Friday, June 29, 2007
the first week of school has gone by, and all of us are having holiday withdrawals. i am missing waking up to a big hot bowl of pho, or a 50c street cart baguette stuffed with ham and salami and pate and pork floss, with tangy mayo and sweet pickles. vietnam was one of the best holidays i've ever been on, perhaps because the people are friendly, the street are always bustling and alive, prices are low, bargaining is actually possible (i flap my armpit at bangkok!), and the scenery is gorgeous. and perhaps because the company was awesome! ianmathewsthegrumpyowl, thanks for being one of the best holiday buddies a girl could ask for. not to mention jean, den and sham, who are a ton of fun to run around town with.
more about vietnam later, once i organise my photos. but first, the results of the quiz everyone's been taking :
(in case the box doesn't load, i inserted the text below)Amanda Lam --
A master of storytelling
in accordance with my dictionary definition, i will tell you one of the most exciting stories i know, the story of a piece of swiss cheese who sits in a cupboard and does absolutely nothing. it is riveting. i will tell it to you next time so that you are kept in suspense.
i tried ian, and got this :ian mathews --
A person of questionable sanity who starts their own cult
however, i think this takes the cake :wayne yap --
i did in no way make this up.
| mando | 11:03 PM
Sunday, June 17, 2007
it is now day 4 of our vietnam adventure, and up until yesterday we have not experienced the famous vietnam summer monsoon weather. it has been sunny and clear skies all day long! except yesterday, after we returned utterly spent and ho-chi-minh'ed out from our city tour to rest did these really ominous-looking black clouds rush over the city and swirl around in the sky. it was like a scene from twister. i have never seen black clouds move so fast. of course from the safety and comfort of our hotel room, we thought it was only appropriate to stick our heads out of the window and yell down to everyone in the streets "run! run for your lives!". but apparently in vietnamese that means "put on a poncho while still riding your moving motorbike and carry on honking cheerfully at everyone".
so far, hanoi has been amazing. the sights we have been to see, like the temple of literature, ho chi minh's presidential palace, and the museum of ethnology have been beautiful and we had to pick our jaws up from the flood quite a few times. pictures will come when i get home! there are reminders of the long and painful struggle for vietnam's independence everywhere, in the museums, the hoa lu prison (nicknamed the hanoi hilton). i've learnt a ton of history i should have known but never bothered to read before. and call me brainwashed by all this propaganda, but i do think that ho chi minh was a great man. throughout his long fight for vietnam's independence, his sense of morality was unshakeable. he was always fighting for his people, he cared about the agricultural industry intensely as that was how 80% of his countrymen made their living. he spent a lot of time changing his name and fleeing from certain arrest and death, for being a political insurgent. but why do political insurgents exist, but to defend a race of people oppressed? he never spoke down to a person of a lower status than him, and the people during his time and now have an intense love for the man, because he could drink tea with powerful leaders like chairman mao (quite a few photos show these two dudes having a good chuckle over some tieguanyin), but he could also sit around and chat with regular citizens about how to properly harness a buffalo.
today we move on to ho chi minh to meet jean, denise, shameer and weeming. i'm really sad to leave hanoi, because aside from the tourist attractions, there's a certain charm in the narrow streets that wind around the old quarters. people honk at you constantly, not because they're being rude, but because they aren't too keen on knocking you down. money is on everyone's minds here, with people constantly trying to sell us things. the handicrafts are beautiful, lacquer and silk and traditional water puppets that wiggle their heads and flap their arms when you pull a string. and of course the food is awesome. i'm glad i don't have to pack myself into my luggage because it will really be ten times overweight. there's pho galore, bun bo nam bo (beef noodles, but cooked a different way from pho), cha ca (grilled fish which you do yourself, like pepper lunch, and you eat it with a lot of veg and cold rice noodles), baguettes stuffed with every imaginable thing. haven't eaten dog yet, but have seen a lot running around the souvenir shops as pets. ian says they're just waiting for the dogs to become ripe.
