che guevara's motorcycle diaries is a pretty good example of travel writing. i've been stuck to it since i bought it. very good lessons for me.

"Le Penseur (The Thinker)" at the Mus�e Rodin. I cannot quite make it.

Series of Dutch guild houses. I have many photos of Amsterdam but come view them in my room. May not be appropriate for public consumption.

Trying to be funny again. See Aix-en-Provence in the reflection. Read Peter Mayle's "A Year in Provence" and "Encore Provence" to learn more. Horribly boring. Not Provence though, Provence is beautiful.

Me and Miguel into kinky torture stuff in the Dutch torture museum. Yes. Maybe there isn't much to do in the day.

Where I will build my next villa and jump in to swim with babes.

I must mention. Spring is here. I love the sun, and the souffly breeze keeping it cool enough. Michelle was in London over from Brown... Unfortunately I was slightly sick, a bit from travel fatigue. Well... it's nice how she's jetsetting and seeing all her old friends. Makes them feel remembered. Now. if i can just open my books.

first up... i think some other people have these photos... from a common pool. i think this is walking up the hill in nice. notice my wry smile.

trying to be funny.

i am bad at chronology. this must have been our first shot at marseille international, before getting into the cab.

TGV. class and comfort. i am being antisocial and listening to my ipod while andre is being more antisocial and reading chinua achebe's "things fall apart". i remember reading chinua achebe once. about female circumcision. didn't enjoy it much.

blues band outside notre dame
i remember being sick and flailing my arms speaking rubbish and demanding panadol. where is my panadol?

france and amsterdam. amsterdam first. we had a quad room booked pretty well last minute on expedia. miguel was extremely amused by the red light district, considering they didn't have things such as that in argentina (well neither do they in singapore, in fact). well, amsterdam is clearly famous for nightlife, and it had pretty good nightlife. they have clubs where they actually bother with the lighting, synchronising it with the music and having the coolest special effects ever. interesting city. rijksmuseum and all. it wasn't that nice, mostly they had rembrandt, while vermeer's girl with the pearl earring is only at the mauritshuis in den haag. i particularly like that one though, it's positively bewitching how she stares at you. on the way back, a man was just chatting to me. "why does everyone think amsterdam is about sex, drugs and rock and roll?" "i said sure, i'm sure there are museums and all." then he walked in front and the french police cuffed him for drug posession... he later came back and said it was a 90 euro fine... it's astounding how lenient it is.

after yet another gruelling eurolines ride (through den haag, rotterdam, utrecht, breda), crossing dover-calais again. the bus was pretty late because of the little arrest thing, and i pulled in at victoria about 9... i had enough time to drop by at sainsbury's for shavers and books etc for books about the cuban revolution (che guevara etc...) don't know why... it was just within reach.

bus to gatwick, flight to marseille. 2nd time in france this past year. as we arrived, ze french questioned us. where are your return tickets? where are you staying in paris. well, the point was that we didn't want everything planned, so we left some things open (it's tiring to keep sticking to schedule though). we struggled through in english, then i decided to speak french. it made things easier, and i'd soon use that a lot... marseille was gorgeous... sunshine! a nice 15-16 degrees... with the vieux port chock full of yachts i'll hopefully be able to afford one day. very nice mediterranean architecture... and we took a taxi (just like in the film) through the roads as we passed by the forts and drove along the sea... brilliant. sorry, i'm listening to dylan's 2004 special performance for victoria's secret and it's distracting me. "make you feel my love".

we stayed in an auberge de jeunesse in bonneveine, a bit far from town. we came across olympique marseille's stadium, and basically we tried traditional provencale food. i got a lot of kick from being in an actual french restaurant (though perhaps we were a bit young) and ordering "eau sans gas" etc... we had bouillabaise but it wasn't that impressive. it's nice to have fresh seafood after some time though... later on jingxiang would even try sea-urchin which was really disappointing. big rambutan thing, but little meat in between. we went on a day trip climbing over rocks to see the clear waters of the calanques. we were to hitchhike back... fun experience! got us there quicker. we were lost due to miscommunication as to where luminy really was, and i spoke to the friendly guy on the car who bitched about red lights. jillian and jingxiang disappeared for 2 hours, contributing to the great big mystery of our trip.

