July 28, 2005

haikingu! =)

since 2001 e cat has been dreaming of hiking in e northwest of Kyoto to see this: http://wadaphoto.jp/japan/images/hozu14l.jpg [Hozu-gawa]

& in e north to see this: http://wadaphoto.jp/japan/images/ohara00l.jpg [Sanzen-in]

& a lot lot more =)

maybe should make this dream come true this November?

can just imagine e reaction of some of e A.W.E.! people if e cat says that it wants to go T-R-E-K-K-I-N-G again *grin*

[ filed under: thewanderingstraycat + kyoto_2005 + japanese1 ]

July 15, 2005


if you wish to help kidney patients, KDF

if you wish to help cancer patients, Singapore Cancer Society

if you wish to help children with chronic illnesses, Club Rainbow


if you wish to help people with chronic illnesses regardless of race, religion & background, Ren Ci Hospital & Medicare Centre

if you wish to help children, Singapore Children's Society

if you wish to help animals, SPCA

if you wish to help cats but not dogs, Cat Welfare Society ;)

if you wish to help dogs but not cats, Action for Singapore Dogs =P

....plus countless other VWOs out there that have been doing their good work quietly, many of which have been starved of funds especially after e slew of NKF shows + tsunami relief appeal that soaked up plenty of corporate donations.

if you have no idea who you wish to help, give to e elderly, e disabled & e animals, since they seem to be treated as invisible by many, particularly those who suffer from this disability (heart too small?) that renders them unable to value anything except human beings who are economically productive.

e cat believes in giving to causes close to its heart, & e cat's monthly donations go to Ren Ci & e Children's Society because of certain things e cat has seen & experienced in this life. even though e cat thinks that charity shows can be silly, but at least Ven Shi does something - have you ever seen D|u|r|a|i perform stunts on TV? ;) plus this: scroll to e bottom. e onus is on you as a donor to demand to know how exactly your $$ is put to use.

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat ]

July 13, 2005

magic of maps.google.com

maps.google.com is brilliant!

location of e cat's house ~26 years ago:

culvain2 satellite

kinda near Iceland & Greenland =P

in e northern Glaswegian suburb of Bearsden:

culvain2 culvain satellite

so beautiful & green =)

Culvain Avenue:


26 years from now, highly doubt that I can still locate anything familiar in Singapore? sense of belonging isn't something that can be located using maps & satellite images ;)


Central Catchment Reserve, Singapore:

central catchment reserve

zoom in, & e parts that have been scarred by golf courses (marked by '?' in red) become glaringly obvious. looks as if something sharp was used to scratch off e greenery:

central catchment reserve

east coast of Singapore (E = Eunos Industrial Estate? arrow = where Jalan Eunos meets PIE? R = Bedok Reservoir? J = Bedok Jetty?), with ships in e Eastern Anchorage & yet another golf course:

marine parade


on a whim, tried hunting for familiar spots, & managed to find e cuspate delta that was spotted while skirting e northern coastline of Borneo on a Senai - Kota Kinabalu Air Asia flight:

cuspate delta

think it is e delta of Sungei Baram (B), with Miri (M) on e left of e river & Brunei somewhere on e right?

one of e easiest features to locate - Gunung Kinabalu with e deep cleft of Low's Gully (L) separating e Western & Eastern summit plateaux (spelling?):


Tanjung Chek Jawa + part of Pulau Tekong:

chek jawa + tekong

Mae Yao subdistrict on e northern bank of e Kok river (T - now why did I type 'T' instead of 'K'? thinking of Tha Ton which is upriver?):

mae yao

route to Naga Hill:

roadtonagahill CRU road

tree-lined road leading to Chiang Rai Rajabhat University (CRU) campus on right. 1 = bus/songthaew stop where I watched traffic cops cracking down on motorcyclists without crash helmets, before encountering that songthaew driver who kept asking if I had a saamii or fen (husband or boyfriend), 2 = bus/songthaew stop on other side of overhead bridge along e Asia Superhighway where green songthaews heading into Chieng Rai city pass by, 3 = shops selling food & university uniforms, & their version of Queensway Ultra Supplies for 'replicating books' ;) N = Naga Hill resort.

