The Birthday Project

Had an early birthday celebration for Pong’s birthday at Flock café yesterday; came home feeling so loved, and then started prepping for his birthday present (due in three days’ time) – the plan was to make a video for him using sketches. So I started researching a little bit into iMovie, Draw My Life videos and what not and heh, landed upon a gem, teaching how to use Mac’s basic apps to make a cool green-screen movie intro. And bingo! It gave me an idea for a really cool basic animated lyrics video.

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Funny how my brain always works under pressure when very close to deadlines – like now – getting Pong his present just three days before his actual birthday, heh. This is gonna be my weekend project – besides studying and giving five classes of tuition of course.

Will upload this by 15 Sept (Monday)! Stay tuned!


Grad in Monochrome

Heh. Finished a task that I thought I was gonna take weeks to complete. Managed to edit all of sis’s grad outdoor photos while watching Apple’s live stream of September event. A few of my picks in monochrome: DSC_7967 DSC_8017DSC_8064 DSC_7993 DSC_8096DSC_8028 DSC_7887

Photos’ location(s): Punggol Waterway – specifically Lorong Halus Wetland and Punggol Lalang Field

And not sure whether we were at the correct Lalang field of Punggol Waterway as described by many of the bloggers. Certainly, we were at the field next to the Sunrise bridge – just like what most blogs describe but the vegetation and the lalang in what would more accurately be described as a ‘bushy marsh’ was so dense and overgrown that it required some sort of rudimentary trekking skills and resistance to getting scratched while climbing up. But it was fun nonetheless.

And that wraps up what I did last weekend – helping sis take some outdoor shots for her grad.


Sissy’s grad photoshoot (and hiding in my own burrow)

Did graduation photoshoot for sissy today. These days, the only thing that brings immense joy to me is taking photos, sorting, editing, and uploading them. Learning how to do the “washed-out” film effect now – Mom and Pong are not fans of it though. Hmph.

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Here’s a preview from today; one of my favourite shots!

Probably gonna take the next few weeks to edit. Can’t wait for the final products – probably gonna have two sets of photos – film & non-film (?) Tell me what you guys think – washed out or non-washed out?

The coming month looks ominous but I’m on it!

Week 4: Evidence quiz
Week 6: Trade report
Week 7: Evidence presentation + evidence midterms
Week 8: Crazy assignments rush
Week 9: IP presentation + IP RP

Signing off from my burrow door now! Hopefully, I’ll get to blog in the midst of my craziness. Ha.


Beyond Beauty – Taiwan from Above

看见台湾 or Beyond Beauty: Taiwan from Above

- poster from Wikipedia

Gosh, this movie was so good – even though I slipped into sleep a little at some parts ‘cos I had been very tired out recently. Basically, it is a documentary on Taiwan, shot from above by a team of veterans in aerial photography. Through the unscripted and undirected sights and scenes of Taiwan seen from what one would call a bird’s eye view, combined with cinematic philharmonics, Taiwan came alive before my eyes, without the need for 3D. And the playlist has been on repeat since.

Narration is sparse – however, few words are required, as the visuals are already impactful enough to deliver the message intended. The message was nothing more than the clichéd message on climate change and our actions causing it; yet, the delivery was so impactful and something so close to my heart that I teared at a few of the scenes.

(On the contrary, Pong noted how beautiful the narration was despite its sparseness; well, I was reading the English subs, although I could tell the poetic ring the words had, I couldn’t make much out of the narration)

This summer holidays, I went to Taiwan for a backpacking trip for 22 days; fell in love with the mountains that it has to offer – Cinjing and Alishan are my topmost favourite tourist areas out of all the places I went to. During the movie, I was literally shocked to learn certain facts about Taiwan: Taiwan is sinking; Taiwan has been experiencing extreme rainfall and drought over the past decade; Taiwan has been suffering from landslides. These are facts not uncommon or unheard of to us; we all grew up in the Save the Earth generation. Yet, what is different in this movie is the proximity that it brings to its audience. It made the facts personal, at least to me. ln fact, through the bird’s eye view, we were shown the landslides occurring very below the Chushan* station. To think I witnessed my first high-altitude sunrise at Chushan, right when the land below me was sliding, just a few months ago! How ignorant we could be at times.

Indeed, Beyond Beauty was a buffet to the eyes – through its stunning visuals, coloured by its unearthly music.

After 93 minutes of visual feast, it was beer and light snacks with Pong for a quick one hour, and then going back to reality.

And perhaps it’s time to take some time to go ‘back to the earth’ too.

*Chushan station is probably the most well-known place to watch sunrise within the Alishan scenic area. When I was there, it was packed with tourists, even though it was during an off-peak rainy June period.

I’ve embedded the trailer below. Just watch the trailer and I promise you’ll be transported.


