May 28, 2006

7 things that I jumped into - 06

06. BL4103 Honours Field Course = essential module for Biology majors back in 2001. a week-long affair spending time outfield in a neighbouring country during e September one-week term break, right smack in e middle of e semester-long full-time thesis research project (what others term FYP). our seniors had been to Sarawak & Tioman. this year, we were going to Phuket....Thailand!! =))

bird prof, coral reef prof & spider prof were e main guys running e show together with e non-Iplet Tommy, e logistics brains behind many expeditions (he told little sunshine & e cat that he used to do such work in e SAF). biohons class was to split into groups of about 5 slaves each - butterfly (can chase butterflies with nets), fish (can at least snorkel, preferably able to dive), crustacean (can't recall how bird prof described it), plant (apparently 'easy' cos they cannot run away from you, but getting to them is another story....) & frog (have to work at night cos that's when they come out). & each group had to do:

day 1: nightly presentation
days 2-4: fieldwork & nightly presentations
day 5: final presentation
day 6: free day

after a lot of noise & stock market style hollering & waving of hands & negotiation between cliques, there were 5 or so names chalked under e names of every group (in those days chalkboards still existed)....except for frog group. no takers. who wants to work every night when you could be enjoying nightly R&R at Patong beach after e presentations?

until little sunshine & e cat decided to jump in together. even though e cat was technically a molecular person with only this monkey-chasing experience beyond BL1101 practicals. we just wanted to avoid all those politicky clique-ish stuff, & certain not-exactly-outdoorsy molecular classmates whom we felt would make us die of (sarcastic) laughter outfield (handle pickled crabs using surgical gloves PLUS metal tongs?! might as well use BSL2 PPE in e mangroves =P). & cat liked catching tadpoles as a kitten & removing lizards from screaming secondary school classmates. & going into e forest at night sounded interesting (too bad no tarsiers in Phuket) =) so, onz!

bird prof said that since there were only e 2 of us, we'd have to work harder, & e whole class roared =P but e next day when we met with e frog prince postgrad who would be our TA, there were 3 more classmates joining us - those who'd missed e briefing & were by default unceremoniously dumped into frog group! & they turned out to be e most wonderful group we could possibly ask for =)

BCL (cat's thesis supervisor) was quite tickled by e fact that e department required his honours lab-slave to spend an entire week away from benchwork on entirely non-biochemical/molecular pursuits. but he was nice enough not to pile on e 'finish these 100001 things before you can leave', especially when there was stuff to prepare pre-departure =)

for e rest on this trip, refer to upcoming Phuket 2001 posts....

some other things that e cat jumped into:

7 things that I jumped into - 01
7 things that I jumped into - 02
7 things that I jumped into - 03
7 things that I jumped into - 04
7 things that I jumped into - 05 (not written yet)
7 things that I jumped into - 07 (not written yet)

[ filed under: 7_things_i_jumped_into + nature1 + phuket_2001 ]

RE: [250406] post

for those who followed e link on e 250406 post: the end

that morning in 1991, e little cat felt relieved that Ah Fang had been freed. there was this strange calm & peace in e heart =) though it took many adults a long time to grasp this....but e little cat was long used to not being understood by adults anyway.

Ah Fang couldn't even move nor speak & it was all over in less than 5 months. she didn't have e chance to make many beautiful memories. am glad that xiaodoudou did =)

[ filed under: thewonderingstraycat ]

May 24, 2006

may 06 - part 3

[110506] essential brew @ holland V with SPS kids - soonpei, aidah e former Ip-let, arnis+silat guy, shrutik, e one known to seniors as e dancer, gf of 'brain cramps' guy, LKY's wife & a la ric....nice baby potatoes rosted with rosemary & garlic =) can't recall when/where e cat was first fed this....

agenda for e night was to get LKY's wife drunk before their customary wedding, hence e trip to HV Cold Storage for vodka & cranberry juice & e rush to get to shrutik's place - in CCK (??!! so e cat had to give it a miss....) - & no time to try any of e green tea desserts that e cat had been so looking forward to =| NEXT TIME!!

