Wednesday, August 31, 2005

This is intended to be short

Earlier today, I have a few things on my mind to write about.

For example, my ride back home on a taxi. The taxi driver was someone of age 73 years old. It was not his age that surprised it. It was the fact that he was so interested in technology and has a blue-tooth mobile phone that impressed me. Then he showed me a blue-tooth gadget that would allow him to call a person of his choice without even having to press the buttons on the mobile phone. So this is a reminder that one can still lead a fulfilling life at whichever age. Work and learn about the latest technologies.

Yet, this post is intended to be short. Midnight has passed by the time I wrote till this sentence!

I had wanted to write about the orchestra returning to practise in its "regular rehearsal venue". Farewell to our temporary rehearsal venues. But I am now feeling tired to bother.

Life seems a mad-rush at times, and I wonder if that could be ever debilitating to one's sense of peace? I felt a tension before I left for orchestra rehearsals.

Anyway, playing music did help push some of the tension away. Though the day has worn my energy quite a bit.

Sleep tight, and good night. I wonder who would visit this post in the middle of the night?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Drained and trying to recharge

It has been a little more than a week since I returned to work after my trip to the United Kingdom. The jet-lag feelings seem to have left me, but not the pleasant memories that I have of my trip.

I have been having night sessions the past two nights. By the end of today, I felt drained from the work day. This morning, I attended in a three hours long meeting involving myself and my colleagues. That took mental energy even though I spoke no more than ten minutes in total during the meeting.

I shall learn to be kind on myself and give myself time and space to recharge. Recharging is necessary to ensure I maintain a reasonable level of effectiveness the next day.

This shall be my only post for today. If you could please be patient, I hope to post more of my trip to the United Kingdom soon.

I am feeling drained, and I fear I may act nasty if I do not get my treasured sleep soon. Please avoid me at all cost now.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Retreat to the room of a double bassist

So, it was on the 6 Aug 2005, Aberdeen's time, when I could finally have a rented double bass reserved officially for me to use for the rest of the entire festival. It was reserved officially for myself such that I could openly keep the rented instrument in my hostel room.

However, I do not wish to call it in any affectionate term. It could not be comparable to "my husband" nor "my boyfriend", two other double basses that I regularly use back in Singapore.

There is a price to pay, to have a double bass in the room. I was assigned a room on the second floor, and there was no lift facility in the hostel building I was staying in. So carrying the double bass became a necessity task to do almost everyday if I were to bring the double bass out for rehearsals and performances, and if I would want to have the double bass back in the hostel room. It was not a matter of carrying the double bass, it was also a task that involved opening the many fire-doors that led from the second level to the main door of the hostel building. It also involved carrying the double bass stool about.

Thanks to people who helped me carry the double bass stool while I carried the double bass. It must be me ever insistent, I rather play sitting on a double bass stool. And thanks to people who helped me with the doors, I might have taken ages to open the doors with a double bass in my hand, if not for your help.

Here's allowing you to have a peep of what a double bassist's room had looked like.

The room was larger than what you see on this picture. There was a wash-basin near the door, and there's a wardrobe which I leaned the double bass against.

By the way, that white colour structure found just below the window is the heating device which is meant to heat the room. It could get quite stuffy if I were to leave the windows totally shut when I was in the room. Imagine staying in a room that is heated up but has no fresh air coming in.

Anyway, enough of the retreat. The room of a double bassist is meant to be a private space for its occupant to retreat after a tiring day.

This was the room where I spent practicing, reading and writing, and sleeping.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The skies are grey

When the skies are grey,
I wonder how the birds continue to fly with a sense of hope?

When the moods are that of shades of grey,
I wonder how people continue to find faith to trudge ahead?

No clarity, there seems to be.
What lies ahead that murky haze,
Who would be wise to know, and not be caught in a daze?

My world is now in a shade of grey,
And it hopes for a tinge of blue to cheer the day.
Likely woes are not meant to be forever,
And so one should look further,
for that beam of sunrays far ahead.

