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Saturday, 13 September 2014

This precisely describes the entire batch of NUS architecture class of 2015 because THE DISSERTATION HAS BEEN COMPLETED AND SUBMITTED! Very very thankful to have that abomination out of my life... for now. Until it is vetted and submitted for final printing shall i bid a fond farewell to it for good.

And what better way to celebrate post dissertation, which i have been looking forward to for the LONGEST time, than to celebrate it with good company! So wednesday was spent with the cell group with a picnic at SMU replete with food and merry-making with the usual icebreaker games. Because it was also a belated mid autumn festival celebration we also had to carry lanterns like children, wave sparklers around and try to take long exposure shots and set things on fire. Shurn decided to up the cool factor and bring his DRONE and fly it around the school much to the bewilderment of the students mugging in the seminar rooms. Suffice to say, many people didn't notice the drone because ahem, they were too focused on their work.

Unfortunately life and work didn't even pause for a little bit after submission and I had a 10am lecture to attend on Thursday, BOO. Weihan drove us to Dempsey to have a good lunch at Jones.. because free parking and also we like to pretend that we are high class once in a while. Twas really nice having al fresco dining, enjoying the beautiful weather before the humidity became unbearable, and chatting about random things without worrying about having to 'go back and do my dissertation'. Honestly, I've said that phrase so many times in the past 3 months it's incredulous. Squinting into the sunlight while eating some superb beef pappardelle was some good food for the soul and I should be so blessed that my life can be punctuated with peaceful moments like these amidst the craziness that is architecture school.

Met chags at orchard to squander our free time and check out the noise exhibition before meeting the other archi people. Thereafter we went to The Brat for some bratwursts/ burgers, where i had to endure watching kinkit eat a hotdog while resisting the urge to burst out laughing/ slap the hotdog out of his hands. We adjourned to Hotel Rendezvous to....... karaoke because belting out old chinese songs at the top of our lungs is the best reprieve from a 3 month long imprisonment to our chairs and laptops for a 10k word report.

Ended the day with some pizza and drinks at switch which was a fitting culmination to the day and signifies the long-anticipated end of the dissertation season WOOOOOOOOO

Friday was when i reprised my role as Math Tuition Teacher. Goodness, it's been really long since I had to deal with children/ do problem sums it's almost nostalgic looking at exam papers and answer keys. I guess this is an exercise in perseverance, patience and most importantly time management and prioritising. First lesson was surprisingly okay, and the kids I teach are good kids, so thank God for that! Had a dinner treat from jojo with senja at novena after that, during which i foolishly took the spicy ramen. Truthfully it wasn't that spicy at all, but these things.... they burn you twice, if you know what i mean.

And now I am done pretending that I have a life and will go back to researching on rainwater harvesting systems. /sulk

Also since it seems I have more readers than i expect.. ask me random questions to quell my boredom!
Hmm not expecting anything but let's just see what strangers on the internet ask.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

It's kind of hard to believe that i've already gotten my degree, especially since I have nothing to show for it yet. No certificate, no convocation photos, it's just been a silent acknowledgement of the past 4 years and what it's entailed. I don't know about other people, but it's hard for me to feel the sense of completion without events.

In other news, week 3 is over and i'm proud to say that i've attended every lecture so far, but looking at the impending deadline of my dissertation (which, btw I have not touched for the last 2 weeks OMG) this isn't a feat that i can upkeep in the next week.

So yesterday WH, chags and I went for lunch after lecture at Rotisserie for some good old chicken just like last year. Talk about slipping back into the rhythm of school. The number of people I can have lunch with after school has significantly dwindled because 1. people have graduated 2. people are on gap year 3. people are skipping school and i hardly see them anyway. cricricri thank goodness I still have weihan to whine/cry/bitch through this last year with.

On the way back to the car however, my cotton on flats failed me SPECTACULARLY as i slipped on some super slippery squishy mud on to my ass, though honestly given my clumsy nature i think i would have fallen anyway even if i were wearing any other footwear. I don't know if this hasn't happened in a while, or if my vocal chords were just shocked/asleep but i yelped in a super unglam/awkward manner that probably went something like AUGHOMGSQWEQ. Rachel spun around to see me sitting in a puddle of mud. Honestly i was in shock because slipping into mud as a 23 year old was not something i had ever expected myself to do (or replicate, for that matter) but the moment we made eye contact we burst out laughing.

