reflecting on 2012

Have I already done that? Somewhere at the back of my mind, I seem to recall that I have done it, but while scrolling through the past few entries that are mainly food and more food, I don’t think I have dedicated a whole entry to reflecting on 2012. Actually, I don’t think there is that much to reflect on, considering that I update this space rather often and am reflecting frequently while I write about other things.

Anyway, let me use this post to give thanks for 2012.

I can’t exactly say that 2012 has been a blast, but still some good things have come to pass and I am thankful for some events that have occurred, for some people that I have met, places that I have been…

This year, I finally got to see South Korean boy band, Big Bang, in concert, and not just once, twice but thrice! When I was in Tokyo this January for the CNY break, as well as to attend a one-week ‘exchange’ programme in Japanese at Aoyama School of Japanese, I had the good fortune of meeting a really nice Japanese girl through Twitter who helped me buy a pair of tickets to the YG Family Concert at the Saitama Arena, at no additional cost! Then, in September when Big Bang came to Singapore as part of the Alive World Tour, I managed to get a pair of standing tickets at the Singapore Indoor Stadium and had one of the best concert experiences in my life! Finally, through my friends in Japan, I had the opportunity to catch Big Bang again for their special Alive concert at the Tokyo Dome in early December. Even if it is the same group three times within a year, I really enjoyed each of the experiences and would do it again if I had to choose again.

In 2012, I think I did good with my continued pursuit of languages and hung on to my weekly Japanese and Korean classes. Despite that I am still lacking in confidence where use of the languages is concerned, I believe I will improve my proficiency in 2013! Maybe I could even sit for the JLPT N3 exam this year, finally after a couple years of procrastination.

Made some new friends this year through various avenues that I found amazing, such as getting to know some of my Japanese classmates better, getting to know some fellow Big Bang fans from Japan, and meeting up with friends I haven’t met in a while when I went on business trips abroad.

Some of you may know that I became a Christian last year, but due to work commitments and perhaps just a bout of laziness, I had not been very regular in attending service on Sundays. Sometime towards the last quarter of the year, I started going back to church and am so glad that I make it now a regular Sunday activity because of all the grace that I have received. Although December had somehow been a rather trying month, we are already into the last day of it and 2013 is fast approaching, which can only be a better year for me!

Of course, 2012 has really been the bumper year where travelling is concerned. Looking back on my life, this is the year where I had travelled far and wide. In the span of 12 months, I have made 15 trips abroad that have taken me to 15 different cities that covered North America, Europe and Asia! I missed out South America because Sao Paolo was a little too far for me as deemed by my boss for which I was openly grateful because I didn’t think I could have survived the 30-odd hours of travel time if I had to go there. We don’t really do business in Africa and Australia isn’t somewhere we need to travel to, so these two continents were left out as well. It has been tiring to travel for work, as I have found out after 1.5 years in this job but these are still experiences with some fond memories that I will look back on in future and not regret taking up such a job at least for a while.

Finally, yoga. I have been making it a bigger part of my life and returning to the hot studio, and I am happy about it. Besides travelling, learning languages and writing, this is something else which I really enjoy, and in 2013 I hope I can further deepen my practice, not to take it to any professional level but at least on a personal level I hope to better myself in this aspect.

BIGBANG Alive Tour in Singapore! the experience.

It has been a long wait. Since when news first broke that Singapore is included as one of the stops of the Alive tour, to when I got caught in the online frenzy to purchase tickets for the concert, it finally happened last Saturday night at the indoor stadium.

I hate queuing, especially when the queuing makes me perspire. I swore to myself that this would be the first and last time I’d do this, queuing for an hour just to get to the standing pen. Now, I think I will eat my words. For them, for Bigbang, I will willingly do it again if I could relive the same experience. Throughout the whole 2.5 hours when the lights first went off at 7:15pm to the thunderous screams of the entire stadium, I was totally in fan girl mode as I joined the rest of the mosh pit in screaming and waving as the boys energetically covered the whole stage area. Where we stood at the side, we saw them so often so close we started to become delusional that we were the favoured side but of course that couldn’t be true. I know it sounds really silly, and some of my friends will probably roll their eyes and scoff at me for being childish in idolising pop stars who are so much younger and whose songs most of which I do not even comprehend. But my friend taught me to be true to myself, and cast aside what the world at large, scratch that, what people around think of me. Personal interests are like what they are, personal to each and every one. We don’t impose our thinking and likes or dislikes on someone else, so there isn’t a reason why someone else should make me feel bad just because I enjoy K-pop and admit to being a fan. Life is tough enough as it is to live in, we don’t need to make it harder for ourselves by trying to live up to another’s standards or what they expect us to be.

