February 28, 2005

chang chang chang....nong kheuy hen chang reu plaaw?

[??0685] somewhere in Thailand:


[??1286] Parkway Parade:


big fat reunion in Bangkok >20 years after they first came over from Thailand to live with us in Singapore =)

[121104] Si Phaya, Bangkok:



[131104] Surawongse, Bangkok:


Noi, Mee & Phusit asked us if e elephant was still around. sis & I were so stunned that they could still remember it....


parents brought this teak elephant carving back from Thailand around 1977 (I think). e 6 of us kids treated it as our giant toy, climbing all over it, trying to lift it, riding it etc until both tusks fell out several times & had to be superglued back repeatedly. sis was so shocked when they asked if she still remembered how she once proclaimed it her 'birthday cake' & tried to slice it, incurring my dad's wrath. I couldn't recall such an incident - only remember us getting into absolute deep shit after Phusit once toppled it over, crushing a blue '2-by-3 unit' rectangular Lego block....

first thing we did when we got home from Changi airport was to inspect e elephant, now standing guard at e front door. & true enough, like what they'd recounted, e 'scars' were there on e left ear....


~1.5 months later e tsunami hit Noi's workplace in Krabi on e day I flew back from Chieng Rai. took about 2-3 weeks before we finally got news that he was safe. so glad that we'd met up despite all my mum's ai mai ai mai-ing & bird flu fears.

[ filed under: thewanderingstraycat + bangkok_2004 + thai1 ]

February 27, 2005

Escher-inspired architecture?

somehow am just so captivated by e Robertson Walk building, particularly e view of e rooftops when lit up at night - there is just something so delightfully magical about it =)

first spotted it one night while travelling along Clemenceau Ave across e Singapore River towards Orchard. second time was from e top floor of Mandarin Hotel along Orchard, also at night. what came to mind was Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972) - e roof design & e shapes of e windows remind me of e buildings in Escher's works like Concave and Convex & Belvedere, & e overall building brings to mind e building in Print Gallery.

for some reason e architecture firm behind this project doesn't include in its online portfolio an aerial view of this development taken at night, which is such a pity. plus I can't find any picture to describe e view that so fascinated me =|

[ filed under: architecture1 ]

February 25, 2005

what i want to find while digging dustbins

split-seed-transfect-fix-permeabilise-immunostain-mount-dry-seal, followed by long hours of imaging in e dark at e Zeiss Axiovert in e microscope room....change filter cubes - think of food - check device configuration - think of food - check Kohler illumination - think of food - adjust condenser height - think of food - switch between DIC/GFP/Cy5 filters - think of food - change exposure time - think of food - adjust DIC prism - think of food - adjust focus - think of food...

much like what occupies my mind for 2-3 hours during every exam, which is basically khaaw niaw ma muang (Thai fresh mango with sticky rice & coconut cream) + KFC coleslaw + wakame udon + plain steamed Thai rice with diluted naam plaa (Thai fermented fish sauce) & nothing else + unagi yanagawa + pistachios + dim sum with a lot of xia1 jiao3 + McDonald's egg McMuffin while lazing by e window of White Sands watching trains pull into/out of Pasir Ris MRT station + Beach Road prawn mee from e stall near my house + Campbell oxtail soup with pasta + Thai pineapple rice with pork floss (e REAL kind that is served in a hollowed out pineapple) + green tea milk + Teochew fish porridge + prata kosong + miso soup + Thai 'rice flakes' with salt & sugar & baa4 huu1 + eggs & ham + watermelon + Daisy milk + BBQ chicken wings + Thai red ruby + Coffee Bean Moroccan Mint Latte + ebi tempura + sweet & sour pork + spaghetti bolognaise + chicken teriyaki-don + Delifrance butter croissant + yong tau foo with tau3 kee1 + Lipton malt tea + papaya + matcha ice cream with azuki red beans + LJS fries + steamed white pomfret + miruku-flavour Qoo + Thai kway tiaw naam from e stall opposite Mee's old house along Paholyonthin Road + Campbell cream of chicken soup with Maggi noodles + rou4 wan2 porridge with you2 tiao2 + Yukimi Daifukuji mochi ice cream + gyoza + Lemongrass Thai honey chicken + potato sarada + plain porridge with braised peanuts & nothing else + Starbucks green tea frappucino + Thai coconut ice cream + honeydew sago + ikura sushi + Milo + Thai dried bony fish with sesame seeds (no idea what it's called) + garlic rice + California Pizza Kitchen peking duck pizza + matcha mousse cake + Hainanese chicken rice + coconut water + Thai desserts/snacks that I can't describe or name + + + all without chilli, ginger, pepper, spices, wasabi or coffee, & accompanied by naam plaa, McDonald's sweet & sour sauce, kicap manis & tomato ketchup.

