Monday, December 25, 2006


It's Christmas today and another year coming to an end. Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. However, these days I noticed that the season has become secular. While I am sure that there are still people that stick to the traditional way of how Christmas should be celebrated, the festivities and merry making have meandered into different societies.

In a multi racial country like Singapore, eating places operated by the Chinese, Muslims or Indians have joined in the spirit of the times and decorated their shops with Christmas trees and ornaments. This leads to a racially integrated society in Singapore. Surely that is a good thing, no?

On the other hand, this could also be a cause for waning traditions. As we become more progressive, it is difficult to honor religious rules without putting others in an uncomfortable dilemma. So, the joys of Christmas mean we exchange presents with friends from different races while our parents go to church.

At the rate things are unfolding, I am not sure how important religion will be in years to come; at least in this part of the world. Other countries elsewhere are fighting like mad because of religious disharmony, holding on tightly to perceived and unyielding laws. I digress... back to Christmas...
I love Christmas because somehow it brings out the mood, colors, spirit and nostalgia of how it all started.

Monday, December 04, 2006


wow it's been a while since I wrote anything. I can always use the good old acceptable excuse of being too busy to write. Well, I am here now and I have nothing to write about. hmmmm...... a ver....

I can hear the grey matter in my mind churning
Preparing the synapses for the neurons they are firing
I can feel the thoughts I am thinking
Slowly emerging, emerging, emerging, then , nothing

Nothing.... can it be an adjective?
Is it a word that means something ?
How to describe it if it isn't there for seeing?
Has anyone experienced its being ?

Nothing.... can it be a verb?
Is it a thought that could not be visualized?
The result of which no words could materialize
Or actions that could not be dramatized

Nothingness as a noun has a meaning;
the complete absence of everything
I believe it has neither a beginning
Nor an ending

When we sit around doing nothing
Are we really undoing something?
How about unhearing or
unthinking anything?

Whatever part of speech it is located
Its usage is rather convoluted
Women use it when a disagreement has started
Men use it to claim the same has ended

We shouldn't deploy all our five or six senses
To the understanding of absolute nothingness
Just embrace the word as its meaning dictates
Before this becomes a point for debates

I am not an English guru but there, I have filled this previously empty space with nothing.. What color is nothing? I guess it's purple.. hee hee hee

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Asean Tourism Fair

It was my 5th time to Japan as an ambassador
The Asean Tourism Fair in Sapporo, Hokkaido
This event was as good as the rest, if not the best
Both in body and mind it was truly a cultural fest

Asean admitted a new member this year
Now Myanmar celebrates the friendship far and near
In the cultural bridge that has many detours
Starting from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia.
The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand to Vietnam.

At the fair, every country showcased their specialty
Arts and crafts that were founded on anonymity
Preserved through and for generations to come
So that today, we too, can appreciate their beauty and charm

Japan was most gracious to host the affair
The people's commitment to attention and care
Was exemplary right to the very end
All of two weeks we had fun working, playing hand in hand.

The picture above was taken on the streets of Sapporo in costume. We were performing in a local shopping centre nearby.
Sapporo looked very similar to Tokyo . The japanese are such civic minded people. The streets were clean and almost all sidewalks had special walkways built for the handicapped. The public toilets were also clean- sign of a gracious society in my opinion. Hotel toilets even have heated seats in the winter. Hmmmmm... great for my butt .. hahaha. But I hope they would do something about the toilet paper though. hee hee. they are thin and rough. Not quite kleenex material... :)

Once I was in a cafe and the girl sitting a few tables away left her cell phone and shopping bags behind. While she was gone many people walked in and out of the cafe and never minded the phone at all. Fifteen minutes later the girl came back and quietly took her belongings. If it had been anywhere else, the phone would be gone quite quickly.

I can hardly find trash receptacles anywhere . That's because hardly anyone ever ate on the streets. I noticed they have meals at restaurants and eateries. Japan is very conscious about recycling. If there is a dustbin somewhere it will be side by side with 2 others. One for paper, another for plastic and so on.

I find it very peculiar that the japanese are quite influenced by western culture and yet retained their values and able to integrate them effortlessly. In the fortnight I was there, I only had time to visit the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art. Shopping was expensive but digital cameras were cheaper than Singapore.
The flag down rate for taxis was 600 yen. 1000 yen was equivalent to S$14. Muy caro. . Cheap food starting from 500 yen can be had if one knew where to go.
Hokkaido crabs were huge. The spiny body itself was bigger than a man's face and the claws were at least 16 inches long. The famous local rock melons cost anywhere from $27 to $150 each !! Unbelievable!!!
Now I miss the weather. It was about 18 degrees... I had a great time.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

yellow ribbon musical

The Yellow Ribbon Project together with CARE is dedicated to helping and the organizing of activities for ex offenders and their families.
When asked to choreograph for the musical, I was apprehensive at first but accepted the job for the anticipation of a new kind of challenge. This year the musical was performed by the inmates who wrote their own songs and directed by a dear friend, Peggy.

