Thursday, June 29, 2006


Tired...not been sightseeing much...just work, watching soccer, hotel and plentiful meals with client. But I will strive! I need to improve my chinese..

Really irritating that "fan-ti zi" is still widely used....

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Still alive and heading to Taiwan tomorrow!

Yes, the queen is still alive. Not defeated by fatigue due to the extreme late nights, last-minute packing and work.

I'll be travelling WITH the BOSS for two weeks. Pretty intimidating and weird. We'll see....Read the news today that there are protests in Kaohsiung at this moment. Apparently, huge protests were staged to demand the stepping down of their current President (Ah Bian)..Hopefully I'll catch a glimpse of it. It's not an everyday thing we see this in Singapore. In fact we don't.

To all my friends, ADIOS!! Can't wait to return home to welcome Huisin! ALL galfriends unite!! And Monty, miss ya....

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"Smiling" Singapore

As much as I'm excited about Singapore hosting the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank this September, the "Four Million Smiles" campaign seems odd. In the first place, why do we need campaigns to keep reminding us to smile? Are we cultivating "Stepford Wives"? Years of courtesy campaigns never seem to work. As it is, in a recent global courtesy test conducted by Reader's Digest , Singapore was placed 30 out of 35 cities. Top cities in courtesy rankings were New York, Zurich, Toronto, Sao Paulo, Zagreb and Berlin. Cities behind Singapore were Seoul, Kuala Lumpur and Mumbai.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Singapore Lions can dream on...

Due to the world cup fever, I have been watching soccer religiously over the past two nights. Sighs..I'm just wondering how I'll cope work for the next month.

Insofar, the underdogs have been performing extremely well: Ecuador beating Poland and Trinidad drawing Sweden. These underdogs have tiny populations, Trinidad with a population of 1million+ people, whereas Ecuador, 4 million+. To conclude, there is no correlation between probability of the entrance to the world cup and the country's population. Singapore has a small population too and why aren't we in the world cup?It boils down to passion, stamina, and exposure which dismayingly Singapore lacks. Therefore, I seriously see no point in pumping huge sums of money bringing in foreign talent...let's face it.

It's a waste of time fulfilling the 2010 dream.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Nothing much exciting

I'm delving in piles of work. Nothing much exciting. Really missing the times spent in St. Gallen and Andalucia.

At the end of this month, I'll have to pack my bags again and head to the southern part of Taiwan, Kaohsiung for work.

Sighs. Will be there for a month and will be watching World Cup all alone in the hotel room. Aaahhhh...The only thing I'm looking forward is to savour Taiwanese cuisine.

Gotta buy an English-Chinese dictionary at the end of this week...may have to conduct risk assessment workshops in Mandarin! Freak! I don't even know how to say "fraud" or "risk assessment" in Mandarin. Help help help....

Well, on a brighter note, by the end of this one month stint, I'm gonna be a guru in Chinese! Effectively bilingual and efficient in recognising "fan-ti zi". Anyone wanna join me in karaoke to practise Chinese? Haha....

Saturday, June 03, 2006

27th May: Impressions of Andalucia

I'd probably heard ten times of the Alhambra song before writing this entry.

I would describe my Andalucian Adventure to a Paella dish. A mixture of passion, colour, excitement and variety. Andalucia was the heartland of medieval Islamic Spain and visiting the three World Heritage cities: Seville, Cordoba as well as Granada had been spectacular. Not to forget Gibralter. The flamenco scene is prevalent and tapas is delectable and cheap. People are warm and sincere. Spain has much to offer and it would probably take many more days to savour its flavour. However, one may feel distant as the Spanish culture is so deeply ingrained in the people, cuisine and language. Indeed a country to marvel at a distance.

As always, it was hard to bade farewell, not only to my foreign surroundings but also to my travelling partner, Monty. We parted with heavy hearts at the Malaga train station only to look forward to the next journey with a hopeful certainty. But I believe, at every end, there is a beginning. Adios Andalucia, Ola Singapore.......

26th May: Granada

Granada is a city made for strolling and daydreaming. Both the artistic splendor of its monuments, as well as the beauty of the white-washed houses, fountains and pools are an eye-pleaser. The Alhambra palace fortress, dominating the Granada skyline from its hill-top perch, and the fascinating, labyrinthine Albazyin, Granada's old Islamic quarter are highlights not to be missed.

A little history of the Alhambra from the lonely planet: The Alhambra was a fortress from the 9th century. The 13th and 14th century Nasrid emirs turned it into a fortress palace complex adjoined by a small town (medina) of which only ruins remain. Yusuf I (1333-54) and Mohammed V (1354-59 and 1362-91) built the Alhambra's crowning glory, the Palacio Nazaries.

