Friday, June 25, 2010


It is everywhere.

It doesn't matter where you go. If there is a blank and reasonably smooth surface - an old shed, under the bridge, on garden seats - it is possible canvas for self-appointed graffiti artists. No real skill is required, as V pointed out, they all seem to follow a similar style. The graffiti usually consists of words in fat bubble letters, just as what we saw on the Mrt train graffiti. The repertoire of the graffiti artist might even extent to simple cartoon characters. Some sadly resorted to random squiggles of paint.

And thus, in the otherwise pristine environment of pastoral countryside, in the gleaming towns, a subculture of free-spirited self-expression insists on making its presence felt, or rather, seen.

Graffiti is so prevalent in Switzerland that I am beginning to wonder if the recent case of Mrt vandalism is reflection more of cultural differences than criminal intention. Maybe it is perfectly acceptable over there, and even blotches of spray paint are preferred to unadorned surfaces.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I am traumatised by the toilets in our rooms. Our dear host country have no qualms it seems, about doing its private business in highly open ways. The toilets in our rooms dont ever seem to be fully partitioned off! And the shower area is, gasp, a glass cylinder! And in one room, the cistern aka throne is simply part of the room. No doors, no walls. Only token glass panels. And I thought that only prisoners arent allowed privacy when they go to the toilet! I must say, the interior design really take the open concept toilet to new heights. What a dreadful avant garde idea.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


I am typing on a qwertz kezboard, not a qwerty one, so do pardon my typos if I make any. Besides, it is so freaking expensive to use the computer here that I am reallz in a dreadful hurrz, and have no time to proofread.

I can quite understand why people think that Switzerland tours are boring. We have been driving through long stretches of rolling fields, verdant mountains tipped with snow caps, delighted by accidental glimpses of old castles, and awakened by cow bells on grazing cattle. Then there are flower-covered cottages, overlooking vast pristine lakes, on which white swans float serenely. Every European fairytale I know comes alive in my mind. Sigh...endless loveliness can get monotonous, but never mind, I will try to get used to it.

Mount Titilis
We wheeled out our heavy armour to combat the snow. Goodness me! Can you imagine what it is like to live here? "Always winter and never Christmas!" (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe). The snow is so thick that it is soft and almost springy. We lasted a total of...1 minute in the outside - in 2 intervals of 30 seconds each. Actually, the down jackets worked quite well to block out the cold, but I was worried about losing my nose. It cost 100 francs to take 3 cable cars that brought us to this mountain top, the advertisment for the rides tout stunning "paranomic" views, but when I wasn`t covering my eyes in fear, all I could see was the blinding whiteness of snow, so hm...seems rather a pity huh.

It has been raining, and raining, and raining, except when the rain turns into snow. Tell me that I am not crazy, but the cold inspired/drove me to go on an wild jacket buying spree - a leather jacket, a fleece jacket, a pullover, and a down jacket. Arh!!! I am going to have to stop this insanity. But, I am still cold. All my lovely. summer outfits, which I lovingly prepared in Singapore are never going to see the light of day.

Ok, in a while, we are going for a cheese fondue dinner. The milk here is so rich that you can taste the butter in it. Looking forward.

Signing off, Interlaken.

Friday, June 18, 2010


It is summer but we have to bring along our down jackets just in case. The sun is up alright, but when the wind blows...

This morning we were unceremoniously awakened by a terrible alarm announcement: evacuate! there is an incident in the hotel. And it was repeated again in an assortment of European languages. Blearily, V and I gathered our passports and wallets, threw on something warm, and walked down the stairs of the hotel. As soon as we arrived, panting and slightly worried, a sheepish man in a suit came out to tell us that it was a computer mistake. Whatever that means.

That aside, we are really enjoying ourselves here. Everywhere in Switzerland seems to be covered with blooming flowers, our coach rolls through valleys where crystal clear water runs down in silver streams. It is like a fairytale landscape come to live.

We have just tasted the best sausage we have ever had - taut, crispy skin covering juicy meat. Then there was the soft home made ice-cream. And croissants! I have hoarded two more in my room, to be eaten with mild, chewy cheese. Nope, I don`t think we will grow fat, because there is so much walking to be done. We always seem to be heading uphill or downhill. Phew.

The only catch is, everything is dreadfully expensive. I am paying good francs for every precious minute to quickly blog here. Signing off now folks.

Zermatt, Switzerland.

Monday, June 07, 2010

V's entry: The women don't get it

The women don't get it!

Sunday Times came with a beautiful schedule of all the matches in World Cup this year. The World Cup is of course the stuff that dreams are made of, and upon which hopes are raised and realised or dashed - oh, the glory and excitement of football! How thoughtful of the newspapers to come up with such a handy way to keep track of who's winning and what new battles to expect each day!

Masterofboots however, had a very different idea of what the schedule is good for:

Lining for her hamsters' cage. She innocently said, "The paper is of such good quality I thought it would be perfect for holding animal litter."

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Of tithes and donations

Until the investigations are completed, I will not say anything about the allegations of money mismanagement in City Harvest. We will know the conclusions soon. Neither am I a member of the church.

I’m writing about the criticism of the church’s extravagances, such as the purchase of expensive audio/visual systems.

When an organization is classified as a charity, and is reported to receive donations, it is natural that people have certain expectations of the way it spends its money, even if all transactions are legitimate and above board. They examine the accounts of the church, and then ask, ‘why is this charity organization splurging?’ There are those who criticize pastors’ lifestyles because they collect ‘donations’ from their members, who might be even poorer than them. This is based on wrong understanding of what it means to give to the church.

I don’t see the tithe as donation, and hence to me, the Church isn’t an organization receiving my charity. It receives money from believers because we obey the injunction in the Bible to do so. Except for community services, I have never seen a church solicit donations from the public. While classified as a public organization, it is really also private group, with its own member list. We are free to worship where we choose, and give our tithes where we please. I dare say that those who stay in the church accept the way the church conducts its financial affairs, and if they do not, there are avenues within the church to raise their concerns.

Hence, the state-of-the-art sound system of City Harvest cannot be spoken of in the same way as the fabled gold tap in Durai’s office. It is a decision made by people who have agreed to move together as a group. They give money out of their free will, to maintain the functions of this group. If reflection is required on whether this is the best use of money, it could be done at the church’s AGM, which all members have the responsibility to attend. Basically, as long as there isn’t criminal breach of trust, no one else needs interfere.