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.

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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!

Formula One Night Race

I never really considered the prospect of watching any of the F1 races, not when they first made their way onto our shores in 2008, and not even now when they are into their fifth year. I thought it would be rather pointless sitting at the sideline in tolerance (or not) of the heat and noise, and not being able to see anything other than bright colours of the race cars zipping past at speeds of 200 kmph or more.

Well I was partly right. But even with just that, and on a night where the excitement was relatively muted because it was a qualifying race, the live experience of seeing the cars in action and hearing the thunderous roar of these high performance machines was quite unparalleled.

One of my friends had a pair of complimentary tickets (yes yours truly is the el cheapo sometimes) for the Padang grandstand and asked if I’d like to attend and of course I said yes! Ok maybe not so emphatically because we all know how much I love our classic tropical humidity, but I thought it might be a great experience and since the weather has been a little kinder these few days.

So here’s how the ticket looks like:

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I didn’t bring a camera along so I didn’t take any photos of the track or the cars from where I sat, not that I think my reflexes would be quick enough to capture the cars in motion. But the view was splendid, with us being in the third row. There were three qualifying rounds with cars being eliminated each round but the final one sealed the deal for which driver would have the privilege of starting from pole, which is considerably important for our track that is supposedly a tough one for overtaking. Not impossible but tough. I haven’t been following F1 these few years so I was really lost as to who’s in what car, I just saw the Ferraris, Red Bulls, McClarens and whatever flying past and the atmosphere was wonderful I can only imagine how electrifying it must be on race night itself.

After the qualifiers ended at about 10, the Ferrari challenge came on but we didn’t stay on for that. We went back onto the Padang where hordes of people congregated and waited for the concert to begin at 11.

We do have quite a beautiful night view, especially from the Padang that is boxed in from each side by skyscrapers, this being the CBD side of it.

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Maroon 5 burst onto the stage promptly at some minutes past 11 and the crowd just went wild when we heard the first sounds of coins being slotted into what would be a payphone, one of their hits. It was an hour of non-stop entertainment from Adam Levine and co., and he proved to be quite the crowd puller as the women went crazy over him and even the men got so high when popular songs like This Love, Won’t Go Home Without You and Harder To Breathe, amongst others, were performed. The part I liked most was when after a short break they came onstage again and sang She Will Be Loved, acoustic style. The entire field sang along for that song, and even guests of Swissotel were all perched on their balconies listening in to the concert. The response from the crowd beat that for their final song Moves Like Jagger, probably because that is more difficult to sing along to, or perhaps everyone was just too caught up dancing to the catchy tunes of that song. It was fantastic seeing everyone enjoying themselves so much and we certainly had a great time despite it being a little muggy sometimes and second smoke marring our enjoyment momentarily.

The stage setup was pretty amazing and it easily trumps other stages in some concerts I’ve watched. You can just think of how much money went into this whole F1 business. But I was glad I went and am really grateful to my friend for the ticket and an excellent night out!

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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!

 

time sprouted wings and flew away

What happened to time? There are days… too many days, when I have felt that time is passing too fast, or has passed too fast that I have lost the ability to get even a weak grasp on it.

It felt like so long ago since I returned to Singapore, yet actually I have been back for less than 48 hours. The bumpy flight touched down before 6 in the morning, I got about 3 hours of sleep when I got home and headed out to watch… yes, SS4 at the SIS! Last year I caught SS3 with complimentary tickets; this year I paid the full price of the tickets. I think it was well worth the price, not just because the concert lasted 4 hours but I think it was an excellent concert. No doubt I didn’t know many of the songs and really had no idea what they meant, but the energy coursing through the stadium, the effort that the boys were putting into the 4-hour long concert, draining themselves of every ounce of energy, that is something to be admired and appreciated. Although, I felt it was somehow a little different from how I felt last year. Maybe I was just tired because I hadn’t had much sleep and none on the flight back, but I thought the crowd wasn’t as high as what I had felt when I was at the YG Family Concert at Saitama Arena last month. While at the SIS, I could really see how different they were in size. When I was in the Arena, I couldn’t even see that well the singers on stage. Here in SIS, I could see most of them, and most of the times I could even make out their facial expressions, particularly because they were coming much closer to the audience.

At the YG concert that also lasted 4 hours, there were more people performing so they took turns and definitely had their share of resting time but the audience never let up. They were so high throughout the entire concert even if we couldn’t see very well the people on the faraway stage, and they cheered for every single performer who took to the stage, no matter if it was Big Bang, or maybe someone less-known. Well we have all heard of how great a concert crowd outside Singapore can be and I got to experience it first hand just about a month ago. It was truly amazing, and I think we paled in comparison. But we tried hard too. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it even though I was really feeling my energy seeping out of me in each passing minute and second.

So today… I decided to do some personal stuff, and now it’s already half-past 11. Time just slips by so fast. I need better time management I think. Especially now that I have less time around here, I need to have better control of my time and how I spend it. There are so many distractions and commitments here back home that I can’t really seem to be able to have time for all of them. Actually even while abroad, without all those distractions, there were also days I wasn’t able to manage an 8-hour night of sleep. Probably I really have time management issues and I seriously need to re-think the way I spend my minutes and seconds. It isn’t like I have done much though because it certainly hasn’t felt like much.

What’s happening to time? Has the Earth’s daily orbit become shorter gradually that what seemed sufficient before is now not enough? Or is it just the concept of time running out on me?

morning dalliances

I’m glad that Friday is here! But it’s a tiring morning, especially when the last few days saw long days packed with stuff. Lessons on Monday and Tuesday, concert on Wednesday and beer-drinking + music last night! Today is going to be another day but at least there is no work tomorrow.

The only two pictures I managed with the dying phone on Wednesday night. This was the before picture, slightly past 8pm, when it was still rather empty. The stage set-up was really weird actually, because they have 2 huge speakers at both sides of the stage that if you were sitting in the blocks of seats right next to the stage, you can see nothing because they obscure your view of the stage totally.

People started trickling in later, and before the lights went off, the standing area was pretty much filled up. There were some people who were sitting near where I was who came in late, at about 930pm. Why they would be so late and why they still bothered, I don’t know. C’mon, if you are attending a concert that is supposed to start at 8pm, even factoring in all the delays and whatever, 930pm is seriously a bit too ridiculous?

Last Christmas during the C&E members’ sale, I bought¬†a huge tub of pomegranate-flavoured body lotion that I adored. It smelled really good without being overpoweringly sweet, and the texture was rich enough to moisturise in cold and dry weather yet doesn’t leave a sticky residue after application. It lasted me for a few trips, when I went to Tokyo in February then Hong Kong in April and most recently in Mexico. I never really use moisturisers in Singapore because there really isn’t a need to when I don’t sleep in airconditioned rooms, and I’m just too lazy to do it. But I can’t afford to be lazy when I’m abroad because I don’t like to see my skin flaking.¬†

So I got a nice surprise on Wednesday too  when I was presented with this!

I haven’t tried it yet but at first whiff it smells like something I would like, lightweight and fresh. Many thanks to my dear pal!

And… I recently discovered that a small hint of civilisation landed near the workplace. It isn’t the best but if we make do, it’s still not too bad.

Yay to takeaway local coffee/tea! I don’t think we will ever see the day when chains like Starbucks, Spinelli or Segafredo pop up around here but we can always wish can’t we? Yesteday during lunch we were talking about those mobile food operators that we saw around for a really short while many years back but somehow were discontinued. I think they are a great idea, like what we always see in other countries in the region especially Japan; provides more options during meal times for deprived folks like us!