The rehearsals were conducted inside the huge, big and grey building. The girls were all a little shy at first and kept looking at the floor but slowly their enthusiasm and a chance to perform for their loved ones and friends motivated them to be brave and just go for it.. The men were also very talented. They sang so much better than the Singapore Idols ( oops am I allowed to say that?)

Prior to the commencement of rehearsals, there was a song writing competition and the winning songs were chosen to tie in with the theme of the musical which was "angel from within."

In the few months leading to performance day which was yesterday, I was made more aware of the power of forgiveness. The life stories we heard while talking to the inmates were mostly reflected in their songs. But keeping their spirits high whenever we saw them for rehearsals made our jobs so much easier. They were so willing to learn, so willing to laugh and cry. I was able to see, hear and feel forgiveness and that word truly lifts the spirit and helps someone to move on and brings hope to live another day.

One thing I was glad of - this musical brought together inmates who didn't know each other and now have become friends inside.

The earnest desire to change was projected on stage and moved the audience to tears. They sang and danced with so much gusto that it was so heart- rending. After show I went back to the holding area to offer my heartiest congratulations.
Needless to say, security was very tight but I couldn't respect the protocol anymore at that point and went straight to hug all of them. There were so many words just waiting to roll off my tongue but had to keep my mouth shut from literally crying out loud.

All those weeks of training had paid off and I am glad to be part of the Yellow Ribbon Musical 2006... and I can't post pictures for obvious reasons...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

It's about time I went for a deep tissue massage..

My leg still hurts today
It has been like that everyday
the pain shoots here and there
when night approaches, i swear

I suppose it's a work hazard
When over used muscles are needed
to hold up the weary body
and they break down suddenly

but the body is amazingly resilient
design from the great Divine, it's brilliant
It's the greatest instrument ever created
It's use should not be taken for granted

I'll take care, I'll take care, take care, care...
wear and tear, wear and tear, wear, tear
hmmm.... too tired , too tired, too tired now
I should go for another massage.. so how brown cow
zzzzzzzz.................. buenas noches.. :)

P.S. I've discovered that it hurt like hell to have a sports massage but the release of tension when pressure was applied to the muscles on the body was a great relief. I think anyone involved in vigorous training and those sitting on their butts in an office should try it. .
I should have done this eons ago, holy caramba..

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Chengdu at a glance

Yesterday I just got back from Chengdu, China, for a show with the Singapore Tourism Board. The event was for a Life Insurance Congress and there were thousands of people attending it. The show was a success and all went well despite 4 hours of sleep the night before. We had a 7am call for stage rehearsal and another one at noon before the show at 3.30pm. That's how it was for most shows and it was great fun.

When in China one should speak a little Mandarin
For the people hardly spoke anything else
Some were helpful some ignored us with a grin
When we tried to communicate and asked for directions
Even the most prolific one of us was wonderin'
How on earth can we understand the different intonations
In such a widely used language..

We stayed at the Century City Holiday Inn
Located next to our performance venue, wow, best
The hotel opened its doors just a week before we flew in
Just so thousands attending the congress can rest

I think the hotel wasn't ready to operate
Although the staff tried to cope and were friendly
The service was slow and deliberate
Not quite up to standard for this four star hotel, surely

The rooms were furnished quite nicely
The problem started when we took a shower
The water seeped out onto the floor surreptitiously
Wetting the carpet near the entrance and into the corridor

We went shopping after work
Taxi fare was cheap but communication was weak
But there we were, twenty minutes later
At the best area where they sell everything we seek

The food didn't taste so good on the palate
Found ourselves eating fast food most of the time
But we bought el cheapo clothes, shoes and one pomegranate :)
And the world famous peaches, the best kind

That night we went to the Babi Club though not my cup of tea
It was a disco so crowded with the locals, it wasn't funny
I decided to head back to the hotel without a glee
To brave the flooded toilet and get some sleep, maybe...

But to hear the DJs speak Mandarin was a strange feeling
To a sea of Asian faces, to western music they were bopping...

The next day with six hours before we headed for home
Upon my recommendation, we went to see the giant pandas
Situated in the world's only research base where they freely roam
Since it was hot, they remained in their air conditioned haciendas

Then we rushed to Wenshu temple
To get a glimpse of the famous teahouses contained
In a four thousand year history said the people
A tradition they are proud to retain.

