。


可是,去 Peru 的三千多英磅的旅行费(我到现在还没有计算到底花了多少)还没有赚回来,现在口袋又要破大洞。




这就是每个星期只上 4 小时课惹的祸。

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Other Side & The Light

这是一篇没有连贯性的 post。

"Somewhere Only We Know"
by Keane

I walked across an empty land
I knew the pathway like the back of my hand
I felt the earth beneath my feet
Sat by the river and it made me complete

Oh simple thing where have you gone
I'm getting old and I need something to rely on
So tell me when you're gonna let me in
I'm getting tired and I need somewhere to begin

I came across a fallen tree
I felt the branches of it looking at me?
Is this the place we used to love?
Is this the place that I've been dreaming of?

Oh simple thing where have you gone
I'm getting old and I need something to rely on
So tell me when you're gonna let me in
I'm getting tired and I need somewhere to begin

And if you have a minute why don't we go
Talk about it somewhere only we know?
This could be the end of everything
So why don't we go
Somewhere only we know?

Oh simple thing where have you gone
I'm getting old and I need something to rely on
So tell me when you're gonna let me in
I'm getting tired and I need somewhere to begin

And if you have a minute why don't we go
Talk about it somewhere only we know?
This could be the end of everything
So why don't we go
So why don't we go

This could be the end of everything
So why don't we go
Somewhere only we know?


Keane 的这首歌和整张专辑已经永久储藏在我脑袋里,挥之不去。Keane 来自英国,而我这张专辑却是在秘鲁的库斯科市场买的。


那天,终于好不容易用我仅剩的西班牙文回复以前在秘鲁教我西班牙文现在人在爱尔兰的老师的电邮。怎么才两个月,我的西班牙文和Quechua 已经忘了七七八八?Quechua 可是很漂亮的语言,我看我明天会去 Waterstones 买 Lonely Planet 的 “Learn to Speak Quechua” 的语言指南。



那篇命名 “Statement of Purpose” 的文件,前几天已经打算写了。现在,过了几天后,荧幕仍然是空着的,只打了以上那三个英文字。

Neil 那天来我的豪宅,看到我去年在大学考第一的信,说这点可以写进去啊。我说,他们会不会觉得我很不要脸。我在想,我心理学考第一又怎样,我又不可以报考心理学的 Masters Program,因为某人不让。所以,我只好报其他的课程,所以我到现在只打了那三个字。



“If only I don't bend and break
I'll meet you on the other side
I'll meet you in the light
If only I don't suffocate
I'll meet you in the morning when you wake”

我在想,我是不是可以看到 "The Other Side" 和 "The Light" ?

现在只有 Keane 的歌可以给我一点安慰。


Bend & Break
by Keane

When you, when you forget your name
When old faces all look the same
Meet me in the morning when you wake up
Meet me in the morning then you'll wake up

If only I don't bend and break
I'll meet you on the other side
I'll meet you in the light
If only I don't suffocate
I'll meet you in the morning when you wake

Bitter and hardened heart
Aching waiting for life to start
Meet me in the morning when you wake up
Meet me in the morning then you'll wake up

If only I don't bend and break
I'll meet you on the other side
I'll meet you in the light
If only I don't suffocate
I'll meet you in the morning when you wake

If only I don't bend and break
I'll meet you on the other side
I'll meet you in the light
If only I don't suffocate
I'll meet you in the morning when you wake

I'll meet you on the other side
I'll meet you in the light
If only I don't suffocate
I'll meet you in the morning when you wake

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Final Year in London

This is almost definitely my last year staying in London.

I love London but I love Hampstead more, so much so that when I touched down, I immediately had Hampstead crepes for my first meal.

And I love my new place. I’ve got my own TV cum DVD player, kitchen, fridge, oven, gas stoves, rice cooker, pans, 1 small sofa, 3 chairs, 1 big cushion, 1 fireplace, bathtub, 1 comfortable bed, few bottles of wine, 3 flavours of Whittard Hot Chocolate powder, 4 different kinds of coffee powder (Cappuccino, Mocha, Latte and double chocolate coffee) and many different kinds of tea (Coca Tea from Peru, Ginseng Tea from Korea, Chrysanthemum Tea and Herbal Tea from Singapore). And I just got my internet connection set up in my bedroom, which took an entire week to complete the installation. And just opposite me is Hampstead Heath. The creperie is just 5 minutes away. What more can I ask for? (I’ll possibly put up a few pictures of my place soon.)

To top it up, I have only 3 hours of lectures per week this term, and the rest of the time is dedicated to my research work.

It sounds too good to be true, yah?

Now that I’ve done practically nothing and just stone in Hampstead since arrival in London, the past 10 days has been a well-deserved break after the hectic schedule from late May to late September, so hectic that I only managed to meet up with 2 friends back in Singapore.

It’s time for me to get the engine started again.

A few major things are going to take place concurrently.

Research work for my dissertation is on the right track currently. I’m still in the process of designing my experiment which should be ready for testing in a few days’ time.

Applying for graduate school is one big headache and time-consuming indeed. I’ve gotten my financial letters from SPH and I finally booked my GRE which is scheduled on October 26th. I expect to retake it, especially because I haven’t started preparing yet. Who knows I might have to take it when I’m in Egypt in December? I’ve filled up the basic details for some graduate schools' applications online. I’m left with the Statement of Purpose, CV/resume, Research Proposal, transcripts and letters of recommendation (Shen Jiang has kindly to write one out of the three required, so I need to source for two professors in university). And Oxford needs 2 extra pieces of recent written work, which I don’t have, so I might just give up applying to Oxford. So basically, I need to sort out the above for 5 universities I’m applying to (Cambridge in UK and four others in the US) and the deadline isn’t far ahead. By the way, the application fees are freaking expensive.

And I’ve also booked my air tickets to Cairo after Christmas. I need to plan my itinerary for Egypt and then to source for my air tickets to Prague and back from Budapest for the Eastern Europe trip I’m undertaking prior to Egypt as well.

That’s a preview of my life for the next few months.


Tuesday, October 04, 2005


我很久很久没有这么久没有 update blog 了。因为太忙,我连睡觉的精力都没有,这才发现原来睡觉也需要很多的力气。




深江说:“你在早报实习的时候,也是早报采访团队向你学习的时候。”他接着说:“我会大力争取你来早报。不过你以后要 indicate ,不然我上去人事部争取,然后你放别的报就不好了。”




早报采访组 5 位主任,同一个意思,不管他们讲的是不是真的,我还是听了很爽,因为实习了 4 次,从来没有主任这样直接对我说过。


副刊主任佩卿姐那天看到我,笑着对我说:“现在终于看到你的人了,整天看到你的 byline ,为什么没有回去副刊找我们?”








7 万个伦敦人,一个伦敦。

Sunday, September 04, 2005


报馆的资源似乎享用不尽,请我这个实习生然后派我去了很多很多无聊的工作,还没去之前看了 Media Invite 和 Press Release 就知道这份工作是可以不去的,结果姓邢的某主任还派了摄影记者一同和我受罪。后来,我当然是去了跟公关应酬一下,摄影同事也意思意思拍了几张照片,然后我们顺便去吃当局为媒体设的免费自助餐,回到公司跟老板汇报后,理所当然报道连写也不用写,这样的工作已经有 10 多次了。最尴尬的是,当公关和受访者打电话给我,追问我报道几时会见报,很多时候,我不知道怎么对他们说:“不好意思,我连写都没有写!”







Monday, August 22, 2005


一天做 14 小时的工,已经习以为常。









Friday, August 19, 2005



Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Some photographs from Peru

I haven't got the time to sort the 1000 or so photographs I took in Peru. But I thought I should at least put up some of them here. Hopefully I'll be able to put more in my gallery. :)

So, here's a mini selection of 33 photographs. Enjoy.

The town of Urubamba - my home for 2 months.

Our eco-tourism lodge in Chicon, 6 km from Urubamba.

Some Peruvian children we taught during our mini-project.

The Salinas (salt pans) in the Sacred Valley.

Plaza de Armas in Cusco, the capital of South America.

The ruins at Pisac.

Matt and I learning about bees at one of our weekend workshops.

Reed boats at the Uros islands on Lake Titicaca.

The mountains in Bolivia viewed from Isla Amantani on Lake Titicaca.

A group photo after a mini fiesta on Lake Titicaca.

A Peruvian girl at Inti Raymi, Cusco.

A scene from Inti Raymi at Sacsayhuaman.

Cooking our lunch with heated rocks and soil using the traditional Peruvian way.

Santa Catalina Convent in Arequipa.

On the way to Chivay and Colca Canyon from Arequipa.

Mother and son in a small village in Colca Canyon.

At Colca Canyon, the world's second deepest canyon where graceful condors zoomed past my head.

Typical colourful Peruvian textile on sale at Cruz del Condor.

This exotic monkey belongs to Javier, my volunteer work coordinator.

Javier rears many guinea pigs for food. Guinea pigs are not pets in Peru.