Yet, between the white and the black,
where boundaries are clearly drawn,
the grey section seems to have its own mysterious force,
to make room for flexibilities and the unknowns.
If only I could better appreciate the beauty in the shades of grey.

Aberdeen: Fascinated with Seagulls

A local may possibly find these seagulls to be irritating as time goes by. Imagine hearing the seagulls "singing" at as early as 4 a.m. in the morning. Actually they sing almost at any time.

Yet, it could be that I am a foreigner in Aberdeen, I find seagulls to be something new and fascinating for myself. One thing for sure, I do not get to see so many seagulls in Singapore.

The seagulls, they seem to fly so carefree in the skies. I wish at times I could be like them, so carefree.

AIYF Opening Concert

It is sad but true, being a performer on the stage, it was not quite convenient for one to take pictures of oneself and the orchestra performing during the concert. As such, I have taken no photograph of our orchestra's various concerts and performances during the entire duration of Aberdeen International Youth Festival 2005.

So what you are going to see soon are rare-to-get photographs. It so happened that SY, an ex-orchestra member was there. He took several photographs of the orchestra during the concert.

Fate has it such that he met someone with a professional camera who was also taking photographs of the orchestra's opening concert (held on 3 Aug 05, Aberdeen's time). This someone, he found out was not from our orchestra. We have no idea who this "someone" was, so I suppose he could be called a mysterious photographer. He took a number of excellent photographs of the orchestra, and thanks to his generousity in giving SY the soft-copies of the photographs he had taken of the orchestra, SY could in turn be kind to share these photographs (taken by the mysterious photographer) with the rest of the orchestra.

The photos were well-taken. I would never have captured such excellent and closed-up shots on my own digital camera. Wonders that a professional camera could do. Of course, an excellent tool would only be so with good skills to use it. The mysterious photographer seemed to have good photography skills to capture some great moments.

So before we view the photographs, we shall say our words of appreciation to this mysterious photographer. "Thank you for sharing the photographs with us."

The violin soloist. Playing the Butterfly Lovers Concerto.


Footnote: If you wonder why you cannot see the double bass section, it was because the both SY and the mysterious photographer took the photographs from the box seats just directly above the double bass section. As such, that was not a good angle to capture the double bass section.

6 Aug 05: A day of ensemble performances

After breakfast, I went to look around for the two staff from the festival's Music Department. I was told that they are the persons I could look for to get assistance on the whereabouts of the double bass. The other staff of the festival helped me to get in touch with them, and soon, one of them came to meet me to find the whereabouts of the double bass.

It was finally revealed to us that the double bass reserved for yours truly was kept in the storage room where it should be. Immediately after I had came back to the hostel after attending the concert the night before, it was not there. But I saw someone carrying a double bass wrapped in some cloth. The night before, when I asked the participant who was holding that double bass, it must be due to miscommunication, I heard him saying the double bass belonged to their group. It was only in the morning of 6 Aug 05 that I realised that this wrapped up double bass was the one I was looking for. Thank goodness the staff from the music department has been very nice in assisting me. I know I can be demanding at times.

It took me some effort to bring the double bass up to my room which was on the second level. When it was in my room, I took some time to practise on it.

Later in the mid morning, there was a rehearsal with the ensemble. The evening before, the violin tutor, Mr F. told me that there was a double bass part for the Vivaldi's piece that the ensemble would be playing on 6 Aug 05. I offered that I could play the double bass parts. So in the morning of 6 Aug 05, I played for my very first time, the Vivaldi's work with the ensemble. I beg for your pardon that I have forgotten the title of the work. Anyway, the second and third movement were manageable, but I find it a little more difficult to sight-read the first movement perfectly.

At noon, we took the festival bus to the Aberdeen Art Gallery. We were to put up a 30-minutes performance there. It went well.

After the performance, we went to a building nearby the art gallery to catch a performance. We ate the packed lunches that we were given while watching the performance. The Coast String Fiddlers were performing, if I remember correctly. I managed to find a short break of time to walk about the ground level of the Aberdeen Art Gallery. The exhibits that I happen to see were contemporary works. I figured that there might have been works from other era, but time was not quite on my side.