maps.google.com continues to amaze....Naga Hill resort:


C = shed where cows are kept, P = pond, B = bungalows hidden beneath plenty of trees, S = swimming pool, R = restaurant, arrow = direction to look out from e restaurant towards Mae Yao for a view of e hills & mountains

back in Chieng Rai city center:


W = Wat Jet Yod....building on left of 'W' is e monks' quarters, on top of e 'W' is e 7-spired (Jet Yod) chedi (white) & main hall with e Buddha image (orange roof) & big fat bodhi tree. K & J = Korean & Japanese restaurants, S = Thai silk shop, M = Chinese medicine hall that had plenty of interesting herbs & plant parts, 7-11s = where I fed my green tea milk addiction, H = Wang Come Hotel?, B = Chieng Rai bus station, N = Chieng Rai night bazaar =)

[ filed under: nature1 ]

July 10, 2005

red poppies

bought e Jan 2000 issue of Design Graphics years ago (probably from Australia during e Dec 1999 Tasmania/Victoria trip), & one small piece captured more than its fair share of my attention. a collage of images entitled 'War', it features photos of e digital artist's great grandfather (taken during WW1) & grandfather (taken during WW2) in military uniforms, overlaid on a backdrop of a vast golden field of what looks like wheat, & with blurred large red poppies superimposed on top.

man never learns, & history repeats itself once e generation that remembers passes on?

learnt (possibly throught my first encounter with e 'Poppy Appeal'?) that in e Allied nations, red poppies are e symbol of 'e sacrifice of shed blood' & 'those who have given their lives for e peace & freedom of others'. it is e flower of remembrance worn on Armistice Day, e anniversary of e official end of WW1 on 'e eleventh hour of e eleventh day of e eleventh month' on 11 Nov 1918, with e signing of e armistice between e Allies & e Germans & e end of hostilities on e Western Front.

from e Australian War Memorial website:

during the First World War, red poppies were seen to be among e first living plants that sprouted from e devastation of e battlefields of northern France & Belgium. Soldiers' folklore had it that e poppies were vivid red from having been nurtured in ground drenched with e blood of their comrades. e sight of e poppies on e battlefield at Ypres in 1915 moved Lt Col John McCrae to write e poem In Flanders Fields:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
- John McCrae

today (10th of July) is National Commemoration Day in e UK, where there will be an airdrop of a million red poppies in London.


so charmed by this map showing e location of e Sea Turtle Research Unit in e KUSTEM (University College of Science & Technology Malaysia) campus in Kuala Terengganu, where one of e landmarks is 'Trees with chirping birds'....brings to mind e busy little olive-back sunbird seen in e little shrub near e B1 lifts of Blk S5, e chatty bulbuls that hop around e old IMCB & LT30, & e shy pink-necked green pigeon (Treron vernans)spotted in e bauhinia tree behind Blk MD1 in NUS =)

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat + nature1 ]

rainbow + chlorine cat with prune paws

on e way to e bus stop:




almost a complete semi-circle when first spotted, like a magical halo above e clouds, but by e time I ran home to get my camera & then out again, just this bit was left. how much more beautiful can e sky get? no aurora borealis or aurora australis in e tropics, so rainbows will do =)

big fat heavy rain after that, which got rid of e crowds at e swimming complex for a while & gave e cat e chance to share a lane in e competition pool. miss undergrad days when it was possible to swim during off-peak hours in between lectures & have a whole lane all to myself. 1km of soaking later, cat paws had turned into prunes.

boh liao fact: e cat can still turn somersaults in e pool ;) something learnt ~20 years ago from my kors =P

[ filed under: nature1 + 9_lives_2005 ]

