Friday, October 31, 2008

Sharing the good luck with you

*Positive Energy*

Here's to share good luck and good vibes with you.


I read about this upcoming concert, From Russia with Love in Singapore whereby Bottesini's Gran Duo Concertante will be performed. In Singapore, it is a comparatively rare thing for any work featuring the double bass to be performed in a public concert. As a double bass player, this is a concert that I would like to support and to listen to.

So when I set off from home this morning, I decided that I would purchase one ticket (balcony seat) to the above-mentioned concert later this evening, after work.

I am grateful that I have been blessed with good luck, and I shall share it with all of you here:

In the morning, on my way to work, I listened to my favourite 92.4 FM classical radio station as usual. There was a call-in contest to win a pair of tickets to the concert From Russia with Love. When it was time to call-in, I simply dialled the number using my mobile phone. The moment that I've dialled the number, the line connected! I simply waited for a few seconds for the line to be picked up and I was then greeted warmly by the presenter. I have won the pair of tickets to a concert that I have wanted to support! Yeah!

I have this irrepressible urge to simply share the good luck and good vibes with you. I am hoping that through this sharing, the good luck will multiply many folds. Imagine, if the good luck rubs onto you, and you share the good luck with someone else, there would be lots of good luck and good-will going around in this world, won't it?

May positive energy spread and delight your day!

19 Sep 2008: A mini architectural tour

Melbourne Central.

Following a savoury treat to chocolate drinks and snacks, HQ who has training in architecture showed me about the Melbourne city. As she walked about, she tried to highlight to me the various interesting elements of the architecture of a number of well-known buidlings and structures. I was feeling privileged to be the guest onboard her special tour.

One place that we visited was Melbourne Central. This shopping centre, office and public transport hub can be described to be a building within a building. "Contained underneath the shopping centre's massive glass cone sits the Coop's Shot Tower which was built on the site between 1889 and 1890. (source: Wikipedia) "

I wish I could have a tape recorder with me, or had been diligent in taking notes. I was simply orientating myself to Melbourne that I realise by now that I can't fully remember a lot of the interesting points that HQ had shared with me that day. All I have now are the photographs that I had taken when I was in Melbourne.

Notice in the background, the glass cone structure of Melbourne Central.

A building with an interesting architectural concept whose name I can't remember by now.

Notice the interesting building in the background.

Flinders St Station

That day, we also went to HQ's office. HQ and FY were warmly greeted by HQ's colleagues. I had the privilege and pleasure to take a look at a number of completed drafts of the jewellery designs that she has designed.

In the next post, you will get to read more about one of our stops for the day, Federation Square, Melbourne.

Sydney/ Melbourne Time

A church in Manly.

I realised that travelling to other parts of the world have a positive effect on heightening my awareness of the things that I used not to take notice of. After my recent trip to Sydney and Melbourne, I realised that I have became more acutely aware of the time differences between Singapore and Sydney/ Melbourne. The same thing had happened to me when I travelled to United Kingdoms about three years ago.

Currently, Sydney and Melbourne have been adopting the Daylight Saving Time. This current period of Daylight Saving Time will last from 5 October 2008 to 5 April 2009. During this period, the Australian Eastern Standard Time becomes Australian Eastern Daylight Time and clocks are advanced to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) +11.

In learning more about the Daylight Saving Time, I've found out that there are three time zones in Australia: Australian Eastern Standard Time, Australian Central Standard Time, Australian Western Standard Time. The entire concept of Daylight Saving Time is rather interesting to me because there is no such thing as Daylight Saving Time in Singapore. I wonder if Daylight Saving Time can be rather confusing for the people living in the countries that adopt it? Imagine waking up one day to realise that one is actually one hour late because clocks are advanced an hour ahead because of Daylight Saving Time!

Meantime, Singapore is in the standard time zone of UTC/GMT +8 hours. So if you have, like yours truly, developed a heightened awareness of the time difference between Singapore and Sydney, you would have easily figured the current time in Sydney. Check this link to see if you have got the right answer: Current local time in Sydney (Source:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

How could I connect?