The sky above Chengdu was hazy with pollution and dust from the ever present construction everywhere. Some of my friends had rashes after several hours in town. Hailing a taxi was one culturally shocking experience. The people in China do not queue. When a taxi stopped everyone rushed towards it and whoever had their hands on the door got in before the previous passenger had a chance to pay. So we did what the locals do, reluctantly. With shopping bags in both hands, one of us rushed to a taxi and stood with the body flushed to the back door. While other people piled up behind him someone opened the front door and stepped in!! Hahahahahaahha we couldn't stop laughing . It was hilarious to the max while we watched our hard won taxi leaving with another passenger.

In Singapore this would be unacceptable. No wonder the Chinese tourists here behave so rudely-talking at the top of their voices and not queueing. They are just being themselves... hahahahaha.

I found myself in possession of a fake 50 yuan note - about SGD$10. I had no idea when that happened. Must have been the change I got while shopping. It looked exactly like the real thing. At the airport on the way home I decided to use up all the yuan I had on me which was that 50 yuan and that was then they said it was a fake. Holy caramba...

I am certain that China has many more beautiful places to explore and I look forward to my next trip for more culturally shocking experiences.. :)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Football a way of life..

The World Cup came and went
Oh, how many hours we spent
Watching , feeling and sharing the euphoria
That every goal had brought together
A nation.. be it rich or poor

I have been a football fan ( of the World Cup ) for quite some time now. It never ceases to amaze me how many people around the world enjoy this game. The usual comment from those not interested was always the same "what do you see in a group of people running after a ball?"

Here's what it is all about ...
For me, football is akin to life...

Firstly, the game has a little entropy so it is unpredictable more often than not. One of the two countries playing might be slated to win but as long as the game is still in play, it has a 50-50 chance of winning. But then, this also applies to other sports but football has the element of chaos that increases with time because of the large number of variations presented by the players from the different countries.
Life's like that too - the choices people make have a 50-50 chance of being a good one.

Secondly, football brings the world together. Whether a country is rich or poor, the game transcends race, religion or language differences. It embraces cultures, accepts diversity. The numerous disagreements and emotional outbursts to the referees' decisions were always short lived as the game must go on. Without countries' participation, there would be no game. This year, the tag line is 'my game is fair play, say no to racism'. It is good enough for me that FIFA is trying to eradicate certain issues.....
Having said that, I suspect, as with life, the game would not be able to escape political influences and I would not delve further into this ................. :)
Life's like that too - without friends to have fun with, to disagree with and to share common interests with, there would be nada.

The game starts and stops every now and then and when a goal is scored, it would start again. Both teams attack and defend again and again just to get the ball into the goal. They formulate strategies, take advantage of opportunities to score, getting themselves hurt in the process and then, when the ball makes it past the two poles, every drop of sweat and every bit of hard work transform into ecstasy.
Life's like that too - we plan projects, we fall, get up and try again. With proper guidance, experience and timely opportunities, we survive. Ecstasy and despair must occur side by side.

The rules and regulations in the game ensure that there is order in the system. Any player caught flouting the rules are rightly punished.
Life's like that too - laws keep us away from wrongdoing.

Football must have team spirit yet individual effort, strategically located players and of course, lady luck.
Life's like that too ....

Last but not least, football is a passion for many people around the world. Some players become role models ( some not ), mentors and coaches after they can play no more. And the game continues...
Life's like that too - no matter what we do, where we are, life should be a passion and continues.....

Football is ...... a beautiful game.....
Life is........ a beautiful game.....

I love football so much for all the reasons above :) :)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

best job in the world

I'm in the arts for the longest time
I'm still loving it, I'm still feeling fine
Formal training I had in classical ballet
From 8 till 20 years of age
The move to go commercial for sure
Sealed my decision to be a performer

Memorable events like meeting dignitaries globally, are
The best highlights of my career, by far
My travels are nothing short of spectacular
Shows were tiring, moving, funny and clever

An artiste's journey is a game
I'm in this not for money not for fame
But for rewards that are most clearly
Continued growth culturally and professionally.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Today, as I sat in a cafe watching people
Talking, eating, laughing and doing their thing
I suddenly felt alone when a couple
Walked by lovingly,.... oblivious that the world is still revolving

So many kinds of species make up this great kingdom
As I sat still I noticed the beauty
Of trees swaying, birds flying and the freedom
Of discovering and telling our own story

I realized that being alone can be frustrating
A pain in the ass if we begin to accept
That life's puzzle shouldn't be missing
The pieces that make us whole and perfect

After some thought I have learned to discern that
Being alone is the presence of oneself while
Being lonely is the absence of the other
Now, with my sanity intact, I smile