So this was the only picture I took while I was in the indoor stadium. The rest of the time, I was completely enthralled by the songs and the atmosphere, and constantly nudging my friend to work her camera to take photos/videos of the going-ons on stage. I didn’t take note of the track list, but it is available online on other sites if anyone is interested to google for it. They started of course with Alive, the intro track on the Alive mini album, one of my favourites off that album, and then started the concert with Tonight (the song that first got me interested in them), Hands Up, Fantastic Baby (that just somehow grew on me although I didn’t like it that much initially), and so on. I love the entire concert even if I didn’t know all of the songs that were performed. Somehow I think being in the mosh pit made the whole experience more highly-charged and enjoyable and of course it was quadrupled or more because it is Bigbang on the stage. Ok, I am starting to ramble and I think some of you have already been through my animated raving of how amazing I thought the Alive concert experience was.

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And this is how the back of the T-shirt that I wore looks like! The front read “GD”, in a similar triangular design. J’s T had this on the front and back, but with this smaller at the back. And thanks to my cousin Ven for asking if I wanted to get T-shirts printed, and her friend for designing these! Initially, I thought it would be weird to be wearing these, because in the last few concerts that I had attended locally, I don’t really see many people wearing such attire that bear the name of the band, etc. But this concert was so different, there were so many concert-goers who wore T-shirts of a variety of designs, some from the Alive concert that they probably purchased at the venue on that day, or they were wearing T-shirts from other concerts elsewhere or something. Maybe they also customised their own T-shirts like we did. Anyhow the whole concert mood was there, and it was great to be basking in the atmosphere of the crowd, fans of Bigbang, also known as VIPs! ūüôā

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Something not really related to the Alive concert, but anyhow after the concert was over we decided to head somewhere for a late night snack and drinks, to fill the now-already empty stomach and quench our parched throats, after 2.5 hours of non-stop action in the mosh pit of the Alive concert! And featured in the picture is also the BB official crown lightstick that we got online. Unfortunately the one that I had wasn’t functioning properly, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment. Yes I am a VIP and am an even bigger fan of the band’s leader, the one and only GD! It has been a week but it felt like the concert was just over, and now I am suffering from withdrawal symptoms.

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helsinki vantaa airport

No, this post isn’t really about the main airport of Helsinki in Finland. I just thought of using it as the post title for today, that’s all. But in my defense, I do have one picture of the departure hall of the airport when I was flying out from there one night, one cold, rainy night.

When I got to the airport just before 9pm, I was wondering if the airport was even opened because it was deserted and appeared devoid of any activity. It was after looking around briefly that I spotted one open check-in counter to deposit my luggage, then prospected around again to look for where I could scan my handheld stuff. It was that empty. With the airport staff working at that time, including one open convenience kiosk and one cafe, I presume that there must have been less than 20 persons around in the whole outside area of the airport.

Anyway, the inside wasn’t any much better. There are plenty of shops inside, but they were almost all closed by the time I was inside. I had a short dinner/night snack at one lonely little cafeteria, before proceeding to the passport control, after which there were slightly more shops that stayed open for the benefit of¬†passengers on the¬†international flights but it was still sad. I guess a lot of airports in the West are like that, because I don’t recall ever feeling this way in Asian airports. Or maybe it was just the timing, if I had been at the, say Siem Reap International Airport at odd timings, there could also jolly well be just a handful persons around.

Ok, enough of Helsinki Vantaa. Let’s move on already.

I had a wonderful weekend, I think it kind of depleted me of every single ounce of energy I could ever have in me! Weekend started with drinks that began at Kandahar Street all the way to Sentosa! It wasn’t the volume of alcohol but the distance covered. We were looking for a place that was recommended by a friend’s friend but then ended up feeling the place to be too ‘hippy’ for us. So we trooped along Haji Lane, Arab Street, before finally going to WitBier at Kandahar Street. It isn’t a bad place to chill at, a tiny little pub chock full of whom I guess are regulars, and they serve a really wide variety of European (mostly Belgium I think) beer, with a small selection of bar food, but if you are into fries and luncheon meat fries (called Porky Fries), here’s where you might want to check out!