Closer-up shot of the performance.

A building nearby the art gallery.

Aberdeen Art Gallery's front

At about 2 p.m., we headed for Stonehaven, which was about 45 minutes away from Aberdeen by coach. We were to put up a ticketed performance at Stonehaven later that evening together with the Zhejiang Youth Arts Group and another performing group.

On the coach, on our way to Stonehaven.

When we reached there, we had a rehearsal. After the rehearsal, we had some time to walk about.

Stonehaven is a nice place, and has a beautiful beach. A pity that my camera did not manage to capture the best of it. Anyway, it was great to witness its beauty even if I could not capture it.

Before the performance, we had dinner at a nearby chapel's canteen. Though the meal was relatively simple, I love the soup. It was lovely. Yummy.

After dinner, we performed. It went well. Many of the audience were senior citizens. Yet they seem to enjoy listening to our kind of music. I felt impressed that they seem to have chosen to remain active participants of the community through supporting cultural events like ours.

After our performance (which was the first half of the entire event), I went to the audience seats with two other fellow orchestra mates to catch the rest of the performances. It was quite an experience for me to witness the audience having lucky draws just before the start of the second half of the event. If I guessed it correctly, the lucky winners get a bottle of wine each. Seldom in Singapore do I get to see lucky draws being held in the middle of a concert.

I enjoyed watching the second half of the performances. The Zhejiang Youth Arts Group performed stunts which were impressive. I was told that there should have been more members from this group participating the festival but it was such a pity that many of them were not able to obtain a visa to Aberdeen. Nevertheless, the members who came did their best to put up excellent performances.

I also like the performances by another group. I could not remember their names, but I like the innovative dance items that it gave.

After the performances, we headed back to Aberdeen. As my participation in the performance was a last minute thing, I figured that was why there was no van hired to transport the double bass to and fro Aberdeen and Stonehaven. It was possible though a little cumbersome to transport the double bass without a van.

Anyway, you would have guessed, I went back to my room with the double bass this time, and slept. I was awfully tired. A short note of thanks to those who have helped me when I was transporting the double bass.

Here's the link to the photos taken on 6 Aug 05: At Stonehaven

You are invited

To everyone who will be in Singapore on 3 Sep 2005's evening, you are invited to an hour of music and nature at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Date: 3 Sep 2005 (Sat)
Time : 6 pm - 7 pm
Venue : Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage, Singapore Botanic Gardens

Contact : Visitor Services (6471 7361)

Synopsis : Enjoy an evening of music at the Botanic Gardens with the NUS Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra, who has just recently returned from the Aberdeen Music Festival (3 - 13 August 2005) in Scotland, will be playing an exciting repertoire of classical favourites like Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture, Chen Gang and He Zhanhao's Butterfly Lovers Concerto. This event is part of the Botanic Gardens Calendar 2006 Launch.

Map of Singapore Botanic Gardens:


Yours truly will be playing on that day. The orchestra will be there to rehearse in the mid-afternoon that day if you would like to catch our rehearsal at the Botanic Gardens.

Other than bringing along family and friends to enjoy the event, do bring along your ground sheet, mats and picnic baskets too.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

5 Aug 05: Photos

Checking time: How are you on this journey of recapitulation of my recent trip to the United Kingdom?

By the way, I have no way to track who has visited this blog. If you could leave your comments after visiting, I would know that you have visited and I might also get some clues to your candid opinions.

Meantime, here are links to view the photos taken on 5 Aug 2005 (UK time):

Hope you might find at least a photo that you like.

Thank you for your patience. More posts and photos of my recent trip awaits.

Hoping for a good rest

Came home about an hour ago from rehearsals. I am having some orientation issues, but it was not too bad. For tomorrow's concert, to allow room for the guitar ensemble and choir to sit with our orchestra for the combined item (which was immediately after our orchestra's item), there was some major change in the seating arrangement of the orchestra. We tried this seating arrangement for the rehearsal.