During the Napoleonic occupation, it was used as a barracks and narrowly escaped being blown up. In 1870, it was declared a national monument as a result of the huge interest stirred by Romantic Writers who wrote the tales of the Alhambra.

Tickets to the Alhambra are difficult to get, especially if you want to visit the Palacio Nazaries. Each day, only 6600 tickets are available, thus it's best to get tickets way beforehand. From the Alhanbra, one can see the mesmerising Albayzin, hilly streets and interesting alleys make up this old Muslim Quarter. One can't help feeling back in time as one wanders this mysterious town.

We ate dinner at a little restaurant in Albayzin. Can't help feeling a little sad as it was my last night in Spain. Time to leave this entralling country, which now I look back with fond memories. Dinner ended in a cold melacholy mood, with the song Alhambra playing in the background.

25th May: Flamenco

To me, flamenco is truly unique and sexy. Every clap and every tap of the feet evokes vigour and passion to the dance. Accompanied with the guitar music background, you are transported to another world, one that spells passion passion passion. A flamenco singer is known as a cantaor (male) or cantaora (female); a dancer is a (bailor/a). Flamenco songs come in various types: anguished, solemn, lively as well as upbeat. The traditional flamenco costume: shawl, fan and long frilly bata de cola dress. It is usually brightly coloured with prints. Men wear cordoban hats and tight black trousers.

This night, we were privileged to watch this flamenco performance. Check out this website for more details.

24th May 2006: Off to Cordoba

Cordoba (population 318,030) is a world heritage site. In the 10th century, it was proclaimed the capital of the Islamic World in the West. The city's most outstanding monument is the Mezquita-Cathedral (Great Mosque Cathedral). Nearly one thousand columns comprise this unique ancient mosque. However, after the Christian Reconquest, a gothic cathedral was built within the mosque. Surrounded by a battlemented wall, the Mosque-Cathedral creates a rectangle of 23,000 square metres, making it the third largest in the world.

We were very fortunate to witness the Cordoba Fair (Feria). In the day, friends and family gather as they sit and watch flamenco performances and indulge in mouthwatering spanish cuisine. In the night, the fair ignites into a bustling arena. Made shift tents with varied music were catered to all ages. The locals don in their traditional fanciful costumes and multifarious fun fair rides all add to the colour.

Friday, June 02, 2006

23 May 2006: Triana and the river (Seville)

I took this picture on the much admired bridge called Puente de Triana. As seen from the photo, one can see the Torre del Oro (literary meaning: Tower of Gold). It was built in the 13th century which formed part of the Almohade defence system. Across the river is an area called Triana (nothing much fanciful).

This day, we made our way to Alcazar or Royal Fortress. Pedro I left a lasting mark on the former Moslem fortress when he transformed it into a luxurious mudejar palace. The building went undergone further refurbishment during the sixteenth centurey, including the installation of architectural and scuptural features in the impressive gardens and garden mazes.

Spanish Cuisine

Bread, olives and wine are everywhere. Other essentials are the cured ham (very similar to proscuitto) and tapas tapas tapas!!! It is the quinessential culinary that you will not find outside Spain. These small rich dishes are reasonable (2-4 Euros) and tasty. They complement well with a glass of wine or beer. In fact, many locals stand around at bars, enjoying tapas, a good ole glass of beer, and good conversations. An excellent way for socialising. Interestingly, dinner starts late (quite similar to Singapore), between 9-10pm.

Other dishes I've tasted include paella, gazpacho (cold tomato soup) and Sangria (a famous wine drink). To me, it tastes a lil like the Singapore Sling (citrusy and sweet).

Monty and Lonely Planet!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

22 May 2006: More on Seville

We continued walking from the Cathedral to Plaza de Espana, a majestic building stretching up towards the sky. The main building material is brick, decorated with ceramics. Nearby are some parks, laced with beautiful well-kept ponds, trees, and playgrounds.

One finds delight in taking a short nap and riding on toy horses in playgrounds. Hah. Cute.

22nd May: Off to Seville (Cathedral and Giralda)

This is one of my favourite cities so far. It boasts a vast natural and cultural heritage, offering a mixture of fun, poetry, flamenco, history, fashion and handicrafts.

One of the highlight this city offers is the Cathedral of Seville. This Gothic temple is the largest temple in Spain and the third largest in Christendom, surpassed only by St Peter's in Rome and St. Paul's in London. Another city's symbolic feature is the Patio de los Naranja and Giralda, the remains of the Muslim Mosque. The giralda's bell tower is reached by climbing a hefty series of ramps (about 40) running round the tower's interior. Panting when I reached the top, but the view from atop was breath-taking.