So, being alone is not bad at all
Especially when friends pick up my tab at the cafe (hee hee)
Thank God for family , should we fall
Blessed with their strength we fly free

The cycle of life continues to play
If it gets too hectic, just chill and be still
For sure the sun will chase the moon away
A brand new day emerges, memory filled

As for they who spawned this poem, the loving couple
I wish them joy, happiness and cheer
We are all here to find love one way or the other
Kudos to all those whose love can inspire

Monday, June 12, 2006

Peranakan culture

For two days at the Arts House, I did an event featuring a peranakan wedding. Theirs is a colorful culture that dates back two to three hundred years ago. It started when Chinese traders came to the Malay Peninsula. Many of them met and married the local Malays. The original Peranakans came from Malacca and in later years moved to Penang and Singapore. Throughout history the culture developed a language that was a mixture of Chinese and Malay. The women were matriachs and were strong and powerful.

When the British colonized both Singapore and Malaysia, the western influence started making its mark and the Peranakans' heritage was further diluted. The term ' Straits-born Chinese" was more familiar to the westerners than the word "Peranakan."

Assimilation eroded many beliefs and way of life of the Peranakans. The old world Peranakans were mainly Buddhists and Taoists but now many of them have become Christians and the belief of bygone days didn't much agree with their current faith . Moreover, modern trappings of society created a huge gap between the old and the young.

Efforts have been made to bring back as much of the culture as possible

The instrument I was holding in the picture below is called a 'suona'. It is rather peculiar. A cross between a recorder and a trumpet. But don't be fooled by its small size. It is really loud and used to give musical renditions to traditional Peranakan weddings although it is a choice more than a must.

The Peranakans are considered a minority
In this sunny little island known as Singapore
My friends are reviving its HERitage and HIStory
Featuring dancing, singing and merry making

The Babas are the males, the Nyonyas, females
The culture is rich and colorful , evidently
The cuisine very sedap and recipes are for sale

Beautiful beaded shoes are a must if you're a wannabe

Porcelain wares are an important part of households

The designs are a little different from the Chinese
With butterflies and phoenixes as the main symbols

Bright yellow and pink, they are very pricey

The Peranakan wedding used to be a 12 days affair
Now with modernization and inter marriages
The sacred union is kept simple for the pair
And elaborate customs have undergone some great changes

In the old days the bride and groom cannot smile
Since it brought bad luck to their lives it was not an option
I suspect this hasn't been practiced for a while
Because a celebration is a celebration is a celebration!

For most clans, the Sarong Kebaya is preferred
Although it was traditionally of Malay origin
Hand sewn Chinese motifs that have been incorporated
Made this elegant outfit better than you can imagine

As with most lesser known cultures around the planet
The Peranakans are losing their foothold in the present society
While we cannot stop progress from diluting its numerous facets
We can certainly do our best to preserve its legacy.

13th June 2006

Saturday, May 20, 2006


The other day I had a mail from a friend, Alan, who has an interest in psychoanalysis. While I am not an expert in this subject, I can think of another friend who uses psychobabble to talk about herself most of the time.

It seemed incredulous at the time when she told me about how she often had migraine attacks if she sat on the floor or how a diet without carbohydates but butter eaten at various times of the day would help her lose weight. And she wasn't even fat to start with.

Could it be people like her somehow concocted these stories to draw attention to their own problems because there is nothing else they like to talk about? Sounds twisted but I suspect that's it because friends have often asked her to eat more, relax, be less paranoid and her usual retort would be that no one understood her condition. Perhaps she would be a good subject for a psychoanalyst, a psychologist or maybe both.

I wonder, after listening to all the problems and giving advice to the patients, how would the 'psycho-doctors' clear their own minds of all the negative emotions that piled up day after day?

I liked the way Alan so eloquently put it - 'so much discussion about behavioral patterns takes place as if the psyche didn't exist, like there are just social forces acting on a blank slate, and not only does the activity of consciousness have little effect but the unconscious and the entire world of desire and fantasy are simply ignored.'
By this I am working on the assumption that most people think that the behavior of a person is formed by the movement of society without taking into account the inherent psychological factors that are present in the individual or could be they are just relegated to the deep abyss of the mind.

If that blank slate is so often bombarded with all those emotions, would the positive cancel out the negative? Or would the slates be erased before each session can continue for the doctors? Even if they were, surely 'imprint stains' would be left behind?

What happened to the individual personality? Would it still be lurking under the slate?
Where do all these mind doctors go to take a break? I heard that psychologists often have their own doctors.

I don't know any psychoanalysts but I did know 2 psychologists who committed suicide and one other tried that in vain and currently pursuing a degree in psychology.