A group photo at the beginning of the 80-km Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu.

The second day of the trek was the worst, ascending almost 1000 metres in 2 hours.

We crossed the river using this manual pulley system.

Alas! After 5 days of trekking, I made it to Machu Picchu.

The magnificent view of Machu Picchu from Wayna Picchu.

On the way to the Amazon Jungle, descending into the cloudforest.

Only the first part of the journey to Manu National Park in the Amazon was by bus; the rest was by boat.

We were very lucky to spot many caimans in the Amazon.

Approaching Cocha Otorongo, the best part of Manu.

Mornings in the Amazon are always misty.

On a catamaran on Cocha Salvador in the Amazon.

The gorgeous view of the Andes on my plane on the way from Cusco to Lima.

Lima is a coastal city and the beaches are probably the best parts of the city.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


回到新加坡的 36 个小时后便到报馆上班。跟蔡深江主任报到不到 3 个小时,他就拿了 4 份报纸叫我整理一条新闻。隔天,就派我去记者会采访一条新闻。然后,第 2 天晚上,他问我工作还好吗。我不知道我是不是给了一个“我很有空”的脸,第 3 天,他丢了 3 份采访工作给我。早上 9 时一个校园新闻;早上 11 时第 2 份采访工作是记者会;下午 3 时第 3 份工作是新书发布会,纳丹总统是会上嘉宾,自然而然得问有关选举的事。结果,那天做工做了 14 个小时,他晚上 10 时 30 分看到我还在公司,对我笑说:“你今天很忙 hor?”



Tuesday, August 02, 2005







Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Missing Urubamba already...

I am a person who seldom makes promises to anyone. But Peru is a country so amazing that I have just promised my host family that I will definitely return to Peru in 2 years time. Saying goodbye to my family and the Sacred Valley was more difficult than I imagined it to be. My host dad says that I am forbidden to stay in hotels the next time I visit Urubamba. He says that my room will always be available whenever I come back and I am only allowed to stay in his casa and nowhere else. Peru has given me so much more than I was able to contribute during my short stint and volunteer work here. I am already missing everything in Urubamba and in Chicon. Give me 2 years and I'll definitely come back to Peru. This is my promise to my family and I will not break it unless something urgent crops up.

Meanwhile, this is my 9th week and also my final week in Peru. I've just come back from the Amazon and the Amazon Jungle is indeed the most amazing part of my entire trip in Peru. I'll probably update in more details when I've got the time. What I really feel like doing now is to cancel my internship at Zaobao and to extend my stay in South America for another 2 months. But unfortunately, I cannot do that. It's a shame that I haven't got the time to do Nasca lines this time round as well. But I'll definitely visit Nasca and Huaraz the next time I visit Peru.

At the same time, I'll make my two days in Lima memorable as well. Lima isn't as bad as I thought, although just now I almost got killed on the road again.

(I really cannot imagine starting work 1.5 days after returning to Singapore next week, and ending work 2 days before my final academic year commences.)

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Amazon Jungle

Ok, just a note to say that my Amazon jungle tour is confirmed and I'm leaving tomorrow at 6 am from Cusco. I will be staying for 8 days 7 nights in the wilderness. Really looking forward to the Amazon Basin. I did not plan to stay for that long initially, so I might call off the Nasca Trip since I might have no time to go to Nasca from Lima. More updates soon...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

After Machu Picchu

Salkantay Trek was really difficult and I bet I can now do the Inca Trail easily. Anyway I'll post a detailed update on Salkantay and Machu Picchu when I've organised my thoughts better.

5 days on Salkantay Trek made me realise how wonderful nature can be and how much I really love Peru. Coming back from Machu Picchu walking towards my casa in Urubamba, I discovered I actually miss my Peruvian host family during the 5 days I was away in the Andes. When I was back, I overheard my host dad saying "Donde esta mi hijo?" which really warmed my heart for a long time. Yesterday at lunch, he said he would confiscate my passport so that I cannot leave Peru. It then struck me that time really flies and this week is my last week of volunteer work. I'm beginning to miss every single thing in Peru. I don't know how to say goodbye to this fantastic family and my wonderful Peruvian los ninos de Chicon. It's really hard to let go...

Of London

5 days away in the mountains means that I was being cut off totally from the outside world. It was only 3 days after the bomb blasts that I knew of this piece of breaking news, when I checked my email in Agus Calientes. London being attacked is actually not shocking for me, but what I did not expect is that the attack venues chosen were the places that I frequent almost everyday. Tavistock Street, on which the bus exploded, was the very street from which I take my bus back home every single day. And my Psychology university building is only one block away from Tavistock Street. My friend witnessed the bus explosion in front of his eyes and had a narrow escape. Another friend visiting from Singapore, was further away and heard the blast loud and clear. From now on, Tavistock Street will no longer be the same.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Back from Arequipa

I had to walk 3 hours from the wilderness to the outskirts of Arequipa at 5 am in the morning last Friday. Why? More updates soon...

Tomorrow is the day

An hour ago, I just found out that the Salkantay Trek is 80 km long in 4 days 3 nights instead because the fifth day was a tour in Machu Picchu. Will I survive the 80-km trek? I'll find out in 5 days time...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Sacred Valley of the Incas

So, why am I so sure that Machu Picchu is definitely worth the five-days-four-nights-hike? Simply because Machu Picchu is only one of the many ancient archaeological sites in Peru. There are ruins everywhere in the Sacred Valley and my second weekend in Peru was spent exploring some of these ruins and they are simply magnificent.

Ollantaytambo was our first stop. This attractive little town is situated at the foot of some spectacular Inca ruins and terraces. There is a series of 16 massive, stepped terraces of the very finest stonework after crossing the great high-walled trapezoidal esplanade. These terraces are created in the form of a llama. We hiked up to the Temple of the Sun exactly where the rising sun's rays fall in on the solstices. The breathtaking view of the surrounding SacredValley is simply fascinating.

We then headed to Cusco, on the way visiting Tamboachay, Q'enqo and Sacsayhuaman. These are more ancient stones but the Inca stonework is hugely impressive, especially at Sacsayhuaman. Nobody really knows for sure the purposes of these ancient buildings and various theories exist. Peter Frost, for instance, suggested that Sacsayhuaman served as a kind of unofficial quarry of pre-cut stone for the inhabitants of Cusco. No matter what the precise functions of this site are, the Inca walls are truly magnificent.

The final stop, Pisac, is my favourite. Some say that Pisac is even better than Machu Picchu. The Inca ruins at Pisac are perched precariously on the mountain, above the town. This is one of the largest ruins in the vicinity of Cusco and it clearly had defensive, religious, and agricultural functions. The views of the Sacred Valley are once again magnificent and I seriously have no idea how else to describe Pisac.

Pisac's popular market is another sight to behold. Many souvenir stalls and fresh produce stalls make up this busy market. What's more, everything is cheaper than in Cusco, so we obviously bought lots of souvenirs and crap from the market. I think I'll come back to Pisac again before leaving Peru.

We did mountainbiking to the Salinas (salt pans) on that weekend as well. Mountainbiking through the Andes was superb and cool, but my bike broke down and the chain came off, so I had to walk half of the journey. I'm glad I suffered only a few bruises and cuts and not fall down the cliffs instead. Another friend's bike broke down as well. But the blood (literally) and sweat was worthwhile, simply because the Salinas are another wonderful sight. So, I've done trekking and mountainbiking; paragliding might be next if I have some cash to spare.

Having said so much about Peru, no words can really do justice to this fantastic country. Perhaps pictures will help a little which I will hopefully post in the next few months to come.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Inti Raymi 2005

The festival of Inti Raymi was celebrated for the 61st time in Cusco last Friday. This was the only occasion on which locals outnumber tourists. A little background about this festival: "Inti" means "sun" in Quechua and "Raymi" means "festival." The Incas honoured the solar deity with that festival at the winter solstice because the sun was the principal object of Inca worship. However, the Spanish suppressed the Inca religion and the last royal Inti Raymi was celebrated in 1535. In 1944, a group of Cusco intellectuals revived the old ceremony and it has been celebrated every year since then on June 24, now a Cusco public holiday.

Being the best festival of the year, Cusco went wild before, during and after Inti Raymi. By wild, I mean really wild. I've never seen a party like this in my life. We arrived in Cusco on the eve of Inti Raymi to do some work, and celebrations had already commenced. There were parades all around the city. The city was practically bustling from the whole afternoon till early morning. The atmosphere was fantastic and something was always going on somewhere around the city. Almost all the locals (90%) dressed up traditionally for the occasion and it was very colourful indeed.

However, not everything was pleasant throughout the entire city. That day had to be the only day on which rain visited Cusco for a little while. People urinated everywhere, even on the main Plaza de Armas and some even urinated in the fountain. Litter was omnipresent as well. But I actually felt safe walking alone from the disco back to our hostel at 130 am, while my friends were still dancing. Cusco has a wonderful night life by the way. Moreover, the efficiency of the local authorities really left a deep impression on me. Everywhere was clean and free of litter and urine smell a few hours later at 730am.