amazed by e amount of food that I can somehow stuff into my brain yet cannot stuff into my stomach =P & just thinking of it makes me *happy* =)

[ filed under: labrat + catfood ]

February 24, 2005

bai tii kong

[160205] night of 8th day of CNY....sis & I got back from late dinner @ e Cheese Prata shop to help set this up:


bai4 tii1 kong is a Hokkien tradition I think, done around midnight on e 8th day of e Lunar New Year....on e right are 2 'stalks' of sugarcane complete with leaves & roots, significance is something to do with how e Hokkiens survived by hiding amongst sugarcane plants to escape from enemies (invading Mongols?)....? my mum has forgotten =P


these 3 big fat joss sticks gave off a very familiar smell when burnt....smelt exactly like e firewood + bamboo fire that burns in every traditional Akha house - e smell that I woke up to every cold morning on e women's side of e house long before daybreak, that enveloped me while stoking e fire & adding wood & bamboo to keep e flames going to steam e day's worth of rice to feed 8 humans, countless chickens & 5 dogs, & that totally permeated my sleeping bag & clothes =)


sis & I still wondering what's in those 3 packets (at bottom)....obviously weren't allowed to tear one open to take a peek before they met their fiery end....


[ filed under: 9_lives_2005 ]

February 23, 2005

two sides of two fences

two fences separate e two groups of foreigners. those on e south side of e fences are sometimes seen around mid-afternoon, when they come out for exercise. but only some of those on e north side of e fences are aware of them - those who happen to look out of their windows while working in e upper floors of e Biopolis (Genome, Matrix or Chromos) or MOE buildings. otherwise e 'southerners' remain unseen, unheard & unknown, hidden behind e white windowless walls of Portsdown prison while serving time for illegal entry or overstaying.

on e way to lunch today, two Prisons Service buses pulled up beside e aircon Biopolis shuttle bus at a red light, & for once e northerners & southerners got a close look at one another. e southerners were crammed in e red bus that had windows - they looked as if they were sitting on one another's laps. all were shaven bald & dressed in civillian clothes (probably what they were wearing when arrested, a colleague surmised). e light grey bus looked like e kind used by riot police, so couldn't make out e passengers (if any) in there.

& then e light turned green, & e northerners & southerners went their separate ways in their respective buses. e former to Holland Village for lunch, e latter towards e AYE, presumably on their way to e airport for repatriation.

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat + 9_lives_2005 ]

February 21, 2005

e four Brahma viharas

metta: love for others (rejoicing in others' happiness)

karuna: compassion (sympathy for others' unhappiness)

mutita: good will (wishing for others' happiness)

ubekka: equanimity (inner peace in all situations)

N.B. spelling might not be accurate as these are Pali words I think

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat ]

who are you?

quite a few have been traipsing in & out....

...mostly from NUS (all the 137.132.3.#s), Singapore Stock Exchange, Malaysia (all those Telekom Malaysia IPs), Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York (YYY is that you?), people using Starhub cable, etc.

what brings you here?

this is a straycat's dustbin, so after you lift up e lid & take a peek inside, do leave a comment on what you've seen in there + a fishbone or two =) 10-Q!!

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat ]


just what is e chemical composition of plasticine?