[120506] to find out more about this architect:

yoshimura junzo

somehow e setting of this house brings to mind Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater....

e purple bird that fell out of e tree above e phone booth along East Coast Road:


tropical hanami @ East Coast Road:


double yellow lines are like neverending equal signs....

from Kuan's HK trip - 10-Q =)


food republic @ Wisma with e 2 Ks....great paad3 thai1 from Waan Waan (lit. sweet sweet) Thai Restaurant....bus ride with 2 ang moh ladies & 1 ill-fated handbag-loving green SAM for fiction@love....suntec Carl's Jnr....suntec royce....candy empire @ millenia walk....azabu sabo @ marina sq, where e machine for making hokkaido soft ice cream was out of order = no matcha milkshake!! cats are not fated to have matcha desserts this weekend....talked about moving out to stay 2 years' time? cat has lived in SPS with one of e Ks before....

[170506] to celebrate good news today:

Jimmy Liao's 《遗失了一只猫》 Missing My Cat & 《微笑的鱼》 A Fish With A Smile from Kinokuniya =)


more Jimmy Liao: 《地下铁》 Sound of Colours & 《向左走.向右走》
Turn Left Turn Right from library@orchard. both inspired movies of e same names, but e cat obviously has not watched either of them.

Jimmy's books are inspired by Wislawa Szymborska's poetry, & his illustrations are beautiful =))


Peoples of e Golden Triangle from library@orchard - one of research team's references for a.w.e. 2004 expedition, & probably one of e most comprehensive on hilltribes in that area. one day when e cat is feeling really rich it will get its own copy of this super-ex (>2000 baht!!) book from one of e Asia Books stores in Bangkok, or King Power duty free in Don Muang (or Suvarnabhumi?) airport. & maybe even a copy of Jim Goodman's Akha: Guardians of e Forest....

it was a wonderfully surreal feeling flipping through with e Ban Apa villagers a 'kena Queensway-ed' copy of Guardians of e Forest - what is probably e most detailed documentation of their own tribe's culture. e English text made no sense, but e pictures spoke directly to them. they were pointing excitedly at photos of Akha from other parts of Thailand, China, Laos & Burma & passing remarks about e similarities & differences in e details of their costumes, accessories, jewellery, tools, religious items/symbols, ceremonies, houses, etc. very much like flipping through a hilltribe fashion & lifestyle magazine to keep abreast of e 'trends' that their distant relatives in other parts of e world have evolved....

& to landless people whom no government wants to have anything to do with, who have repeatedly uprooted themselves for survival, who have been ridiculed for being backward & behind time, whose younger generations feel ashamed of their origins, to see a book written on them by someone who actually respects their culture & cumulative wisdom....we do mean something to people out there?

think e 2 pirated copies of Guardians of e Forest were e most meaningful things that e research team brought on e expedition =)


matcha monaka from Isetan Lido basement supermarket

a very happy day =))

[190506] for those who are bored of e usual white & pink:

black, red & yellow toilet paper

circular kitchen reminds e cat of e circular coin-operated public loo in San Francisco =P - some interesting ideas....cats just love looking at good design =)

was reminded today that ~2 years ago, e year when all of us from 96 batch were celebrating our quarter century birthdays, a call from MWN received while in e microscope room of e old building confirmed that it was indeed that schoolmate whose plane had crashed into e mountainside. & e cat was a little how pages/calls like that don't seem to freak it out....has stuff like that happened too many times? wonder if there is such a thing as being 'too calm', & if so, is that necessarily a negative thing?

[ filed under: 9_lives_2006 + chiangrai_2004 + catfood + art1 ]

May 21, 2006

chiangrai 2005 - 04 municipal market

[ almost all photos in this post by YK ]

[121205] just about every Thai provincial capital seems to stick to this default clock-tower-in-middle-of-roundabout-beside-municipal-market format:


& by default too there will be an unofficial songthaew terminus somewhere around e market. here e market sprawls an entire block to e left, & songthaews park somewhere further down e street past e white building. local markets are interesting places to explore, & they can tell you a lot about local lifestyle & cuisine =)

bucketful of crabs for sale in e wet section of e market:


doing e biologist thing:


there were stalls selling live fish & frogs & some animal species dried/chopped up beyond recognition, fruits, dried seafood, cooked food, bamboo rice (which we tried - nice!), fresh flowers, dried herbs, bark & roots of unknown plants, etc.