Back to school & birthdays at Concetto

Two weeks of final year have flown by so quickly; not that much has happened. Within the first week already, I felt too slack with 3.5 modules and ended up bidding for Economic Analysis of Law. The result: a total timetable clash with Pong. At this rate, if I’m very lucky, I’ll get to hang out with him max once a week and see his face two to three times a week when we deliver food that we dapao for each other in between classes. So far, I’ve only seen him once to run and once to hang out with him and his friends.

Oh wells. 2/16 weeks already down. Hopefully he’ll be more free after the guitar concert; so will I be after my tutees’ end of year exams in September.

Two combined birthday celebrations for Joan and SK today. Amusing how I got the date wrong for SK’s birthday! Thought it was on the 28 Aug (two days apart from Joan); turns out it was 6 days before on the 24th! And Sam’s is coming in five days. But good thing is that their birthdays are really close and early in the school term – hard to miss; even if you missed one of them, you could always combine and celebrate, kinda like today.


Happy birthday guys! :)

We went to Concetto by Saveur at the Cathay for lunch ‘cos they had Law & Reg in the morning. Went early to order their “birthday cakes” for them, so they were surprised when the candles came, or at least they pretended to be surprised!

Food was good. Despite SK and Sam’s scepticism, I’m still going strong in my resolve to eat ethically and go vegetarian. While SK and Joan had their lunch set meals and Sam her risotto, I had pumpkin fagottini.


 Set lunch starter – grilled octopus salad


Set lunch main – beef oyster blade


Pumpkin fagottini


Crab risotto


(Deconstructed) tiramisu


(Deconstructed) chocolate tart

The pumpkin fagottini was good but was abit too small I suppose – if not for the desserts, I wouldn’t have been full. The panna cotta that came with the set lunch (the ala carte panna cotta is slightly bigger) was pretty awesome (not pictured). The others felt the set meal was quite worth it and delicious too – can’t vouch for it though. But of course, the star of the show would be their desserts – we tried all three on the menu, and in order, I would rank first panna cotta then the chocolate tart, and then tiramisu. Tiramisu from Duxton’s Etna still steals my heart to date.

Spent a total of about ~$22/pax, which was not bad, considering we ordered two sides, four mains, and four desserts in total. The set lunches were really worth it at $20+ for a three-course meal and there was the SMU 10% discount too!

Final year. Kinda grew up with these people the whole uni life, since year 1 end/year 2 start. Sat at Concetto talking for four hours straight with them – teasing me for taking photos/my vegetarianism, Joan’s weak bladder, Sam’s vainness, SK’s pets and I don’t even know what else or how the topics just transited from one to the next.



Summer Reads – Cloud Atlas inter alia

Finished reading Cloud Atlas just a while ago – this book is quite a masterpiece, although it could get rather inaccessible at times because of the multitude of transformations that the English language itself goes through in the six different eras where the stories are set, but that is the genius of the book itself which alone deserves the recognition that the book has garnered. It was very much unlike the movie, for which I was only awake at the credit scenes to see how Halle Berry transformed from a white woman of the 1900s’ to a Prescient woman in a post-apocalyptic world with many silver chains attached on her head – the effects were one of the reasons why I wanted to read the book after watching the movie in a half-asleep state. In the book, there was probably a hint of only one character being reborn over and over again, symbolised by the recurrence of the birthmark – but the book had many scenes that could be parallel across all six lives, a major theme that recurred throughout the book. Besides the language, it was pure genius how Mitchell weaved one story to another and how they all connected in a perfect fit – no spoilers here, gotta read for yourself.

Throughout the book, I was poignantly in love with Robert Frobisher, despite his jackass tendencies; the fact that he was played by a British charm like Ben Whishaw in the movie made the character even more affable – couldn’t help but read all of Frobisher’s story in a British accent in my head. A young man with a heavy heart, intoned throughout all his letters; couldn’t help but feel poignant about it.

“An electrical thrill that, like Adrian, I know I am to die. Pride, that I shall see it through. Certainties. Strip back the beliefs pasted on by governesses, schools and states, you find indelible truth at one’s core. Rome’ll decline and fall again. Coratzar’ll sail again and, later, Ewing will too, Adrian’ll be blown to pieces again, you and I’ll sleep under Corscian stars again, I’ll come to Bruges again, fall in and out of love with Eva again, you’ll read this letter again, the Sun’ll grow cold again. Nietzsche’s gramophone record. When it ends, the Old One plays it again, for an eternity of eternities.

Time cannot permeate this sabbatical. We do not stay dead long. Once my Luger lets me go, my birth, my next time around, will be upon me in a heartbeat. In thirteen years from now we’ll meet again at Gresham, ten years later I’ll be back in this same room, holding this same gun, composing this same letter, my resolutions as perfect as my many-headed sextet. Such elegant certainties comfort me.”

