In a state of haze…

Again, I have lost the will and motivation or inspiration to write. As I talked to a friend over lunch today, I realise that there is something I need to do. To let go and just take care. Yet it is often easier said than done.

Sometimes, it hurts a lot inside, from what I do not know exactly. Probably it is just the culmination of things that happen around, stuff people do that somehow have an impact on me, whether it is a case of over-sensitivity or over-thinking on my part, or simply because it is easier to think that way rather than feel positive. Oddly, it feels so much tougher to be positive.

Flash back to July when I went to Sapporo for holidays, we rented a bicycle on the second day when we visited Furano. In stark contrast to the first day when we went to Farm Tomita where the sun blazed down furiously and threatened to give me a heat stroke, the second visit saw the temperature almost halved as a light drizzle fall from the low-hanging rain clouds overhead. It was a cool, almost cold (at least to me) day, which made it a nice ride at a leisurely pace. However, we probably overestimated our own stamina and fitness, because some parts of the route that we had to take to the Cheese Factory were somewhat uphill that left us panting for breath. Particularly when the bicycles that we had weren’t exactly the best that facilitated easier riding.

But still, it was a nice week away from everyday life. Sapporo, though just another city like Tokyo, is rather different. It is much smaller in comparison and the pace of life seemed to be slower too. It was more enjoyable in a certain way, and each day on waking it was just to think of where we should go for our daily meals to indulge our gastronomic senses.It is haze season in Singapore right now, if that is the right term to use. Haze visits us almost on an annual basis, courtesy of our neighbouring country, but it comes at different times depending on the year. I can’t remember when it usually happens, but the last time when it was really bad was in 2013 and that came in June, when thankfully I was away on a business trip in France, and suffered through the choking haze upon my return for a day before some heavy rain and change of wind direction took the haze away pretty much.

This time, it’s already September but the haze suddenly came to us and one evening it got so bad that from Raffles Place where I could usually see far beyond the horizon of the Marina Bay area, I couldn’t even see the Singapore Flyer. Supposedly, the PSI went up past 200 that evening, but a light rain eased it slightly, and then rains over these couple of days have also helped a bit, although the wind direction is still not changing to move the haze away from us.

In one of my yoga classes, the teacher reminded us to still be thankful, because we know this is temporary, and as compared to certain cities that are perpetually shrouded in smog and haze for the good part of the time, we are already very lucky. She told us that when we have our sunny skies or rainy days back, we ought to think back on this hazy period and give thanks that we can have those hot, sunny days or wet, rainy days where the sky is blue and the air is crisp.

There are many things to give thanks for, yet I just want one thing now, though I have no idea when that is going to happen.

cold but sunny

The climate here in Shanghai now reminds me of some of those trips that I made to Tokyo in recent years during winter time, when the sun is out in its blazing glory with sunshine that is so glaring that you have to squint your eyes whenever you’re facing where the sun comes from, but yet the air and the entire atmosphere is so cold that the moment you exit the warmth and cosiness of a building and its heated environment, your whole being wakes up from being arrested by that jolt of shiver that runs down your spine. It is a nice feeling actually, despite that I don’t take to the cold well at all. I am averse to extremities in temperatures, either hot or cold, and although I prefer cold to hot, my body doesn’t adjust too well to it. The skin on my hands are so dry and wrinkly like a dried-up prune, even with the copious slathering of hand cream and lotions throughout the day. I have been pretty religious about applying body lotion so for now I think the rest of the body is ok, it’s just the hands that are constantly exposed to the harsh, dry climate since I don’t wear gloves and it is virtually impossible to even if I had wanted to because I need to work, sans gloves. 20131128-083300.jpg

But cold and sunny is definitely better than cold and rainy/drizzly/gloomy. At least when I step outside I don’t feel like the climate is making me depressed. Whether it is for work or play, I’m sure most people prefer sunny days, because it just makes us feel better. Rain is good, only when I’m indoors and sipping on a cup of hot cocoa, wrapped up in a thick, fuzzy blanket with nice music piped in in the background.