I am feeling not too energetic and I don't wish to bother myself to describe in detail what the arrangement looked like. Anyway, if you were the audience looking towards the stage, now the double bass section will be on left of the stage, near the percussion section. The first violins section will be on the left of the stage too, and it will face the second violins section (which sits on the right of the stage) squarely.

Was trying to adjust. Not too bad. I could hear the harp more clearly from the new seating arrangement since the harp was placed much more nearby the double bass section. As such, I heard a new sound balance today.

Have been feeling a general sense of lethargy over the past week. There have been a lot of questions popping constantly on my mind that I could not really answer. I felt I have no clue what I would like for my future ahead. "What am I here in this world for?, Where should I be going from here?" This bugs me. However, this general sense of feeling directionless was not what has made me feel lousy the entire week. The lousy feeling continues to bug. How would I find a way out if what lies ahead seem dark?

Whatever it is, I take comfort that blog friends have tried to offer their encouragement and support. I thank them.

Meantime, I hope for a good rest. I am feeling tired and ineffective. At times, I wonder if a rest for all eternity may help? But I suppose even if there seems nothing much to really look forward to in my life at this point in time, I still have enough faith that if I were to perserve in the search, I could find some meaning from life itself?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

5 Aug 05: Travelling Northwards

I shall urge myself to write, if doing so would help keep the blues away.

Thank goodness that our rehearsal this evening was cancelled so that I could be at home writing this post.

5 Aug 2005: Initially, there was supposed to be an ensemble rehearsals, but it was cancelled, so this day was a free day. Actually by 4 Aug 2005, many of the orchestra's members have set off for their individual tours, mostly within Scotland.

Here's notes taken from my tour journal:

"I was early for breakfast. As such, I went to browse the articles pinned on the general notice-boards nearby the canteen. I saw a review on our orchestra's opening concert held on 3 Aug 2005. It gave positive comments about the concert. I pointed it to my conductor who happened to be nearby, he said there was also another write-up about our concert which gave a positive review.

Ate breakfast at the hostel. I love breakfast. It is my favourite meal of the day, wherever I am. I like the selection of food available at the hostel's canteen. I don't get to eat such a spread of food for breakfast for my regular breakfasts in Singapore, despite breakfast being my favourite meal of the day.

Here in the hostel, there're cereals, fruits, porridge, various kinds of bread, fruit juices available. Butter there also tasted more fresh than those in Singapore. I must have been biased, but allow me to.

QH, LL and myself left the hostel at about 8.45 a.m. on the bus-service number 20. We headed for the railway station, and by then, we were more confident of getting to the railway station from the hostel.

At the railway station, we bought tickets to Keith. We were going to travel northwards from Aberdeen. It took about an hour to reach Keith. Our first stop was a whisky distillery, the Strathisla Distillery. We were served and treated to a small glass of 12-years whisky shortly after we have paid the admission.

The distillery was not in production that very day so we could not see it in action. Nevertheless, the guide gave us a guided tour and explained the process of whisky-making to everyone of us in the tour. I even had a chance to taste malt and barley. Barley is more hard to chew than malt.

If you would like to know more about the process of whisky-making, please check this link:

We were even allowed to enter the warehouses where barrels of whisky were kept. I asked the question of how the staff move the large and heavy barrels of whisky around. The reply was: 'We push and roll the barrels.' So I have guessed it right.

After the distillery, we proceeded to this station and travelled one railway station southwards from Keith. Our next station was this station named Huntly. We had planned to visit the Huntly Castle in the town of Huntly.

It took about slightly more than 20 minutes to walk from Huntly railway station to the Huntly Castle. Yet, the walk was rather enjoyable as it was scenic."

When we reached Huntly Castle, we did not see anyone asking us to pay for the admission. It was supposed to be about 3 pounds per person per admission. Actually Huntly Castle did not look as magnificient in its scale as Edinburgh Castle. Since we can't find anyone to pay the admission charges to, we went in anyway.

I looked around and took photographs. After spending about 5 minutes in the castle's compound, I saw someone who seemed to be one of the staff. I asked her if there was an admission charge and told her I have yet to pay. She told me I could do so just before I leave. I told QH and LL about it. Well, if you want to know what happened in the very end, you have to find your own way to ask me privately.