The sharing of the photo above is probably long overdued. One of my good friends, Mystic, and I had an impromptu dinner at Simply Peranakan Cuisine on 3 Oct 2008. We have had a good time catching up that day.

It was quite a busy day for the staff of the restaurant that evening. That meant there was good business. Despite it being a busy evening for them, one of the staff was very thoughtful to allow us to change the soup of the dinner set to our preferred choice. She went the extra mile to even allow us to change the dessert to Ubikaya. The Ubikaya that we had that day could not be comparable to the lovely Ubikaya that I had a year ago at the same restaurant. Nevertheless, the thoughtful service of a few of the staff and the great company in Mystic compensated for everything that was less than perfect.

Over the phone tonight with Mystic, she gave me feedback about the recent posts on my blog. She said she felt she was reading a travel guide, and could not feel connected with me through my posts. I gather she must have been missing the posts that I have written to provide update of my every-day life?

Whatever it is, my decision is to post at least one post per day of my recent Sydney and Melbourne trip. I have written enough posts to last till 8 Nov 2008. Thanks to the scheduled publishing feature of Blogger, this could be done automatically without me being present at the computer.

While this series of Sydney and Melbourne posts may seem different from the posts that I had written previously, I hope that there's some ways that readers could connect with me, at a different level. Discover me better if you care to read deeper. The contents are not so important as the meanings behind them. In essence, it has been a very meaningful and pleasant overseas trip for me, and in my sheer delight, I have written one post after another. I hope that readers can experience my delight simply from looking at the related photos and reading the posts. Enjoy!

How could I connect better?

The way I choose to do so is to practise living life positively, and to be a sincere friend.

Would that be essentially sufficient?

19 Sep 2008: Arriving at Melbourne

Time flew so fast, and before I was able to fully savour the moments that I had spent in Sydney, the plane took me up the skies to leave Sydney for Melbourne. I chose a window seat. The journey to Melbourne took about 1.5 hour, and offered some interesting views of Australian's landscapes from the plane.

One of my friends, HQ, very kindly and generously took time to meet me at the Melbourne Airport. HQ and her husband, IK, very graciously made the effort to drive to the airport to welcome me. They even drove me from the airport to the hotel that I was staying in Central Melbourne. Their thoughtful gestures were very much appreciated. In the car, I was honoured to see their daughter, FY who was about six-weeks old then. It was lovely to be able to share their joy of the newborn child.

After we reached the entrance of the hotel, hospitable HQ accompanied me to the hotel with FY, and even tried to help me get orientated to Central Melbourne. I learnt that the Central Business District of Melbourne is a planned one. If one were to take a look at the map of Melbourne's city and one can notice how neatly organised the city is. It looked like a grid in terms of its layout, doesn't it?

The hotel room that I stayed in.

HQ and I caught up with each other in the hotel room. It has been quite a while since HQ and I last met each other face-to-face. As I write this, I recall the value of a statement that I had read years ago in Zander and Zander's The Art of Possibility that goes "Certain things in life are better done in person". I suppose there's no better way to share HQ's joy of motherhood than to send my congratulatory wishes to her in person.

After I had some rest at the room, HQ carried FY and showed me about Melbourne. We visited a few arcades and malls. HQ treated me to a lovely chocolately meal at Koko Black. The dark cocoa drink, Koko Black Hot Chocolate, that I had was very good. It was way better than any chocolate drink that I had in Singapore, and it was dark cocoa! HQ said that the relatively colder weather in Melbourne makes the warm cocoa drink extra savoury. I don't know if that's true, but the drink was deliciously wonderful.

A treat to Koko Black! Savoury.

Feast your eyes to the Koko Black treat meantime.

A post on a recent visit to City Hall, Singapore

A sketch that I did.

