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