July 07, 2005

first funeral organised

....was a 白头送黑头 (lit. white haired sending off e black haired) affair.

one afternoon approx 5 years ago in e SPS room, answered a page & received cryptic instructions from relative A to 代表 (represent) A's family & get my butt down to e 'TTSH NNI ICU ASAP' (four acronyms in a row!).


earlier on, relative B had called relative A inform her that relative C had been sent to hospital after 'something happened'.

no one had any idea if C was still alive, but C's fate seemed to be of least importance....what fish!?!!

everyone's main concern: who was going to take care of C's wheelchair-bound 80+ year old mother? (no prizes for guessing that there were no takers). C was a typical filial daughter devote entire life & remain single to care for aged parent case. both lived alone in a spartan 2-room flat - their only asset. C hardly went out except to work as a clerk (I think) for something like $500-800 a month, until she lost her job. but they still managed to get by with unstinting financial help from A & her husband.

everyone seemed to be afraid that being e first to show up at TTSH would be conveniently interpreted by everyone else as volunteering to settle C's affairs i.e. take care of C's mother.

A felt that I was e 'safest' representative as I was a 'neutral party' & no one would dream of asking me (still considered a kid) to 养 C's mother. & when e 'coast was clear' (i.e. other relatives were already there) I was to contact A & her husband, & then they would appear, but not as e first to arrive.

wah lau eh....*pick up eyeballs before they roll away out of my reach*


e waiting area outside e NNI ICU isn't e most cheerful of places - if am not wrong most of e people who end up in that unit never make it out alive, & some are already brain dead when they first enter. scanned e place but no familiar faces. didn't help that I see those relatives at most once in a few Chinese New Years - e most direct link between them & me had passed away when my parents were still in secondary school & I was about minus 18-19 years old.

asked at e nurses' station if they could tell me where C was. by e way, that was e first time I got to know C's name. had to write it down as A spelt it out over e phone so that my memory wouldn't screw things up. before that, C was only known as e adopted daughter of one of e estranged wives (later found out that it was wife #2) of a granduncle. till this day, have no idea if this particular granduncle is my grandfather's brother or cousin, due to e practice of addressing all cousins from e same generation as siblings.

a nurse showed me to a glass-walled cubicle just across from e nurses' station & as we entered, she said, 'by e way you know she's already brain dead right?'....well excuse me, but in fact I don't! maybe I look like I'm used to watching people slip away day in day out, or e nurse somehow knew that I first learnt to handle such stuff in primary five, I don't know. but if this is her style of 'breaking e news', e poor lady's gonna kena plenty of wrath from patients' relatives! anyway C looked so serene lying there as if she were just asleep, if not for e fact that she was intubated.

found some other relatives keeping C's mother company in e waiting area. did as I was supposed to & contacted A. couldn't be a better time for my reinforcement (also ordered there by A) to arrive, in e form of D who was majoring in social work. once all were gathered, it was decided that almost everything would be left to e most neutral parties (i.e. D & me) to handle. A said, 'go & learn now, then next time you know how to do for us'....


- explain brain death in mix of English, Chinese & Teochew to e relatives
- who then helped us with e cheem-er Teochew part of explaining brain death to C's mother
- watch & listen as best as we could to ensure no undue pressure/distortion of facts/efforts to influence e old lady's decision
- meet & confirm facts with organ donation coordinator who was waiting to talk to us
- explain organ donation in e same mix of languages to e relatives
- convey to e coordinator C's mother's decision not to have anything donated
- get relatives to bring C's mother back to C's side & help her up from her wheelchair for one last look at her daughter
- ensure no rush & that C's mother had had her time for a proper farewell
- help medical staff get consent for removal of artificial life support
- wait for doctors on duty to certify death
- while doing so meet with Singapore Casket representative to settle funeral arrangements
- decide on funeral package
- rush downstairs to A&E police post to make a police report of e 'loss' of C's NRIC
- which was needed in order to obtain C's death cert ASAP, as her NRIC was nowhere to be found
- so that Singapore Casket would be able to collect C from e morgue later that evening
- so that their embalmers could get C's body ready in time for her funeral e next day (Christmas Eve if I recall correctly)
- so that e whole affair wouldn't drag over e Christmas public holiday *SUPER DUH* (but by now, D & I were already desensitised to insensitivity)
- collect & summarise details (government vs. private, quality of care, length of waiting list etc) on various nursing home options for C's mother


felt that C's mother already knew in her heart that C was long gone, & that e grieving process had already started even before e moment I met her that day.

