A run down on the holiday where I got loads done in only six days

Yes. It’s been pretty quiet round these parts, hasn’t it?

If I’ve been on holiday and haven’t bothered to update, it means I HAVE HAD A GREAT TIME.


Prawn noodles from Adam Road Food Centre were ordered the night I arrived as the BBQ seafood stall wasn’t open. Mum had also bought loads of chwee kueh (steamed rice cakes with preserved turnip garnish) for breakfast, and myself and the cats enjoyed the ba kwa (barbecued pork slices) very much. My aunt was cool and cooked kiam chye ar (duck and salted vegetable soup) for the annual Reunion Dinner (also starring were fried Hokkien noodles, fish my aunt and uncle had caught off Bedok jetty the night before, rojak, and the inevitable raw fish salad).

Michel contemplates his good fortune

I got another of my food requests at my grandfather’s house during Chinese New Year — steamed pomfret, Teochew-style. There was something I didn’t ‘order’ as I’d completely forgotten about it, but the ba kueh (stubby rice noodle cakes) was fan-fucking-tastic.

Then, of course, there’s the food I like and Neil loves and I ate and took pictures to piss him off. Barbecue stingray with sambal, plus baby kai lan with garlic at Newton. We even got some fried rice to go with it.

stingray and kai lan

On my last day, we grabbed breakfast at Farrer Court hawker centre, Neil’s favourite place for roti prata. I got two plain pratas and the requisite vegetable curry.

prata with curry

I ate loads of other stuff, but these were the highlights.


On Chinese New Year’s Eve, I reverted to my childhood behaviour (i.e. going to my mother every five minutes with proclamations of extreme boredom) and persuaded my mum to take me to the River Hongbao, as nothing else was open. Chinese New Year is probably the only time you’ll see Chinese Singaporeans THROWING MONEY AT A TREE.

Money tree

I also finally watched I Not Stupid (not bad) and I Not Stupid 2 (bad). Mum had wanted to watch Just Follow Law, Jack Neo’s satire on the Singaporean civil service. It wasn’t a satire at all, it kinda sucked. It was like a weak channel 8 sitcom that’s been stretched to feature-length. The acting wasn’t bad, but the story was shite.

We did also see Miss Potter (and I could hear my aunt whispering to my mum regarding its historical accuracy — we checked Wikipedia afterward), a light and pleasing flick. And my aunt was not at all keen on Notes on a Scandal (although she used my grandfather as an excuse — not his type of film at all, apparently). ‘Twas good.

I managed to run so many errands, because being a grown-up means you get up early, go out and do stuff in the morning, inhale lunch, take a NAP in the arvo, then head out for a feast at dinnertime. Bussorah Street was visited TWICE, and I got most of my pressies there. Brian has already used the slingshot I bought him and I hereby apologise to his neighbours for his behaviour on Saturday night / Sunday morning, although I wasn’t there.

Finally, here’s a picture of Doug and Ruthven.

Doug Monkey and Ruthven

Ruthven’s a present for Baby G. If Doug had fingers, you would see that he’s doing the bunny ears thing behind Ruthven’s head.

Varieties R Us

It’s kind of a running joke with me and Neil — whenever anyone asks about the weather in Singapore, we repeat the forecast you hear practically every day:

“Cloudy, with showers in the late morning and early afternoon. Temperature will range between 25 and 32 degrees Celsius. Humidity will be 96 – 99%.”

(Well, he just says it never changes while I bore all with my delight at citing the weather forecast.)

Scots envy the constant warmth and complete lack of variation in the climate. We are one degree above the Equator, after all. The sun rises at about seven and sets at about seven. No Daylight Savings, no midnight sun.


Scotland’s climate is so much more interesting (despite Shauna’s faithful reporting of dullness and dampness), especially if you go with the weather reports. Just look at the adjectives used!

  1. Feeling raw (RAWR! Okay, the RAWR is me)
  2. Gale force winds
  3. Sharp frost
  4. Freezing fog

And that’s just the few I remember from this winter. Singapore’s weather people don’t even bother, it’s hot and humid all year round.

On vacation

Afternoon nap

Because I booked my ticket before I got my visa, and my budget dictated I got a ticket that would rather crash the plane (haha, don’t arrest me in a dawn raid Home Office man) than let me change my flights.

So it’s short vacation time for me. I’M NOT BRINGING MY LAPTOP (how will I survive), but I will have access to one — it remains to be seen if I will write any posts while eating (top of the list, as always), sleeping, and seeing family and friends. And eating some more. And snacking on Chinese New Year junk food. And the ice cream my aunt always buys for Chinese New Year visitors. And the ba kwa (barbecued pork slices) Mum has ordered.

And cuddling and scaring the shit out of the cats! I miss the kitties. Not the kitties that piss and poop on the beds, the other ones.

I’ve said this before: knowing my luck, it’ll snow like mad and much childlike snow day activities will ensue while I’m away, and it’ll go back to rainy and dull when I get back. And I’ll get heatstroke back home.

I didn’t realise Scots were a different race from the English

Theatre votes no on Scots charge:

The move comes after SNP MSP Christine Grahame contacted the Commission for Racial Equality in Scotland who advised that the theatre could be in breach of the Race Relations Act if it went ahead with the proposal.

However Maurice Ward, a board director of the Maltings, denied allegations that the proposal had been in any way racist.

Har? Race Relations? Wouldn’t it be much easier to just offer discounted season tickets, irrespective of where you live? That is, if rewarding regular attendance is really the goal of differential ticket pricing.