[ filed under: labrat + thewonderingstraycat ]

February 20, 2005

sec 408'95 10 years on =)



10 years later, 18 of e 41 of us met up for dinner + simple celebration of our class chairman's birthday....


auditors/accountants (~10)
doctors (5)
architects (2-3)
bio postgrads(2)
social workers (2)
chemical engineer/facilitator/teaching (1)
dentist (1)
electrical engineer (1)
litigation lawyer (1)
pharmacist (1)
rest mostly in econs/finance/banking/investment-related fields

amazed by e sheer proportion who have ended up in $-related fields (StanChart, Citibank, KPMG, PWC etc) =P to our dismay most of us seem to be working for e dark side, be it in ministries (MTI, MCYS, MOH), stat boards (HPB, HSA, IRAS, NUS, RP, URA etc) or GLCs (Temasek Holdings, SingTel, Jurong Consultants)....hope we will be be successful in infiltrating & changing things for e better ;)

408'95 was a '8-subject' class that had geog as our sole humanities. we may not be teeming with scholars like e other classes, but we enjoyed ourselves & helped one another a lot a lot =) though I still feel that most of e class was kinda mugger-ish (loosen up lah!!), & I know some classmates were aghast (& disgusted?) at how 'blatantly' Fangus & I slept our way through many (many many) lessons while sitting in e front row right behind teacher's desk =P

hope e legendary M Leong will be happy that almost 1/4 of her favourite bio class is in some bio-related field or other. 10 years on, am still remembered as e class bio rep whose duties included 'buying time' for e class to finish copying bio practical reports from one another, selecting e practical reports that seemed to have e correct answers to pass around for classmates to 'refer to' in their copying, finding 41 erythrina flowers & cockroaches for bio practicals, & hunting around e campus for M Leong whenever she forgot to come to class =P

at a time when many schools offered O level bio to only one class per cohort or not at all, almost every girl (out of ~480 per batch) did triple science. there were a few girls who even attempted e triple humanities combination, & many took 9 subjects. e school & principal were wonderful & supportive enough to let almost everyone take any subject they liked, even tying up with a different exam board in order to offer O level computer science. secondary school is too early a time to specialise, when you should still be exploring & dabbling in new stuff across both e arts & sciences, both within & outside e syllabus, in order to discover where your true passion/calling lies...& of course, enjoy bumming & playing & slacking when you can still afford to =)

in 1995, 6 A1s + 2 A2s would place you only in e top 25% of e school, below all e 7-11 straight A1s, whereas in my dad's school you would be setting a new record for academic achievement. these days that same results would place you within e top 40% (grade inflation? or just e power of TYS & teachers' question-spotting skills?)....e competition could be quite a humbling experience for girls who were used to topping their respective primary schools, only to enter this place & realise that they were now just another student....there will always be (many many) someone(s) way far (light years in fact) smarter/brighter/more talented than you are, so no more yah yah papaya =P hopefully this also helped to shut up some of those parents who love to compare results loudly especially during Chinese New Year visits *evil grin*

though it could be quite sad to watch those who 'lost their way' trying so hard to adapt, & resorted to 'unauthorised & uninvited reference to classmates' answers' during class tests & when completing assignments, becoming anorexic (recall classmates taking turns to ensure that one particular girl ate something in front of us at every recess; even if it was e only thing she would eat for e day, at least something better than nothing), suicidal, breaking down etc. & all those tears that I saw in those 4 years, especially when ~2/3 of our batch technically failed English before moderation (yeeaaaahhhh riiigghhttt....I still believe it was strict marking + killer paper, since 90+% of us ended up with A1s in e actual 'O's).

like Fangus says, life shouldn't be taken too seriously =) & I still strongly believe that 'doing nothing' is very important for mental well-being. but again if you have over-KS parents who drive you up e wall....glad that mine were boh chup even with all e '0/50's (no marks for writing name/index no./class/date nor any tong2 qing2 fen1 =P) I chalked up for Chinese mo4 xie3 (buay3 kii1 tik3, xia1 buay3 chuk3) & ting1 xie3 (tia1 boh2). not to mention my inability to figure out graphs or how to plot y=x until e beginning of sec 3 (well I was taught sec 1 Maths by a Music teacher who'd never taught Maths before, & sec 2 Maths by a ballerina who taught gymnastics for PE). or maybe after 6 years of primary school they were just so used to me scoring absolute zeros for Chinese or anything that involved memory-work....when we were introduced to e concept of 'absolute zero' (zero Kelvin/-273'C) in Physics, it was like 'yah I'm very familiar with that number' =P think e sheer amount of failing I 'achieved' taught me a lot alot about how to fail, which has been incredibly useful in science =))