e dry section, with clothes, shoes, toiletries, basketware, household items, crockery & cutlery, altar offerings, wellington boots & gloves, etc:


in this section you can even find e whole range of e different types of knives & machetes used for cutting firewood, chopping tree trunks, splitting bamboo, slicing banana trunks (to make pig feed), chopping meat & bones, cutting vegetables & fruits, carving wood, etc....essential for many many aspects of hilltribe life. every Akha house we stepped into during last year's expedition had a whole set of about 5, with blades of different lengths, shapes & curvatures to suit their purpose. our host family kept their set on e wall directly behind e main door on e men's side of e house (traditional Akha houses are partitioned into e men's & women's halves). many a times e cat found itself facing them as it ate dinner on e floor nearby =P when going into e fields & forests (or even just trekking with e expedition team), both e men & women will carry a knife along in a woven bamboo cover with a string to sling it across e shoulder or tie it to e waist.

e section of Thanon Uttarakit outside e municipal market & Wat Mung Mueang is where villagers from e countryside come to spread their wares on e pavements, selling mainly vegetables & fruits.

Akha women unloading their produce at e corner of Thanon Trai Rat & Thanon Uttarakit (left) & setting up stalls (right):


at this corner is a shop that sells Akha handicrafts as well as e seeds, beads, silver ornaments, old silver coins, cowrie shells, buttons & other bits & pieces that Akha women buy to use in making their elaborate costumes & handicrafts. one can still check out Akha handicrafts at this shop (& also at e PDA hilltribe museum shop along Thanon Thanalai) when e night bazaar is closed during e day.

checkered headscarf, blue 'work jacket', heavy duty woven bamboo basket with headstrap, ability to carry enormous loads, shoulder bag, petrol containers recycled as water bottles - it isn't too hard to spot hardworking Akha women here:


onions, cabbages, potatoes, gingers, garlic cloves, water chestnuts, limes, chillies, groundnuts, yams, turnips, oranges, etc for sale:



Wat Mung Mueang (left) & whiskey boxes recycled as hats (right)....100 Pipers seems to be a popular brand here.

lunched at one of e ubiquitous noodle shops, e first of e many many kway2 teow2/ba4 mii3 muu2/neua2 sup2/haeng4 (flat rice flour noodles/thin yellow egg noodles pork/beef soup/dry) meals on this of e cheapest (max 25 baht/SGD 1, lowest price encountered was 10 baht) & safest (everything is boiled & ingredients are all familiar & predictable) options especially in rural areas, where it may be e only thing available.

back in Baan Bua Guesthouse, all packed up & ready to leave for Phu Chi Fah:


our spotlessly clean 300 baht/night double room with fan, hot water shower & bath towels provided. you can pay extra for use of e air con but who needs that in e cold season ;)

[ filed under: thewandering straycat + chiangrai_2005 + thai1 ]

chiangrai 2005 - 03 Chiangrai - Wat Klang Wiang

[121205] on our morning walk to e municipal market in Chiangrai night, e night bazaar area comes to life, but it is otherwise a quiet sleepy town very much like any other small Thai provincial capital, just that it happens to have more than its fair share of tour buses zooming by on their way to Mae Sai at e Burmese border, & Sop Ruak in e Golden Triangle.

[ photo credit: 1, 2, 4, 6 by YK ]

[1] Baan Bua & other guesthouses, tour companies, laundromats, Thai conversation schools, & bars & restaurants catering to backpackers are concentrated along Thanon Jet Yot

[2] along Thanon Jet Yot

[3] watching e world go by while soaking up e morning sunshine

[4] beautifully painted shutters of a wooden handicraft shop at e corner of Thanon Jet Yot & Thanon Pahonyonthin

[5 & 6] all is quiet at e Chiangrai Provincial Livestock Office, e bird flu surveillance centre for this province....once they start looking busy, it is time to get out!

[ photo credit: 2-6 by YK ]

[1] e beautiful Wat Jet Yot (temple of seven jet spires yot)

[2] trekking tour company along Thanon Jet Yot

[3] T-shirt printing shop next door that lays out freshly-printed shirts on any available horizontal surface (including e pavement) to dry

[4] โคมหูกระต่าย khom1 hu2 gra3 tai3 lanterns, leftover from e last Loy Krathong/Yi Peng celebrations? e 'tails' of e lanterns are called rabbit's (gratai) ears (hu)

[5] one of e 3 Top Charoen Optical outlets in e small city (more like a town) that we walked past - yet we hardly saw anyone wearing glasses

[6] even this has made its way into this farflung corner of Thailand


[ photo credit: 1-5 by YK ]

[1] blue songthaew turning at e junction of Thanon Pahonyonthin & Thanon Prasopsuk, where restaurants (Swensens, pizza places, Italian restaurants, etc) & shops (Boots, Adidas, Puma, etc) catering mainly to tourists have sprouted up

[2] da Vinci pizzeria, where we had a great pasta dinner with a free flow of warm bread fresh from their oven with wonderful dips for just 200 baht (~SGD8) per person. YK's choice of e smoked salmon pizza when we returned on another night was great =)

[3] e night bazaar in daytime, when all e stalls have vanished without a trace

[4] e concrete shophouses that make up most of e urban areas across Bangkok they rise up to 5 storeys, usually with a fenced up open rooftop area for plants & sunning laundry.