Was a little miffed though because we were served by a new waitress who was on her first day, and she wasn’t able to be very helpful in answering the questions we had, and then she got our orders wrong. We ordered a bucket of 5 bottles and she served us two pints (in glasses) and said yes when we asked her to confirm that was what we ordered. It even went as far as us asking if the bottled beer were poured into the mugs and she still said yes. We should already have picked up on that and asked another waitress but we didn’t and it was when a second waitress asked if we wanted another round that we realised the mistake.

After that we went to SkyLoft, which I talked about in the previous post.

Then Saturday! The day I had been waiting for for a really long while… Big Bang Alive Concert in Singapore! I was out during the day, so by the time I went to queue to get into the standing pen area, just before 6pm I think, I was already exhausted. Consider the weather and us having to queue more than 3/4 way around the second level of the SIS, before we were slowly being led down the steps and finally into the arena. It wasn’t a long wait though, as the concert started just 15 minutes after its supposed start time. For 2 and a half hours from there, I never stopped screaming and jumping, and of course gawking at the boys. It sounds really cougarish, but I don’t really care, because that was just how great they were and they were so close, in such proximity with us that we were just about two arm lengths’ away. I wished of course I could then have limbs like Mr. Fantastic and reach out to grab them! More on the concert later.

Sunday was another concert day. This has been two hectic weekends for me, a far cry from the languid days I was having while on the business trip in Finland; of course work wasn’t slow but the pace there generally seems so much more relaxed. Attenedd Keane’s concert at the Max Pavilion at Expo, and recalled that the last time I watched a concert in that area was Lee Hom’s Evolution concert, way back in… I don’t even remember anymore! The sound system was crap but the concert was fabulous, even if this time I was so far from the stage and there were a number of songs I was unfamiliar with. Besides, I spent about half the time sitting down, and another half standing because they were performing my favourite songs, or because¬†my view¬†was blocked by the person in front.

Two very different concerts on two different days but I totally enjoyed myself on both occasions, I love the sound of Keane, like how I like some UK acts, like Suede and Coldplay. They have this quality in their songs that just distinguishes them from American bands somehow, maybe it is the way they sing i.e. the accent? I don’t really know but all in all, they were great that night and I silently berated myself for not taking the effort to ‘revise’ the songs before I attended the concert. I would have enjoyed it even more if I could sing along with them all the time!

at this moment, i am alive

Yippee!

It felt surreal, that each click I made brought me one step forward. One-time lucky; online sale opened at 10am, and I got this confirmation in my inbox from SISTIC with a time-stamp of 10:04. I wasn’t so lucky with SJ, because back then I tried for 45 minutes with many back and forth clicking at SISTIC with an amplified amount of frustration, before I got myself 2 (instead of one) pairs of tickets, one of which was an extra that I sold off eventually anyhow.

Thank you Lord! Thank you everything and everyone for making this work for me!

 

Alive!

I was wondering last week if I should join the pre-order for the album. I wandered into HMV one Saturday morning after class to check out Tablo’s album for Ilsa, since I was anyhow waiting for the time pass before the appointment at the hairdresser’s.

It wasn’t only until the last day of the pre-order that I went to HMV again, this time since I was killing time before meeting a friend, to join the pre-order. It was actually quite pointless because the album would then be launched/available the next day. On the collection day, I saw that they still had stocks for the album anyhow so the pre-order was actually unnecessary.

So this was what I got…

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I like the concept that they had for this Alive album. I must admit that I’m not big on buying CDs because as much as I would like to support original music and copyrights, I really do not enjoy having to keep tonnes of CDs and their sleeves at home where space is a perennial problem. Of course sometimes it is worth buying the album for the sleeve if I am a fan but other than that, I much prefer things to be in soft copies. The only reason for having these CDs would then be a back-up say when my digital files fail me, which have happened one too often and then I would have to build the library all over again.

This is Big Bang’s 5th mini album, and it features 6 songs, along with an intro track called “Alive” that lasts all of just 50 seconds. I love the intro track and I love most of the songs in this mini album that I wished it was longer. I don’t get the concept of mini albums mostly because I think I am paying the full price for an album but only getting about half of the songs that a typical full album would contain. But ok, I decided to get it anyway, my very first Big Bang CD! The CD comes encased in a metal frame that made it really heavy, and there were 6 designs that you could choose from. I guess the 6th would be one without any of the members on it, or maybe with all of them on it, I don’t know.