learnt interesting stuff, met interesting people, got interested in lotsa new stuff (Chinese papercutting, Russian literature, javelin, modern China history, world cup rugby, architecture, computers, foreign languages, Thai alphabet etc), learnt to push limits & garner interesting reactions from conservatives - all on top of e silly O level syllabus that has long been consigned to e rubbish heap of my mind....those were 4 wonderful & intellectually-rewarding years in a really liberal & challenging environment =)

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat + 9_lives_2005 ]

February 12, 2005


A in Chiang Rai city in late Dec 2004:
phom sabai dii, tae mai sabai jai....

as he said this he thumped his chest to emphasise his point. & when I heard this, mutual sadness + sao jai + dismay + sense of shared resignation + tirng chii wit (something I kept hearing when watching e movie Satrii Lek aka. Iron Ladies I) + fatalistic attitude.

as my room mate had observed, up in e hills A was in his element, totally hyper + kii len, full of jokes & pranks & proud to show us his home & share with e city people e enormous amount he knew about Akha life & culture & survival in e wild. less than half an hour's ride away down in e lowlands, he was a quiet subdued hilltribe villager, illiterate & a fish out of water in a city full of newspapers & magazines, road signs, advertisement billboards & packaging labels, election campaign posters & flyers, internet cafes & bookstores. total role reversal - e city people had to read e restaurant menu for him. we are both e same age.

khaw mai sabai jai, chan kor meuan kan

another incident stuck in my mind: sitting at e back of a songthaew with A, with e rest wondering why he was so captivated by e vehicle that had stopped behind us at a traffic junction.

hen a lai?

krungthep (pointing to e vehicle licence plate that indicates e province it was registered in)


e capital of a country that he lives in & but doesn't want him, & e capital that his people cannot travel to unless they have e necessary documents needed to exit their province, which they cannot apply for unless they have citizenship, which they cannot get unless they can prove that they were born in e country, which they cannot prove unless their birth was registered, when most were born in remote villages high in e mountains, a long long trek from any government office....one of e first questions he'd asked us about Singapore was whether we could travel around freely or did we need permits to get from one end to another.

maybe this cut so deep because of all those 2-week social visit passes that I was given on return to Singapore, e foreign student no. that I had to live with & be identified by throughout kindergarten & primary school, e half-A4 size citizenship cert that had to be produced together with e alien birth cert, e pri 6 confusion over whether I should be given a NRIC, e big fat endorsement in my passport that allowed me to stay in Singapore only up till before my 22nd birthday, e endless trips to e old immigration at Empress Place, & e year that I couldn't travel out of Singapore - if I'd wanted to I'd have to apply for a student pass to continue with e rest of uni & get hold of a employment pass after I graduated if I wanted to stay on here with my family....but then unlike A, I am literate & earn more than 150 baht (~SGD6) a day & have income for more than a few months a year....but then again, like A, I am 'wanted' only if I am of economic value....


sabai jai, khao jai (enter heart = understand), jai yen (heart cool = calm), jai dam (heart black = mean), nae jai (sure heart = certain), tok jai (fall heart = shock), phor jai (enough heart = satisfied), wai jai (preserve heart = trust), khorp jai (thank heart = grateful), jai diaw (heart only = faithful), jai loy (heart float = absentminded), jai rawn (heart hot = impatient) & so many other jai....everything is about jai, which is just so Thai =)

realise that despite 2 semesters of standard Central Plains Thai + 3 weeks in Chiang Rai (jao instead of kha), tendency to lapse into Bangkok Thai is still there....'r' becoming 'l', vanishing 'l's, plaaw --> bao etc. childhood habits die hard, but might be useful in learning Laotian which I heard has some similarities to Bangkok Thai =P

in case I ever forget: e dai+verb (did/done) & verb+dai grammar (can or cannot do)!!!!