The above is a sketch that I had done in the year 2004 while I was sitting on the steps leading to the main entrance of the City Hall building. Alright, I was not sketching the City Hall building. I was sketching the Victoria Concert Hall that was visible from City Hall. I remember that while sketching, I was with one of my friends, Mystic, sitting there to watch time passing by.

What memories do you have of the City Hall building?

I shall share a bit of mine in my recent post on my other blog. Do read: Glimpses of City Hall building at Singapore Biennale 2008.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Greetings, the Australian way

Background: The Great Southern Hotel at night.

While I was in Sydney, I noticed that the people who served me at the airport, at the counters of the shops and so forth seem to be asking me "How are you doing?" or "How are you?" when I approached them.

Being curious, I eventually share my observations with one of my friends, XS, to find out more. XS revealed that what had seemed to be a question to me, is actually a form of greeting for the folks in Australia. It's an Australian way of greeting. Such questions are the equivalents of the usual plain "hello" and "hi" that we would use in my hometown, Singapore.

Another common form of greeting the Australian way is "How ya goin'?". XS demonstrated how some may greet "How ya goin'?" with a intentionally heavy Australian accent.

Now, you see, yours truly was still stuck in the framework that any statement that ends with a question-mark would be a question. As such, I asked XS how I should reply if someone in Australia were to ask me "How are you doing?". She gave me the model answer, no matter how one's feeling, simply say "Good. How are you?" or "Good. Thank you.". The essence of her message was, just be positive. Those are greetings, not questions. In addition, the sender does not intend to know a lengthy description of recipient's day.

By then, I realised that I had been given 'wrong' answers for a couple of times. One occasion, when I was at a shop in Sydney buying something while I was having period pain, and a counter staff said to me "How are you doing?". My reply was that I was in pain, and asked where I could buy painkillers! Well, that probably explained why the counter staff looked a little stunned after hearing my reply. Anyway, at least I had gotten the information where I could get painkillers from.

On another occasion, RL shared with me that when she first came to Australia, she had initially thought that the greeting "How ya goin'?" was meant to ask her where she's going. I would have thought so too if I were in her shoes. The point to make is that it does take some time for a non-local to better appreciate the Australian way of greetings.

I learnt from WikiAnswers that another common form of greeting, the Australian way, would be "G'day". Do also check out this online article, Australia: Australian Greetings, by Mark Moxon. I hope you have learnt something about the Australian way of greeting, like I had.

19 Sep 2008: Leaving Sydney

I waited here, at the Thomas Street entrance to the hotel, for the bus to the airport.

After an adventurous and spontaneous day out with RL, and a beautiful and insightful night out with XS on 18 Sep 2008, I was reminded that I was due to leave Sydney the following day, in the early morning.

I woke up at about 3.30 a.m. that morning, and began the morning routine to shower and to prepare myself to check out the hotel. I had to take a domestic flight that would take me to Melbourne, and I had to reach the Domestic Airport by 6 a.m., an hour before the scheduled departure time. Checking-out of the hotel was quite a breeze, and I collected a packed breakfast which was similar to the one that I had on 17 Sep 2008. This time, I had the cereals with the milk that was found in the breakfast-pack. I ate my breakfast at the hotel lobby as I was still rather early for the bus.

The bus that would take me to the airport was scheduled to pick me up that morning at 5.15 a.m., and I was pretty early for it. While waiting for the bus, I took a photo of the streets. At that time of the day, when there were a few taxis that came by the hotel, the drivers would check if I had wanted to go to the airport by taxi. I declined politely. In the early morning, the streets were pretty quiet. Except for the cleaners and a couple of pedestrians on the streets, there was practically no one else at that time of the day.

As I stood there waiting for the bus, I couldn't help but recollect the many times I had walked along Thomas Street, and the blessings that XS had given me when we parted at Thomas Street the night before.