Having heard how crowded Sacsayhuaman would be, we left central Cusco and walked to Sacsayhuaman, reaching at about 845am, when the actual program was scheduled to begin at 2 pm in the afternoon. So we basically waited and sat at Sacsayhuaman for the whole 5 hours or so, and we were indeed glad that the wait was worthwhile. We got the best seats on the ancient stones, while many locals and tourists who arrived much later struggled to catch a glimpse of the ceremony. Everything was in Quechua though, so we understood nothing.

And so we missed lunch naturally and we must have looked famished because the Peruvians sitting next to us actually offered us cuys and papas free of charge. But I dare not eat them in fear of diarrhoea, which I got it eventually somehow from somewhere. Diarrhoea has taken its toll on me. But I'm relieved that I'm feeling better now. This is my third diarrhoea episode in Peru.

Towards the end of Inti Raymi, a little incident happened. i got separated from my other volunteer friends and every resident in Cusco must have been at Sacsayhuaman that it was impossible to locate my friends. Thank goodness I know Cusco rather well, so I walked from Sacsayhuaman to the bus terminal for Urubamba and caught a bus back home to my home in Peru...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Brief Update and Travel Plans

I just came back from my independent weekend trip to Puno and Lake Titicaca. Lake Titicaca was truly awesome and unexpected events like diarrhoea and altitude sickness occurred to me again, and it should deserve a separate entry. Many other things have taken place as well since my previous update. So I?ll be posting 4 separate updates in the next week to come: (1) the Sacred Valley Trip on the weekend before last; (2) my volunteer work; (3) Peruvians & my host family; and (4) Lake Titicaca. I tried to sum up everything in one post, but it was impossible. I feel I can write an encyclopedia on my Peruvian trip.

I?ve also acquired enough Spanish to converse with a local for 20 minutes in Spanish, and enough Quechua to converse in Quechua for 3 minutes. I?ve also managed to survive Puno and Lake Titicaca alone with only 2 weeks of Spanish lessons. In fact I feel I?ve learnt more Spanish in 2 weeks than German in 2 years.

In the mean time, here?s my travel plans for my remaining 5 weeks in Peru.

Inti Raymi in Cusco this Friday

This is the Inca festival of the winter solstice, the festival of the year. It is enacted at the fortress of Sacsayhuaman. A group of us is heading to Cusco tomorrow to work on our project and then party with the locals till Friday evening. Looking forward to loads of chichas and cuys!

Arequipa and Cola Canyon and Cotahuasi Canyon

Tentatively this is fixed on July 1st to July 3rd. Arequipa, nicknamed the "White City," was built by the distinctive volcanic sillar. The city?s most famous colonial jewel, the Santa Catalina Convent, is a city within a city, and is the most enchanting colonial structure on the entire South American continent.

Two famous canyons - Colca and Cotahuasi - are within easy reach. Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and once thought to be the deepest canyon in the world, Colca Canyon is an area of astounding beauty. On the other hand, the nearby Cotahuasi Canyon was recently found to be all of 163 metres deeper and is the world?s deepest canyon. I might just go to Colca Canyon since Cotahuasi Canyon is 12 hours away by bus from Arequipa and Arequipa is 10 hours away by bus from Cusco.

Machu Picchu & Salkantay Trek

Ever since Hiram Bingham discovered Machu Picchu in July 1911, the legendary Inca city has become one of the most recognised images in the world. So much so that Machu Picchu virtually represents Peru, and what was once a lost city for centuries is no longer so. Every visitor to Machu Picchu I?ve talked to says that there is a tremendous feeling of awe on first witnessing this incredible sight. In addition, the original Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is essentially a true Incan pilgrimage, though the 4-day Inca Trail is a difficult and treacherous one. What makes this tough hike, which totals more than 50 km of uphill and downhill in 4 days, so extraordinary is the stunning combination of Inca ruins, magnificent views, spectacular Andes, exotic vegetation and special ecological variety. The bad news is that all Inca trails have been fully booked till September and I will not have the opportunity to hike this original Inca Trail during my stay in Peru.

But how can a visit to Peru not include Machu Picchu? After serious contemplation, I?ve decided to do an even more treacherous alternative Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. On July 6th, I will be hiking from Mount Salkantay (6270 metres) to Machu Picchu. This hike takes 5 days 4 nights and is an extra day longer than the classic Inca Trail. I seriously don?t know how I am going to make it to Mount Salkantay, not to say Machu Picchu. But I?m definite that the effort is worthwhile when I see Machu Picchu in all its reflective glory. The guidebooks says, "Your aching muscles will be quickly forgotten and even the presence of the functional hotel building cannot detract from one of the most magical sights in all the Americas." July 6th to July 10th will be one of my most memorable times in my life.

The Amazon Basin

Yes, the Amazon Basin! I?ve spent so much time, money and effort in getting my Yellow Fever vaccination and malaria pills that I will definitely venture into the jungle regardless its cost. The cheapest tour I can find costs a staggering US$500 and is only 4 days 3 nights long. But then this is going to be another once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Amazon Basin is home to 10,000,000 living species, including 2000 species of fish and 300 mammals. Hopefully, I can head into the jungle after my volunteer work on July 17th.


The enigmatic Nasca lines, whose origin and function continue to puzzle scientists, puts Nasca on the world map, otherwise Nasca would be just like any other anonymous desert oasis. My plan is to take a small plane to take a god?s eye view of the lines etched in the desert, after the Amazon Basin trip.


The above basically sums up my travel plans for the next month to come. Even though Peruvian food is fantastic and Peruvian scenery spectacular, I am beginning to crave for my Hampstead crepes (strangely I don?t miss Singaporean food after a year away from home). I miss London and the diverse activities that I can engage in London. 5 weeks more before I head back to London, and I will make every single day in Peru an unforgettable one.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Can I stay in Urubamba for the rest of my life?

Ten days have passed since I stepped foot on the South American continent. Time simply zoomed past when life is laidback, insouciant and without worries. Each and every day is novel and challenging and this experience is definitely much more enriching than SIF?s YEP.

The Cusco region, i.e. the Sacred Valley of the Incas, is the most beautiful place I?ve ever been to in my entire life. Even Venice and Florence in Italy, Salzburg and Vienna in Austria, Kinderdijk and Amsterdam in the Netherlands, or Bath and London in the United Kingdom cannot compare to Cusco, Urubamba and Calca. Sure, comparisons like these are unfair as every place is unique, but the Sacred Valley is truly the most magnificent and spectacular place I?ve ever been to. And moreover, this place just gets prettier and prettier every day and all of us (24 volunteers) think so.

When the domestic plane first flew from Lima to Cusco, the view of the Andes mountain range from the plane just mesmerised me throughout the whole 60-minute flight. When the plane landed at Cusco airport, my one and only reaction was "Oh my God!" and the close encounter with death and everything else negative and unpleasant in Lima seemed all worthwhile suddenly. Driving through the Andes from Cusco to Urubamba and Calca was even more spectacular. I mean I read and study the Andes in Geography textbooks, I see the Andes on television, but nothing is comparable to the real thing right before my eyes. The Andes are truly awesome!

Cusco stands at the head of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. What was once an ancient Inca capital is, in fact now, the capital of the entire continent. Cusco and Urubamba are surrounded by the Andes with aplenty Inca ruins and stunning scenery. The Quechua people bring the city to life with a combination of prehistoric and Christian beliefs and may I mention this, the Quechua language is absolutely beautiful.

The shortage of oxygen at this high altitude of 3310 metres (I made a mistake in my previous entry) easily and definitely induces altitude sickness and this affects every traveller somehow or another. It took me a few days to acclimatise but what really almost killed me was the jet lag. I slept at 5 pm and woke up at 7 am - a total of 14 hours - on the second day in Cusco. But everything is fine now and I?ve adapted to the Peruvian lifestyle of sleeping at 10 pm every night and waking up at 6 am every morning.

With high altitudes (though Urubamba is slightly lower at 2900 metres) come naturally large daily temperature ranges. The sun shines ferociously in the day and temperatures can hit a maximum of 20 degrees Celsius. Once the sun sets, temperatures start to drop rapidly to 10 degrees Celsius in a matter of minutes and it continues to plummet to 0 degrees Celsius at night. Even so, the scenery at night is still marvellous. The night sky is the most beautiful I?ve ever seen in my entire life. The sky is completely cloudless every single day and hence, all the stars and galaxies can be seen. They seem to appear brighter and larger too, perhaps because of the fact that I?m nearer to the stars? Up till now, I still can?t locate the supposedly-conspicuous Orion Belt, so you can imagine how many stars can be seen in Urubamba?s night sky.