many traditional sights in marseille, generally architectural ones. we came across a german guy doing his national service in a bar in france (wtf!). andre got to practise his german. we found many shops named andr� btw. and gare st-charles is an example of overwrought gallo-roman architecture while it was still in vogue. had good kebab just down the road and nice coffee.

aix-en provence was the provincial heart of provence and our next stop... a short train ride away. it was so quaint, tiny and charming, and the cours mirabeau was a wonderful place to stop and watch the world go buy while consuming crepes and the famous salmon panini (was it really that good). imagine sipping coffee and seeing students protesting the cpe singing "c'est la revolution". i saw too how they closed the lyc�es in marseille... it's amazing how high school students have this culture of protest ingrained in them. in seemed more a day of fun and games though and the police were rather civil. jillian spotted a david beckham lookalike. i swore i needed sunglasses. stopped by the mus�e granet where i hoped to find some cezanne but it was under renovation and showed many other works instead.

we then took a train through to nice, and we passed by cannes, antibes, and all the other resort destinations along the french riviera for the rich and famous. clearly not our type. nice was an unhappy place, unfortunately. we followed through again to auberge de jeunesse camellia, and we went for a simple dinner near the train station. but we were busy eating, and as jillian went for mayonnaise, her bag was snatched. a chase started to no avail. it was the first criminal thing i've experienced in all my travelling so far, and i guess we were a bit lax. we went to the police station to do the formalities.

nice wasn't that fantastic. probably in summer, where the pebble beaches fill with sunbathers. nice view from the cemetery hill, and i had fun on the spider web thing rediscovering my childhood. narrow streets, with old italian street names. i think it reverted to french rule only in 1860, which explained all the plaza garibaldi and italian sounding names. more panini and gelato! very italian-ish cuisine. i almost got killed by a self-cleaning lavatory until andre told me how they work and no jesse, you cannot save 20 cents. so theft, and not so nice streets. crazy drunk frenchman at hostel who kept saying jackie chan to us... he was surprised i knew where lille was so we managed to make small talk. the train away from nice cost 80 euro which shocked a lot of us. but on the train i discovered my skill at spades. i was taught by the great master himself lin jingxiang. i regret not being able to beat him on the trip though but i hope i gave him a good sweat which he never experienced before. not bad for a newbie. the scenery was nice but would be nicer if the famous vineyards and lavender fields had been in bloom.

i took a lot of rubbish videos with funny commentary. come to my place and i show you all!

paris is big city. i remember my first time in '97 being amazed by france, and how i was simply bewildered by the metro system when i was changing from gallieni to gare de lyon. our first contact again was from gare de lyon, and it was sopping wet, just like london. we walked through an unglamorous part of town, to yet another auberge. this time we didn't have to disturb any old man staying over from corsice (cough nice) shouting "s'il vous plait!". i must have though the rest some french cause jingxiang kept saying "putain". this auberge was one of the largest in france, and had a nice bar with plenty of people.. i've been in france before, and paris, so i sort of knew where the sights were. we went to see the louvre, and the eiffel at night. i remember our long treks for food. but to see the eiffel sparkling at night, giving out the bronze orange glow. i love orange... wonder and amazement... and right across was the trocadero... with a quote that sounds remarkable: (it's a riddle i think)

Il depend de celui qui passe
Que je sois tombe ou tr�sor
Que je parle ou me taise ceci n'en tient qu'a toi ami
N'entre pas sans desir

i kept wondering what it meant, but this is an attempted translation... apparently is is by paul val�ry and it sounds pretty beautiful. i think it is a reference to the mus�e de l'homme located on the other side, and the collections of things in there.

