Monday, December 04, 2006

Special Day

yesterday was a big day for our family, and everyone relevant turned up punctually .

mum celebrated her birthday early, so we get to feast on KFC, pizza and curry chicken. *yummy* there was so much food left over that i could dine on it today. still taste good :)

before the pig-out started, daddy announced the good news- Mum had just accepted Christ, on the very day. well, it wasn't exactly a great surprise to us anymore, because she had been attending church quite regularly with us for the past few months. was quite a moment. truly, God moves mountains quietly when we are not looking.

after the feast was a good time of bonding for everyone. the fat one wanted to play indian poker, but the rest of us were content to let our brains rest after the strenuous meal, so it was good old black jack. no thinking needed :P

Saturday, November 04, 2006


my dear friends,

masterofboots IS BACK!!!

i really want to thank everyone for your encouraging messages and prayers. the messages are still in my hp, and i read them before i went into THE PLACE :)

the greatest challenge of lasik is purely psychological actually. i mean, there is never any real pain because of all the anaesthetic drops. but, it takes incredible will power to obey the instructions. i mean, instructions like: 'i am going to draw on your eyeball with a pen and you musn't blink' :P *help*

then, i realise how perverse humans can be. the more you are told not to do something, the more you can't help doing it. really! the doctor kept saying 'look at the red light, don't look right or left.' and guess what, i had a terrible, terrible urge to move my eye ball.

but it's all over quite fast, and BeDi was waiting outside the laser suite :) and i am walking around with my new magic eyes. they still feel strange and sore now. and funniest of all, i kept wanting to 'take out my contact lenses', before remembering that i am not even wearing any! considering that i have worn spectacles for almost 20 years, this really MAGIC - the magic of technology. hahaha GP students can put this in their essays.

ok, shouldn't be on the computer, considering that i only had my eyes fixed yesterday :P dont' want to ruin my magic eyes.

Monday, October 16, 2006

time capsule

the cast of the tempest reunited once again because prospero got married. and at the wedding, we decided to open our 10-year time capsule. it is such a strange feeling looking at something that we, in our foolish youth and naivete, wrote. it was really quite a moment, especially when...the groom found out that he did not actually contribute to the time capsule :P i, the keeper of the holy grail, could have just died, died, died, from the sheer embarassment. but at least, other members of the table got back what they wrote.

it is quite something remembering the hopes and dreams and fears that we recorded in the time capsule, standing at quite crucial crossroads of our life then. still, i suppose we were really naive then. i somehow imagined that the decisions that i made about university etc would direct the rest of my life, not quite realising that so many other things could happen in life, and what is one turning?

i was amused to see that me at 18 years old wrote about the situation in the balkans and the middle east, and attempted to predict what would happen ten years later. some things have changed greatly, and others have remained the same...what is 10 years in the development of history?

it was rather sad to see that some of the people who contributed to the time capsule have long been lost to our group of friends. well, 10 years is a long time and i do count myself lucky that i am still friends with so many of the cast of the Tempest :)

there are a few unclaimed notes: ann, des, ailin, yucky, and some mysterious person who wrote in chinese. please contact me to get your scroll back :)

Saturday, July 08, 2006


funny thing, this globalisation phenomenon. these few days i really experienced what thomas friedman described as 'the flat world' syndrome and i am quite ambivalent about it.

nowadays there is just nothing new to buy anymore when you travel. everything is available everywhere, anytime. shopping overseas just became less of a big deal. i saw some japanese snacks in cute packaging in tokyo, and decided to buy them for my students because i thought they were unusual. last week, i saw the same products in..BISHAN NTUC. i am very sad. actually, this isn't the first time it has happened. (jen, remember the tinned smoked oysters in sydney?) this means that before i go anywhere in the world, i should go and tour the supermarkets in singapore first :P

the denizens of the north pole have commented that the clothes i bought from Harajuku look like they can be found in This Fashion. i got really cross with them, the truth can be too honest. but it also means that i might as well buy things from This Fashion and pretend that they are from japan. or maybe i should try shopping in tibet instead. i heard that they just got a new train service.