Everything in Urubamba seems so perfect that I wish I can stay here forever. Peruvian people are friendly (they kiss everytime they greet one another), Peruvian scenery is stunning (no adjectives can do the Andes justice), Peruvian food is delicious (for instance Peruvians have 5000 different kinds of potatoes that cannot be found elsewhere in the world and each of them is damn tasty, the British should learn from the Peruvians), Peruvian drinks are awesome (Peruvian coffee is the best I had so far; the national drink, Pisco Sour, is freaking damn good and I got a bit drunk only after 2 glasses, maybe because of rapid intoxication due to high altitude; Peruvian tea is also incredible, I have to drink at least 2 cups of mata de coca - coca tea made from coca leaves - everyday now.)

So, what more can I ask for? I already have plans to come back to Peru some time soon and maybe work here after my bond at SPH...

Can I stay in Urubamba for the rest of my life?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

In Peru!!!

Hola! I just want to say that I?m safe and sound in Peru... after so many adventures in just 1 day! Finally after 18 hours of flight from London to Lima via Madrid, and then a domestic flight from Lima to Cusco, and after all the lugging of my 24-kg-luggage, I have finally reached my destination! The car that I was in ALMOST got hit by another car in Lima (only 2 cm away and emergency brake), I?m really lucky to have survived!

I can?t really say much now... because with all the jet lag and stuff... The altitude sickness is kicking in now... I?m feeling really dizzy now... Or was it the Peruvian guinea pig I had for lunch? By the way, coca tea is fantastic.

But I promise there will be more detailed updates when my body is coping better with everything in Peru!

Cusco is really amazing! In contrast, Lima is crazy.

Until then!

Monday, May 30, 2005

Before Peru

Jet lag has seriously taken its toll on me. Before recovering from the lag back to Singapore, here I am back in London. Maybe I’m suffering from double jet lag now. Oh yah, I’m flying to Peru tomorrow, it’ll be another lag once I’m there. (Peru is 5 hours behind London.) My circadian rhythms mediated by the PER, TIM, CRY and BMAL1 proteins have seriously been disrupted never like before (Oh, I still remember my neuropsychology exam material). How fun is that?

Anyway, I’ve sorted out most of my stuff in London and in Peru. Packing 2 years of London stuff and rubbish in 3 hours wasn’t that easy. Moving them to my new place wasn’t any better either. But somehow I’m glad I was back in Singapore, since everything was so cheap back home. E.g. I got my six malaria pills for only S$24+ (they cost 30 pounds in London).

While I’m in Peru, I’ll be posting regular updates, most probably every fortnight, or every week if possible. Hope everything goes smoothly. I’ll see all of you in 2 months time.

Saturday, May 28, 2005




上星期五考完最后一张试卷(第七张),我在 Four Seasons 吃我的烧鸭。然后电话响了。






然后,前几天在 Heathrow 登机前,我又打了回家,我直接问了。


我已经 100% 肯定了。




Monday, May 23, 2005

Hysterical and hectic weeks coming…

Everybody was shocked when I said I am going back to Singapore tomorrow. I was shocked myself by the way. Henry commented I have a crazy schedule ahead of me. Yeah, indeed, the next 2 weeks is going to be hysterical and hectic. Actually it all started after my last paper on Friday. Something cropped up back home and I had to book my air tickets to Singapore right after my exams. So the whole afternoon after exams was spent talking to my tutor about my 3rd year research project and searching for the earliest available tickets back home. And it turned out the cheapest ticket I can get is NOT cheap at all (I could have flown to Paris 10 times and back). Moreover, I am only going to stay in Singapore for 5 days. But whatever, I had no choice since it was a last minute decision.

Anyway, after booking the air tickets, I went to watch Star Wars with Eugene and Max, which took up the whole night. Then the whole weekend was spent in Bath, and I missed my 8 am coach at Victoria on Saturday. But Bath was nice, but what I did not expect was I missed my coach back to London today as well. So, I actually missed BOTH my coaches to AND from Bath. How unlucky can one get? When something wrong cropped up, everything else went wrong. Or was this the agency effect described by Byrne?

And now, I have to start packing a bit of my stuff and luggage for tomorrow’s evening flight. And I’m getting a haircut tomorrow morning and then I have a medical appointment at noon at the travel clinic, getting my Yellow Fever vaccination. Then I have to leave for Heathrow at 2 pm. So basically, I have no time to stop and breathe.

And then, I will stay in Singapore till Saturday morning, will reach London in the evening. Then I have to pack my stuff and store them in my new place on Sunday (last year I had 4 boxes, this year I think I will need 6 boxes), because I am staying over at the airport on Monday night as my flight to Peru is on Tuesday early morning and I have to check in at Heathrow at 530 am.

My schedule sounds really ridiculous, even to myself. I really don’t know how I am going to cope with what’s going to happen in the next 2 weeks. Especially because I am flying over so many time zones in 1 week and that Cusco is about 2700 meters above sea level. I think I am going to be so jet lagged from all the flying about, since it usually takes 3-5 days for me to recover after each long flight. Maybe the high altitude will make it worse. I really wonder how long I will take to recover from jet lag and get acclimatized to the altitude this time round.

Bless me.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


I thought “Mary Poppins” was my first and last musical of this academic year.

But I was wrong.

I went to the West End yesterday with my good friends.

Yes, I’m crazy. I went to watch “Phantom of the Opera” yet again, with 4 major exams ahead of me.

But I have to say, every time in Her Majesty’s theatre, it was a magical experience.

So magical that I feel it’s worth it not staying in my room cramming.

By the way, if you think the film version is fantastic, I can assure you the film version is really nothing compared to the stage version.

Well, if it is not phantastic, the musical wouldn’t have been running everyday for the past 18 years. And nobody would have thought to make a film version based on the stage one.

And I really enjoy the 谢幕 of Phantom. Simple yet elegant. Just like 黄城.

I really don’t mind watching Phantom again.

It turns out we’re going to watch another musical before I leave for Peru.

Maybe “The Producers”. Or “Billy Elliot” which just opened 4 days ago.


“Hey EW you are really young!”

“How do you feel hanging out with a bunch of oldies?”

I was struck by these comments made by some friends yesterday after Phantom and dinner at Mandarin Kitchen at Bayswater.

By the way, I need to digress for a while. The lobster at Mandarin Kitchen which specialises in seafood was fantastic. We were so satisfied after dinner.

So after all, London has good food. It’s just the matter of willing to spend money.

For the past 3 months, I’ve been spending money as if my father prints them.

Well I’m sponsored. And hey, I’ve got the money!

Oh no, it’s really not me. And I know this is no good. But who cares?

I need to indulge and have pleasure sometimes. Oh yah, I went shopping a bit in Covent Garden as well before the musical.

We then went to a nice jazz bar after dinner and I had my most expensive Long Island Iced Tea in my life. I could have gotten two whole big jugs of Long Island back in Singapore. Now I know beer is dirt cheap in London, but not cocktails.

Anyway, I was insane yesterday and so, I had expensive alcohol at that cool bar after Phantom.

And so now I can’t study.

Partly because of the comments made by my friends.

Ok, back to the point I want to make.

It then occurred to me that for the past nine months, I’ve been hanging out with people much older my age. Some of them are at least a decade older than me. Neil is probably 4 decades older than me. Well, he always claims he is only 35. And he runs faster than me, I can’t believe it. He once joked, “The speed of running seems to be inversely proportional to the person’s age.”

And yet I don’t feel distant from them.

Not at all.

Although the conversation topics have mostly been really serious, like politics, investment, religion etc.

Yet, I don’t feel any gap between us.

And I really learnt a lot from them. Things and lessons you can never find in books and journal articles. Well, they have much much much more life experience than I do.

Am I growing old too fast?

(Well I guess maturing faster also has to do with my career choice as a journalist. Every internship every summer seems to add 5 years each to my mental age.)

Friday, May 13, 2005


Seriously, I am freaking out! Help me! Help me!

But not because of exams only; I’m experiencing much more stress about the preparations for Peru.

I got a 4-page email from Peru regarding my volunteer trip. Tonie opened the letter with “Greetings from Peru and welcome to the program! I would imagine by now you are starting to get excited and possibly a bit anxious about your upcoming travels to Peru.”

Yeah! I was VERY excited in January. And I was also a bit stressed and anxious in January. But just when I thought my preparations are on the right track, I just realised there ARE still so many other things to settle. I am freaking out despite having travelled independently to so many countries already! I am seriously freaking out this time round!

Ah well, I sort of miss Youth Expedition Project (YEP), where everything is sort of done for you. For YEP, a normal volunteer just has to do about 6 months of fundraising, learn some basic native language, decide the things to be done and how to execute the project in that country, have a few departure meetings with one’s fellow group mates, take the various vaccinations according to SIF’s guidelines and so on. Jobs are divided among the group members. But that’s it! No other worries. Everything in YEP is taken care for you by SIF.

This time it’s totally different. I have to do everything myself. No wonder there aren’t many volunteers around. Now I really admire true volunteers, and understand the true spirit of volunteerism. Simply put, YEP seems like a 2- or 3-week holiday trip more than a volunteer trip really. So being the pampered me, I am freaking out now!