D & I were a little disappointed with e decision against organ donation - we are e type that believe in 'recycling' & donating anything that can be donated, or even sky burial (return yourself as input into e ecosystem), since everything is gonna be burnt (air pollution) anyway.

but we also believe in respecting e immediate family's decision. e old lady said that C already had so little in life (C was unwanted because she was born a girl, adopted by childless wife #2 as 'insurance for old age' when wife #3 came along, abandoned by her adoptive father, never married nor had her own kids - an incomplete life in e eyes of e older generation, lost her job, & now died a sudden death), she didn't want anything else taken away from her. at that point in time & space (a very important phrase!), D & I could not forsee any likelihood of a change of mind even if e family was given any more time to deliberate. anyway organ donation is something that ought to be thought about & decided upon when one is still living & healthy, long before anything happens.

e curtains in e cubicle were drawn & e life support was turned off after e relatives & C's mother had left e e ICU for e last time. A, her husband, D & I remained at e nurses' station just outside e cubicle as we felt that it would be really sad for C to leave e world all alone (for some reason we weren't allowed to stay by her side). seemed like no one else except us paid any attention when e alarm went off, though once e cardiac monitor flat-lined, a nurse went in to put an end to e beeping, much like how one would turn off a ringing alarm clock so that it wouldn't bother others.

C's mother wanted e simplest funeral for C as it was a 白头送黑头 affair, 'violating e laws of Nature' that e old should make way for e young & not e other way round. e cheapest package in e Singapore Casket catalog was $800 + 4% GST (prevailing rate) = $832. A was somewhat horrified to hear e undertaker describe e coffin in that package as a 'simple wooden one' - in her mind she was picturing something sturdier but no more aesthetic than a cardboard box.

A & her husband offered to foot e entire bill for e funeral regardless of e cost, but C's mother still insisted on e cheapest arrangement. had this feeling that this would be one of e last decisions C's mother would be allowed to make, & that she herself was already aware that she was going to be at e mercy of others from now on. e relatives decided to add $50-80 (can't recall) for a large bouquet of flowers to place on e coffin so that it wouldn't look so bare - probably e only flowers C would ever receive in her life, & then only at e end of it. e undertaker would collect C from e morgue later in e day, embalm her, deliver her straight to Mount Vernon at e time slot they had booked for her cremation, provide pallbearers + hearse, & collect her ashes & scatter them in e sea since no one was going to claim them.

but wait. e undertaker needed e death cert, but to get a death cert to be issued C's NRIC had to be produced, & earlier in e day relatives & paramedics had searched in vain for it in e flat. e police told us that given our circumstances (e only person who knows where it is kept has died) we could report e loss of C's NRIC, & so a police report was made (learnt to do this in secondary one). with all e 'paperwork' out of e way, C's mother was brought back to her flat to pick out clothes & shoes for C to be dressed in & belongings to be placed in her coffin.


e smallest funeral I've ever seen took place e next day, with approx 15 people in attendance excluding e pallbearers & undertaker. A's fears proved unfounded as e 'simple wooden' coffin turned out to be one of dark brown varnished wood with silver coloured metal handles. e mortician(s) had done a really wonderful job, which made everyone feel a little better. it was e first time I'd ever seen C dressed in bright colours & made up.

it was also e simplest funeral I've ever seen, no wake, 白金, rites, prayers, chanting, eulogy, offerings, incense, large furry blankets, black/navy blue velvet banners, illegal mahjong tables, nothing. just transferring e coffin from e hearse into e hall, & e few of us filing by for a last look & helping C's mother up so that she could see C's face one final time, & then e coffin was shut & shoved into e furnace. & that was it.

only thing D & I overlooked were e ang pows for e undertaker, hearse driver & pallbearers. but B & some older relatives had it all prepared, knowing that D & I were still at e age where you only need to think about receiving them.

