story from today:

"recently, i was at senai airport in johor to board a flight to tawau, in Sabah. I arrived about 10 minutes before the airport's check-in counter had opened. A sign at the counter had the sign "tutup", which in english means "closed."

a few minutes later, a fellow singaporean man from my group joined the queue with his girlfriend. he said to her: "hey, we are in the wrong queue. we are going to tawau, but this queie is for those going to tutup".

they then walked away to look for the correct queue.

wicked awesome

this is a long overdue post

got sparked because this girl from georgia just emailed me. i met her at the globe and it started when we made eye contact, and we (i) didn't know what to do with it (typical) so she just came over to say hi, and remarked that asians sometimes can look really serious sometimes. anyhow, it did break the ice and i sure wish i had an ability like that.

she seemed unnaturally interested in asians though, as i left my name in her autograph book and impressed her with chinese characters.

merchant of venice speaks directly to me. i enjoyed it more than othello:
"he was wont to call me usurer, let him look to his bond." haha.

it's only a problem play insofar that that antonio's fate is left ambiguous and because of shylock's forced conversion, but i'm sure that wouldn't exactly be interpreted as tragedy. portia was brilliant, considering that the real portia fell sick and nerissa had to play portia and jessica had to play nerissa and jessica was well, jessica, and jessica had to meet nerissa in scene 5.


now that i'm actually back up and running and taking buses and taxis across singapore, sometimes i draw a link. i see things and i want to write them down, and at first i think it is because somehow something in the soil touches me.

objectively though, what are the things i've seen? much has changed, the shops have changed, the big ferris wheel is up, and i must say i'm happy with the diversity of shops and the new architecture up in singapore (the supreme court, for example, i felt was very well done). but i know singapore in a different way i know london. maybe memory formation hasn't occured yet, or maybe i haven't had a chance to miss it. when i passed by the white sign by the armenian church, i remember that it wasn't always there, i first discovered it in this "singapore search" thing way back in school. i remember crossing the junction to the hotel to attend the lse induction program. i look for the stamford road bus stop and i find it has been replaced by a tunnel which isn't very useful (and now the road runs through smu). i see the class benches and i am reminded of how class benches are such a hwa chong thing, and how nice it must be to have class benches in school.

when i go to people's park, and the lawyer situated within the dinghy walls, i am reminded that there are 2 singapores. as john nash's fictionalized friend, mediocrity (beer), i have utmost respect for. it is hard to explain my strange relationship with mediocrity. perhaps it is personal fear of failure, or too much arthur miller, but when billy joel plays "piano man", or when i speak to such people, i cannot help thinking that the world is built on mediocrity and normality. after all, it is not everyday that mongolian models are blown up with plastic explosives. some lawyers are about translation, checking and checking, and yeah, it doesn't seem like such a great interesting job. something like being a gp. but these are the people who will be respected in the villages, because you speak and interact with them, and it is wonderful to see how they take pride in tying the ribbons and checking documents a few times, and being an appointed public notary. sure, they charge about 130 bucks. and he too speaks enthusiastically about sending his kids abroad, to give them a better future, to break free from mediocrity, as the huge collection of college application handbooks evince. i saw an old man on the way back who looked startingly like lee kuan yew, except that he wasn't, but it all feels so familiar, people's park etc.

i think about my potential jobs and how i am supposed to explain them to someone, and it is so abstract. the new economy requires a certain abstraction or leap of the imagination. i am not a radical writer. my attraction to writing has always been rooted in memory and the past, and thus i am the sort of person that progress holds big trepidation for. so now i have an answer, maybe it is difficult for me to be optimistic, because i was happy at these moments in the past and i knew it, and i am not so sure about the future. what could it hold? more money, longer lives? perhaps the occassional moments of fulfillment. we'll see.


want to get rich right, quite easy what

no this is not spam. this is capitalism at work. economists tell you that trade benefits both people. traders will tell you that for a trade to work, you need a fool.


the canal runs through here / nozick returns

singapore brings out the opinion in me. i walked up to the atm machine in orchard at lip's prompting, i put in my card, pressed "gst credit" and got 200 bucks. was i happy? you bet, i just got 200 bucks. me, ex-ns man.

one part of me wanted to complain. i stay in landed property, i don't need the gst credits because i won't be in singapore, and i know a thousand other people who won't need it as well, but the avowed aim is probably to lessen the regressive aspect of the tax. so, there is a part of you that feels very bad, that wants to blame the government for giving you this money (what a stupid policy), when you know you're just going to use it to buy clothes.