Yesterday a few members of the cast of the Tempest met up for yet another farewell dinner to see yucky off to work in Hong Kong. the funny thing is, after a while, it is easy to lose track of where that fella is. the other day he called me and announced that he is BACK, and my first question was...from? did i even notice that he was gone in the first place?

after all, he comes back so very often, from all strange corners of the world. in fact, he said that he would be returning to singapore every fortnight or every month. i might end up seeing him more often than i see other friends.

funny thing, this globalisation business, that makes Hong Kong look like next door.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Ginza and Tsujiki

i am
hungry and dinner is waiting, but nihon no tomo is sleeping :( that's why i am blogging again.
only one size is allowed in japan - M.

if you are bigger than M, daijibu desu yo
, you can just buy slimming products. there are many many in japan. if you are smaller, i don't know what you can do. the shops don't seem to stock any other sizes at all. so if you are of the wrong size, it's really just TOO BAD.

besides, there simply isn't enough space for people to grow fat, really. nihon no tomo' s toilet is so small that if i were to put on weight, i can't even turn myself around in the space! Tokyo is just too crowded.

i finally found a bank to cash my travellers cheque. the service there took very very long, though there was no queue. but they served us tea and sweets, gave me a very pretty floral envelop to put my money in, and bowed us out with a flurry of farewells. so, you leave feeling pretty good anyway :)

Tsukuji fish market is really interesting. i had the biggest, fattest and yummiest scallop i have ever tasted in my life. on the other hand, sea urchin tastes like raw crab roe :P

with my pathetic map reading skills, i somehow navigated to Ginza anyway. i bought a really really pretty bag in Ginza, shopping belt for the rich. very pleased :) by then the money from my cheque is all blown, so, the only place left to go is...home. its time to assess my loot and damage :P

tomorrow, nihon no tomo and i have to commit a crime - we are going to have to throw away our rubbish secretly, cos i generated just too much rubbish in these few days, and it costs too much to throw away so much rubbish. never ever complain in singapore again.

Harajuku, shibuya

Anime meets Gothic!

Despite my poverty stricken state, i still went to Harajuku. after all, it's what i came to japan for! (apart from seeing nihon no tomo) it was really as weird and wonderful as i thought. young people dressed up as anime characters, adams family, samurai, whatever. i took some pictures of them, but actually, they were so intimating that i hardly dare to ask them for permission.

wandering in omotesando hills makes me wonder where all the rich people come from. i am only a poor kyoshi! the things were so expensive that nihon no tomo and i could only stand and gawk at people making elaborate desserts, and wonder how much that would cost. saw a miniature eiffel tower made of chocolate!

after shibuya, we were so tired that we could barely drag ourselves home. i think it was fighting the shopping crowd in harajuku that really killed us. i insisted on cooking dinner at home, so, instead of resting when we got back, we started washing rice, chopping onions, frying fish. i learnt to make miso was a very late dinner. too wilful of me :P poor nihon no tomo :P

after days of research here, i have compiled a list of fashion tips for guys back home. who says that guys don't have to dress up? this is how you can look jap-idol cool:

1. get a koizumi haircut - long and flowing
2. wear funky glasses - thick and colourful rims
3. always wear more than one shirt - dress in layers
4. wear hats/ caps
5. eat more mcDonalds so that you can grow taller :P

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Matsuda and Machida

All trainlines lead to Shinjuku

minasan, ohayo gozaimasu

nihon no tomo made me go to the english lesson for japanese, at the english centre. it was interesting, i must say. the lesson was energetic and the students were most attentive. i enjoyed myself, until the chapel time, which was in japanese. i was bored to tears. it was impossible to pretend to be interested when i don't understand a single word. everyone was nodding at me encouragingly, and i could only smile weakly and wonder when it would all end.

and that is why, it's sunday, and i am here blogging, instead of going to church :P can i imagine myself in the same position, a missionary alone in Nippon?well, i can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

cultural rules can be so unpredictable, it's impossible not to do anything wrong. for example, you shouldn't:

1. cross your legs on the trains
2. eat or drink while walking
3. wear sleeveless clothes until everyone agrees that it is summer

i did all of the above :P but since i am gaikoku jin, i just have to ignore all the disapproving or curious looks.

i spent all my yen already and it's only the third day. tried to cash my travellers cheque, but guess what, mine was in sterling pounds, and here they take only american dollar cheques. this shows that UK is no longer a great world power :P sigh! living off the generosity of nihon no tomo now. hopefully banks in Ginza are more international. help! i still want to shop in harajuku later.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Not Lost

Not Lost

it was raaaaining the whoooole day! :(

i wanted to go to Asakusa, but nearly went to Akasaka instead - see the difference? my dear nihon no tomo gave me such long instructions that i forgot the most important information. it must have been my guardian angels again, cos somehow, i managed to wend my way through the maze of train lines and finally reached Asakusa anyway. actually, i am impressed by myself. i have to say here on the record that i didn't lost my way at all today, and the japanese train/densha/subway system is MORE complicated that London's subway.