I have heard Blue a few times online when YG released the MV before the official album launch, and heard snippets of the other tracks, and finally Bad Boy which also had an MV released. Honestly, I am not really feeling Bad Boy; it isn’t bad but it isn’t amazing either. Blue was much better, even though I have not checked out the translations of the lyrics, I liked the melody and the feel that the song gave me, a little bit like Love Song, but as what some have described, exuding a more matured feel. The other tracks were good too, based on my first listen of the CD, and Daesung’s solo Wings, is also commendable; after all he has the best vocals within the group so it isn’t hard to imagine.

Big Show 2012 just concluded in Seoul last night after a 3-night concert, and I was really disappointed I couldn’t make it for any of them, partly because I asked my friends about it too late, and also because I have work commitments coming up soon.¬†I hope I will be able to catch at least one of their shows on their upcoming world tour, anywhere.

pop, the K way

Maybe reading ilsa’s recent posts made me want to write about some of the stuff that I’ve been listening to lately too. But I won’t claim to be someone who loves music enough to know about it. I enjoy music, many genres of it, but I don’t have a particular favourite. You can say that it’s like I’m the sort to drift with the flow, lacking in personal likes and tastes or whatever, but I just think I listen to what appeals to me, so it can materialise in any language or form.

I don’t listen to radio and have never really been active in discovering music. Usually music happens in my life by chance, when I hear a song being played somewhere or when I pick it up from shows that I watch.

Popular culture affects me easily and music being part of it, gets to me just as easily. So I don’t know when it was that the K-pop tunes started popping into my life but I kind of like the tunes and of course who can (ok not me anyway) resist all that pretty images and videos that come along with it? They may be manufactured but that’s that industry and I’m the end user who doesn’t care too much about the process anyhow.

To give them credit, there are actually song-writers who are not just a so-called pretty face and there are some good and some not so good. Everyone has their brand of poison and what works for me may not for some others. I won’t need to have someone else share my like for k-pop because it could all well be a fad for me and maybe a lot of you will scoff at me or at k-pop or whatever it is. It’s just a personal like, and nobody is deriding you for the kind of things you like, so… let’s all live in peace shall we?

I got this in Tokyo last month, and I must say the tunes are quite infectious. I don’t know what they mean or if they make any sense at all but to me music is about the tune. The lyrics seldom matter as much to me.

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formula one in Singapore

The fourth F1 night race in Singapore concluded last night and as per past years I was only more than eager to be out of the City Hall area. I’m not really a fan of F1, even if somehow I believe more Singaporeans got to know about F1 and started to be interested in it after we started hosting it.

I used to take an interest in it during the hey days with the lethal combination of Ferrari and Michael Schumacher, but with his retirement went my interest too. I don’t know why but I just wasn’t that keen anymore, and I’ll blame it once more on my too-short attention/interest span. I just don’t take a very extended interest in many things in my life. Sad, but true.

So this post is actually not so much about F1. Haha. I was actually more interested¬†in the other events that were organised in conjunction with the F1, such as the concerts, but as they were all held outdoors it meant that again my keenness to attend them plummeted. I was initially quite keen to go catch (my current favourite) K-pop boyband Big Bang’s GD&TOP (and SeungRi) in concert on Friday night, and also Linkin Park (seems like I have liked them for a long time now, which is good news for me, means I do take a longer interest in somethings after all!) but these plans didn’t materialise eventually.

There were also a lot of other events taking place in the big name clubs about town of which I am no part of because I am already no longer that keen in clubbing, not that I ever was very keen to begin with, and because I’m not really a somebody to be part of that scene.

But on Friday evening I finally met up with someone I haven’t seen for such a long time. If I hadn’t initiated the meet-up, well it’s anyone’s guess if we’ll ever get to meet again. Sigh. Anyhow we met really early and by the time the night was almost over we were already done with 2 bottles of white wine. But I wasn’t really that ready to call it a night yet even if I had a morning class on Saturday, so we took a long walk in the warm night and ended up at City Hall, because I wanted to see some night scenery. What better place to do it then at one of the highest points of the city?

The lights on the race track were still on when we went up, and it provided a really stunning contrast against the rest of the city that was already turning down the lights.

But elsewhere it still seemed like a lot of activity was on-going.

The music playing that night was great for a couple hours of dancing even when I was completely oblivious to the crowd on the dance floor whom I didn’t want to be a part of. It feels awesome to let go and dance once in a while and get myself all tired out from moving to the beats. Of course it wasn’t easy to then pull myself out from a realm of enjoyment and surrealism and anchor my feet back to the firm ground, go back home and sleep for 4 hours before waking up still in an inebriated state for lessons. My head was throbbing from the too-much-alcohol the night before but the dance beats were still reverberating at the back of my mind.