"it depends on he who passes,
that i am tomb or treasure,
that i speak or am silent depends solely on you friend,
do not enter without desire."

i love it. beauty is there if we look for it. it's so apt for a museum, and i like the way paris enshrines its artists. to be honest though, i always felt there was an edgier side to paris in the banlieue, to the strikes, the people cheating on the metro by squeezing through with another (that was fun), even the graffiti that covers every inch of the massive underground. and the inspiring names of the metro stations. sebastopol. charles de gaulle. france is a country that doesn't forget. at the same time, it was riddled with unrest. we chanced upon and anti-strike demonstration calling on the student protestors not the jeopardise the rest who wanted to be in school, and not for a vocal minority to paralyse a government which has been democratically elected for by the rest. this a french guy tried to explain to me, i lost him after a while but i guess this is the idea. also spoke to a french guy at esprit who was speaking about cultural differences between him and his thai girlfriend, how asians work much harder and find it difficult to adapt in france sometimes, how the euro sucked and the 35 hour work week was good. i appreciated that i had some iota of french it makes people friendlier. some people in france are still overtly racist though. i got my fair share of konichiwas and verbal slights.

the arc de triomphe, which napoleon did NOT grandly march through (my facts were wrong, it was only finished after he had lost). hitler did march through it to rub it in. it commemorated most modern wars to the algerian war of independence and the vietnam war. it opened up to the champs-elys�es, apparently named after the elysian fields of hell of greek mythology where spirits would dance with pleasure (the french love classical allusions don't they). on another day i got approached by this dodgy chinese man who gave us 1100 euro!!! to help us buy louis vuitton. i went in to see hordes of japanese and japanese sales assistants! and i got turned off and decided it was probably something wrong to go in and buy 400 euro stuff with someone's money. something had to be wrong. either counterfeit stuff or piraters. the japanese love paris. i saw lots of them... but LV... euck.

We had mcdonalds and kfc after a while due to budget constraints. huifang gave an address for the Marche aux Puces at St-Ouen, a bit on the outskirt of Paris. I got myself sunglasses there! Pretty happy. I could now look cool. we visisted the singaporean embassy in paris too where jingxiang found his aston martin vanquish. it was refreshing reading the straits times! a bit depressing though. we visited the eiffel tower again, and place de la concorde, the opera house, the pantheon, where they were selling daffodils to raise money for cancer. the girls each got one. a wonderful street parade with a sexy woman dancing on stilts (i have video!) and nice percussion. We wanted to play "he loves me, he loves me not", but daffodils have only 6 petals. very predictable. the standard of busking was amazing. there were the funny child rappers carrying their FUCKING AMP around in the metro and rapping. jingxiang couldn't stop laughing. i like the way they were so tongue in cheek and blowing kisses at everyone. there were chinese men/woman playing the erhu, and the live blues 4-piece outside the notre dame, where we sat down and just listened to pretty good standard blues. these people flew allt he way from america to busk. reminded me of aix where there was another rock band.

we saw ferraris, the renault f1 story. more unfortunate incidents. i trusted guidebooks and those printed tourists things too much and i didn't foresee how the louvre would be closed early on monday when it was supposed to open late. so i missed la joconde (mona lisa) AGAIN. next time maybe. met lots of people in paris, it's a pretty popular place to be and easy to spot singaporeans. it ended with a mad rush to the bus station and a tiring bus ride (my umpteenth on eurolines again).

concluding remarks. i probably missed some detail. hopefully i will go over it again if i have more time and not studying too hard. i enjoyed the trip with everyone... there were no conflicts expected from a really big group, some disagreement, but not shouting. got to know everyone better. know who wakes up early=). who gets red when drinking. ME! things like doing huifang's travel log and laughing at her many photos. so... photos next.


you have one hour

i am trying to digest the rest of my fish and chips but already the appetite fails. it failed this afternoon and it is failing again now. there's a knot in my stomach which prevents me from really enjoying anything i eat today. i hope it's just the "bus lag".

took another 10 hour bus ride back from paris. the france + amsterdam trip was full of exciting details, not least the strikes in france and the nightlife in amsterdam. i went through it mostly guilt free and enjoying myself and relishing the opportunity to speak french. i am quite used to backpacking i must say so i don't get the major kick i used too. i still enjoy seeing the little places and the random conversations. the weirdest people approach you, or are willing to talk, if you can converse in their language. i guess that's why i want to learn more of those.