“Scholars discern motions in history & formulate these motions into rules that govern the rises & falls of civilisations. My belief runs contrary, however. To wit: history admits no rules; only outcomes.

What precipitates outcomes? Vicious acts & virtuous acts.

What precipitates acts? Beliefs.

Belief is both prize & battlefield, within the mind & in the mind’s mirror, the world.”

“‘Another war is always coming, Robert. They are never properly extinguished. What sparks wars? The will to power, the backbone of human nature. The threat of violence, the fear of violence, or actual violence, is the instrument of this dreadful will. You can see the will to power in bedrooms, kitchens, factories, unions and the borders of states. Listen to this and remember it. The nation state is merely human nature inflated to monstrous proportions. QED, nations are entities whose laws are written by violence. Thus it ever was, so ever shall it be. War, Robert, is one of humanity’s two eternal companions.'” 


Also read another book similar in vein about eternal return, the theme so clearly resonated within Cloud Atlas – called the Unbearable Lightness of Being, a book gift from Pong last sem. In Unbearable Lightness of Being, the concept of eternal return was challenged through the characters’ debauchery and varying definitions of love. Didn’t much enjoy it though, probably because of excessive hedonism by a few of the main characters.

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Anyways, here’s in order of what I read this summer break.

1. A Lady’s Cyclist Guide to Kashgar – a mediocre book to be honest, the story was slow, with no proper climax; got it as a first ever book gift from Pong and he thought I would like it because I was still cycling back then; started reading since 2012 but only finished it this year.

2. The Unbearable Lightness of Being

3. The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared – a light funny black comedy that kept me turning the pages throughout to see what would happen in the end; the kind of book where just as you thought the story couldn’t get any more bizarre, it got even more so

4. Norwegian Wood – simple storyline, but loved the surrealism that translators of Murakami’s works could always bring out in the piece (except of course 1Q84, that damn book), theme of loneliness recurring throughout and maybe even considered suicidal (?)

5. The Help – funny but dark at times as there was some attempt to challenge racism and paint the reality of Civil Rights Movement; it pissed me off at times to see the reality of Southern racism back in the ’60s but the ending was unexpected, comical, and a tad bittersweet

6. The Lottery – a good cheerful break after the Norwegian Wood and the Help; got frustrated at the simple language though, but that added realism to it because the story was after all told by a mentally challenged 30 year old man

7. Cloud Atlas – masterpiece, period

8. Three of Harry Potter books – re-reads for the umpteenth time actually; refusing to finish Goblet of Fire, in denial of Voldemort’s return

9. Lord of the Flies – still in progress, been trying to read since secondary school and never finished it (for seven years already – been borrowing it every time, just to return it after getting 100 pages into it; it’s not even that long!); the lack of climax and proper dialogue hamper my progress greatly and simply put me off reading – shall finish it before this semester ends

Kinda finished 11 books in total this summer; hopefully I’ll get to read more, including these:

1. Museum of Innocence

2. The Book Thief

3. Ghostwritten

4. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

It’s been a long post. Gotta prep for classes next week now.


Coming full circle

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Gonna be a year long countdown from next week onwards – the start of something new for many, but a beginning of an end for me. Time in SMU has been well-spent I suppose; took me yesterday’s freshmen briefing to realise how far I had come. It feels just like yesterday I started out as a freshman, as clueless as they are, but here I am now, doling out advice to them. Three years had just zoomed by so quickly that I wonder how I could have survived so much. But we all did and we all will.

This year summer break passed by just as quickly as it came – I’m not yet ready for school: there are readings yet to be downloaded, cases yet to be read and highlighted, and I still have a few more pages to finish reading for a few of the books from my summer reading list. I seem to be in denial by not finishing those books, as if that would lengthen summer break any.

7.5 more units till graduation and more adventures await (I hope). It’s good to at least have jotted them down so that I would actually prep myself for them.

Before I know it, I reckon I’ll be back with a post titled “Graduated”?


Charsiew-licious at Keong Saik Fong Kee

Blissful day: morning run, fatty charsiew, long conversations with Yijun, surprise cake from Pong, fun vocabulary exercises, a (not) funny flick – the Guardians of the Galaxy, steak, Pong. All of my fave things in just one day. Blessed. DSC_7601 DSC_7592

Charsiew Rice


Duck Rice


For those who had asked me about this place, it’s called Fong Kee Coffee Shop, located along Keong Saik Road (nearest MRT station would be Outram Park). Each of the plate cost about $5 odd, strangely though when I went that day the char siew was rather fatty – I had to cut the fats off. Nonetheless, it’s still a good place to eat and chill. According to my friend Sam, they close when they finish selling for the day, so going before 3pm would be a safe bet.

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