Just a moment ago, I searched using Google for "Huntly Castle", and found this site: Historic Scotland - Huntly Castle. Read about it if you would like.

Despite being smaller in scale, Huntly Castle is beautiful and unique in its own special way.

After visiting the castle, we headed back for the railway station. We had not had our lunch as yet then. As such, on our way back, we bought lunch at one of the cafes. I got myself coleslaw and a Coronation chicken sandwich. I discovered that a Coronation chicken sandwich is likely a sandwich where the fillings are chicken in mustard. Did I get it right?

Time was tight then because if we had missed the train, we would have to wait for the next one which would come at least an hour later. As such, we hurried to the station after buying our lunch. I gobbled down my food when I was at the station, and that turned out not to be a good idea.

When I reached Aberdeen by the train, I was feeling a little unwell from indigestion. So the lesson learnt was that we should take time to chew on our food.

"In the evening, we had dinner in the hostel. Thereafter, we took a festival bus to catch a concert by two orchestras: the Sudbury Youth Orchestra and Musica Iuvenalis. I remembered that only XM, LL, QH, our conductor and myself attended that particular concert that evening.

When we were at the concert hall, someone passed our conductor a card from one of the people in the audience. She had attended our opening concert and felt appreciative of our performance. As such, she wrote a card with words of appreciation and addressed it to our conducting. In short, she spoke about what she had liked about the orchestra's rendition of the works during the opening concert. She even praised our conductor's conducting and the violin soloist's playing.

During the intermission, our conductor gave us a treat to a cup of ice-cream each. So generous and kind of him.

By the way, you might be interested to know that in UK, it seemed like there is a culture in the concert halls and performing arts halls to sell ice-cream inside the halls during the intermission. Audience may even eat their ice-cream inside the hall. I wonder if it was a good idea to eat ice-cream when the temperature outdoors is about 14 - 16 degrees Celsius? Anyway, I finished the vanilla ice-cream I was treated to. The very same thing happened in all concert halls and performing arts halls that I went to in UK (including the time when I was in London to watch The Phantom of the Opera). In Singapore, it was quite rare to find people selling ice-cream inside a concert hall! Thank goodness that Emrah had briefly spoke about this ice-cream selling and eating culture in the UK in one of his comments on my blog, if not, I fear I might have been shocked to find people selling ice-cream there.

After the concert, we took the bus back. The cello soloist from Musica Iuvenalis played very well that night. That was what impressed me in this concert. Sudbury Youth Orchestra's members did quite well in observing the various variations in the dynamics.

That night when I was back, I asked to see the double bass that I had asked to be reserved for me to play the next day. However, I could not find it in the place where I was told it was kept. You bet that I was pretty worried when I can't find it there.

In the end, after much walking to and fro places to attempt to find the person-in-charge to speak to, I gave up. I decided to try to find the whereabouts of the double bass the next day. At that time, I wished I had bought my own instrument along. If I were rich, I would definitely have bought at least a business class seat for my instrument to travel along with me. Renting a double bass from overseas just appears to be too unpredictable and unreliable unless one knows the rental company very well.

That's for today. I might not post tomorrow if I get too busy and tired from the evening rehearsals.

Visual Recap

If you are keen for more visual recapitulation of what I saw on 4 Aug 2005, look at the photos found on this post: 4 Aug 05: More of the day

If you see some of the photos' date-stamp reading 5 Aug 2005, it was because I was confused between Singapore's time and Aberdeen's time.

Edinburgh Castle

A short post to mask the gloomy effects of the previous post on this blog.

Here's the link to more photos, and these were taken at the Edinburgh Castle: 4 Aug 05: More of Edinburgh Castle.

Be patient as I put up more posts and photos on my recent UK trip on this blog.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A bugging thought

It is Wednesday. There was orchestra rehearsal earlier tonight.