Cleaning myself was a horrible ordeal though, and briefly brought back memories of the mud drill we did before frisbee competitions. Let me just say thank goodness my shorts were black/of thick material and easy to clean, and the people that witnessed my fall were Rachel and WH who are at least helpful during mishaps. Some kind auntie in a van that was waiting and watching for WH's parking lot offered her water to me and eventually came down with a cloth and literally wiped my ass for me. I'm not even exaggerating, she took her super awesome microfiber cloth and started wiping me down.. like I was a car – in fact i'm inclined to believe that the cloth was meant for cars, yknow? But nothing could be dirtier than my posterior at that point in time so like, whatever amirite, beggars can't be choosers.

And for posterity's sake here are my..... skid marks hahahahahahaha ew.

Friday, 15 August 2014

School has officially started, but to be honest i don't feel so different because the holidays were plagued with horrible research and work anyway. The sad, sad thing is that all my lectures this semester are at 10am which is unfortunately early for my standards. I don't understand why i still have to be subjected to this ugh i mean really, i'm already year 5 :(

The summer holidays have been uneventful to say the least, save for the one week trip to HCMC that i took in early june and now seems like an eternity ago because of all the other nonsense i've been doing, have done from then till now. So, a summary of things that occurred this holiday.

1. researched and wrote the bulk of my master's dissertation
2. met up with friends i hadn't seen in a while
3. bought a DW watch, and subsequently scratched it BOO but it is still my first love
4. worked at MBS for 2 days
5. finally tried lady M cakes (and decided that i don't like it that much after all)
6. went back to rg for homecoming
8. did an mini architour with jarrell and his tutor at the bartlett, paolo
9. bought many many rings to zazz up my outfits for school
10. did some handicraft in procrastination of doing any real work
11. visited the river safari

Pictorial summary

It was a peaceful holiday but for now, back to the grind.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Pho-fillment / Ho Chi Minh City

A little more than a month ago, I decided that I wanted to take a short trip to somewhere nearby by myself and went through the pre-trip ritual of comparing flight prices and destinations and attractions. So I decided on Saigon because firstly it was very very cheap and secondly, because Di kindly offered to house me on my trip. Senja ended up coming with me I guess because of the lure of $140 return ticket and free accommodation.

I usually plan my itinerary down to the hour and google how to get from place to place by public transport but this time was a little different because Di said she'd bring me around and I really did not want to give myself a headache by navigating all these Vietnamese websites so I threw caution to the wind, my hands in the air and said meh, que sera sera. Old habits die hard though, so the night before the flight I did a quick scan of tripadvisor and plot the places of attraction on google maps to bring with me (and thank goodness I did, too).

Cathedral of Notre-Dame
Central Post Office (tourist trap)
City Hall

I've never felt so pampered on a trip without my parents before. Di's family was incredibly hospitable; her mum made us breakfast and dinner almost every day, and took care to let us try a plethora of authentic Vietnamese food. It was also a great blessing that her mum was a fabulous cook. There was never a night when Senja and I weren't stuffed to the brim and rolling around on the bedroom floor in sheer satisfaction. This trip also marked the first time I sat pillion on a scooter – it was both exhilarating and terrifying to be carrying your luggage and holding on for dear life while being navigated through the congested road.

The only drawback was that the weather was unrelenting, oscillating between being extremely hot and torrential downpour. The good thing about visiting Saigon during this period is that it is the season for tropical fruits and omg, let me just say that the fruits are heavenly. By the grace and generosity of Di's family, Senja and I managed to try a grand total of 19 fruits: banana (grown in Di's backyard), jackfruit, dragonfruit, custard apple, pineapple, pomelo, lychee, longan, watermelon, burmese grape, durian, rambutan, papaya, guava, mango, mangosteen, coconut, plum and some water chestnut-like fruit, some of which I had never come across until then. 