Christmas e following day was kinda weird, spent discussing & evaluating nursing home options for C's mother while e rest of e world was out celebrating & partying. hope D & I don't have to do this again.


sometime later when visiting C's mother one CNY, she told D & me to study hard, because we are girls(!! complete opposite from e 'why waste $ on university?' stuff we've been hearing from others), so that we would not end up like her. said that she is living proof that marriage & having kids are not failsafe options, & girls must be educated so that they can work & earn their own keep & feed e kids & have their own savings:

- when husbands dump them for other women
- when husbands kena retrenched/long term illness/paralysed/death in an accident
- when ex-husbands default on alimony payments
- when kids die unexpectedly/abandon them/can't earn enough to survive
- etc

all e real life stuff that too few people think about seriously enough, or brush aside as 'won't happen to me one lah'.

come think of it, know least two examples of each....

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat ]

July 03, 2005

i want sparky

....e Starhub dog.

I want to bring him along on bus rides so that he can help me swallow up any mobile phone that isn't answered within 5 rings, that rings non-stop with a silly obiang ringtone at top volume, or that belongs to one of those inconsiderate idiots who have to test out every single ringtone in their phone at maximum volume five times in a row.

e Esplanade, Victoria Theatre, Golden Village, Shaw & Eng Wah cineplexes could also consider hiring him to swallow up any mobile phone that isn't turned off during a performance/screening ;)

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat ]


Wince Tam
Fashion Walk (Alteration)
150 Orchard Road
#02-60 Orchard Plaza
S 238841
Tel: 67364975
Mon-Fri: 10-8, Thu & Sat: 10-6, Sun & PH: closed

to get to her tiny little shop you'll have to go up to e second floor & walk right to e back of Orchard Plaza through corridors lined by China ladies calling out, 'Massage, sir?' to any guy that passes by.

according to e sis, this HK lady came over to Singapore with her husband & decided to set up this little clothes alteration business to keep herself occupied. her work is really professional (prices start from $4) & we send her whatever complicated alterations e cat can't do nicely on its own by hand/paw sewing (no sewing machine & time), & also e sis & mum's stuff that are too expensive to risk e cat's handiwork =P

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat ]

銀杏 + 藤 + 楓 + 桜

plants that make me want to go back to Japan:


銀杏 ginkgo

Ginkgo biloba aka. ginkgo 銀杏 (silver apricot) aka. i-cho イチョウ....supposedly from Chinese ya1 jiao3 鴨脚 (duck foot) - presumably referring to e shape of e leaves?


noticed some uniquely-shaped leaves scattered on e deserted temple grounds of Asakusa Kannon-ji in Tokyo, but didn't bother much about them. until I kept coming across more & more of them & saw that they were fan-shaped with a notch in e middle, & looked up at e towering trees above. & realised that they were beautiful ginkgo trees, standing quietly as e first golden rays of e late spring sun reached out through e cold morning air.

forgetful cat didn't pick any of e fallen leaves as a souvenir =| probably too preoccupied playing with a Japanese counterpart (e super good-natured fat ginger & white temple cat) & too overwhelmed by e crowds of tourists that surged into e place from 9.00am onwards.

also walked down e ginkgo tree-lined Omotesando on my Meiji-jingu-Harajuku-Aoyama-Shibuya walk, but it wasn't autumn so I missed out on seeing this:


if anyone goes to Japan or North China in autumn, bring me back some ginkgo leaves? like how Ray gave me maple leaves from Canada as a souvenir =)