Just shortly after returning from the Aberdeen International Youth Festival, the orchestra is going to play in another public performance. This Saturday, the orchestra will be playing yet again The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto. It will also perform a combined item with a choir and guitar ensemble. The name of the event is: CFA Celebrates! Timeless Classics.

Yesterday, I had considered about not to posting anything on my blog until Saturday is over. I felt I need a bit more rest. It just seems difficult to find time to rest with concert, the several rehearsals and work. But I think I should blog a few paragraphs to remind myself to brace myself up a little. Even if I were to be weak and fail to do so on my own, hopefully someone from blogger land may just help to remind me to.

Somehow, there is a bugging thought and feeling that I makes me feel lousy. I do not wish to elaborate about the source of it here. Perhaps that bugging thought is hinting that I needed to work on that area. I have been trying, yet I seem not to have progressed much in my work on that area. That leaves me a little demoralised when I think of it.

I am trying not to dwell on it. Yet, I fear I might end up simply ignoring the matter and not acting much on it. Then again, harbouring too much thought over the issue, and not knowing how to act could just simply set one into unconstructive worrying, and even, depression.

I wish for a beam of light that would show me the way to overcome this nagging issue. Meantime, I shall remind myself not to fall victim to this bugging thought. Somehow, it is at times making myself feel that I would soon fall apart. I think I could be more mindful and not end up as victum to this thought.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


It shall be intermission now.

My body-clock doesn't quite well for me. I do not feel much effective. It feels lousy to feel that one is ineffective. I shall call for a break as such.

I have no idea how long the intermission will last though. Hopefully, not infinite.

More photos

More photographs taken at Edinburgh, Scotland, (on 4 Aug 05) have been uploaded on my other blog for your viewing pleasure. Please check out the post: 4 Aug 05: At Edinburgh

Today's my first day in office after my approximately three-weeks long annual leave.

It was a good idea that I did not schedule to see any client today. I spent almost the entire day following up on paperwork and listening to calls from working partners. I was also trying to follow up with several clients over the phone, and that took time too. Yet it was nice to know that I have attended to their concerns as best as I could, and pretty well, despite having a minor jet-lag still. Doing paperwork and calling - these activities did help ease me back gradually into the momentum of working as a social worker.

Meanwhile, I hope that I can get over the readjustment issues soon. I am trying to adjust to work, and it seems to take a gradual pace.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Saturday, August 20, 2005

4 Aug 05: Edinburgh

I shall continue with this feat of recollecting and writing about my recent trip. The sun had been nice to shine in the late afternoon, and I allowed myself to take a walk.

Mystic happened to call me on the phone when I was taking the public transport to the food court at the basement of Le Meridien Orchard Hotel for dinner. She sounded cheerful on the phone, and her cheerfulness was a little infectious. I was trying hard not to load my blues off her.

Anyway, I shall write about 4 Aug 05 and hopefully I could share some of the photos taken on that day on my other blog.

Entries from my tour journal are in quotations:

"Woke up at 5.30 a.m. this morning. It's 4 Aug 2005, and it is a free-day for members of the orchestra.

This is the day that QH, XM, LL and myself will travel to Edinburgh by the train. In the morning, we took the bus service number 20 from the hostel to Aberdeen City. I can't remember what time it was exactly, but I think it should have been about 6.45 a.m. in the morning? Breakfast was not even served at the hostel at this time.

When we reached a bus-stop close to the city area, the bus-driver gave us directions of how to walk from the bus-stop to the railway station. It was about 5-10 minutes walk to the railway station.

Along the way, we were greeted with seagulls. I remember XM saying that he found the seagulls to be noisy and they had woke him up from his sleep. I find them nice however. Novelty perhaps?

When we reached nearby the railway station, we had breakfast at one of the eateries. The milk is fresh. It tasted much fresher than the milk one could find in Singapore.

I was making my first attempt of not trying to convert whatever I was spending in sterling pounds to Singapore dollars. This way, I won't have too reserved about spending on what is necessary. For example, a single-trip 15 minutes bus-ride cost 1.10 pounds. This is approximately about $3.30 in Singapore currency. For once, bus services in Singapore appeared much more affordable. I shall assume that such transportation charges were considered reasonable in UK?