but think about it. you don't like the fact that this money comes so easy? then give it away. why do we always expect the government to do the redistribution for us? i could have taken the 200 bucks and given it away to a charity (although admittedly, it would be hard for me to find out which particular needy person needs it). whatever it is, some moral responsibility must be taken by yourself for not redistributing if you believe in redistribution. admittedly, though, this scheme is a little like paying tax and having it returned to you, considering the non-discerning nature of the taxation.

there are a few arguments for government redistribution:
scale effects: they have less transaction costs. they can put in the money easily
selection effect: they do possess more channels and information regarding who is really needy

so yeah, in a way there are arguments why governments should redistribute, but if you are a true libertarian, then one cannot blame the government for not redistributing, you should be rejoicing that they are not forcing you into forced labour. what i mean is that there is a flipside to nozick's philosophy: your money, your tyranny, your responsibility. (and my responsibility)

singapore has nice food, but it's all a little too oily. life nowadays is about property and finance. it's depressing. i think that is why i foresee best that i have to wander from place to place from time to time.


Operation Entebbe (another digression)

Heard about it from the Last King of Scotland.
If the US needs to learn how to do special ops, they should talk to the Mossad more, (although I'm sure they do)

Ok, our very own SAF's hijack response was pretty good too.

This is different class. 4 C130's flying to a foreign country landing with no ground control at night and about a platoon of men (mixed IDF/commando). included were 4 APC's which they used to take out Uganda's air force of fighters (11 mig 17's) sitting at the airport to cover their escape, 1 casualty, who was the commander of the op, because he tio ugandan sniper. (elder bro, very handsome, of benjamin netanyahu.) talk about making sure all your men are safe.
ugandan casualty = 45. and they fight on home ground. couple of grenades settle them.

just like prison break, israeli architects were involved in building entebbe airport and they were able to make a replica in 2-3 days, and mossad extensively interviewed freed passengers.

lesson: want to rule by force, make sure your armed forces not so chui. buy fighters get them to sit around. damn cmi.

after uganda tried to complain at the UN (what, after helping the hijacking?) chaim herzog retorted:

We come with a simple message to the Council: we are proud of what we have done because we have demonstrated to the world that a small country, in Israel's circumstances, with which the members of this Council are by now all too familiar, the dignity of man, human life and human freedom constitute the highest values. We are proud not only because we have saved the lives of over a hundred innocent people—men, women and children—but because of the significance of our act for the cause of human freedom.


spanish couple took this one for me. we had a laugh later when we found that everything was "made in china". my spanish sucked

ait benhaiddou

clear blue desert sky


musee marrakesh

mint tea

marrakshi sunset, with the adhan sounding over the city

road to ouarzazate

high atlas

amsterdam... pardon the digression, pretty good photo of her, which i neglected to pass to her. she's living it up in greece now. "la vie en rose" was not a particularly good film, but i like its theme. life is lived in moments. all this is just in-between. i am particulaly sceptical now about looking out for the future, etc. a whole year of it. today i want to live in the past. i miss the past. coming back to singapore. whatever lah, go talk about jobs and whatever you're going to do this summer and whatever, the reality is, i'm just doing what i'm going to do because i am afraid of being bored and just don't want to stay in the same place. i work to earn money. end of story. a reason, an aim? non, rien de rien.

ok, airport shot, lame.


horse, lame.

madrasah ali ben youssef


first day was spent trawling the souqs in the medina of marrakech. it reminds me of the little markets in hanoi because each street literally sells a different type of thing. leather street, lamp street etc. didn't bargain to well for my first purchase, i didn't know the prices and i got it down to only half and i felt in a rush. got it down to 40% of his price.

in contrast, in Ouarzazate, ورزازات ,which was a Saharan desert outpost 200 km south of Marrakesh, I got bored with the really really boring kasbah there. 1. It was really hot, about 42 degrees celsius. 2. it was a crappy kasbah. i had seen Ait Benhaddou a while earlier. I had one and a half hours to spend, and i didn't want to sit in the cafe listening to the old man playing his two-stringed instrument strangely reminiscent of the erhu. even the spanish couple remarked as such. anyway, i looked around, and i got waylaid by a berber who tried to sell me cloths and camel skin leather. i get pretty irritated when people konichiwa me, although it usually means they haven't seen enough chinese in the area to tell me apart from japanese. i usually try to set them straight. anyway, i went off in franglish, and the berber got confused and asked me what language i wanted to bargain in. i said anything, and he said arabic? so i asked if he would like to bargain with me in chinese, we all laughed and sat down. the rivalry had begun.