Eventually, the bus arrived. The driver drove pretty fast, and before 6 a.m., I was already at the Domestic Airport. I checked in. Since I was early, I had time for a second round of breakfast. I figured that I would get another serving of breakfast on the plane, so I decided to just get myself a small serving of toasted bread at the airport. I sat down to have my breakfast at a table which looked out to a lovely view of the Domestic Airport.

I started missing Sydney while I was at the airport, about to leave Sydney. I realised that it was not Sydney that I truly miss. It was the meaningful and memorable times with my friends in Sydney that I miss. More precisely, I will miss my friends, XS and RL. Hopefully there would be chances to meet again with them in the near future.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

18 Sep 2008: The music in the night

Nigel Kennedy plays the second movement of Vivaldi´s Winter.

After the insightful dinner with XS at a Spanish restaurant, XS graciously walked with me to Thomas Street. Along the way, I heard someone playing an instrument at a distance. It was definitely a string-instrument. From the sounds of it, I had thought that it was an erhu. XS said it was a violin. I should have known better. She was absolutely right. When we walked up and saw the performer who was busking, the performer was indeed playing a violin.

The effect of the amplifier had probably caused disturbance in my judgement and misled me to think that the tune was played by an erhu. After further listening, I could only identify that it was a violin concerto written by Vivaldi.

XS told me that the tune was one of the movements from Vivaldi's Winter. Winter is one of the violin concertos from a set of four violin concertos, The Four Seasons, by Vivaldi. She's definitely correct. I knew I just have to trust her on that.

Maybe we should have just stop by to listen to the performer play the entire movement? We went on walking. Whatever it is, my heartfelt appreciation to XS for her kindness and for her company that night. I thank her for the blessings that she gave me when we part for that night. Her simple gestures of friendship make me feel touched.

On the side, below is the accompanying sonnet that is to go along with the second movement of Vivaldi's Winter. Do ponder over it as you enjoy the attached rendition of this movement by Nigel Kennedy.


Passar al foco i di quieti e contenti
Mentre la pioggia fuor bagna ben cento


To rest contentedly beside the hearth
while those outside are drenched by pouring rain

May you have a beautiful night.

Monday, October 27, 2008

18 Sep 2008: An insightful dinner


After an adventurous day out to the Observatory Hill and an impromptu visit to the zoo with RL, I am deeply grateful that another one of my friends, XS, was kind to find time to meet me for dinner despite her tight schedule.

Making quick decision can be quite demanding for me, even when it was just deciding what cuisine to have for dinner. XS was extremely patient with me on that, and gave me a couple of choices to consider. I eventually decided on Spanish food for dinner. Her request was that I have to try sangria. I had no idea what it was except that it's alcoholic.

XS asked that I should check out on the internet the ingredients that make up sangria. When I was back in Singapore, I looked up the internet and found out that sangria typically contains the following: red wine, fresh, seasonal fruit and a bit of bubbly water or citrus flavored soda. Do click on this link for a few sangria recipes.

We settled on a platter for two, and I can't remember the name of the platter by now. I can only remember that the calamari rings were absolutely fresh. When I chewed on them, they were juicy and each had a delightful chew. The rest of the platter was average, yet it was strange how being with a great company can make the dinner seemed superbly wonderful to enjoy.

We even got to see some of the customers learning to dance on the dance-floor in the restaurant. It was rather entertaining and intriguing to watch the folks dancing away.

It was there at the Spanish restaurant, over dinner, that XS gave me an insightful suggestion to write about positive things on my blog. She also went on to share more about her views on achieving happiness. I wish my auditory memory could have been better. While I could remember the gist of what she had said, I seemed to need much help to recall the exact words that she had said. One thing for sure, her words carry a lot of weight.

Reflecting, many of the pointers that XS had given me which I am putting to practice bit-by-bit have in some way made my outlook more positive. At the very least, I find myself feeling happier after my visit to Sydney. Thanking XS for her friendship and for sharing her insightful outlook of life. These are the invaluable gifts that she had presented me when I was in Sydney, and their significances are beyond measure.

