Wednesday, October 16, 2013

First World Travel Pains

Shortly after my London work trip, comes the New Zealand "do nothing" holiday. As with all other trips, it ended in the blink of an eye. I was ambitious. Almost to the point of naivety. Other than the trip down to Hamilton, I was going to be stuck in Auckland City, which in my opinion, was quite a boring city.
With no specific place to visit for over a week, I had great plans of re-organising my photos from my past trips, planning of the upcoming Sweden trip, complete a couple of projects from work (?!), blogging while reading a couple of books.
Instead, I spent half the time shopping. -__-" A great deal of time was spent in buying winter wear to survive the harsh bitter winters in Kiruna, Sweden. And going from shop to shop, New World and Countdown, buying souvenirs and groceries.

Nah, I didn't shop at Lim Chhour.
And just when I thought I was through with shopping in London. Hmm..
 And I thought that my T2 splurge was over in Australia.
Obviously, the short daylight hours and erratic weather didn't help. Not only did I fail to finish the only physical book I brought there, work had piled up considerably. It was horrifying trying to keep up with the numerous work emails. It didn't help that I had to attend a teleconference on my last night in Auckland.
To make matters worse, I missed out on weekend markets and found out about the "newly opened" islands: Tiritiri Matangi, Rotoroa, and Kawau Island. But it was too late due to limited ferry times on specofic days. Heck, I didn't even manage to stroll down Hobson Street! (I had lived there during my short student exchange stint)

My temporary "office"
Well, this will probably be my last "do nothing" trip in a long time. The writings were already on the wall when I went there with such a long to-do list. Clearly, that violates the very definition of "doing nothing".
Despite not being well-rested, this trip has opened my eyes to prospects on working overseas. $$$$$ There ain't any free lunch in this world, and some things gotta give, be it career opportunities, work-life balance, taxes and rent.

A piece of prime estate in the city is still rather affordable here!
As they say, 船到桥头自然直. I guess in the end, I will have to go where the Lord would take me to.
For now, if my boss asked me about my holiday, I would just let him know I truly need a sabbatical. :p

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Mizuno Mystery

To maintain my IPPT Gold streak, it was time to let go of my Brooks shoes and welcome Mizuno for the first time. I always preferred the Mizuno logo to the Brooks logo. And by a stroke of "luck", Brooks shoes were no longer carried by Sportslink shops (i.e. heavily discounted) and the latest models were available only at their official retail outlet.
Instead of the usual S$129, the Brooks GTS Adrenaline 13 retailed at $169 (usual $199). And that alone was a good enough reason to grab a pair of Mizuno Wave Inspire 9 at $143 (usual $179).
Mizuno Wave Inspire 9
US Size 9, Width D

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

We Have A Saviour

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Euro(vision) Crisis

In a parallel universe, not so different from this, the month of May marks the start of Eurovision Song Contest. Yes, it's that campy annual singing competition that everyone (European) loves to hate.

On initial glance, I thought that the song entries for this year were exceptionally bad, and deliberately so in order to ensure that the representative country would have no chance of winning.

Apparently, winning the contest comes with the honour of hosting competition in the following year. And these times of European austerity, the privilege of hosting Eurovision has become some sort of curse.

I've digressed.
So thankfully, there are interesting gems out there.

My Personal Top 3 Favourite Songs

1) Gréta Salóme and Jónsi - Never Forget (Iceland)
I know what you are thinking, but no. I'm not blindly supportive of anything Icelandic just because of my slight obsession with Bjork. The music video is teeming with such melodrama, it simply compels me to watch it repeatedly. Haha.

Long lost lovers. Check.
Violin solo performance with awkward spasms. Check.
Strings with booming timpani. check.
Dramatic mid-video pause. Check.
Snow covered landscapes, auroras. Check.

Of course, I personally find the song more apt for some epic wartime battle, as opposed to a rather banal story of reuniting lovers. -___-

2) Pastora Soler - Quédate Conmigo (Spain)
A simple music video shot on the budget, allowing Soler's voice to really shine...

She reminds me of Celine Dion though.

3) Compact Disco - Sound Of Our Hearts (Hungary)
This is what I would define as "my type of song". Admittedly, it boasts of neither strong vocals, lyrics or tune, but the lush, layered style is reminiscent of my favourite electronic artists such as Hybrid, BT.

Very atypical of a Eurovision song.

The Top 3 Most Annoying Songs

1) Valentina Monetta - The Social Network Song (OH OH -- Uh - OH OH) (San Marino)A deliberately blatant attempt to capitalize on the popularity of social media, but isn't that so... erm. 2008? Every minute of the song feels like I'm watching a dead horse being flogged.

2) Jedward - Waterline (Ireland)
I might have liked this song if I was a decade younger (OMG). Worst of all, they remind me of Steps. Agad, now I feel like bashing their stupid grinning faces.

3) Trackshittaz - Woki Mit Deim Popo (Austria)
Just plain f*^$ing annoying.

4) Buranovskiye Babushki - Party For Everybody (Russia)
Okay, the song isn't annoying, but it bugs me that they are exploiting grannies to gain votes. Say no to elderly labour!