Well, I suppose every profession has its advantages and drawbacks. One thing is for sure ; discussions and discourse would certainly be an ongoing process because we have been trying to understand ourselves and our actions for the longest time. In fact I think sometimes people tried too hard to understand others when they should be spending time trying to comprehend themselves.

Studies have begun on the behavioral patterns of unborn children to those a few years old to see how they are being affected by exposure to different stimuli. Mayhaps we can help ourselves by making sure that the synapses in our brains are firing correctly which I believe, could ultimately create synergy among us.

This subject has such a broad range of starting points that... caramba, I think I am having a headache... think it's best left to the experts.

20th May 2006

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

tax free dubai

When asked if I wanted to go to Dubai for a show, gladly I said yes! The show was for the Singapore Tourism Board and as usual, it was a show selling Singapore to the world - Dubai. We had a Gala night at Shangri la Dubai . The show went well and I can't help noticing two Arab men looking at me all the time. Hmmmm..... Even Tyra noticed that and told me after the show. Too bad I never had the chance to find out their intention.. ! :)
We didn't stay at the Shangri la but at the Savoy apartment hotel. It was beautiful, just about the size of a 4 room apartment in Singapore. Each cost about S$800. Two to an apartment.

Anyway we were free the next day and took an opened top bus tour around the city. They stopped us at the museum, the old souq ( market ) and other places of interest. The heat was unbearable and we took respite in a shopping centre. It was quite expensive, shopping in Dubai. then the second half of the day, we took another tour to the sand dunes in a 4 WD. It was an experience navigating through the sand dunes and later we were treated to an arabian bbq dinner complete with shisha and belly dancing. Wow. what a day.

The next day we had show at the Arabian Trade Fair . There were not as many people as the one I did in London 3 years ago only because the UK trade fair in London covered more countries. But people stopped at the singapore booth to enquire about our little island just north of the equator. Twice a day we had a show to bring in the crowds - 4pm and 7 pm.
Then it's back to the souqs for more shopping. I went into a shop that sold shisha among other things and bought one. The others ended up buying a shisha each .

Dubai has many beautiful buildings with interesting architectural designs. Below are more facts about one of the 7 states of the United Arab Emirates.
One peculiar thing about this place is the men cannot enter into a disco without a woman by his side. If there are 4 men, there must be 4 women. And the disco we went to called Trilogy near the famous Burj Al Arab hotel had a cover charge of about SGD$40 without drinks. Holy caramba.... nothing further to add here..

Dubai is really tax free in many ways A place where palm trees sway
Personal income is tax exempted
Ditto property, which can never be depleted

Crime rate is extremely low
If one is caught, severe punishment follows
About 80% of the population are expats
Now that's an interesting fact

Most buildings are centered around the Dubai Creek
Yet other interesting ones spring up to keep
the nation ahead of others in a bid to be
The technologically advanced city for all to see

True to the Islamic culture
There is no one who can buy liquor
Anywhere in Dubai without a licence
Unless in a pub or bar where one frequents

But I must say the buildings are beautiful
A tribute to talented architects with their hands full
Even as I write, construction has started
On the world famous palm islands

As if that isn't enough, there's the world island
In which every country on earth
Is constructed like the map of the world
He bought the island of UK, Rod Stewart
One other has Argentina under his belt

Dubai is open but not too liberal
Fashion is not even ephemeral
In fact there is evidently a lack of it
I saw most men in their traditional outfit
And women, hmmm where were they?

Ha ha just kidding, I was exaggerating
They were somewhere around, walking
Shopping or working but honestly
Men outnumbered women most definitely.

Generally Dubai has a lot to offer to first timers. The Gold souq ( market ) sells nothing but gold, the Spice souq has all kinds of spices and incense from all corners of the world and the Old souq houses the local arts and craft but one must bargain . In the next few years Dubai is planning to build the world's highest building with the biggest shopping centre that would take a few days to cover.
English is the main language of instruction and there were many foreign language schools scattered all over .
The exchange rate was SGD$1.00 = DHS2.26.
I would like to end by saying that Dubai takes the word 'building' literally and makes use of it simultaneously as a verb and noun. Everywhere I turned there were constructions .. building... building... buildings..

15th May 2006

return trip to Kuala Lumpur

Yesterday I went back to Kuala Lumpur to spend Mother's Day with my mom and brother. I must say KL is changing and opening its doors. But the question that has always been looming in my head was to what extent the people want to embrace the changes. The LRT is a timely extension to the transport system and a convenient way for Malaysians to commute. Nice shopping centres have sprung in many areas and this should make shopping a pleasant experience. Beautiful and cozy cafes are aplenty there. KL has become a lively city, yes, more so than before.