somehow this brings to mind watching countless shooting stars criss-crossing e constellations as they raced across e nightsky in Ban Apa, & explaining to Jamu our fascination for something so mundane to him - he can easily sit back after dinner every night & watch them rain down above his roof

thii Singkapor hen mai dai daaw tok phraw wa fai yeut


totally unrelated, record before I forget....

joking with someone at Borders on 2nd day of CNY:
"....it may not be idiot-proof but it proves that you are an idiot =P"

[ filed under: thai1 + chiangrai_2004 + thewonderingstraycat ]

February 10, 2005

another skirt in progress

long Thai silk skirts sold in Singapore are almost always e wraparound version made to fit big fat giant ang moh tourists....which means cutting off anywhere between 3.5-5.5" to shorten them (after leaving an extra 2" seam allowance) & adding lotsa darts. also have to 'close up' e skirt to form a tube & add hook & eye fasteners, so that it can be worn phaa sin style. all sewing done by hand - very therapeutic =)

easier way out is to buy e 'real thing' from non-touristy places in Thailand (e.g. Pahurat in Bangkok) or Laos - all made to fit non-giant locals & ready to wear....but like how often do I get to go there =|


[270205] completed:

[ filed under: 9_lives_2005 + thai1 ]

why whales have pimples....

people in my house clean their feet on this bathroom floormat ;)

[ filed under: 9_lives_2005 ]

February 09, 2005

little india

[080205] while e rest of e world was elbowing one another at Chinatown....

Little India NEL station - 2nd floor of Blk 662 Tekka Centre - plenty of salwar khamez shops - Serangoon Road - plenty of sari textile shops - Shubh Laxmi Textiles - Syed Alwi Road - Mustafa Centre - Serangoon Road - two toddy shops + plenty of costume jewellery shops + Sri Veeramakaliamman temple - Campbell Lane - Little India Arcade - Hasting Road - Clive Street - Dunlop Street - Jalan Besar - Syed Alwi Road - Jalan Sultan - Victoria Street

Sri Veeramakaliamman temple

why I love visiting temples (Thai/Burmese/Indian/Japanese/Chinese/etc)....

40 cents necklaces from Shubh Laxmi Textiles....

$1 type....

[ filed under: 9_lives_2005 ]

February 08, 2005

Fangus + MUI

[060205] met up with e 'seating/sitting partners'....

MUI & I spent our sec 107'92 time in e Jalan Kuala campus seated beside e window in a classroom that had no doors & some sort of wire mesh for windows. stray dogs wandered in & out in e middle of lessons, & bats lived in e rafters of e 4th floor classrooms of one block. e school compound had no fences. e postman would ride his scooter along e shortcut among e trees & grass, & e flashers who made their appearances (2 or 3 times?) & kena laughed at by e girls took e same route. when e school flooded after heavy rain (no wonder e area is called River Valley) e quadrangle would be instantly replaced by a pond & some girls crossed it 'orientation game-style' on two chairs to avoid getting their feet wet. behind our school was Kim Seng Technical, & more importantly, behind it was Zouk.

Fangus was a fellow Richardson house track & field mate trying to survive training under our dear house captain Kim. it all started with compulsory try-outs in e school field & at Farrer Park track. before we knew it we were selected to spend a lot of time together under e sun for e next 4 years. Fangus spent endless hours circling e track training for e 1500m. I had more variety in sec 1 hunting for lost discuses & javelins in e school field on top of long jump. e discus is impossible to find in waist-high lallang without a metal detector. was glad to be dropped after e final rounds of selection. javelins are easier to retrieve, but trainings clashed & a few attempts at shuttling between Queenstown track & school convinced e field captain to let me quit.

when we were not burning together on e track, Fangus & I spent upper sec sitting together in class. we took turns to sleep & take notes. many a times we found it more interesting to draw cartoons of our teachers than to take proper notes. at e end of e lesson we would compile our notes & discover where in e chapter our sleep rotation had gone out of sync & both of us were kooning at e same time *shucks*....in JC we ran together for S1 fac on sports days & again in uni for KE7 Hall IHG athletics.