This is the kind of weather that goes perfectly well with Christmas actually, the cold (and the sun that I like), but I am looking forward to going home as well. Today is the final day of work here, and this has been a fairly good trip. Maybe psychologically I already feel good about it, especially it being the year-end and this being the last trip, and for the whole of the 10 or so days that I have been in Shanghai thus far, only Sunday was a downer because it rained pretty much the whole day and it was cold, windy and gloomy. The other days were fine, with bouts of sunshine and cloudiness, but usually mornings are bright and cheery.

Happy Thursday everyone! It’s Friday tomorrow!

finding my way home

It has been a few days since I have returned from the so-called City of Love, or City of Lights, I don’t know which is the true moniker but those are the two that I have heard of.

While I was away, I had been hearing and reading of reports of the annual haze that would blanket Singapore, and this year it seemed especially serious and bad, with the PSI hitting the 400-region, somewhere we have never ever come close to before. Even the last reported worst situation that took place in 1997, the highest-recorded reading was 200+ and I remembered back then, it was already very bad because I recalled being out in town and when the haze hit a bad patch, the burnt smell was choking and visibility was greatly reduced.

It wasn’t surprising then, that airport operations were affected, since planes need extra care in taking off and particularly landing, when visibility is compromised. The flight I returned on on Saturday morning was not delayed, but we had a rather bumpy landing. And it was pretty evident that the sky was blanketed in a cloud of grey, and perhaps I was being imaginative, but I thought I could already detect whiffs of the haze while still being in the plane as we waited for the doors to be opened. Standing in line at the taxi rank also afforded me a hazy view of the situation, and truly the air quality was bad. I couldn’t breathe properly, and was glad to shut the doors of the taxi and proceed home.

That morning, the haze was rather bad, though an improvement from the days before. I was also monitoring the PSI when I was still in Paris, even though there were some comments circulating online about the veracity of the published figures on NEA’s website, I guess it was still a gauge of how things were.

Thank God that the situation became better during the rest of Saturday, and from then until now, I kept praying that the winds will continue to stay in our favour. It’s unfortunate that our neighbour up-north is now bearing the brunt of the forest blazes, but I’m thankful we have clearer skies now. Despite that the weather is now extremely humid, a marked difference from before I left for Paris, I think we all would rather have just the humidity and enjoy clear blue skies with clean air. Before this episode, even if we always expect that haze to return each year during this warmest periods of our climate, we never imagined things would become so bad that at a point in time, there were so many people wearing masks out on the streets. Not even in Tokyo have I seen so many masked people.

The weather in Paris was unpredictable, alternating between bright sunny days and gloomy rainy days, with temperatures fluctuating from the 10s to high-20s. It was all very nice there, in terms of weather, and even the weekend I spent where we were blessed with glorious sunshine on both days. But I am still happy to be home; these are the days when I would appreciate home and my family. July is coming around soon, with half of 2013 almost gone. Time is passing too quickly…

back from hibernation!

Oh yes, it has been quite some time. I realised the last post I did was more than a week ago, being the Sunday night that I arrived in Tokyo and was really keen to post an entry on my thoughts of the movie I caught on-board.

I took a week-long vacation in Tokyo, and it wasn’t like I was busy with a packed schedule that I found no time to blog. Instead, I was like, on most of my holidays, pretty free. I just didn’t have the mood or energy to because it isn’t easy to write properly with pictures using just an iPhone, and besides somehow each evening or night when I got back to my hotel room, I seemed to have so many other things to keep me occupied that I rarely found time to blog. Now that kind of intrigues me because if you were to ask me what kept me from blogging and also sleeping early, I have no idea. I didn’t sleep as much as I’d wanted to, except perhaps for the first couple of nights, because subsequently, I managed only about 5-6 hours per night, not unlike what I generally get back home.