[5] Adidas mannequin supervising e drying of banana leaves

[6] bookstore at e corner of Thanon Banphaprakan & Thanon Rattanakhet, one of e landmarks that e cat uses to find its way around this city

stumbled upon Wat Klang Wiang at e corner of Thanon Rattankhet & Thanon Uttarakit:


e beautiful chedi:


cat love profile of Thai temple roofs:


this is a Thai Phuan(?) handicraft - there is a shop in Bangkok's Chatuchak that sells them as decorations:


coloured threads are tightly wound around a crucifix-shaped wooden 'frame':


Wat Klang Wiang has beautiful intricate wood carvings painted gold everywhere:

PC120056 PC120042

gold lacquered windows - e design on e left & right panes are mirror images of each other:


on to e market....

[ filed under: thewandering straycat + chiangrai_2005 + thai1 ]

May 20, 2006

may 06 - part 2

[060506] In A Land Before Time by Sun Yu-li @ Arts House lawn:


at night, e 'fish' sculpture comes alive with blue lighting from within, such that e fish look at you with blue eyes as they swim on a glowing blue wave =)

floor art:


e palm tree that will never sway in e wind:



Singapore Gaga by Tan Pin Pin:


e 'uncle-aunty-xiaodi-xiaomei gen1 wo3 mai3 ti-ssue pa-per hao3 dollar' song | madrasah's sports day at a stadium, with cheering similar to that at any other government school's sports day save for e difference in language | Margaret Leng Tan's performance of 4"33' at a HDB void (null & void? devoid of what?) deck | Victor Khoo & Charlie | e familiar voices behind e 厦语新闻 (news in Hokkien), 潮语新闻 (news in Teochew), 粤语新闻 (news in Cantonese), 客语新闻 (news in Hakka), 琼语新闻 (news in Hainanese) & news in Hockchew on FM95.8 that e cat's dad sometimes listens to in e evenings | e voice behind e MRT announcements in English, who mentioned how her RGS principal insisted on girls speaking perfect Queen's English *LOL* some things about RGS principals NEVER change =P | Yew Hong Chow & Alex Abisheganaden on e harmonica vs recorder as e instrument of choice for music lessons in Singaopore schools, & Alex demonstrating e 'screeching' problem many many Singaporeans have had when trying to hit e low C on e recorder in their primary school days |

yawningbread's review of Singapore Gaga

Woffles Wu was in e audience, & e cat finally realised who he reminds it of everytime it sees his photo in newspapers & magazines - e super nice A/P Pan Shen Quan who taught e BL3000 module (host-pathogen interaction) that e blur freshman cat stumbled through with help from 2 poly grads (who says JC students are better?), & who was one of e cat's two examiners for its non-TDSC/SP2174 UROPS project =P


to e airport see e baby off to UK....finally got to sit down for a proper meet-e-parents session, albeit missing e man-maid who had to aeroplane baby just as she was about to fly off herself *LOL* whale papa, tuition teacher & cat mama sat across e table from baby & baby-in-law - maciam interview/interrogation panel ;)

on e way home after dinner @ airport T1 Ajisen ramen, lightning flashed across e skies - not a good omen for e election results? ;) later that night had to rely on whale MSN messages, CNA online & noise from neighbours for updates on e results. when e whole neighbourhood yelled & cheered a la world cup finals, e cat thought that e results for its constituency had been announced....turns out that they were cheering for CST's victory in Potong Pasir *grin*

[070506] they took away e sun & e moon from e cat's window & left it with this view of a big fat 'human tank' (as opposed to fish tank) in e making:


[110506] from e Netherlands, courtesy of Bert van Geest of Lambert Instruments who flew in for e FRET workshop - so yummy everything was eaten before it could be photographed ;)


[ filed under: 9_lives_2006 + art1 ]