so this time i got the price down to very very low. (albeit it was a crappier quality, and they start with higher prices. it's so unrealistic. 65 euro starting price?) it got down to the point where i refused to budge, and he asked if i had anything to offer him. no cigarettes this time, and then he wanted to look through my bag to see if i had anything interesting. i anticipated him asking if i was willing to sell any of my prized possessions for a low low price. now, i'd just bought my fred perry jacket for £15, but i wouldn't mind selling it to him at 225 dirham. there, just so you know i can part with things for above cost as well. aah yes, but why would he need a jacket in the sahara? (for the desert nights i retorted). no cigarettes on me, and there was no way i was giving him my only pen required for filling in embarkation cards.


i have unfortunately packed my card reader in and therefore i will have no photos to post on morocco. perhaps i will steal some off the net.

ryanair had just run a feature on travelling solo. i do know that for long periods of time, travelling solo just gets to me. sometimes you just don't know where to go, and you'd prefer just following someone who'd see something they'd like.

anyway, i'm glad to report i returned safe and sound from morocco. firstly, morocco is largely francophone, so getting by was not much of a problem. it seems many of them speak it as a second language. nothing lost, and the budget was incredible, it was 8 euro a night for accommodation, for a nice riad-like hostel with a bright room and nice enough bed. showers were rubbish, not hot water, manual flush (fill pail with water, pour pail into hole) squatting toilets and no cold water. at least it's not take water from big tank and pour over myself. otherwise, just like rural indonesia. i don't think some of my fellow travellers got what they bargained for.


food was generally affordable. the first night at the djemaa (the largest square in africa) i wandered around and was looking at what to eat. lentil soup was 2.5 dirhams (0.25 euro), and i had also a nice 4 course meal later, consisting of bread, aubergine paste, moroccan salsa (that's what i call it) fried fish and chips. fish was fried in light batter, very boney. along with a drink, 2.7 euro in total. you do the usual trick of going where you see only moroccans.

now the stupid thing is, i got stuck in the tourist trap AFTER doing this. the next night, enlightened by my first experience, i trawled the djemaa again. because i wanted to have some couscous/tagine, i decided to go to one of the larger stalls where there were a few moroccans, and a big thai production crew who were filming after being in fez. had crappy tagine and food for 7.5 euros! anyway, i learnt later that most moroccans don't eat out.

Best tagine was at Cafe Argana, a restaurant overlooking the square, on the last night. nice lamb tagine with figs and dates, sweet and very citrusy.

big lovers of orange juice, everywhere there are people juicing oranges. their pastries are influenced by the french, lots of croissants. btw, "croissant rouge" is the red cross! lots of dates and sweet things. i was also addicted to mint tea

i did not see much shisha, although dodgy young men were constantly trying to sell me hashish/kif, and i saw some glue sniffers around. i felt pretty safe in morocco, in the sense that i felt there was a constant police presence and a sense of social justice in the place. for example, i realised that the attitude they take towards beggars is very different. many of them choose to give freely and even banter with people who ask for alms, and they give though they themselves to do not look fantastically well off.

i woke up at 6 everyday, not feeling too tired, and was off and running by 6.15. in case this sounds insanely early, the adhan sounds at 4 - 4.30 in the morning. this usually wakes me, and an hour or more of sleep will suffice. moroccans are early risers (as most developing countries tend to be), and i usually had to get up early for the bus out.
to write on:

leonard cohen
"let him look towards his bond."


i know what i feel

it always gives way to tiredness.

when it comes down to reality
it's fine with me 'cause I've let it slide

past 2 nights, drink then sleep. i get sleepy so soon.
i know. i feel tired. it's been so tiring.

i've let enough slide. what's the point anyway, when you're not respected/appreciated/rewarded.

day by day lah. you'll get there.

reality says you're not good enough. so just go to sleep.

tomorrow, tomorrow, you're always a day away


i bought this cd by kate walsh, this essex girl, which promised someone coming on as janis joplin with a glass of southern comfort. maybe her first album was, thought i don't quite think so.

she reminds me of the girl with braces and rosy cheeks and the "don't hurt me voice." i like girls like that, who write about butterflies and rainbows and fireworks. even when they're singing about being the town slag or one night stands, they still sound like the world is made out of big lumps of sugar. you cannot bear to hurt creatures such as these. when she introduces her song as about when her ex boyfriend dumped her, your temptation to cringe is immediately disarmed as she says: "in some other concerts, they'd have said aww." awwww. then "i'm not bitter, no i'm not." and she starts singing, and all is forgiven.

it's not fair. she's so cute.