Fangus is now enjoying fulfilling 6.5 day weeks as a MO. MUI is now back in Singapore after spending ~7 years in Germany preparing to slave away for e gahmen. incredible to meet with people who have known you inside out upside down for 13 years, & to talk & joke & laugh together just like we did 13 years ago =)

[ filed under: 9_lives_2005 + thewonderingstraycat ]

February 06, 2005

first music ever....

that I recall listening to was bagpipe music....!!

my mum had brought along cassette tapes from Glasgow when we moved back to Singapore. (actually e word 'back' doesn't apply to me since at that point in time I'd never been in Singapore before....)

two other songs that I listened to since before I could walk:

I Vow To Thee, My Country
I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love:
The love that asks no questions, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar, the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

And there's another country, I've heard of long ago
Most dear to them that loves her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King:
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering:
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.

Danny Boy (Londonderry Aire)
O Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side.
The summer's gone and all the roses falling;
It's you, it's you must go and I must bide.

But come ye back when summer's in the meadow,
Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow
I'll be there in sunshine or in shadow;
Oh Danny Boy, oh Danny Boy, I love you so

But when ye come, and all the flow'rs are dying
If I am dead, as dead I may well be.
Ye'll come and find the place where I am lying.
And kneel and say an Ave there for me.

And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me;
And all my grave will warmer, sweeter be.
For you will bend and tell me that you love:
And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me

former is a British patriotic song, where e first verse refers to those who died during WW1. came across it again when watching e 1995 Rugby World Cup when it was used as e anthem. apparently people have this song sung at funerals & weddings too. can listen to it here, though this isn't e best of renditions - sounds like it was sung by a bunch of rugby guys =P

e latter is Irish, & believed to refer to someone leaving for war & whom probably will not return before e 'singer' dies. came across it again when my secondary school choir sang it as part of their repertoire for some competition/performance, & later on in e soundtrack of e WW2 movie Paradise Road. also a 'favourite' at funerals. years later both of these songs appeared in Charlotte Church's first album.

[ filed under: music1 ]

February 05, 2005

e little straycat c.1980

why I am so used to sleeping on floors & tables =)

didn't know that baby pillow = new unused diaper....until I saw this photo that was taken sometime after I was brought back from Glasgow

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat ]

February 04, 2005

Hello Kitty war round 3

[300105] celebrating e man-maid's birthday @ Harbourfront Dragon Gate:

family portrait:


[ filed under: 9_lives_2005 ]

changi boardwalk

[300105] Changi boardwalk:

pseudo kelong:

bigfatwhale meets even bigger fatter rock:

Pulau Sekudu + Tanjung Chek Jawa from old Changi hospital rooftop:

[ filed under: 9_lives_2005 ]

new tenants

[250105] mum told me about e new family that has moved in. here are e two noisy kids....

& this is one of e parents....

[ filed under: nature1 ]

dim sum + Ah Balling peanut soup

[190105] SPS @ Chinatown before Kelken returned to Cornell

[ filed under: 9_lives_2005 ]

found dead on my way home

[170105] common wolf snake Lycodon capucinus? same as the one I picked up long ago in the SRC carpark one night after wushu. mum thought that it was beautiful & buried it e next day.

[ filed under: nature1 ]

ichiban boshi + esplanade

[160105] with Kelken & Shruti


[ filed under: 9_lives_2005 + cats1 ]

AWE team gathering

[090105] Akha Way Expedition team @ some Turkish restaurant in Shaw Towers:

[ filed under: 9_lives_2005 + chiangrai_2004 ]

Christmas in Chiang Rai

[251204] napping on e verandah of bungalow 2 @ Naga Hill, near Chiang Rai Rajabhat Uni. this cat came to look for me after I returned to Ban Du from a trip to e municipal market in Chiang Rai city on Christmas Day. now napping on my desktop as e wallpaper =)

[ filed under: chiangrai_2004 + cats1 ]

February 03, 2005

new dustbin for the little straycat

my angelfire page (contact me for url) shall be continued here....

approx 6+ years since it was first started in e days before Google, spam mail & blogs =)

all webpages & entries made between Nov 1998- Jan 2005 will remain at angelfire

[ filed under: 9_lives_2005 ]