Can’t the organisation I’m under help me a bit? No. They say “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” which I agreed with 100%. This is independent volunteerism. This is true volunteerism. I am a Non-Government-Organisation (NGO) Intern in Peru from June onwards. And for the rest of my life, I will be proud of it. This is THE trip of my life.

Okay, travel wise… I’ve booked my return international flights from London to Lima long ago. I’ve gotten my travel insurance long ago (1st time I actually decided to get insurance for travelling). And I just booked my domestic flight from Lima to Cusco. But I just realised I’ll reach Lima at night and my connecting flight to Cusco is on the next morning. So I need to stay over in Lima for one night…

Ok. Ok. I’ve been following the news in Peru for the past few months. Peru isn’t that stable, and Lima isn’t that safe after all, with the Shining Path rebels still VERY active, even though their chief is still imprisoned… Ah well, the President from Ecuador (Peru’s neighbour) just went into exile because of public pressure, and there was immense chaos in Quito for quite some time a few weeks ago. Hopefully this does not happen in Lima!

And then there is this fresh fierce row between Peru and Chile because of a stupid advertisement by Chile indirectly insulting Peru. Lan Peru and Lan Chile are the 2 major airlines owned by Chile, Lan Peru is under the management of Lan Chile actually and is ironically the major airline in Peru currently. The national Peruvian airline went bankrupt some years back. Well, I’m flying on Lan Peru from Lima to Cusco. So I better pray the dispute will be resolved soon and not snowball into some international dispute, and affect my travel plans. I don’t want to be stuck in Lima, and get mugged by the rebels.

Ok. So one thing I have to do is to arrange my plans for that night in Lima ASAP.

Now vaccinations… I just visited the travel clinic a few days ago. Gotten whatever vaccinations there are, but did not take the Yellow Fever one. Should I take the Yellow Fever one since I might go to Manu Natural Reserves? And I am still contemplating whether to get Malaria pills as well, since I might venture into the Amazon Basin. Ok, I kind of missed the times during BMT in Pulau Tekong, where you are readily given the pills and then forced to ingest them in front of the Platoon Commander. Now I have to decide whether I should take the pills and to source them down and purchase them myself. I wonder how much the pills will cost in London. And I will have to take the pills 2/3 weeks before I travel to the Amazon right? Or what? Ok… this is another thing to consider seriously. I am afraid of death.

Ok, these are just 2 minor issues I need to think about. I haven’t even started to think about my actual volunteer work yet. I can seriously rattle on forever on my other preparations for the trip. I better stop now and concentrate on my revision for the moment.

Don’t freak out! Don’t freak out! Think of Machu Picchu. Think of the Inca trail. Think of Lake Titicaca. Don’t freak out! I will learn a lot through the process! Don’t freak out! Don’t freak out!

Oh yah, perhaps the most pressing issue is I don’t know anything about the Spanish language even though I say I want to learn in January. I put off the Spanish learning since acquiring Spanish might interfere with my German course and exam. Well done! So now, I only know “hola,” “buenos dias,” “muy bien” and “gracias.” Well done!

So how to carry out volunteer work when I can’t even speak basic Spanish?

So how can I not freak out?

Maybe I’m freaking out more and more because I have 4 exams (all essays) next week everyday except Tuesday.

FREAKING OUT and looking forward to what will happen after freaking out...

Only 18 days to Peru and 7 days to the end of exams…


I got another nice surprise yesterday evening. My friend Neil, the man who seems to know everybody in the world from the Chancellor of Oxford University (he was the ex-governor of Hong Kong, I’m sure you know who) to the chief of HSBC, from the top barrister in Hong Kong to one of the top ministers in Japan’s government, called me yesterday evening to say that he has got a good friend from Peru visiting in London now.

Talking to this Peruvian friend of his, my worries are allayed a little. Peruvians are indeed friendly, sincere and truthful. This Peruvian’s hometown is in Lima and he readily admits that Lima isn’t safe. You just have to live with it yah, not all countries are as developed as Singapore and London. He offered me some practical advice and asked me to take a crash course in Spanish. He left me some contacts of his friends in Lima and Cusco as well, even though yesterday was the 1st time we met (on the phone). :)

I’m starting to love Peruvians already and I believe I’ll make some good Peruvian friends in the 60 days in Peru.

I’m glad I know resourceful Neil.

Saturday, May 07, 2005


I’m actually intrigued by the stuff I’m reading and revising now.

Just like how I’m intrigued by the many novels, plays, films and television programs exploring what many people see as the dark side of human nature. I’m sure you’ve read one of the many self-help books that flood the market.

This fascinating field is known as Abnormal Psychology.

Psychology can only become abnormal when a norm exists. People then deviate from this norm and culture. For instance, 10% of people believe they have seen a ghost (ghosts don’t drop by, if they do exist); 23% confess to not flushing the toilet all the time (flushing toilets is a social conduct); 39% confess to snooping in their hosts’ medicine cabinets (checking out friends’ medicines is deemed undesirable and sick)…

Psychology can also become abnormal when people develop mental dysfunctions. James Bond said in “Tomorrow Never Dies”, “The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success.” Albert Einstein commented that insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

So, let’s face it: nobody in this world is normal, including you and me.

Everybody has some mental disorders at some juncture in their lives, and it occurs in varying degrees. From obsessive compulsive behaviour like biting your fingernails or checking several times repeatedly that you’ve locked your door after leaving your apartment, to fears of spiders and heights and even sexual intercourse… from getting anxious when taking an exam that we are not confident in, to developing auditory hallucinations and persecutory delusions. All these behaviours are deemed to be not normal.

Ok… It’s kind of practical to study these in many ways. It’s sort of cool as well to study such topics as stress and anxiety when I’m actually feeling stressful and anxious. So most of the time, I’m actually evaluating myself… oh I seem to have this symptom as well, and that as well, does that mean I can be diagnosed with GAD? I’m getting severely depressed because that happened, I should engage in cognitive-behaviour therapy and maybe ingest some SSRIs or MAOIs so as to alleviate my depressive symptoms. I accidentally got a deep cut, and it’s damn painful, but hey, I can divert my attention to somewhere else, and this will close the gate hypothesised to be in the spinal cord, to prevent pain signals transmitted in the C-fibres from reaching the cerebral cortex, according to Melzack and Wall’s (1965) gate control theory...

Perhaps, the reason we get insane is because insanity is the only perfectly adjustment to an insane world.


*Damn it… There were a few surprises in the exam yesterday… Depression, which appeared every year, did not come out yesterday. The most common psychological disorder with 1 in 6 people possessing depression at some time in their lives, and my lecturers decided to surprise us. What the hell… But the getaway to Oxford was fantastic, and Mary Poppins on last Tuesday compensated for everything else. :)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Things have been getting on rather smoothly. Strangely I haven’t been revising much. Instead I have been going out more often despite the nearing exams. To pubs, to restaurants, to the Heath. In fact, I’m watching Mary Poppins the Musical tonight. Hmm… seriously looking forward to my 1st musical for this academic year, probably the last musical this year too, since I’ll be leaving London for Peru in 20 over days.

And I’ll be going to Oxford (again!!!) for a while after my 1st paper this Friday. Sounds crazy yah… especially I have 5 more papers to go in the next 2 weeks and I’m already going Oxford to have fun after my 1st paper. Whatever…

Another update… I’ve decided to make my final year in London count (well, its my final year if I don’t stay here for Masters). So, I’ve decided not to share any flats with any Singaporeans. And I also decided not to stay in halls of residences anymore. As much as I love Netherhall House, especially the environment and the facilities and the people, I seriously hate the food. Its potatoes every single day, in various forms e.g. chips, mashed, sauteed, baked, jacket etc. But I really love Hampstead and I definitely cannot live without the crepes and my beloved Hampstead Heath… But accommodation in Hampstead cost like twice or thrice the normal price in central London. A normal small single room would have cost about 200 pounds (S$600) per week. Well, I can’t afford that amount, but I got a really really really really pleasant surprise while surfing online for accommodation in Hampstead yesterday night!

So guess what? I’ll be staying alone with a very nice traditional English family from September onwards for the next whole academic year. And the house is in Hampstead, just opposite the Heath! Its 5 minutes to my Hampstead crepes! And just 30 seconds to the Heath. And my future room is triple the size of my current room, or about twice the size of my bedroom back in Singapore (normal bedroom of old HDB 3-room flat). I can probably set up a mini gym in my room. My future house has 4 storeys and my room is on the top of the house! I have my own bathroom and own kitchen! Oh yah, there is a REAL fireplace in my room as well! And the rent is cheaper than what I’m paying now, only 100 pounds per week! So it seems an incredibly good deal to be true that I immediately accept the landlady’s offer. So next year there will be no Singaporeans, no other students living around me. Only 100% British! And the landlady seems pretty nice! She offered me a television in my room and asked me if I need a microwave! So I guess I’ll learn more about the British culture and way of living better in my final year. Who knows I might stay in London for Masters just to continue staying in that apartment?

That’s about it for now! More updates when I’m free.

Monday, April 25, 2005

I had one whole rabbit for dinner!