18 Sep 2008: With RL at the Taronga Zoo

Photo taken by RL.

The bus from the Taronga Zoo Wharf brought RL and yours truly to the main entrance of the zoo. We probably had about two hours before the zoo close for that day. Our focus was clear, to look at the Australian wildlife and the animals that are native to Australia. We did managed to see a few other kinds of animal as well.

A friendly staff from the zoo gave us a few maps and we were ready to start our adventure exploring the Tarongo Zoo.


Wombat. A mini-tripod was used in order to take this photo.

At the zoo, I saw a platypus. However, it was extremely difficult to get a good photo of it with my camera. I was quite captivated by the wombat, and was pleased that I managed to get a photo of it with the help of a mini-tripod.

A snapshot of an interesting enclosure taken by RL.

This turtle saw us and started posing for us!

Have you seen the skeleton of a python? Below is a photo of it. Do take a closer look at how flexible the skeleton of a python is.

Yours truly wanted to have a look at the koala. We found out that we had already missed the schedule to be photographed beside a koala. Anyway, I took the photo below to remind future visitors to the zoo of the schedules to be photographed with the koala.

The koala bears that we saw were generally sleeping almost all the time. I understand that because of its diet whereby it feeds exclusively on eucalyptus leaves, koala generally sleeps 20 hours a day. That is a lot of sleep!

I managed to see one of the koala opening its eyes for a couple of seconds. Well, I suppose one has to be very lucky to see an awake koala.

I managed to see two kookaburras. I didn't recognise the kookaburras. Thankfully, RL was with me, and she told me there were two kookaburras right in front of us. I did not get to hear the laughters of the kookaburras however. Thankfully, I had seen the kookaburra and the sleeping koala during my visit to the Tarongo Zoo.


RL took this beautiful photo from Taronga Zoo.

We found out that there was no extra charge to take the cable car to the wharf. It was just recommended that visitors could please donate a gold coin for a ride on the cable car. In Australia, if I am not wrong, the one-dollars and two-dollars coins are gold in colour. The cable car ride offered us a nice scenery. Many thanks to RL for taking time to lend me her company at the zoo.

We took a ferry back to Circular Quay. On our way back, we saw a captivating view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge against the evening skies.

My words of appreciation to RL for her greatly appreciated company for the day. I later realised that she had a dateline to meet the following day, and was touched that she still made time to show me about Sydney. Thanks RL. Wishing her all the best in her endeavours.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

18 Sep 2008: The spontaneous get-away

Fun with shadows. Yours truly with RL. Taken by RL.

What's next after the lunch?

My third request for the day was to see animals that are native to Australia. My friend, RL, suggested two places and I decided to visit the Taronga Zoo. I asked to take a ferry ride to the zoo from Circular Quay. RL was very kind to oblige to my very spontaneous and impromptu requests. Thanks RL.

We bought our tickets and then set off from one of the wharves at Circular Quay. The 15-minutes ferry ride to the zoo was a cool experience. It offered some nice views. That day, it was pretty windy and cold.

On the ferry, ready for the spontaneous get-away to the Taronga Zoo. Photo taken by RL.

Beautiful view from the ferry.

I like this. Lots of open-space.

My friend, RL took this interesting photo of the Taronga Zoo Wharf.

When we reached the Taronga Zoo Wharf, we chose to take a bus to get us to the main entrance of Taronga Zoo. What did we see at the zoo? Find out more in the next post of this series.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Week 43 of year 2008 on the double bass

19 Oct 2008, Sun: It has been quite a while since I practised Keyper's Romance and Rondo. It was a delightful experience to practise it again and to realised that I was a little more fluid in my playing and had more confidence to deal with the technical aspects of this work.

At the same time, there's still work to be done to improve intonation and rhythm. I worked with the metronome clicking away. Thank goodness that I had finally invested in a new metronome, and it's so loud that I can consciously listen to it and play along with the tempo that it beats.

