Monday, April 27, 2009


I have finally gotten my visa to Japan. The whole process took a while, mainly due to a "technical glitch" that took two weeks to clear, but yes, I have finally received the new stamp on my document. Kudos to the Japanese embassy in Singapore, because when they told me I could collect my passport 3 working days later, I really could get it 3 working days later, unlike some other places I know...

Oh, but thoughts on the visa: If you are ever applying for a visa to Japan, one thing you should make sure you supply them is a nice passport photo of yourself. Mine kinda looks weird, so the visa photo is not exactly the most flattering.

And because the picture comes out in an oval shape, and in black and white, it also looks suspiciously like an obit picture. Just in case you were interested.

Anyway, what this means is that technically, I can leave tomorrow, if I wanted to. But PI says I have to settle some stuff first, and all his policy requirements must be met before. So I guess tomorrow is out of the picture.

AA recruited me to play over the weekend for service. The last round I was playing for Yachad earlier this month, I was joking with AA that she was trying to squeeze me dry before I went to Tokyo, but I didn't expect her to take me up on that offer. But at least I was paid in muffins. And it was a good muffin.

But more importantly, I think the worship was really good, in that people were worshiping, and I could feel God's presence in the church. If both the worship team and congregation are able to head in the right direction regarding worship, then only good things can happen.

Ok, back to other things I need to do.


Thursday, April 02, 2009

マンゴ スティキー ライス

So now that I have a bit of time, I shall try and recollect some of the fun stuff we did in Phuket.

Naturally, we wanted to do many things while we were there. We wanted to have some time to relax, to go about and sightsee and do touristy stuff, to go shopping, etc etc. But as the title says, what we really wanted to do was to go there to eat mango sticky rice, which if you don't know, is one of the best foods on earth, right along with donuts and ramen from that place in Ikebukuro.

Well anyway, we left somewhere in the late afternoon-evening of the 24th of March. Before the plane took off, while we were at the Budget Terminal's waiting area, I found the cool thing that can let me get power from different power sockets. Bought it from a shop in the terminal.

The cool thing. Photo-copyright: McKal.

The short flight was rather uneventful, and we touched down safely, even though it was really cloudy, so booking the window seat facing the sunset was really an exercise in futility. I couldn't get any good sunset pictures bah.

To get to the hotel from the airport requires a drive of roughly 45 mins. And with all our barang and the number of people we had, we had to rent a van and an MPV (a Toyota Wish). It took quite a while to settle the renting and allocation of seats for people, but once we got on the road, that was when the fun started.

See, IL had decided to drive the Wish himself, and he would follow the van driven by a local guy. And I'm not sure what that local guy was thinking, but he decided that 45 mins was too long a time to take to get to the hotel, and drove like he wanted to get there in 15.

He drove at 140km/h.

In the rain.

So naturally, IL did his best to keep up with him. Kudos to IL actually, since he did manage to maintain contact with the van until just before we reached the hotel. I always felt that the plane ride was the most dangerous part of any journey, not the car ride to the hotel, but, you know, I may have to change my views now.

Anyway, we got there safely, and after dumping our stuff in our rooms, we quickly went out to the market at the back to eat dinner. Here's a picture of my first dinner there:

Clockwise, from bottom right: Duck noodles, chayen, mango sticky rice

Naturally, it contained the very essence of our trip there, though what with economic downturn and inflation, the mango sticky rice now cost us 50 baht instead of 40 the last time we went there. The other items remained the same price though.

Next day was touristy day. We drove all over the place, ate some good food somewhere, and went to the beach to take a look. Not long enough to go and play in the water and all, unfortunately. We all wanted to, of course, because it was so hot (all of us got burnt except SP, I think), but we just had to content ourselves with eating more nice food and taking good photos. Here are some samples:

From bottom left: my coconut, the prata with bananas, chocolate sauce and condensed milk, and SP's coconut

And here are some of the photos we took at the beach:

Oooh! Postcard picture!

Oooh! Another postcard picture!

Oh yay. Another one.

Of course, we weren't just all taking postcard-esque pictures. We took other pictures too! Like:

Arty pictures!

Moving-from-car pictures!

Cloud pictures!

Food pictu... wait a minute.. this looks awfully familiar...

On thing's that's pretty cool about Phuket is that they have all these overhead cables. I know they could be dangerous and all that, but they do make for some rather good photo opps. SP certainly thought so, which was why you can get photos like this:

SP using his cool film camera to take arty shots (hur hur)

Naturally, I wanted to take my own arty shots to, you know, feel all nice and arty inside of me. So here's what I got:

Attempt 1: No real focus, nothing to gauge perspective, FAIL.

Attempt 2: Wooden supporting beam too far left to be focus of photo, and too far right to make photo artistically asymmetrical. FAIL.

Attempt 3: Photographer has obviously been distracted by friend making V-sign, which while being perfectly permissible for a tourist shot, has made this photo an absolutely un-artistic one. PHOTOGRAPHER FAIL.

Attempt 1 by JT (after 42 attempts from author): Excellent artistic photograph. The sepia tone adds an old school feel to the photo, while the wooden post in the background provides a wonderful contrast to the wooden post in the foreground, which is obviously the object of the photographer. The focal point of the photo makes it tastefully asymmetrical, yet at the same time, provides a subtle parallel to the background, both displaying the post-modern nature of the image, and reflecting a hint of nostalgia the photographer has for days gone by. Photo courtesy of JT, all rights reserved.

Ok, I totally don't understand a word I said. Many thanks though, to the good doctor, who's description of various aspects of our trip has helped inspire my photo analysis.

Some of JT's artistic-ness must have rubbed off on me, because I started taking better artistic shots after that. And one more thing I realized is that shots of Phuket, if done in a certain way (read: black & white), can look like those pictures of Singapore from the 50s that you can find in your old Sec 2 Social Studies book:

Old Singapore Shot!

This one especially reminds me of the social studies book photo. Just that Toyotas weren't that sleek in the 50s.

Old Singapore coffee shop shot!

We found this dimsum place near the hotel when we went out one to explore one morning. Pretty decent food, and everything was served on small plates, and we had to eat with small forks, and even the straws were downsized.

Oh, and I managed to get nice sunrise shots one morning when I woke up early. Here's one:

From my hotel room window.

We also went shopping one of those days to this place called Central Festival, that is like a major shopping mall that is on the outskirts of Phuket town (I think). Lots of nice things there, though a lot of the shops were the normal atas western places (think Levi's, adidias, Lacoste etc), which made the place remind me of Marina Square. Did manage to get some souvenirs there.

So on the last day, we left the hotel and went back to the airport (at a normal speed of about 80 km/h), and that was about it.

Goodbye Phuket! The airport is actually really scenic. Think it's located next to the sea or something.

Or is it? The post would not be complete without returning to the main objective of going to Phuket: Mango Sticky Rice.

While at Central Festival, I got it in my head to see if I could bring some of the MSR home, since I knew brother really liked the stuff, and I wanted to do it for the sheer novelty of it.

So I bought a Tupperware.

The MSR in the kitchen at home in Singapore. In brother's own words, as quoted from the Facebook comments, he was "hysterically happy :)".