to tell you the truth, i don't know if i can write down all the little interesting details of the trip now. i spent the afternoon wading in application forms and things that i have put off till "after the trip". "all these little plans and schemes." i thought it'd take me the night at least but now there's the dreadful realisation that i'm going to have to sit down, take out my books and study. i don't really hate that. to be honest i think i've been easy on myself when it comes to exams. but i honestly hope it won't be too bad. i hope everyone emerges from their shell from time to time (myself included), so it doesn't feel like one big exercise preparing for war. alex is not here, i am stranded without my dvds, and i'm not even sure who's in hall or who's in the library. what if everyone stays off msn. i hope it's just post-trip depression. it did take a lot of energy out of me (speaking french no less!)

i hope to find time to put up photos.


remind me to use persil next time and not the dishwashing-liquid masquerading as detergent they sell at tescos. my clothes smell so much better now.

off to amsterdam. and provence. exam dates are out. stress is here. but they end early so.

i'm just dying, not dead

aren't we all. i seriously question the need to deadpan at a time like this.

just thought it was appropriate since i've been away. well. i guess, activities wise, i could say that i'm in a pre-easter lull. had fun modelling at malaysian singapore night. spent most of my time chatting and going out and thinking about the finer points of the opposite sex. in short, being distracted.

i met vivian who chose to define herself by being different. good for her, except that means everyone else is boring. that always gives me a bit of discomfort. anyway, our conversation centred mainly on drugs. but i won't elaborate too much on that except that i left feeling a distinct sadness (or helplessness). that's why i ended up not going to the japanese society party. i guess i didn't want to be part of it.

i came back and i had my 2046 and chungking express there for me, which i was reminded of thanks to a casual comment by clarence which triggered my memories. i am easily moved to impulse sometimes, really. i went through the dialoguey parts. at the same time, i was there frantically being asked about the france trip (oh no, more planning, why are vacations like work?) and preparing for amsterdam, laundry, etc. at the same time seppo asked me about eh tips and homework. exam timetables are out and i need to arrange internship dates. alex was in my room, both of us helping lip out so he cna get the girl of his dreams. it's pretty classless to bitch about it, but i shall. i guess i didn't mind letting out my room, and i still don't, otherwise why would i, but understand, it's a hassle. it's not easy. and i'm rarely that nice nowadays. i am now keyless and cardless, so please don't rob my room. honestly, i feel helpless, but it's not the end of the world.

i don't know if this belongs on blogs, given that i know some people have a distaste for them. so anonymity, whatever. i sort of snapped today. i barked back and was really sarcastic. i would like to think it's cause i was busy, and it ruined my grand plan to watch dvds (which brings me back to why i'm reluctant to go tripping, no sorry, go on a trip, because i have things here to settle. i don't mean work, though i did stay till 4 doing that last night, which left me snappy. not your fault, i know, i was just trying to stay on track). has london changed me? not really. age has. blame it on age. please don't blame it on the fact that i'm in london and 30,000 miles away. i really mean the fact that perspective matters. maybe i should just listen, as i did, all those years ago. i listen less well, nowadays, and i'm probably a bit more selfish. not like i was always a giver. but never have i felt more strongly that people determine their own fate. that you can blame god, your circumstances, you can bitch about them, but it changes not one iota of what has to be done. well. speaking out your principles is always dangerous. they often come back flying at you. so. understand. everyone feels lonely. you've probably done a better job dealing with it than i have. but perspective. what do i know about perspective. i know that we are sufferable people. i know we can take shit. i don't have a broken family nor have i only known rejection all my life. my life is not colourful and i may not know shit about perspective. but it matters. i feel down, everyone feels down. but from there to empty is a big leap. and it's a problematic one. please don't expect me to have the model answers.

but you know i told you the good stuff. there's more. richard dawkins came today and i expected him to launch into polemics about religion. but he was humble and he cleverly chose to dwell on the less controversial parts of science, like how amazing biodiversity is (then again, communication is manipulation, according to him, so maybe he's just playing us, given he has a book to sell.) but he ended on the right note. we can triumph against the tyranny (of our genes).

that's not what i came here to say. did you know that in most of the pictures of alice (in wonderland), she never smiles? i always thought she was a happy girl. but she seems struck by an especially poignant sadness, especially when she meets the knights. (something about girls and knights in armour). but i guess it was the speed with which she had to grow up. well, i came across it again in fun and games (my text on game theory), and it was cheerfully written and contained plenty of poker tips, which i must admit help me.

