Archive for February, 2005

2004 Rewind

February 13, 2005

Vessels

Ello!!! Xin Nian Quai Le! I’m back after a 3mth hiatus – been meaning to blog but been busy downloading songs into my ipod and trying to visit the gym during my spare time.

The year 2004…
I was meant to write a reflection entry for last year which never materialised so here’s a recall of the highs….

Housewarming

1) Our shift to Chinatown – which has been absolutely great – we love inner city living – funan/bugis is only 5min from our crib; having a bigger space is a good thing – we’ve had lots of visitors stream our way.

2) The gym membership – though it doesn’t really show (er hem er hem) I really enjoy night swimming in the resort-like ambience of Fitness First@Capitol Tower…. and the steam room!!

3) The 2 apples of my life – my ibook and ipod – I seriously don’t know what I’d do without my faithful companions. Ilife is the best – iphoto is terrific for sorting out all my digipics & for reminiscing via iphoto, and itunes – is equally great for storing/sorting all my fave songs. The ipod is such an amazing gizmo – I mean I’m now listening to tracks I’ve not heard in a decade!

4) Lastly my travels – 2004 was a fruitful year and mainly Asia-based. Changmai, Tioman, Redang, Batam, Ho Chi Minh, Shanghai and Home (Perth).

1. Changmai (Thailand)

Changmai_food

Changmai’s shopping was ok – Bangkok is heaps better.. But I enjoyed the cooking session at The Thai Chocolate factory where we cooked around 7 Thai dishes for only S$35 – we made Pad Thai noodles, fish fritters, green curry and mango rice dessert – the ingredients all provided and extremely fresh.

Changmai_spa

Another highlight was the 2.5hr Spa experience @ Oasis spa @ only S$75 – it was my first experience of Spa indulgence and it was pure decadence! The Thais are so gentle and apply the oils like a form of Art. The ambience was 6 star – teracotta walls, dim lighting, soothing music, fresh towels, comfy beds and fresh petals in terocatta vessels – I’ve yet to experience any Spa as good as the Oasis Spai!!

2. Tioman (Malaysia)

Tioman

Our annual mecca – never fails. Nav & I thoroughly enjoyed the simple island life at Salang – it’s so quaint, rural and peaceful – it’s so cheap and a stone’s throw away from Singapore. I’m craving it now!!!!!!

3. Redang (Malaysia)

Redang

Checked it out with my snorkelling pal Tini during the National Day break. The Lagauna Resort is quite plush and is located on the beach – but somehow both of us preferred Tioman – probably cos the distance is twice as far as Tioman 10hrs in total. Still – it boasts gorgeous irridescent waters and snowy white sands.

4. Batam (Indonesia)

Another crazy ‘spur of the moment’ Tini/Ag act, during the September break. We caught a ferry out (1 hr journey) to Batam via the ferry terminal at Sentosa. We went to visit her relatives at a small island off Batam ‘Puala Belakang’ as well as Batam itself. P. Belakang has such old charm – we were firstly greeted by these rickshaws ‘Beca’ which peddled us along the narrow and rickety jetty and off to the small roads – it reminded me of Puala Ubin (Singapore in the 50’s-60’s). Life seems so slow and backwards there – the houses are varied – some in better nick, others spartan. It’s a real magical place to visit – a hidden treasure unknown to many! Back to Batam (the city) via these rustic wooden boats ‘Pancung’, we visited Tini’s other rellies and went for traditional Indonesian Massage. A steal at S$33+ it was 2 hrs and included massages, steaming, a milk bath etc. but the ambience was bleah – nothing like Changmai. But – the Spa finale was this teracotta thingy that had an incense which was strategically placed between the legs. Now its supposively a Javanese tradition for cleansing you know what – twas an ‘interesting’ experience 😛

5. Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam)

Ho_chi_minh

Went to HCM for a week in November, with my colleague Carol and stayed at her expat friend’s plush abode. Loved the Vietnamese food – fresh spring rolls, beef noodles, fresh crispy baguettes with cheese & pate and my soda chanh (lemon-soda). Shopping wise Vietnam’s great for brightly coloured laquerware (plates, vases, photo-albums) ethnic bags & shoes and of course reproductions of famous paintings – I bought Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Starry Night’, Edward Munch’s ‘The Scream’, Kustav Klimt’s ‘The Kiss’ and a Salvador Dali Painting – for probably .000000000000001 of the original price 😛 Aside from food & shopping we visited the Chi Chi tunnels and the Mekong River. HCM was ok, but I think I’d like to venture Hanoi & Hue – which I hear is more picturesque and cultural.

6. Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing & Suzhou (China)

Ag_nav_shanghai

Our 8 day trip to China in December was undoubtedly our fave destination place of 04. If you’ve not ventured China – you really ought to – it’s so got such Old world charm & with ‘the Panda’ rapidly developing by the blink, you really need to see it before it really transforms from ancient to modern. Hangzhou, Nanjing & Suzhou & are basically smaller cities which are about 4-5 hours away from Shanghai. Each with its own distinct characterstics & attractions. Nav really liked Hangzhou – which I liken to a ‘Chinese’ Melbourne – it’s a little modern city (with trams running through it) yet it has so much culture & old charm – quaint little narrow streets selling Old chinese delacies and large broom like calligraphy brushes, among other interesting things. I like Suzhou – the ‘water county’ with lots of waterways, bridges, narrow & cobbled streets – it reminds me of Yunnan 🙂 It’s a great place to photograph & sketch – I’m sure it provided much inspiration many centuries ago for all the poets, painters etc. etc. Nanjing (one of the previous capitals of China) was a lil haunting as we visited the ‘Rape of Nanking’ memorial where they have exhumed skeletal body remains on display. The last leg of the trip was spent in Shanghai the ‘New York’ of China – it’s so huge, racy, exciting – and along with that comes a lot of fiesty, pushy Shanghainese. Xiang Ying market – a market for fake goods was terribly overwhelming – I didn’t buy a whole heap as I’m not terribly into branded stuff. But we did manage to find some Mao memorobilla – I bought a Mao watch (with him waving) & Navin bought a khaki bag with Mao on it (supposively a compulsory school bag for Aristocrats, Scholars etc during Mao’s reign). We also bought heaps of nice winter wear and dvds/cds from Hangzhou/Suzhou.

7. Perth (Home), Nav & I did the same ol same ol – visit Freo, friends & spent time chilling at home. But we also did catch up with some of his Indian relatives which was a real treat as it was the first time meeting his cousins 🙂

Nav_rel2

Nav_rel1

Alrighty – thats was my recap of 2004. I will endeavour to add piccies of Puala belakang which I need to locate & scan.

P.S.
Tentative Travel Plans for 2005.

March – Hainan Island (visit grandma with Nav & Serena)
June – Detroit & Calgary (to visit relatives with Serena)
September – Shanghai (Art Dept trip)
Dec – Canberra & Melbourne (visit my bro/sis) OR NZ (visit my uncle) & Perth