i wandered around the quaint little lanes in Asakusa and it was raining. i went into a little shop for lunch, came out, and it was still raining. i was the ONLY customer in the little ramen shop, and nobody, nobody talked at all when i was there. it was a most uncomfortable situation. i didn't linger.

then i went to Ueno, and explored the park and surrounding area. i paid ¥420 to enter the museum, not cos i am interested, but just to get out of the rain. i am sorry to say that the museum was awfully boring and unimaginative. but i liked Ameyoko cos its lively and bustling. interesting to see people hawking seafood that is so fresh that it is almost alive.

singaporeans shouldn't complain. nihon no tomo's flat has bedrooms that are the size of storerooms. and the trains...even if i don't hold on to anything while standing, i can't fall down cos there is no space. i emerged feeling crushed and weak. so, if you think you know what rush hour is...

Japan morning

ohayo! it is a cool and rainy morning in tokyo. my breakfast is waiting for me, and i am blogging instead ;P

nihon no tomo explained the very complex japanese transport to me. i sure hope that i would be able to navigate my way around. there are so many kinds of trains! and everything is in kanji...

as expected, i take ages to say anything is japanese, and so, i am thoroughly intimidated, even though everyone has been very sympathetic and kind. i got unto the wrong coach, and they were trying to explain to me, and all i could say was, 'i dont understand!'

anyway, everything from the airport to the coach runs like a clockwork. i am truly impressed.

now, i am going off to explore the Asakusa.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


it is election time.

seeing my old comrades in the news gives me mixed feelings. it's remarkable to see how far people can diverge from a common point. i have returned to the road most travelled, but they have gone on to real politics.

when we were members of the democr*t*c s*cialist club, we were almost like the youth of the french revolution, davids against the goliath. never mind that we made such little impact. it was an exciting experience mingling with the politicians (and dissidents).

i am going to have to say sorry to SL and co, but i have really quite changed my mind. political freedom and choice? i don't think so.

problem is, i get tired of hearing people complain about the Government. it's always easy to nitpick and point out the 101 faults of the Party. some of the criticism is even, quite valid. but we cannot deny that looking at the whole picture, singapore has been remarkably well run. yet, it has become fashionable to be cynical, to bleat about the lack of freedom, and to mock the establishment. what is new? teenagers do that too.

how do people treat the vote? not by giving it to the most deserving candidate, but often, using it as a protest vote. people want to see opposition in the parliament because ours now is safe and boring. do we prefer to see taiwanese martial arts in the parliament? obviously not, but the vote goes to the opposition anyway, because we are assured of our stability. it's almost like a game. so much for democracy.

this probably comes as a surprise to those who knew me during the heady days of political activism. it looks like idealism has died in me somewhere, sometime. i once thought political freedom is important, now, it seems very much that responsibilty is more so.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

World Peace

i am a busy person, mind you, but in the interest of world peace, i shall have to go and offer my vetting services to the White House.

Reading the report on Hu Jintao's visit to the States makes me really ti xiao jie fei - i don't know whether to laugh or cry.

i cannot believe that the americans cannot even get the official name of china right, and end up insulting the country mortally by calling it the 'republic of china', which is, unfortunately, taiwan. somebody obviously has not done his homework. maybe everyone is just too busy and important to notice a minor detail like that.

or maybe this is a sad reflection of the country's education system.

at any rate, i think there is great promise for a second career for me.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Via Dolorosa

being an usher in church makes it very hard to be holy on sunday mornings.

ushers are given instructions to lead the congregation members to sit in the right places, like filling up the front rows first. i never understand why this is such a difficult task to do. early birds like to sit in the back rows. some like to sit near te exits. a few like the reserved seats best. basically, people sit everywhere and anywhere they want, except where they are supposed to. days like that, i wish i had a whip to gently persuade my dear brothers and sisters in christ to do the right thing.

i have only tried to influence an insignificant action, and already find it extraordinarily hard. can we imagine how difficult it is to be God, and to have patience with a perverse and wilful people? and to care not only about the actions but also the heart. one might as well try to control the direction of sand slipping through your fingers.

the hardest part is not trying to control people. it's guiding people with gentleness. if God tames us with whips and blasts of lightning, i should think that obedience wouldn't be very much of a problem. yet, to quote CS Lewis, he does not coerce, he only woos. and the stripes of the whip are on His own back. it is good friday tomorrow. it is time to remember that we are the ones responsible for the broken body on the cross, because of God's love for an undeserving people. that is truly,

Amazing grace.

Monday, April 10, 2006

the Tempest

sometimes there is only a fine line between friend and foe.