Ok. I’ve got to admit that I’m still a bit drunk while typing this. Since I can’t do any revision, I might as well crap something here.

It’s an amazing feat that we managed to get a table at Holly Bush for 3 hours tonight! Of course it’s through a prior reservation; else I doubt we’ll be able to get a place for the 6 of us. I mean, Holly Bush is always crowded every time we go there. And we’ll always get disappointed after discovering there’s not even standing space in the pub. So we were utterly glad that we got a nice cosy spot and a big table for 3 hours, eating dinner, drinking beer and nice talking.

I had a pint of London Pride and some chips for aperitif. London Pride is a kind of ale, somewhat stronger than lager and stout. Maybe this is the reason why I’m still a bit high now. After which was dinner in which I tried something new. I mean every time I go to London pubs, fish and chips is almost always on the menus. Since Holly Bush had an entirely different pub menu from other typical pubs (no fish and chips at all), I decided to excite my taste buds a little.

And guess what? I had one whole rabbit for dinner! Initially I was actually contemplating whether to have the rabbit. It sounds cruel to eat a rabbit in the first place. Especially so when the menu says coldly “Rabbit in mustard with sautéed potatoes,” it sounds even more inhuman to eat the rabbit. But Neil says just do whatever you want. Yah then I thought well, I only live once and how often do I get to eat a rabbit. I mean I ate exotic food before, like dogs, scorpions, snakes, worms, but never tame cute harmless little rabbits. And so I ordered the rabbit while other people had more normal food like lamb shanks and smoked salmon. And mind you, that rabbit wasn’t cheap. I could probably go to Four Seasons twice or even thrice with what I paid for tonight.

Luckily, the rabbit was fantastic and mouth-savouring. The meat was tenderer and softer than that of chicken. It was a bit spongy too, maybe from all the hopping around. It turned out that the rabbit on my plate was quite big; nevertheless I still finished everything, with just the bones left (rabbit bones are actually quite soft and flexible). I felt like I’m some cold-blooded eagle or wild animal savouring rabbits like what I usually see on documentary shows. I kept telling myself to stop imagining how a rabbit looks like, so that I can enjoy myself better. We had a bottle of red wine to go with our food as well, making it easier for me to forget that I was eating a rabbit. I couldn’t even be bothered to decide whether rabbit meat was red meat or white meat.

Then we sat for about an hour longer; I had another half a pint of Stella, which is a lager much lighter and fizzier than ale. Then was more talking and chatting. All of us simply love Holly Bush, the best pub I’ve been to in the whole of London, comparable to Trout Inn in Oxford. Nice location on the top of the hill in the old Hampstead Village. Charles Dickens and Keats probably were regular customers. Don’t think Sigmund Freud was though, most probably our old friend Freud would be too busy immersing himself with his sexual theories at Maresfield Gardens and too lazy to walk up the hill. Oh yah did I mention this before? Neil met Anna Freud before in person and had a conversation with her at Freud’s place. I thought it’s kind of cool to have a friend who talked to Freud before, anyway.

Yah that’s about all I want to crap about for now. I’m surprised that I’m still a bit tipsy after finishing typing this entry. I don’t think I can revise for my German Oral Exam on Wednesday. The only thing I can do now is probably sleep. Bis bald und auf wiedersehen!

(24-04-2005 0016 hrs)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Right or wrong?

One recurrent issue in Psychology that I haven’t managed to understand is why psychodynamic theories are still discussed even though they do not hold up to scientific scrutiny in these days. If psychodynamic therapies do not work effectively, why should people still revise psychodynamic theories to develop new theories based on psychoanalysis? Sure I agree with Sigmund Freud’s 1909 distinction between consciousness and unconsciousness. However Freud said the following to distinguish his theory from static theories, “We explain it dynamically, from the conflict of opposing mental forces, and recognise it as the outcome of an active struggling on the part of the two psychic groupings against each other.” (Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis, Standard Edition, XI, pp. 9-55 at pp.25-26) But how plausible is this?

Can we actually explain everything solely based on psychoanalysis, as Freud propounded? Definitely not. Freud’s theories are only based on the recollections of a relatively small number of emotionally disturbed adults whose experiences may not apply to most people. Yet we do not reject Freud’s theories simply because he was the first to proclaim that the vast majority of psychic experience lay below the level of conscious awareness.

Whatever it is, one thing for sure is that most of Freud’s theories have not been favoured by many contemporary psychologists. This is immediately evident from another recurrent debate between nature and nurture omnipresent in the whole field of Psychology. A good example will be the development of language. Is language an instinct, as proposed by Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker? Or is language a “verbal behaviour”, as suggested by B. F. Skinner? Freud did not say much on language. And nobody is really able to give a definite answer, even up till today.

And this is what I like about the discipline of Psychology. For the most part of this vast field, there is simply no right or wrong. Is schizophrenia a biological disease or a mental illness or a social construction or something else? Do animals reason or not? Do human beings use cognitive maps to navigate? Is visual perception direct or indirect? Is cognition independent of language, according to Whorf? Do children and animals have theory of mind? Nobody can give definite answers to all these psychological questions (these questions happen to be my past exam questions as well).

So why do people still study something when there’s no right or wrong? Think about it and when you have arrived at the answer, maybe then, the money invested in your university education has not been wasted.

I’m still thinking.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Quick Update

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu shrouded in mist

Just a quick update, I've been bogged down with tremendous amounts of stuff lately. As such, I won't be updating on my Scandinavian experiences, at least not in the next few weeks. But I'm glad that life isn't revolved around Psychology papers and books as yet. We still go to pubs, more often than in the past in fact (thrice per week... I think alcohol has the same effect as caffeine on me now). We still go jogging in the Heath. We still eat out on weekends (ooohh... eating at Four Seasons every 3-4 weeks is really a great incentive to compel me to finish my work). And I still have time to walk to my favourite crepes stall to have my crepes with bananas in dark chocolate and coconut and rum...

So life isn't that bad yet. Especially whenever I picture Machu Picchu in my mind. Isn't Machu Picchu just gorgeous and magnificent? I still can't believe I am heading to Peru in a month's time.

Saturday, April 09, 2005















(2005-04-08 1949 hrs)

Thursday, April 07, 2005


离开伦敦的那一天,选择在 Stansted 机场过夜,为了省钱省时间省麻烦,还有为了找回曾经在樟宜机场过夜的回忆。


以为夜晚的 Stansted 会和樟宜一样恬静安谧,那晚才发现伦敦的机场是不分白天和黑夜的。

凌晨一点到机场,机场已经满座,可以躺人的椅子都已经有人在忘我地说梦话。可以躺人的地上,也都是在和周公下棋的人,好像被冲上沙滩的死鱼。就连登记柜台的行李 conveyor belt 也躺着人。






Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Summer of my dreams










Summer of my dreams
by Celtic Tenors

In the shade of this old tree, in the summer of my dreams,
By the tall grass, by the wild rose, where the trees dance and the wind blows,
As the days go oh so slowly, as the sun shines oh so holy on the good and gracious green,
In the summer of my dreams.

By the banks of this old stream, in the summer of my dreams,
By the deep pool where the fish wait for the old fool with the wrong bait,
There’s a field of purple clover, there’s a small cloud passing over, and then the rain comes washing clean,
In the summer of my dreams.

See the raindrops, on the grass now, just like diamonds lying there.
By the old road, where I pass now, there’s a twilight on the air.
And as the sun sets down before me, I see my true love waiting for me, standing by the back porch screen,
In the summer of my dreams.

In the shade of this old tree, in the summer of my dreams,
By the tall grass, by the wild rose, where the trees dance as the beans grow,
As the days go oh so slowly, as the sun shines oh so lowly, on the good and gracious green,
In the summer of my dreams,
In the summer of my dreams!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005







The colourist of “The Page of Colours” needs an urgent break from suffocating London to unwind himself somewhere else for 2 weeks.

During this period, the colourist will isolate himself completely from the virtual world as well.

Hence from today onwards, “The Page of Colours” will cease colouring for the next 2 weeks, and will resume colouring on 4th April.

The colourist hopes that after re-energising himself, more iridescent colours will appear on this page.

Take care.