My contention is that people there should be more civic conscious. Crime rate is still a statistic. True, crime is prevalent everywhere but it seems to me that the crime rate is not going down while KL strives to be a better place . Some crime, especially has gotten creative and the thieves, more daring.

For example, in order to up their business, a tow truck company would go to great lengths to pour oil/grease on a particular point on a road so when cars crashed, they would be the first one there. How underhanded..

And till today, I have not known of anyone in KL who has not been robbed including myself. Recently, the thief was so daring that he followed someone into their house in broad daylight, kicked her in the back and caused her to fall, hit her face on a wall . Then the thief took off with her purse.
KL really needs to clean up the city of corruption and crime right from the top. Small things like handphones left next to a person on the table would be a chance for temptation to rear its ugly head. People can't walk around freely without having to consciously think about holding their bags away from motorcyclists who might snatch them from behind.
My own run-in with theft years ago led to my being confined to Singapore for 3 years because the Malaysian authorities wanted to punish me for having my passport stolen! They had suspected that I staged the whole thing. Such paranoia! This is another story for another time.

My mom's potted plants which she cultivated herself were stolen from the common corridor where she lives. Surely people can afford a potted plant? Why steal it ? How low can one stoop ?

My point is Malaysia has so many resources, enjoys a good standard of living and yet she lacks the necessary social etiquette that the people can adopt to make for a more cohesive society.

On my way back to Singapore, I thought that I should try another bus company other than the one I always went with. I really didn't like the idea but I had no choice since the bus company I used didn't have any seats left. So I bought ticket from some bus company at Pudu Raya just for the heck of it. First I had to wait in a platform at the bus depot full of exhaust fumes. I didn't dare venture to a safer place in case the bus went off without me. Finally I got onto the bus and then there was confusion about whose ticket was valid and whose wasn't. I bought mine at the office for RM$38 and discovered that it actually cost RM$30. Darn... The bus took the causeway route and there were so many people and so many buses that the whole place was just a mess. At one point I almost took a flight.

So take it from me, if anyone wants a hassle free trip to KL, take the bus from reputable companies. They take the second link which is so so so much better ...
The best way to KL is really by bus - economical and convenient.

I shall stop griping about KL...

May 2006

Saturday, May 13, 2006

rediscovering Brunei?

It was the third time I went to Brunei to work. The first time was like 6 years ago. Between then and now there weren't any noticeable changes to the country. I don't know of any discos or bars where one can hang out. But I did see the young crowds gather at coffee places with their cars parked a few feet away and loud music blasting from the cars.

Many others drove across the border to Sabah or Sarawak to get a swig of alcohol. It's hard to fathom how anyone with an active social life could work in Brunei.
The shopping experience left a lot to be desired, but DVDs were cheap and of good quality too. I need not elaborate about their sources...

Bruneians have it good. Free education, free medical benefits and houses are heavily subsidized ( I was told ). People dress conservatively and it is prudent to observe that when one is in Brunei lest one gets furtive glances from disapproving faces!

Jerudong Park, Brunei's version of Disneyland looked deserted. Maybe everyone in Brunei has been there and done that.. The park used to be free for all. Anyway..

Went to Brunei for a show
Four girls with Cyril the host
I choreographed two items which weren't slow
The audience enjoyed it to the most

The event was for AIA in Brunei
I was apprehensive about sexy costumes of mine
Revealing more flesh that would make some people fly
To the mosque to pray one more time ( hee hee)

The performance went well, I was glad of it
With joy I appreciated the entire audience
Very seldom everyone paid attention like they did
Eyes riveted , they watched us in silence

At first they were slow to respond to Cyril
who went on stage to kick start the night
As the initial warm-up took on an upward swirl
The beginning of a successful night took flight

The Empire Hotel was the best venue
Has huge columns resplendent in gold
Parties, dinner and dances, product launches to name a few
Were held there but without alcohol, I was told

After show back to our hotel we headed
To have dinner at the coffee house
Bless the staff, for us, they waited
The meal was fantastic, they deserved the applause

Good night, good show, slept well
Then with no further ado
In the morning we shall
To Brunei, we bade adieu

The people were friendly and we saw a few guests staying at the Holiday Lodge with us. We wonder why they were there. Pardon my ignorance but I really doubt there was anything to see in the little rich kingdom sandwiched between two Malaysian states and Tarzan country to the south which is Borneo.