Gillian McKeith is a fruitcake

Everything in moderation is the best dietary advice: “Basic, sensible dietary advice, that we all know – be honest – still stands. It’s the unjustified, self-serving and unnecessary overcomplication of this basic sensible dietary advice that is, to my mind, one of the greatest crimes of the nutritionist movement.” — A menace to science

Via Dietgirl.

Buying into the hype

I really like my industrial diamond ring. It’s chunky and not delicate at all. It’s girly, but not really. If I had a picture I would show you. It appears, however, that not many people are as enamoured of synthetically-produced diamonds as I am.

Naturally, I’ve vented about this more than once. The immorality of conflict diamonds are one thing — I just do not buy into the perceived value of diamonds that have inflated prices beyond (my) belief. Diamonds are nice, sure, but other stones are pretty, too. I just cannot accept that something that is personal adornment could or should cost that much.

So if I buy diamonds, I’m going to buy from places like Gordon Max (when they’re on sale). I will help people in places like Africa by supporting causes that promote micro-financing, skills training, or childrens’ education (I saw the teevee special on Petero Byakatonda the other night).

Arne Bevaart’s Culture Shock

I was practically crying with suppressed laughter reading this list (although as it went on it was looking suspiciously like a laundry list of complaints about how ludicrous Singapore can be), and here are my favourites (my comments in italics):

11. Your idea of a good night out consists of having dinner at a hawker centre, drinking beer, and then going to another hawker centre and eating again. Yeah, baby! Nothing’s better than the post-meal meal. I’m planning on having one of these in a couple of days myself!

25. You think that $100,000 is a reasonable price for a Toyota Corolla and $1,000,000 is a bloody cheap for a bungalow, but $5 for a plate of fried noodles is a barbarous outrage. This almost killed me, it’s so funny. Neil just found out that an apartment in a complex where I used to live is for sale — over S$2m! The loss his pal suffered on selling his WRX was about ten times more than what we paid for our little Peugeot. And $8 for a small piece of sambal stingray is extortionate.

26. You believe that not being able to get decent roti prata outside Singapore is enough to keep the best and the brightest people from leaving. Neil is almost in this camp — it’s the only thing he really and truly misses. He’s too good for the frozen stuff, so no prata for him.

32. You see nothing unusual about an organization of trade unions spending more time owning and operating supermarkets, drugstores,amusement parks, nightclubs, and financial services outlets than planning the next strike. I don’t even think of the NTUC as a trade union any more, they do everything! Heeheheheheheeee.

It’s a massively long list. If you make it all the way through, you’re more patient than I am.

The UK is failing children

It’s official: Britain is the worst place for children (compared to other developed countries, that is). According to UNICEF,

Britain’s youngsters had the worst relationships with their family and peers, suffered more from poverty and indulged in more “binge drinking” and hazardous sex than children in other wealthy nations, said the report.

So the Labour pollies are saying that the data UNICEF used was outdated. I wish the kids in our neighbourhood got that memo. There is so little to do and no sense of responsibility:

  • Our local shop’s just had its roller doors vandalised (allegedly by the ‘IRA’ and the neighbourhood’s ‘catholic crew’)
  • Teenagers hang out at this tiny row of shops, leaving all sorts of nasty garbage (including used condoms — ick ick ick) lying around for the shopowners to clean up
  • From what we’ve heard, it’s the girls who are the worst-behaved — the boys move on when you tell them to
  • Some moronic kid with a death wish was wandering around in the middle of the road one night and did not move to the pavement when we drove towards them; he actually moved further into our path, daring us to hit him
  • I actually feel a little uncomfortable if I’m to go out walking on my own when it’s dark

And do you know what the main problem is? These kids have no concept of consequences or responsibility, and their parents don’t help. When I was a teenager, behaving even remotely like these adolescents would bring down unbearable punishment — guilt at having let my mother down. These kids’ parents just threaten to thump you for calling their attention to their kids’ delinquency — most of these parents are probably still kids themselves, to revive a stereotype (where we live, it’s not a stereotype, it’s the rule).

Hey, sometimes getting in there may be the only answer

There’s a part of the brain that may cause the physical craving for a cigarette:

Nasir Naqvoi at the University of Iowa and Antoine Bechara at the brain and creativity institute at the University of Southern California have since identified other patients who quit smoking suddenly after experiencing similar brain damage.

The discovery gives neuroscientists fresh insight into the complex neurological circuitry of the addiction. While neurosurgeons are not about to tackle smoking addiction with a scalpel, it may give scientists clues for developing drugs to combat addicts’ urges.

I think they forget the psychological habit many people have — it’s not just an addiction to nicotine that keeps many puffing away, as I know all too well. So can we find that bit in the brain, too?

The inconsiderate high-beaming SUV drivers of the undersea world

giant squid attackingGiant squid disorient their prey with blinding flashes of light. The video I watched on the page seemed a bit off, but maybe it’ll be better for you. I got the idea, anyway. Super cool, this Nature thing.

The footage reveals the creatures emitting short flashes from light-producing organs, called photophores, on their arms.

How cool would that be in a club? Since the photophores also seem to function as a form of giant squid courtship, I can imagine some genetically-modified future where someone can flash the message, “Get your coat. You’ve pulled,” through the photophores they’ve got on their arms.

See how I moved from aggressive behaviour in the title to shagging? That’s human nature, my friends.