The Understated Gems

1) Rona Nishliu - Suus (Albania)
This is probably the most depressing Eurovision song I've ever heard. The music video is disturbingly dark, and complete with extreme vocal histrionics.

2) Max Jason Mai - Don't close your eyes (Slovakia)
Arguably the angriest song of the lot, yet a refreshing change of genre amidst the sickly sweet songs out there.

3) Pernilla Karlsson - Nar jag blundar (Finland)
I don't even know whether Scandinavian jazz exists as a genre. But this has to be it. Stripped down to the bare basics, accompanied by a piano, cello and a dancer.

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Sunday, January 08, 2012

Brooks Once More

In 2009, I bought my first pair of Brooks shoes, Adrenaline GTS 9 at S$135. (No, the crappy army pair doesn't count. SAF credit points certainly don't count as money anyway).

Fast forward to two years later, I've decided to retire the well-worn pair. It had served me well in achieving IPPT silvers and gold.

As usual, it was off to Queensway Shopping Centre, the mecca for bargain shoes hunters. To my surprise, I was able to get the same updated series, Brooks Adrenaline GTS 11 for only $126!

A great bargain considering that the retail price was $169 and it was cheaper than the price I paid in 2009.

I purchased it rather promptly at Sports Interlink (#01-07/08/09/10/11/12), smugly thinking to myself that I had beat inflation.

My silly grin promptly disappeared when I dropped by Intersports (#03-11/29/30)... The same pair was selling for $118!!!

Yes, and I knew both of these shops were operated by the same retailer, Sportslink.

Essentially... Same retailer, same shopping centre, same shoes, different shops, different price.

I give up.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 11
US Size 9, Width D

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Thursday, January 05, 2012

A Close Shave?

Just before heading out, I looked into the mirror for a cursory check on my hair. No, it wasn't in place.

I adjusted my fringe, tried to smooth out any stray hairs. No, it still doesn't look right.

My scalp. It's showing.

I tried to spread my hair across, but to no avail. Every time I distributed my hair across from left to right, the other side would start to show.


My hair was thinning. My goodness, was this how I looked in the morning?! Why didn't anyone tell me about this??

I was getting frustrated. What was meant to be a habitual adjustment of my hair has turned into an almost full-blown crisis.

Damn it. Chemotherapy has finally taken its toll. Looks like I might need to shave soon.
I give up.

I got out of the washroom, hoping and willing intensely that no one would take notice of my hair... or the lack of.

Walking into the adjacent room, I noticed a sink with an array of shaving blades, brushes and powder. Alarmed, I walked briskly past a bald guy with an assistant, whom I assumed was helping him achieve that clean shaven top.

So what now?
Is it time to lose my mane of glory? The irony.

Then, I woke up.

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Sunday, January 01, 2012

2012, Another Beginning

Holy crap, it's 2012!

Just when I thought I couldn't be less active in my blogging, I've "surpassed" all expectations and managed to eke out a grand total of three entries for 2011. Needless to say, it's not that I'm too busy to pen my thoughts down, but I always seem to end up relegating blogging way down on my to-do list.

So enough is enough. It's time to start the year right by finishing up what I intended to briefly blog about almost a couple of months back.

Yup, it was my "homecoming" trip to New Zealand.

So there… All good things must come to an end.
It’s always been that way. No matter how long the holiday stretches, there must be an end.

But it’s different this time too. I’ve remarked to countless others about this trip as “回家的感觉真棒”.

After spending 5 months in New Zealand on a student exchange programme, I’ve grown to fall in love with this country, and Auckland City in particular. Of course, for many others who have visited Auckland before, it is not a city that one can easily fall in love with.

I've heard many who have described Auckland as cold, faceless and without character, unlike other NZ cities like Wellington and Christchurch (before the earthquake). Of course, to be brutally honest, the  apparent "foreign invasion" from the Asian community certainly doesn’t help its case.

Yet it is this city that I’ve feel almost at home. The only foreign city that I can navigate around without any maps. Coupled with the idyllic pace of life and great company, I could not ask for more.
The cheap and wonderful whites help too!

Four years on, something felt different about Auckland.

New buildings and new shops have popped up, albeit at a slower pace than in Singapore. It has evolved, become more commercialized and international (aka Asian).
HuluCat Bubble Tea

Auckland City felt somewhat distant.
It was only weeks ago that I envisioned myself to be overwhelmed by bittersweet nostalgia, with every step I take or every corner I turn. After all, it was a place that I had dreamt of in my dreams on several occasions. No kidding.

Then it struck me.
The answer was clear as day.

Almost everyone I knew from my bioengineering courses, NUS and Overseas Christian Fellowship were no longer around.
The remaining two survivors...

Indeed, the fond memories I had of Auckland were defined by the experiences and relationships. Auckland was simply the place where these memories were forged.

Without the right people, the buildings remain as stoic and distant reminders of the better past.

It was time to move on and stop clinging on to the past.

Who knows what the future might hold?