April 2006

Friday, May 12, 2006

the butt story

Two days ago, I had a show
A fifteen minute musical with the usual glow
Full of color and laughter, it was a story
Highlighting Singapore as a fine city

The tech run went well with sound and lights
Dancers had to wear costumes for the night
While in action dancing to Singapura
One of the dancers stepped on my skirt

The pin broke, the button snapped
A split second later it was lying on the floor, flat
At first there was only my voice
'Hey' that's what I said and lost my poise

To pick up my skirt, I bent over
Exposing the beige panty I had on for cover
There it was, big, round and white
My sexy butt was in the limelight

The dancers broke formation when they saw
Started laughing and rolling on the floor
By now the song was halfway through
No one could concentrate, not even the crew

It felt like the longest time
Before I had my skirt on fine
I shared the laughter with my friends
Dismissing that episode as a sneak peek
To the opening act of what the audience had come to seek

Yes, it was the Crazy Horse topless girls
They came on with colorful wigs and no curls
Before them, our show was a huge success

At this point I shall put my butt story to rest
March 2006

Thursday, May 11, 2006

the World Exposition in Aichi, Japan

Fun in Japan

The world expo comes once every 5 years. Last year it was in Aichi, Japan. The entire event lasted 6 months from March till September 2005 and I couldn't commit to working and living in Japan that long so I went for 8 days during the national day in august and back again the whole of september. It was a blast !

I was lucky to stay in an apartment block with people from all over the world. The other dancers were housed in super small 'boxes'. I was at the top floor - 33rd storey and the view was amazing.

The expo itself was HUGE. All the different countries in the world took part and each had a pavilion to showcase the relevant industries and trade of that particular country. More than a hundred pavilions were there. I met so many people from so many countries all in one place. It was the most amazing event that I had the opportunity to participate. It certainly was the best highlight of my career as a performer.

There were pavilion parties almost every week. The French one week , the Swiss another, Portugal and many more. I made some friends, some acquaintances and got a glimpse of their lifestyles and cultures.
The amazing thing was hearing Africans, French, Spanish, Germans, Canadians, Mexicans, Australians, Americans,Arabians, Greeks and many others speak fluent Japanese.

The Japanese had a few pavilions one of which showcased an android woman. When people talked to her, she could reply. It took a while before they realized that they were talking to a robot. Incredible.... The other futuristic robots took to the stage performing with musical instruments. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take any photos in the pavilion.

The Singapore pavilion was one of the more popular venues when one was at the expo. We had 3 shows a day featuring local food, dancing, singing and lion dance.
I can't say the same for the little cafe though. The Singapore food they sold were quite tasteless. The chef said it was because there was a limit to the kind of spices they could bring into Japan.

On my first off day which was once a week, I took a bullet train to Kyoto. Aichi is a prefecture in Nagoya and the journey was about half an hour. My travel companion was Max who worked in the Italian pavilion. Max is a mounted police in Rome. Everyday he'll put on his uniform and took pictures with visitors at the Expo. We had a good time walking around Kyoto and saw many temples. All of them were equally beautiful and one worth a special mention here was the Golden temple set in the middle of a lake . We stayed in Kyoto till late and took in the night scene which was very colorful. Once in a while we caught a glimpse of Japanese wearing the Kimono on the streets of Kyoto.

We drove a van to work everyday and one day we met with an accident not of our doing. We were rammed from behind by a taxi and resulted in a three car pile up which gave me a slight whip lash. The traffic police were there in less than 5 minutes.. most efficient. What ensued was amazing. The driver of the taxi got out and discussed the situation with the driver of the third car as if they were in a business meeting. No one raised his voice and they just 'hai' and bowed all the time leaving us bewildered. It is generally known that the Japanese are polite but this really takes the cake. The driver visited me at the pavilion and brought Japanese pastry and an apology for causing my whip lash. Of course their company would pay for any medical expenses I would incur but I didn't need to go to the hospital. Thank God!

And then there was the typhoon. Since we were on the top floor, the wind was strong. When it happened we were at the balcony chilling out with sake and all . Though we couldn't see the wind we could definitely see its effect!. A towel spiralled upwards with the wind and seconds later it was only a dot in the sky. We went inside before the wind had a chance to take me off too..

There were quite a few families who liked our performance so much that they came every single day, every month to watch it again and again till the expo closed at night. I would say most japanese are rich and they spent money on gifts for us not to mention the entrance fee to the expo.
The last performance we had was a tear jerker. We had to say goodbye to all the friends we had made all those weeks and months knowing we might not see them again. Oh.. I hate goodbyes.. I am still keeping in touch with 2 families by email..