Sunday, March 20, 2005


我真的无法相信自己现在竟然会想念 2002 年跑完 Army Half Marathon 后的快感。唯一的差别是岛国的风景实在不怎么样(当然还有潮湿的天气也实在讨人厌)。

本来今天早上是赛跑的,说好我们八个人各自代表各自的国家赛跑,Neil 和 Michael 代表英国,Basilio 代表西班牙,Ricardo 代表葡萄牙,Henry 代表香港,Seok Hong 代表韩国,Conrad 代表菲律宾,还有我代表小红点。

结果,赛跑变成长跑。我们八个人花了整两个小时慢跑了 18 公里,边跑边欣赏怡人的景色,这才恍悟原来 Hampstead Heath 比我想象中的还要大,还要美。

今天的天气异常佳,是我在伦敦两年以来最好的一天。早上十点就已经18 度,几朵白云点缀着天空蔚蓝。

沿途经过 Robert Louis Stevenson, George Orwell 等名人以前的雄伟住处,还有 Karl Marx 的安息地,还经过了很多从来不知道存在过的公园、水池、喷泉,当然还有绕道去 Kenwood House、Golden Hill Park、Highgate Cemetery 等。周末的伦敦人喜欢随性地坐在春天的草地上,有的看书,有的日光浴,有的野餐,有的踢球,连狗儿也来蹦蹦跳跳凑热闹,生活原来可以这般写意。



(我还是无法相信 50 多岁的 Neil 一个月后要再次参加伦敦马拉松。)

(19-03-2005 2330 hrs)

Saturday, March 19, 2005

15 度




下午在 Hampstead Heath 跑步在 Parliament Hill 休息片刻享受鸟瞰伦敦的豁达开朗,不相识的老汉看见我会语重心长,关心地鼓励我说:“Come on, Don’t stop!”另一位妇女还笑脸迎人地对我说:“Nice day huh?”我喘不过气,只能以微笑回应。天气好,大家(就连陌生人)的心情也自然好。


以前泡 pub 只能窝在火炉旁,今晚我们却可以坐在 pub 外面边喝啤酒,边天南地北了一个小时半。Pub 的后边就是 Heath,前面就是 Hampstead Village,加上柔和的灯光,舒心的音乐,春天的温度,这样的 pub 当然满座,尽管周末还没有到。我们还是第一次到 Freemason’s Arms。Hampstead 的 pubs 都是历史悠久,永远屹立不倒,好象 Oxford 的 Trout Inn,各有各的魅力。夜晚的 Hampstead 更加妩媚,根本就是伦敦的宝地。


我始终无法忘记孝忠的这句话:“15 度是适合旅行的季节,适合离开,重新出发,适合和一个自己说再见,和另一个自己相逢。”

15 度的空气的确有春天的味道,温暖中偶有冰凉,冰凉中偶有温暖。



(18-03-2005 0020 hrs)

Thursday, March 17, 2005



可是,他肯定地对我说,“He is not too late for you.”




一切又回到 Genesis。





Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Back to the home of the Isis

Perhaps attending the Oxford Singapore Forum today was just an excuse to reminisce my time in Oxford.

It feels great to be back in Oxford. Queen’s Lane Coffee Place is crowded as usual; Magdalen College is dreamy as usual; Teddy Hall’s entrance looks pathetic as usual; Cornmarket Street is vibrant as usual. And of course, Ben’s cookies are still as delicious as ever.

And how can I forget Trout Inn and the meadow? We wanted to get there but I forgot which bus to take. It was a shame indeed.

I’ll be back in Oxford soon.

Thursday, March 10, 2005









Saturday, March 05, 2005

Closer (to what?)


但是电影一开始,听到的是 Damien Rice 的凄美歌声后,我知道这部电影肯定不一样。



场景也最多只有十个,可想而知每个场景的镜头有多长,我却不曾感觉时间停止过。而且故事仅用这十个镜头就横跨了四年的时间,这是导演 Mike Nichols 的厉害,还有用心。

导演的选景也是关键。电影的背景在熟悉的伦敦,自然而然更容易引起共鸣。比如 Dan (Jude Law) 和 Anna (Julia Roberts) 相约在剧院 Anna 迟到的那场戏,后来才发现原来这一幕是意义深远的,背景的剧院和歌剧不是随便选的。

当然故事更是不得了,我还是第一次听过 Patrick Marber,我实在无法想象原著的戏剧版将会带给我什么样的震撼。



骗了自己还不够,我们甚至选择欺骗别人,选择撒慌,正如 Dan 无可奈何地说:“What’s so great about the truth? Try lying for a change - it’s the currency of the world.”




例如 Alice (Natalie Portman) 所说:“Where is this ‘love’? I can’t see it, I can’t touch it, I can’t feel it. I can hear it. I can hear some words, but I can’t do anything with your easy words.”

Larry (Clive Owen) 更直接说:“You don’t know the first thing about love because you don’t understand compromise.”

就连坚强的 Anna 也把爱当成一种借口:“Don’t stop loving me. I can see it draining out of you. It meant nothing. If you love me, you’ll forgive me.”

但是,印象最深刻的还是这句受了爱情伤害然后去伤害其他人的Larry,一针见血对 Dan 说的:“Have you ever seen a human heart? It looks like a fist covered in blood...”

So this is the plight of people trying to get closer to each other. But can love really bring people closer to each other?


Can people be closer to a truth that maybe none of them will ever be?


Maybe only friendship is evergreen.


(我正在反复听 Damien Rice 的 The Blower's Daughter。)

Thursday, March 03, 2005






有时就索性待在房里,不是红酒,就是啤酒,又或者我们都喜欢的 Baileys。

那晚和 Neil 两个人两个小时内,边聊天边喝完了整瓶的 Baileys,很是温暖。



Monday, February 28, 2005









Tuesday, February 22, 2005
















(2002-02-21 2100 hrs)

Sunday, February 20, 2005




















(记伦敦今年的第一“场”迟到的雪,2005-02-19 约1650 hrs。)

Saturday, February 19, 2005

A shop is there to be read
Camper - Comfort with Imagination (Part 2 of 2)

Camper opened its 1st shop in 1981.

But its 1st Info-shop was only opened in March 2003.

Surprisingly in London.

I had a hard time finding this Info-shop which was situated at Royal Arcade, among other designer boutiques like Prada and Burberry on the same stretch of road.

Before stepping in, it was instantly obvious that this store was different from other Camper stores.

Normal Camper stores are already captivating enough to attract me to enter and browse through the collections, every time I spot the stores even from afar.

Be it the store at Raffles City in Singapore, or the one at Covent Garden in London, the layouts and furnishings of the Camper stores are always simple yet elegant, with its trademark red as the rudimentary colour and the shoes neatly arranged.

But there’s something more to the Camper Info-shops.

“A shop is there to be read.”

That is Camper’s philosophy for the Info-shops.

The idea behind this new concept is quite simple: design elements become vehicles for the message, design ceases to be simply an aesthetic value and gains value in terms of content.

In this way, decoration is transformed into information and information into decoration: the physical constructive element is substituted by the contextual richness of the message which is interpreted by the visitor’s conscious or unconscious reading of each image, graphic, drawing or text.

Furnishings, walls, floor and ceiling communicate, turning the shop into a free Camper publication which now has three issues in the street.

London - the 1st info-shop - was about the Majorcan somera, a race of donkey from Majorca that is threatened by extinction. Thanks to a non-profit organisation, it is now a protected species. There are 137 of them.

The 2nd info-shop in Tokyo (September 2003) informs customers of the Camper product family tree, essentially a journey through the imagination in shoe form.

The final info-shop in Madrid (December 2003) shows images, icons and objects merging with shoes to configure a great Camper visual encyclopaedia with over 900 references.

Three free publications, and a new form of expression.

I’ll open my eyes the next visit to these shops and maybe the Camper hotel (Camper just opened its 1st cool hotel in Barcelona).

A shop (hotel) is there to be read.

Monday, February 14, 2005


他们对农历新年非常感兴趣。所以除夕夜我们做了半个小时的 show。


他们对太极非常感兴趣,看了 R 耍了十分钟后,都惊叹不已。


今天晚餐煮了中餐,他们问饺子里包的是什么肉,还有 Yeos 的蒜头辣椒酱应该怎么吃。

他们还问我们会不会带他们去 Leicester Square 吃中餐或者 yum cha,还有星期天在 Trafalgar Square 的庆祝会。

来自意大利的 G 更是在大学里学起中文来,立志日后要到中国发展。英国的 J 也在努力自修华文,还跟我说方块字多么漂亮,多么有意思,甚至能够说起一些方块字的典故。西班牙的 A 要求我们把他的名字翻译成中文,然后努力学习我们给他译的中文名字。


南非的 P 问我新加坡的华人是否都会讲华语,我沉默不语,对他苦笑。

Monday, February 07, 2005











Thursday, February 03, 2005


在凌晨的蒙马特阶梯上 大声唱歌 看见天亮
在塞纳河畔 随意的旋转跳着舞 天真的像个小孩
我自由的舞动了 大笑或大哭了”

~~2004 秋天巴黎











《同类》  词:易家扬

雨后的城市 寂寞又狼狈
路边的座位 它空着在等谁

我拉住时间 它却不理会
有没有别人 跟我一样很想被安慰

风 停了又吹 我忽然想起谁
天 亮了又黑 我过了好几岁
心 暖了又灰 世界 有时侯 孤单的很

爱 收了又给 我们都不太完美
梦 作了又碎 我们有几次机会 去追

云在半空中 被微风剪碎
回忆也许美 可是正在飞走对不对

Monday, January 31, 2005





我懒得开门,喊他进来,然后背对着他,故意冷冷地说:“There’s no space in my room. You can sit on the floor if you want.”

他笑说:“Yah, thanks huh.”