Ben Thanh Market
Antique Street
Cao Dai Temple
Cu Chi Tunnel

Even though so much was taken care of for us, we still had to navigate by ourselves occasionally. Most notably when we were trying to get to Saigon Square 1 from Saigon Square 2 and were too cheap to pay for the taxi fare there even though it was just a couple of dollars. It culminated in us using a good old printed map because google maps was being of little help to us and taking 45 minutes to walk there, against the advice of many. It was a blessing in disguise too, because we saw other cute shops on the way there.
Mekong Delta

We did the usual touristy things, travelling out to Mekong Delta and Cu Chi tunnels, shopping to our hearts content at Saigon Square (1 AND 2!), ate uncountable bowls of Pho, enjoying iced Vietnamese coffee while the sun beat relentlessly on our back, visited some poorly curated museums, buying lots of souvenirs (food!), being shouted at by locals on the street, being terrified to cross the roads and not being able to communicate properly with anyone. But we've also managed to see how locals live by being taken around on scooter and being fed homemade Vietnamese cuisine. I've not felt so touched and pampered by the grace of others in a long time and I'm so so thankful that this trip happened and Senja was there to enjoy it with me!

I've been back for two weeks or so already, but looking at the photos I took and the things I wrote in my travel journal make me hungry for more travel. May I never lose this sense of adventure and curiosity of the world.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

I made the awful mistake of cutting chilli padi with my bare hands today – as such I am paying the consequences for my foolishness because 5 and a half of my fingers are on fire and I have to intermittently rest them on my handy dandy ice pack. It was a good day though! Made both lunch and dinner today. Reminds me of exchange... Le sigh.

Basil pork and prawn aglio olio

- minced meat
- fish sauce
- white pepper powder
- prawns
- dried basil
- ground black pepper
- pasta of choice
- olive oil
-  garlic, finely minced
- cut chilli padi, without seeds

1. Cook the pasta for 12 minutes with some oil and salt in the pot.
2. Drain the pasta and blanche it to make sure it remains al dante
3. Mix the minced meat with some fish sauce and white pepper
4. Heat the pan up and put in the olive oil. Wait for the oil to heat up before putting in the garlic.
5. After the garlic browns, put in the minced meat. When they are half cooked, throw in the prawns, followed by half of the chilli padi.
6. After the prawns and minced meat are cooked, put in the pasta and mix well. Throw in the rest of the chilli padi. Let simmer for 3-4 minutes

Garlic butter salmon with lemon

- salmon fillet
- salt and pepper
- ground black pepper
- minced garlic
- butter (3 parts)
- lemon juice (2 parts)
- olive oil

1. Season the fillet with salt and pepper and coat in think layer of olive oil.
2. Melt the butter over a bowl of hot water. Add in the minced garlic and the lemon juice.
3. Pour oil into the skillet and cook the side with the skin first. Flip when appropriate. Fillet should not be over cooked and should be removed from the stove once fully cooked.
4. Pour the lemon garlic butter over and around the fish once plated. Grind black pepper on the fillet

Fried salmon skin

Same as the salmon fillet except with more oil and this needs to be pat dry before frying. No lemon, garlic or butter needed.

Baked potato, carrot, onions

- potatoes
- carrots
- onions
- minced garlic
- salt 
- olive oil
- dried basil
- ground black pepper

1. Peel and chop the PTO into appropriate sizes.
2. Pour some oil, salt and pepper into a glass baking pan.
3. Throw the vegetables in with some minced garlic and toss.
4. Drizzle more olive oil over with some salt, black pepper and dried basil.
5. Pre heat over to 250 degrees.
6. Bake for about 30 minutes.

I've also had dissertation meeting (burden slightly lifted) on Tuesday followed by the hilarious Godzilla with Chags, YJ and Ken. So far this week has been good to me, and I leave for HCMC on the 1st can't wait can't wait adventure awaits!!

Monday, 26 May 2014

There are some things that can brighten up my week, like getting a new non-stick frying pan that is easy to wash and doesn't ruin my onion egg breakfast. The morning started out pleasant, and paved the way for what made for an enjoyable and relaxing day.

Met the ex-colleagues at what appears to be the next new hangout lunch place for some Vietnamese food, which was surprisingly good and very satisfying. Then Chags and I walked to bugis to the Korean mart for her to get her red pepper sauce. After which we walked all the way to Lavender for Naiise's pop up store which was quite nicely presented but nevertheless expensive.