My thoughts on Japan

It's been a month since I was in Japan
For the World Expo with my friends
It was such a wonderful experience
The best time of my career, with a difference

Aichi World Expo in Nagoya was truly an event
Where many countries on this planet spent
Six months together sharing cultures
exchanging numbers
Most extraordinary was so many races, so many languages
were spoken in one single place
Through it all they also spoke Japanese
the single language of communication

There were pavilion parties every week
Attended by people who seek
Friendship, love, romance or one night stands
And everyone had a good time in the end

I stayed in a nice apartment on the highest floor
With Boon and Shahrin whose room was by the front door
I chose the tatami room next to the hall
Beautiful room with 3 panels of sliding doors

I will never forget my time working in Japan
45 days came and all too soon they went
I braved the crowds at the expo
And was caught in a typhoon too

The Japanese families we've met
Brought friendships we can get
Nowhere else, only in Nagoya
With different lifestyles by gosh and by far

We drove to work everyday
Had fun all the way
It was truly an amazing time
Many cherished memories came to mind

Year 2010 the World Expo will be in Shanghai
So for the moment, I bid goodbye.
I need time to brush up on my Mandarin
Who knows I might avail myself again :)

Oct 2005

el cheapo vs el caro

Show in Myanmar

The show I did in Myanmar was for the cosmetics giant, Shiseido. It was their 10th anniversary there.
Myanmar is a land of contrasts and I could not be more explicit here .. only seeing is believing but I will try..

It was peaceful but the military still patrol some areas. I can't help but wonder if the peace was imposed upon by the presence of the military or can it remain with the absence of the same?
There were dilapidated buildings next to new, modern ones complete with occupants that looked like they were wearing the same clothings from 10 days ago and men clad in suits respectively.
The people drive on the right side of the road but instead of left hand drive, the vehicles are right hand driven. Strange.... Talk about contrasts.

Our show was held in Dusit Inya Lake Resort in Yangon which was where we stayed. The rooms were big and comfortable with a beautiful view of Lake Inya. The hotel reminded me of an era gone by.. old with minimal decor, bathtubs were a little rusty at the bottom, some power sockets had no electricity running through them. The banquet staff came in for rehearsal holding hands in two lines. ( only the ladies, of course ) .

I choreographed 3 dance items and one of them was supposed to be a collaboration between Singapore and Myanmar. We taught some of our dance steps to the three Myanmese dancers and all they could do was stand there with mouths wide opened and unblinking eyes. So I decided that we do the first half by ourselves and joined them in the second half. We learned their choreography in 15 minutes ! :) It was a folk dance and the steps were quite simple. They had elaborate and beautiful hand embroidered costumes, though.

The organizing committee was really happy with the show and took us on a half day tour to visit the Shwe Dagon Temple. My, what a temple - the area was so big and there were many different temples in the same place. So many different Gods - harvest, fertility, luck, fortune, love etc. We walked barefoot on the hot concrete floor in the sweltering heat. The numerous faces of Buddha can be seen everywhere.. awesome..

Things were cheap in Myanmar, needless to say. A meal cost less than US$0.50 on the streets and a little more in air conditioned places. The shopping centre we went to had security at the entrance to run a bomb sweep on shoppers before they can go inside. The things for sale looked like discarded clothes and some foodstuff on the supermarket shelves were covered with dust. Shopping in the markets was relatively cheap too. No matter how hard we haggled, T-shirts cost about US$3. There were interesting local crafts starting at that price too.

Some vendors sold deep fried grub and crickets along the food street. Urgghhh.... Tell me again.... these creepy crawlies are supposed to be nutritious? Double urghhh.. yikes too...
Nevertheless we took in some shopping and below was my story.

Why do we buy the things we bought?
Is it to satisfy an inherent need
to own some things we've sought?
Or is it our ego we need to feed

Take, for example, the el cheapo sandals
in Myanmar that I bought
At first, aimlessly I strolled in with friends
The shop was full of shoes for ladies and gents

One by one they each bought a pair
I think I should pamper my feet to be fair
For they haven't seen the sun in a day
So I let my eyes lead the way

Aha, there's one screaming to be worn
Pretty sandals no one would scorn
Paid US$4 after a quick fit
Happy to know the next day I'll wear it

Two weeks of bliss went by
Then in town I let out a cry
When I noticed the sole was halfway out
I was staring at the 'crocodile mouth'

Now I wondered why I bothered
With el cheapo shoes and suffered
The wrath of my el caro pair
Which has lasted 4 years of wear.

P.S. el cheapo = a slang which means cheap in spanish
el caro = expensive in spanish

Anyway, I was glad for the opportunity to go to Myanmar. The people led a simple and hard life. I hadn't noticed any despondency but in my opinion it is a nation caught in between the basic needs and the numerous wants of the poor vs the rich. It has given me the chance to give gratitude to my existence. People need to see this part of the world to appreciate the human spirit in its glory.

March 2006