“Err… you can sit on the bed if you…”我还没有讲完,他就坐下了。


结果,我们聊了 45 分钟,这次算短了。聊家常事,聊工作,聊明天打算做什么……就是没有提到那回事。






Wednesday, January 26, 2005


“Just a moment can change everything.”

This is what I saw on the Calvin Klein’s Eternity Moment advertisement at a bus stop weeks ago.

Just one moment…


I thought I have gotten over his death, especially since it has been over four years.

I have successfully tried to stop thinking about his existence and his death for the past four years (except for certain times). At least I thought I have.

Four damn fucking long years.

But well, I just realised that I haven’t.

Somehow or another, everything came back to me. My mind is flooded now, with his images, his voice, his actions, his music and so on.

If he were still alive, he would have graduated from NTU communication studies with a good honours degree, and probably he would have gotten a satisfactory job as well.

But no, he didn’t even have the chance to begin his undergraduate studies.

It took just one moment to change his future, and everybody else’s future.

Just that fall. Just that moment.

I wonder what would have become of me if he was my close friend instead.


我还记得他在报馆曾经打趣地对我说过:“你穿的 T-shirt 的四个箭头校徽实在耀眼。”




如果他知道的话,应该会满腔愤慨。怎么说,他也曾是 student councillor,对黄城疯狂的程度,不在话下。


到现在,我还记得他的母亲在他葬礼的哭声。我们去了他的葬礼,听到他父亲说他多么能干,多么有为……听着听着,M差一点儿就哭了起来,毕竟他离开我们的时候只有 20 岁,而我当时只有 18 岁。

而我 20 岁的时候,我在干嘛?



















Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Paralysing Knowledge

Straight after the first session on Sunday, I told Alvaro that I won’t be attending future sessions anymore.

In retrospect, I have to admit that I was very abrupt in telling him that I won’t be attending anymore.

So I wrote a note to him on Monday morning, offering my appreciations for his time and effort and concern, and then superficially explaining my brusque decision.

He then replied hours later in a note that was twice as long as mine, “…Regardless of what you think or believe, I hope you can find trust in my friendship… and in my prayers… I do not think anything is too late for you…”

Attached was a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, illustrating his point.

Calvin said, “You realise that nothing is as clear and simple as it first appears. Ultimately, knowledge is paralysing. Being a man of action, I can’t afford to take that risk.”

Hobbes then replied, “You’re ignorant. But at least you act on it.”

Up till this point in my life, I just can’t find any friend(s) to trust that I can tell him or her or them everything.

It seems like I will be able to tell him everything soon, perhaps in a few months time.

I really need an outlet. And trust.

Monday, January 24, 2005



80 多个曾经在城里做了绚丽的梦的我们,聚集在冷峭的异域,试图重温童话的梦幻。



难怪他们本来答应我说要来的,可是今晚突然间都缺席了。MN 还发了一则简讯给我说:“Wont be at hcn tonight... Hope you had as much fun organizing it as I did... ”

现在,我突然间明白 MN 等等今晚缺席的原因了。

今年参与过就好了。如果还有明年的话, 我会缺席。


(22-01-2005 0028 hrs)

Tuesday, January 18, 2005



原本就已经很大的城市突然间变得更大更大。本来只打算在 Hampstead 跑步而已,结果从家里出发,沿着以往的跑步路线跑到 Holly Bush, 然后跑到 Zone 3 的 Kenwood House,再跑进 Hampstead Heath 绕了一圈,再跑上 Parliament Hill 鸟瞰整个伦敦市,然后 35 分钟后,在好奇心的驱使下,我跑出了 Hampstead 的安全地带。

我以为在 Hampstead 外围,绕完一圈就可以跑回家,我以为在小山上的 Royal Free Hospital 不会离开我的视线,可是我越跑越远,熟悉的景物,骤然全部消失了。



结果,我跑过了 Highgate, Kentish Town,差一点就转进 Camden Town。然后看到熟悉的 24 号巴士,才觉悟周遭的景物是我每天从巴士上看到的景物。接着是理所当然地沿着巴士路线,跑回 Hampstead Heath,然后当然是跑回家,总共花了我 1 小时 20 分钟。




下次,我会从家里跑去 Hyde Park,再跑回 Hampstead。

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Trout Inn @ Oxford

突然间莫名其妙地想念起 Oxford 的 Trout Inn。

一年前到 Oxford 找朋友,他们带我去了 Trout Inn ,还有那片草原,还有那几匹自由的骏马。离开 Oxford 的时候,我就知道我会对 Trout Inn 念念不忘。

就好象我肯定我离开伦敦后,一定会100% 想念 Hampstead crepes。

可是,我并没有料到才一年的时间,此时此刻的我竟然想念起 Trout Inn,而且是突然间的想念。


拥有900多年历史的 Trout Inn,坐落在 Oxford 的北部,属于郊区,远离尘嚣,相当隐密,而且靠河,所以也就非常清幽恬静。它其实是个传统的英式酒吧,Lewis Carroll 曾经在 1862 年在这里演读他的 Alice in Wonderland,现在也还是酒吧,只不过也卖起道道传统的英式佳肴美食。

我想念 Trout Inn 的 Trout,实在大,食物的分量也实在大,实在美味。还有甜品,实在棒,是我这一生中吃过最好吃的甜品。虽然很贵,一道主食加一道甜品大概 20 多英磅(60 多新币),但也贵得值得。



只恐怕我等不到夏天了。找一天当我受不了伦敦的熙熙攘攘,我会和 Oxford 和 Trout Inn 重逢。

Friday, January 07, 2005

Camper Shoes
Camper - Comfort with Imagination (Part 1 of 2)

(Note: I am not paid by Camper to advertise their shoes. Those who have worn Campers before should know that Campers are simply comfortable and imaginative. Now Camper is part of my body and I can’t really do without them, hence here are two whole entries devoted to Camper.)

Walking means travelling. Going from one place to another.

But in a metaphorical sense, it means progressing as well.

This is the firm conviction of Camper’s Walking Society.

“The Walking Society is a virtual circle of people from different social, cultural, economic and geographic realities, who individually or as a group, devote their imagination and their work to ideas, to coming up with useful, positive solutions to make the world a better place. Simply, anonymously, honestly.”

One such solution is the diverse and myriad quality shoes Camper has produced over the past 24 years.

By quality, I really mean quality.

Camper is not like Nike where the entire sole can drop off while walking on the street after only 9 months of use. That is precisely what happened to my Nike Air Max 95. From then on, I’ve never bought another pair of Nike and I never will unless Nike’s quality improves by 1000000%.

So far, my three pairs of Campers (all Pelotas) have served me excellently.

Literally speaking, “Camper means country person. The aesthetics and the values of this brand name are influenced by the austerity, simplicity and discretion of the rural world, along with the history, culture and landscape of the Mediterranean.”

Camper’s respect for tradition and craftsmanship marks their commitment to offering useful, original, quality products, at the same time constantly promoting diversity by means of the technical and aesthetic innovation provided by the team that makes up the firm. “We try, we strive, to make a more cultural, human approach.”

And Camper really did it.

Hence Camper’s shoes are simple yet creative, modest yet durable (and very light), useful yet humorous in a Mediterranean or Spanish way (especially the Twins collection).

With good shoes, walking is no problem. Hence, progress is no problem.

I clearly understand this fact ever since I've been walking almost everywhere when I first came to London two years ago. And ever since I’ve moved to Hampstead, I’m enjoying more English walks with the Spanish Campers, especially in the Heath.

As such, I have just invested 255 pounds in another 3 pairs of Campers: a pair of Twins (they are simply gorgeous, it took me such a long time to find them), a pair of Pelotas, and a pair of Mil boots.

3 pairs in 2 days. The staff must have thought I’m crazy.

But it was not an impulse buy this time round. I clearly knew which shoes and boots I wanted.

You know, guys, unlike women, do not try all the shoes in the store and then after hours of hesitation, decide which pair they actually want.

So armed with the shoes’ serial numbers and colour codes, I walked into Camper’s London’s busiest store at Covent Garden and, I merely spent less than 20 minutes trying the sizes, before swiping my credit card.

Well, it’s not that I’m freaking wealthy, but the shoes are on sale (I love the London winter sales!!!). As far as I know, Camper is never on sale in Singapore - an ordinary pair of Campers back home would have cost about S$300. Not only that they are expensive back home, the Camper stores in Singapore take forever to import the new collections - when it is already summer, the winter collection is still on the racks. So economically speaking, this current buy was a big saving. (Freud would say I’m rationalising).

Even though I’ve expended my savings intended for Peru, my heart didn’t ache at all. In fact, I felt ecstatic leaving the store with my new Campers.

“With our feet on the ground so we can continue to move ahead as we enjoy the walk in full awareness of where we are directing our steps. Simply, honestly, discreetly, we unite with everyone who devotes their work and their imagination to finding positive ways to improve the world.”

How often do you walk?

(Some parts in quotation marks are adapted from Camper’s “The Walking Society” Issue 9.)