Weather in Tokyo is pretty freaky. It’s a worldwide phenomenon I suppose, since even as recent as April there were still parts of the world that are having snowfall, even in Japan where sakura is blooming and snow falling at the same time. Now that is weird. The blossoming of sakura is a spring occurrence, and as far as general knowledge is concerned, I think snow is a winter thing? Anyway, it is weird. Even for the week that I was there, I’d experienced vast swings of temperatures, from a cold windy Sunday that slowly got warmer towards the middle of the week. It even went as high as 20+ degrees Celsius and I could do with just a light sweater. Everything changed on Friday though, as the mercury on the barometer dipped as sudden as a thunderstorm happens in Singapore. It was chilly when I went out on Friday, and on Saturday as I made my way westwards to Saitama, Seibu, I swore I almost lost myself to hypothermia. While I sat in a packed sports arena that was sheltered but unfortunately not covered (at the sides), the drizzle that had not let up for a day made me shiver to my bones, even with 4 layers of clothes, a spring coat, a light scarf, and some heat packs pasted on my body.

I know I don’t take to cold well, but I didn’t expect it to get so cold, almost close to zero that night. I felt really miserable that day despite that the concert I went to watch should have cheered me up but it didn’t really.

During this week, I’ll make up for the absence, hopefully with some pictures that I managed to snap while on the trip. Good Monday night to all, and have a great rest of the week ahead!

singapore’s weather is just weird

Don’t you think so? I came back on Saturday evening to gloomy skies and rainy weather that I was told of by a friend, and even when it was announced in the flight upon touch-down that the temperature was about 24 degrees Celsius, I couldn’t quite believe that we were actually having temperatures that low. Usually 24 only happens indoors. In my office, I think it probably hovers around 14. Haha, ok I kid.

But Saturday did prove to be rather chilly. I couldn’t really wait at home, so I decided to quickly unpack whatever I needed to and rushed out again for one hot yoga class. After one week in cold, snowy Helsinki, the hot yoga session was amazing. I was indoors most of the time of course, and the air-conditioning made everything feel colder than it was. The rain just kept on going, even on Sunday, and the whole Sunday whether in or outside, I felt like it was really cold. Ok, cold by Singapore’s standards. I went for another hot yoga class on Sunday and could already feel the weariness in me. Oddly, Saturday was fine but Sunday was more tiring, probably due to the greater heat in the studio on Sunday, I don’t know. Made a silly mistake and went for a wrong class after that, which I sort of regretted but was too late to step out of. I always find it necessary or polite to observe some kind of etiquette when it comes to attending yoga classes but my friend just told me with a straight face she would have walked out of class if she realised the mistake. Hmm.

Then today, the sun finally made an appearance. And our little city just decidedly heated up. In the afternoon, a sudden heavy shower fell for a really short time, and then humidity set in. As I was making my way through my errands and rushing for classes, I could feel the beads of perspiration forming at the nape of my neck and forehead, and I started to wonder about where the cool weather went to. No hot class for me today; I didn’t want to have three consecutive days of hot yoga, even if in the past I attended them on a daily basis. I think I need some variety. So I went for power yoga class, which was… intense. The sun salutation flow was so fast I struggled a little to catch up, and then the poses thereafter, a one-legged side crane/crow which I totally couldn’t get into, and then some other deep back-bending asanas, and finally… the hand stand. Honestly, I can’t even do a head stand, so the hand stand was challenging. My teacher was really nice though, and tried to teach me how to get into it, step by step. I still can’t do it as of now, but am in the process of building strength in my arms and hands, and of course the most important part of yoga practice, the core. By then, my arms were already feeling like jelly, so it was tough. Came out from a non-hot yoga class drenched in sweat, and proceeded for the second class but with an interval that caused the body to cool already, so even though it was a yoga stretch class, I think I didn’t do all that well. My shoulders are starting to ache now, and I suspect tomorrow I will begin to experience the full blown aches in my muscles. I just hope I won’t start to build the bulky muscles in my arms like I did in the past, with all the carbohydrates that I am putting into my system and my physique happened to be one of those that build bulk really easily and quickly. Sigh.

Ok this was supposed to be a post about the weather but somehow gravitated towards yoga. Oh well, some day someone is going to tell me again that I am getting too much into the yoga practice that all I ever talk about is yoga. But, I choose who I talk to these days about yoga. PT this Sunday! I can’t wait!