藤 wisteria

Wisteria floribunda Macrobotrys (forgotten if this part of e scientific name of a plant should/should not be italicised along with e genus & specific epithet?) aka. toh aka. fuji, also part of some Japanese surnames e.g. Itoh, Katoh, Sato, Fujiwara, etc.


saw it on e grounds of a few of e temples & gardens that I visited in Tokyo & Nikko, usually draped from a wooden pergola. soft purple sprays of tiny flowers hanging languidly - a perfect counterpoint for e starkness & austerity of e white/black/dark brown/chalk green/stone grey temple structures with their rigid lines & perfectionist arcs, manicured shrubs & painstakingly raked gravel beds.



Acer genus aka. kaede (from kaeru 'frog' & te 'hand', referring to e shape of e leaf) aka. momiji

one day would like to explore e Kameoka area northwest of Kyoto in autumn when e forests explode in a riot of reds, golds & yellows - hike up to Atago-san & down to e Hozu-kawa & maybe even find a way to explore e villages of Mizuo, Shikibigahara & Koshihata?


桜 sakura

exams for last semester of honours year ended only in e first week of May 2002, which meant that hanami in Japan would long be over by e time I got there. but when e frozen cat ended up waiting at a bus stop one chilly morning along e shores of Chuzenji-ko for a connecting bus to Yumoto Onsen, noticed that e ground beneath some trees with beautiful silver bark was covered by drifts of tiny pale pink petals....& true enough, they were cherry blossom trees in flower =))

even higher up in e mountains at Yumoto Onsen, found plenty of cherry blossom trees by e shored of Yu-no-ko still in full flower at e start of e Yumoto-Senjogahara-Ryuzunotaki hike:


think it was because of e higher altitude & cooler weather that e cherry blossoms here were still in bloom, when in Tokyo e gardens were already all bursting with azaleas. so happy =))

http://www.nikko-jp.org/english/index.html eh how come this website didn't exist at e time I was planning my trip? had to rely on photostated pages of Lonely Planet's Hiking in Japan.

[ filed under: thewanderingstraycat + nature1 + japanese1 + kyoto_2005 + tokyo_2002 ]

July 01, 2005


[300605] this morning, there was a big fat black thing with a little bit of white next to e new fishbowl....with two unmistakable pointy ears:


e sun was already up, but like any self-respecting cat, it was sleeping in =)

it heard us & got up & headed towards e car....& then stiffened, with fur standing on end - took a peep under e car & true enough, there was another cat there.

theory 1: black & white was curled up next to e fishbowl to prevent other cats from having a go at its breakfast

theory 2: black & white had had no luck catching any of e fish, but didn't want to let other cats have a chance at trying - 我不想让你抓得到我抓不到的

Indonesian maid said something like 'kuching sama orang Singapura' (if I didn't hear her wrongly) in response to theory 2, taking a dig at a certain neighbour ;)

leaving after chasing e other cat away:


I come & go as I like. I can sleep over in any house that I can climb into, & I have my choice of staircases, kopitiams, terrace houses, semi-Ds & big fat bungalows. unlike e poor human vagrants I won't get picked up by MCYS officers & sent to a government home & lose my freedom if I sleep at bus shelters, void decks or public parks. humans pay through their noses to buy me cars so that I can shelter from rain, snuggle up to e warmth of e engine on cold days & choose from different brands of tyres e one I like best as a scratching post. in carparks, thoughtful humans keep replacing e cars with cold engines with freshly heated up ones so that I may keep warm. I pay no ERP or road tax to travel around using e extensive network of longkangs that PUB & PWD have built & maintain for me. my dream is to live at Costa Sands or Downtown East where I can enjoy e unlimited supply of BBQ-ed food that humans spend hours cooking for me & e free-flow of drinks from e swimming pool *bliss*


when e sky didn't seem big enough to squeeze in all e big fat clouds:


[ filed under: cats1 + thewonderingstraycat + nature1 ]