so (and this is my defense against alex's comment on why knowing that red monopoly squares make the most profit statistically ruins the game). it doesn't. if you've played poker, you know there's so much you can raise your game too. it stops you from doing stupid things, and it brings people to a higher level, at least they won't do stupid things like play every hand. and when everyone's on that level, it still works. cause there's chance. there's how you read people. these are not bounded by simple rational choice. but rational thinking lets you become better by understanding that randomizing works. and just because everyone can think rationally doesn't mean that everything works like that. we can't, in life, we almost always trade off rationality and speed. that's why we hardly do optimal stuff most of the time. we can rebel against our tyranny. the rationality-speed trade-off is in itself a rational trade-off. no one is suggesting that we always play by the rules, but you can't unlearn something. maybe we shouldn't reduce everything into little pieces, i have never tried to do that, but theory is useful sometimes. but that was moot. really. the heart was the middle.


my play

"talk is free. want to do other kind of lup sup thing, must pay money."

talk to me. i know... i owe everyone a play.

i love my break... i'm taking a break from all forms of studying for the early part of this week... just letting my imagination run wild... and i'm enjoying it... i guess in a way i know i'll probably join the ranks in driving myself psychotic over examinations in a few weeks, so i'm taking this chance to wind down a little.

had our last maths lecture: another witty quote

"i hope you enjoyed it half as much as i did, i enjoyed it twice as much as you did."

how apt! for a maths lecture.

and dr leunig wrote a poem about immigration, a parody of ellis island's famous inscription... give us your poor your huddled masses...

haha. high and happy. ronaldinho scored... soccer is so... beautiful.

messi messes mith mourinho's multi-million mass of megalomaniacs.

ronaldinho runs rings round robben

barcelona bursts blue bubble.

this is interesting

excerpts from the times:

"walking on all fours with the ancestors"

5 brothers and sisters who can only walk naturally on all fours are being hailed as a unique insight on human evolution, after being found in a remote corner of rural Turkey....

apparently it's a genetic abnormality, and it provides insight into how our ape-like ancestors moved.

nick humphrey, evolutionary psychologist at the LSE, who visited the family, said that the siblings appear to have reverted to an instinctive form of behavious encoded in the brain, but abandoned during the course of evolution.

"i do not think that they were destined to be quadrupeds by their genes, but their unique genetic make-up allowed them to be." professor humphrey said. "it is physically possible, which no one would have guessed from the human skeleton."

prof humphrey, who has been contributing to a BBC program, "the family that walks on all fours, said that weeks of study, and factors such as their hands' shapes and callouses, showed that this was a long-term pattern of behavious and not a hoax. "However they arrived at this point, we have adult human beings walking like their ancestors several million years ago."

whil prof humphrey said that cultural influences in their upbringing may have played a crucial role, with parental tolerance allowing the children to keep quadrupedal walking, others believe the cause is more genetic.

jenna harrison: "they walk like animals and its very disturbing at first. but we were also very moved by the family's tremendous warmth and hospitality."


i wish my blog were private again. then again, it is hardly public, with the few readers it possesses (that word took me a long time, btw, feel hazy today. but the first try was the right try). perhaps its instinct. the body remembers what the mind forgets.

i refereed yesterday at london games. i promise never to scream at referees again. boys are boys though, they will scream, especially playing football. but i was in awe of the netball refs, who are treated with the utmost respect. they don't even have to raise their voices.

i want so much to gush about pie/spoilt too. really, i don't care what's going on, whatever undertones there are. i'm lazy like that. but as the narrator was going over the apocalyptic scene, with the entire stage drenched in red light (yes, red is the colour of the apocalypse) and the step by step description of burning metal and bodies crumpling in heat, i did agree with one point. yes. you should censor everything. you should keep these kinds of plays away from me. i need to be protected. my mind is warped and i'm going crazy, and it's all because in the world of art and fiction it is alright to have a schizophrenic imaginary companion. unfortunately, the world isn't fiction, and we only get to leave with a bang once.