20 Oct 2008, Mon: I practised selected passages from the second and the third movements of Marcello's Sonata in G major at a slow tempo, with the metronome. The goal was to achieve a good intonation and a good sense of rhythm. More practice to go!

22 Oct 2008, Wed: I spent time practising extremely slowly with a metronome the first one-third of Pachelbel's Canon in D arranged by David Heyes for the double bass quartet. I focused on clarity of articulation and intonation. I like the way this piece sounds on the double bass.

23 Oct 2008, Thu: It was double bass lesson. The lesson was located at a new location and it took me a while to find the place. The new location brought me to familiar parts of Singapore, which was very near where I had studied during my junior college years.

The lesson started with sight-reading studies of orchestral excerpts. I still need lots of work on sight-reading!

I attempted to play the entire Marcello's Sonata in G major for memory upon my tutor's urging. I could manage the first and second movements, yet it was a challenge to play from memory for the remaining movements. Thereafter, I played with the score. More work to be done.

I also played selected passages from Keyper's Romance and Rondo. It was getting more fun to play this work as I have gained more competence technically.

24 Oct 2008, Fri: I did not practise on the double bass, but I went to listen to The Bass Line. I realised how important it is to have a strong right-hand technique in order to articulate every single note and to ensure that the double bass sings so beautifully and clearly that it would still be heard precisely even with a piano accompaniment. More practice on my end. I am feeling inspired.

Meantime, I am pondering if I should resit DipABRSM in Music Performance (Double Bass) next May or next September. Both have its own merits and demerits. The thing is that I will be sitting for ABRSM Grade 8 Theory examinations next March, so I need to make sure I have enough time to prepare for both theory and practical exams, while not getting myself caught in an examination-frenzy game. Wish me good luck!

18 Sep 2008: On the Observatory Hill and subsequently

Sydney Observatory.

Many thanks to RL who led the way, both RL and myself eventually found our way to the Sydney Observatory.

Once a shipping signal station, the Sydney Observatory, now houses the Museum of Astronomy. At night, visitors could view the moon and the planets through the telescopes housed in the museum. By the way, I understand that the Sydney Observatory is Australia's oldest observatory.

RL shared with me about her last visit on a guided tour to the Sydney Observatory. I wished I knew a bit more about astronomy to appreciate what was going on in the museum. Strangely, I was not in the mode of taking in new knowledge that day. I merely wanted to be at the Observatory to see what's available there.

One can get a lovely view on the Observatory Hill. RL took a lovely photo that gives an idea of the beautiful view that one can get from the Observatory Hill. Yours truly on the other hand wanted to capture the large spaces that one can see on the hill.

Photo taken by RL from the Observatory Hill.

Photo taken by yours truly.

We spent a while on the Observatory Hill before deciding it was time for lunch. We were wandering up and down Argyl Street & Kent Street to look for a place for lunch. I can't remember how much we had walked, but we covered quite a fair distance by foot. On our way to find a place for lunch, we came across a fine building that was dark chocolate in colour, with a golden top. RL likes it, and I took a photo of her with this building as the background. It would have been perfect if we could find out the name of the building.

Eventually, thanks to RL's good sense of intuition, we ended up at an Italian restaurant that served pretty nice food. The place had a cosy ambience too. One of the waiters even came up to us and flatter my friend for her beautiful smile. She does have a beautiful smile, and more importantly, a very kind and beautiful heart.

Meantime, RL has a good eye for taking photos of food. Here's a photo that she has taken of our lunch for that day. I had vegetarian pizza, which wasn't a surprise since I love vegetables.

Credit: Photo by RL.

Lunch was lovely. We caught up with each other quite a bit over the lovely lunch. I am glad that one meaningful and rewarding outcome of my visit to Sydney was that I have managed to get to know RL better as a friend, and has hopefully forged a slightly stronger friendship.

What did we do after lunch? Please stay tuned for more.