Life scattered the cast of the Tempest 1996 around the world, but yesterday, we reunited for a sunday lunch. even the long lost King Alonso made a rare appearance. prospero and prince ferdinand came too. it was quite an occasion, and i liked the food at Imperial Banquet, though the other airy fairy didn't.

and it looks like we have decided that yucky is one of us, after all.

so it struck me that friendship is very strange. we have had a decade of bickering and fights, which involve flying objects - like shoes, pens, fried fish and squashed lemons. i remember scenes of angry fairies yelling at the obnoxious director. but every time yucky returns to singapore, he would call me, and sometimes, he is even rather nice.

he is going to off to HK to work, so, as usual, we tried to browbeat him to pick up the tab, but failed, as usual too. never mind, he said that he would buy us dinner if we go to HK. hahaha, the lawyer is really careless this time. he should know the danger of giving blank cheques. i am going to check out the most expensive restaurants on The Peak. but to be nice, i'll pay for the tram tickets up :P

sometimes there is only a fine line between friend and foe.

Monday, January 16, 2006


In many forms that require personal information, there is frequently a blank that is labelled, 'religion'. I inevitably fill in 'Protestant Christian'. Why is there a need for such precision? In fact, many may ask, where are there in the first place so many different denominations in Christianity? Why are there Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, evangelicals, Calvinists, Lutherans, and Pentecostals? I have only given a very small section of the list that goes on. If there are so many different denominations, which one has the correct interpretation of the Bible? In a religion that preaches love and unity, why are there such great differences?

Then one day, I discovered Plato, and it looks like the great man hit the nail on the head on this matter. I am really a novice in philosophy, so, bear with my uncertain grasp of these ideas. And if you are not convinced, remember that to reject Christianity because of my poor writing commits the straw man fallacy.

Plato believed that everything in this world changes over time and space, like by aging, or dying. This world of material is thus mutable and transient. Everything erodes eventually.

However, everything in this world is made after a mould, which is perfect and never changes. This mould is eternal. For it to remain unchanging eternally, it cannot be made of material, or substance, because all substance disintegrates eventually. Even diamonds. It is an 'idea', a pattern, it is spiritual.

This mould, nobody has ever seen. But subconsciously, we know that this mould exists. Take, for example, the horse. Every horse we see is different - in size, colour, shape, even temperament. But behind these different characteristics, we see the essence of a horse, or the 'idea horse', which enables us to recognise the physical horse as such. Plato thus concluded that behind this material world which erodes over time, there exists a 'world of ideas', one which is perfect, unchanging and eternal.

By now, the comparison with Christianity, with its many forms, should be obvious.

Just as the 'idea horse' exists, there exists a perfect 'idea of Christianity'. It is the true embodiment of the Kingdom of God, the body of Christ. It is truly life as God wishes it to be for us.

Yet, this is never seen in the world we live in. In fact, I hate to have to admit this but Christians frequently fall too far short of the 'idea Christianity'. At times, we are so far that we are practically unrecognisable from true Christianity. This results in the great diversity, or if I may be so honest, division, in our religion.

This is because just as material horses are corrupted by the environment, the Christianity that is manifested in us is always tainted by the corruption of the flesh. Churches divide because of human sin and human error. Very often, new denominations are set up because of disagreement, because the founders each believed that his own idea of God is the accurate and correct one.

But this does not mean that the 'idea' of Christianity, the unchanging and eternal Kingdom of God does not exist. It is merely obscured at this moment, in this space. To put it bluntly, the Christ that is seen in us is as if viewed through funny mirrors that give distorted reflections.

Such a reading of the many denominations is not intended to discredit them as false, merely, imperfect. Indeed, some have strayed so far from the 'idea Christianity' as to be regarded as cults. Yet, many retain the 'essence' of Christianity, differing only in matters of preference. This is perhaps, inevitable, because of the imperfect world we live in.

When will we see this 'idea Christianity'? Not in the natural world, with the sins of the flesh and the temptations of the evil one. But when all that is material fades away, only the eternal remains.

Having said it all, I have to acknowledge the source of these ideas - CS Lewis, whose Chronicles of Narnia sparked off my fascination with Plato. highly recommended reading for all.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

the end

it is without any sense of loss that i told DX that i won't be going for skating lessons anymore.

after years of rushing for skating lessons, doing off-ice conditioning, hyperventilating during competitions, and hanging out with other skaters,

i have finally called it a day.

DX was disappointed, but some things cannot be helped. i am grateful to God that the end is easier than i thought. i feel no regret, only relief. there are so many other things that are important in life, and this skater girl has to grow up and move on.

it is like, the end of a very, very long summer vacation, a mid-summer night's dream. but dreamers awake eventually.

it's a pity i never conquered the axel.