our hotel here is awesome, the manager binh and his crew are really amazing at making you feel at home. they upgraded us to a more expensive room after our return from halong bay (also freaking fantastic trip) because they ran out of cheaper rooms. every room in our hotel has a computer with internet, so we feel really spoiled. also, our hotel is in the middle of the old quarters, so if you throw a stone, you can hit something interesting. of course if the something interesting is a bunch of old dudes sitting around playing chess, they'd be really pissed at you.
so long and farewell, no more internet til i get back to singapore, so i'll see you then!
| mando | 3:27 AM
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
i have so far succeeded in packing my holiday full of movies, food, and quality lounging! actually not so much lounging as sitting bolt upright on my swivel chair digging my nails into the seat in terror while watching heroes. i heart hiro!
also, me and el have been putting our heads together (with the result that we both have nasty bruises on our foreheads) to come up with the operation theatre 2 script. it's great working with el because she's so wacky and funny, and we think the same things. we're not seasoned writers at all, we haven't written any full-length scripts before, and we sort of fell into this ass-backwards. but we've become so invested in these characters and the story that a whole bunch of us created that we're just having a blast writing this thing. i may not be saying the same thing later on, when i'm trying to write a new song at 2am, but for now, i'm really enjoying myself. that's always what theatre's been about for me. maybe it's because i'm a complete amateur, but it's always been about getting a big group of people together, putting on outrageous costumes, making some kick-ass props, making magic with the lights, spinning some good tracks, and having a good time. and somehow, every experience has always been fun. i hope the cast and crew has a good time with whatever we come up with. if it's not funny enough, i'll stick a monkey in there and see if that ups the comic factor. that seems to be what the pirates of the carribean guys are doing.
tomorrow i am leaving for the city of hanoi! i expect to become very close to God there, especially when crossing roads. the good citizens of hanoi traditionally regard a red traffic light as just one of those festive bulb displays on the road. the trick, i am told, is to step off the curb slowly and walk meditatively and prayerfully in a straight line, making no sudden movements. every time i succeed in crossing a road without dying i will be tempted to throw my hands in the air and shout "ya-dahhh!" i also can't wait to wind around the streets of the old quarter, checking out the craftsmen at work. there are supposed to be 36 streets in the old quarter, each named after the trade that dominated that street so many years ago. for example, Hang Dau previously specialised in oil. now, because people apparently don't need oil anymore, Hang Dau is entirely devoted to selling shoes. there's even a street devoted to sunglasses!
i'm also looking forward to the temple of literature, Van Mieu, which was first established by the Ly kings as vietnam's principal confucian sanctuary, as well as Vietnam's first university. hopefully the temptation to make "confucius say" jokes will be overcome with our respect for the country's ancient history.
in the last couple of weeks, me and ian have been dashing around town catching all the "3" movies. spiderman 3, ocean's 13, pirates of the carribean 3, and shrek 3. in honour of the latter, i bought us shrek ears from mcdonalds (not because i was dying to wear shrek ears of course, but because it was in aid of the mcdonald's children's fund! it was all for the children!).
i am embracing my inner ogre with joy. ian may or may not be embracing his inner ogre, depending on how you want to interpret his expression.
the resemblance scares me.
last saturday, my family went to The Line buffet to celebrate Roy's 19th! it was great. i have discovered my dad's enormous eating prowess. me and mom agree that buffet restaurants should have his photo on their counters with the message "this customer has the potential to make us more bankrupt than chee soon juan. do not be fooled by his slim and slender appearance. this is a hungry man." i also proved that i am my father's daughter, and collectively we put away a whole basketful of oysters and a huge slab of salmon sashimi. i shouldn't even mention the prawns, lobsters, canapes, assorted desserts, crepes, mussels and scallops.
Roy the birthday boy is turning 19, and he's growing up so fast. over the years, he's matured into a kind, sensitive boy, always ready to help his loved ones out. he's amassed a huge amount of knowledge that continues to stun all of us, by reading assorted encyclopaedias and dictionaries for fun. now he's all grown up and graduating, going into the army, and ready to take on the real world. but he will always be my little brother, who i love! happy birthday Roy!
chocolate or stlawbelly? papa and mama lam no longer have to choose!
| mando | 5:58 AM