After discovering that In The Woods and Chye Seng Heng Hardware was closed, we proceeded to a nearby, nondescript cafe called Anythingz cafe. The aroma of a freshly made pot of earl grey tea and calming acoustic music in an empty cafe is one of those few pleasures in life that are few and far between and if anything, this post serves to remind myself to be thankful for these moments that I can pause and catch my breath. Admittedly, I've not been doing much work lately and I'm due to leave for Vietnam next week (woo!)  but it's easy in the thick of things to feel resentful and burdened by life.

I've also managed to convince myself that I need a teapot and a matching teacup, but couldn't find any in the magical land opposite Chags' house where they sell old hotel cutlery and crockery. I suppose a visit to Daiso is in order – one can always find a bargain there. Spent a half hour at her house before Daddy whisked me off to a comforting steamboat dinner.

I wish days like these would stay for a while.

Today is Senja's birthday!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

This week makes me feel like I actually have a social life. Of course the direct implication of that is that I have not been doing much work at all, being either out with people or watching korean dramas.

Met the Wynne on monday at parkway to chill and catch up because we hadn't seen each other in a while despite whatsapping each other nonsense things very often. So we took up space at starbucks for quite a bit before having lunch. It's weird actually; I don't actually remember what we talked about offhand or even what kind of things we were talking about (gossip?) but that was a rather enjoyable afternoon in the comfortable company of a close friend. 


Had to take the old macbook to orchard for reformatting which quite plainly did not work out. My bus only  would go as far as Somerset so I had to walk to Orchard from there. But when I reached there I'd found that the service centre had vanished!! A quick  google suggested that it might possibly be in Somerset, where I came from :< so I walked back there after browsing through F21 in search of a perfectly sized brown sling bag. (Urgh after typing that I went on qoo10 to find a sling bag I'm like a gnat) So I couldn't find the service centre in Somerset and further googling indicated that it was in fact still in orchard. I refused to walk back there so I made a call only for the technician to tell me that there was no more hardware support for this macbook. Boo.

Met the Qi on Wednesday for lunch  during which we naively joined the long queue for the fish head beehoon and dapaued it back to my house to eat. It was good but definitely not worth the queue in that hot, stuffy hawker centre. Well now I know. It's amazing how we can not talk for really long but there weren't any awkward silences between us and there're still things to talk and reminisce about. It's a warm feeling really, to know that perhaps this is how friendship works. You click and you're set for life.

Had a simple dinner with the JC class on Thursday which was enjoyable save for the fact that 90% of them were in finance and were rattling off finance jargon etc etc etc and I being of the arts stream now had completely no idea what they were going on about. I suppose this is what people would feel like if they ever sat in on a dinner with the architecture people. We were supposed to eat crab but nobody felt like getting their hands dirty, including me. I guess this is what growing old is doing to us; rejecting yummy food in favour of dignity and convenience.

We proceeded to island creamery after that though, all 10 of us squeezed into Hannah's 7 seater. Gosh that was an experience, and also literally the closest that all of us had ever been. If this was JC I'd have been disgusted but it was actually a rather fun experience. I say this in retrospect because at that time I was rather fearful for my life.

Tuale was hilarious, and also the only person to have changed since JC times.
Me: you don't have bus from here meh? should have what.
TL: have la, but i don't know what bus
Me: I help you find la
TL: Aiya, don't need la I take train. Why? scared of taking train with me ah
Me: *taken aback* no la, you dare or not (he was scared of me in JC)
TL: no la, last time still young, now I 长大 already, not scared anymore.

This coming from someone whom I have not said more than 15 sentences to in the whole of JC.

Had dinner with the archi people yesterday after going through the DID grad show. Couple of interesting projects and some really bewildering ones. Was pangsehed by Yilong who decided that Godzilla would take precedence over friends, and Chaggs, who in all fairness was excused because high probability of shitting her pants over dinner.
Our rosti with sunny side up. WEIRDEST COMBINATION EVER. Also zhoey decided to make him cry and kits decided to give him a moustache but if we're being honest here that's a terrible attempt at facial hair.

All in all, a wonderful week :)