but i am not crazy. because really i have this sense that there are still people out there to disappoint. that's why i am self-censoring. i am protecting you, after all. maybe i'm wrong and you find all of this entertaining, like tammy's sex video or something.

art is a bad thing. art is like swallowing panadol with bananas, or coating pills with sugar. and there's been more and more out around. it's all around us. it makes us want to write with good handwriting, or take those cute artistic shots with the camera. no. people can't be in the centre of the camera. there's a golden ratio, and somehow it looks nicer. art destroys your self-worth, and it makes you feel like nothing until you've created something. that's wrong. humans live. end of story.

ban art. now all one has to do is to have an applicable definition. is drawing twirly things on your lecture notes art? ending off a sentence with a smiley face? using hyperbolic language? using exclamation marks when you're thinking question marks? art is a lie.

therefore. take anything to excess, and you have gray walls and a 1x1 square in the wall, where the sun filters in between 3 metal grilles. cushioning on the walls is optional. i have been to detention barracks, and i thought that rather cruel. but they are right. having cushioning on the wall is good. suicide is bad. life is good. i think it's right that they try to stop someone making that foolish decision. but somehow, everytime i think about that legendary depraved prisoner who wants to end his life by smashing himself against the wall, the pathetic sight of seeing him run into cushioned walls would probably be the saddest sights one can dream about. no, imagination is more powerful than reality. it would cause much pain but he still can't die. what toothbrushes does he use? can he sharpen the end? would we have to give him plastic knives and forks to eat with, or maybe he has to eat with the hands. he could bite his tongue. why don't people think? that way, you can still invent time, because the length and angle of the shadow changes. would you be able to deduce though, that because of that, it meant your cell was somehow moving around the light source. or that the light source was moving around the cell? it would take a really clever prisoner to figure that one out.

i will continue my tradition of sleeping sundays away and remaining awake throughout the early hours of monday morning. i have a rehearsal tonight too. it involves walking down a catwalk.


the association of university teachers, apparently, has called for a strike next tuesday... but it's a good thing that our lecturers are not planning to take part, having a respectable, even admirable commitment to teaching us because we've paid. yes. practising what you preach in economics 101.

having not had much experience of strikes, it's interesting to understand why people do it. it's an interesting clash between the marginal product way of pricing labour, and the "necessity" factor of pricing. in any case, lecturers are intelligent people who probably have taken a big pay cut anyway to do what they like so probably industrial action is not as effective. i don't think it's quite the same nearly though for other jobs.
"are you from vietnam?"

i officially look vietnamese. when i was travelling around vietnam, i could still brush the question aside as a polite one, you know, a "you're one of us" kind of nice, friendly comment. at subway today, however, this was corroborated by the vietnamese sandwich-maker (no, he's not a machine, there are some things you can't substitute capital for). that includes being able to remember what vegetables i wanted while the bread was toasting in the oven. but i know. i really look vietnamese because i'm yellow and tiny and don't wear glasses. if ever you needed evidence that spectacles are not necessary, visit vietnam. opticians go bust there.

i miss vietnam. i miss the sticky heat, the dynamism, the lakeside of hanoi. i hated hanoi a bit because i thought many people were trying to rip us off, even for the roll of bread. in retrospect though, it was something like 15 us cents rather than 10 for a roll, 3 USD instead of 2 for the room etc...but it was a matter of principle. Here is a country unused to markets. Essential that they develop the right way, that capitalism isn't about getting rich trying to rip people off.

but not everyone was like that. i was impressed by the girls wearing their ao dais on bicycles, the pho bo, soya bean milk that still came in bottles. a general clean, healthy place, something which communist countries seem to do so well. people waking up in the morning for exercise. an artistic people, always some painter somewhere, a tradition of artisans, how their baskets were weaved... of course the north was far more rural. very green, and do they have stories to tell. it's magic, so i guess they fought like it wasn't just some clump of forest to be napalmed. expecting more french speaking people but they're all eager to learn english because it is the language of the future and of prosperity. the desert with 6 different kinds of sticky and sweet things in them.

i am proud to look vietnamese=)

it snowed pretty much today. too.