We took the train which left for Edinburgh from Aberdeen railway station at about slightly before 8 a.m. The train journey took about 2.5 hours. We realised that SY, the senior cum ex-orchestra member who came to support our concert, was taking the same train as we are. He actally bought tickets to be on another train but his train broke down and he was offered the train that we were taking as a replacement.

On the train ride to Edinburgh, SY showed us the recordings that he had taken last night during the orchestra's concert. He also told us about how he got to meet a gentleman who has a professional camera during last night's concert, and how he had managed to request for the soft-copies well-taken photographs taken by this gentleman. He showed us the photographs that the gentleman had taken of the orchestra during the concert. One look, one could tell these were well-taken using a professional camera. I felt tempted to own one, but I would prefer to live within my means and work towards getting one deservingly through my own efforts.

Aside from viewing the recordings and browsing the photographs on SY's laptop, the rest of the time on the train was spent talking about last night's concert and admiring the sceneries along the journey. I was marvelling at most of the sceneries. A pity I know that my camera has its limitations and there is only so much of the beauty of the sceneries that I could capture using my camera.

When we reached Edinburgh railway station, SY was nice to give us some directions to start us off our journey. There we bid farewell to him. I remembered that he was on his way to catch a flight to go to Belgium.

Our first stop in Edinburgh was the Edinburgh Castle. Pictures tell a thousand words, so I shall leave it to the pictures to tell you more about our tour around the Edinburgh Castle. We waited close to about half-an-hour just to clear the security check and wait for our turn to purchase the ticket. It costs 9.80 pounds per adult to enter the Castle. No concessions for students unfortunately.

The Edinburgh Castle is a fine-looking castle. There are museums located within the castle itself. I was simply feeling rather tired to read and view every of the exhibits in the museums, but I enjoyed simply the sense of being present inside a castle.

After the Edinburgh Castle, we walked to The Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre which was nearby.

The admission is 8.50 pounds per adult and the admission charges include a small glass of whisky to sample plus a Glencairn Glass which visitors could take home with them. I read the notes about the Glencairn Glass and basically the notes meant to say that this glass was crafted with care to enhance the appreciation of the whisky."

From this trip, I have learnt that there are five main factors to consider in the appreciation of whisky:
1) Colour of the whisky
2) Body (whether the whisky has light, medium or full body.)
3) Nose (smell the aroma when one nose the whisky and to distinguish if it is malty, smoky, fruity, chocolately etc.)
4) Palate (the characteristics of the whisky on the palate: whether softly sweet, rich and fruity or peppery and spicy.)
5) Finish (whether the flavour remains for a long time or if it disappears quickly.)

"The whisky that we were each given to sample was a blended whisky. It tasted pretty strong but it warmed the throat. Most needed when the weather outdoors was rather cold. And my goodness, I still do not know how to apply those whisky appreciation tips!

Anyway, that was one rare occassion when you would find me drinking an alcholic drink. It seemed a shame not to drink at least a drop of whisky when one is in Scotland. Later, I added ginger beer and some ice-cubes to the whisky and doing so helped make it easier for me to finish it.

Inside the Whisky Heritage Centre, we also got to learn about the history of the whisky.

When we were out of the whisky heritage centre, I felt quite hungry. At that time, it was raining outdoors. LL said that the fish-and-chips from 162 Canongate is said to be nice by one of the guide books. As such, we walked for about 20 minutess from the Whisky Heritage Centre to that fish-and-chips store, in the rain. Thank goodness XM who was with us served as a very good navigator and he helped with the navigating and led us to 162 Canongate.

When we reached there, we realised that the shop would only open for dinner at 4.30 p.m. We were there too early, it was not even 4.15 p.m. when we reached the shop. I suppose we have been lucky that the gentleman in the shop allowed us in at 4.15 p.m. so that we could buy our food. We also realised that fish-and-chips at the shop was to be taken-away and there was no place for eating-in. Since there was no eat-in, and we had to be back at the Edinburgh train station by 6.30 p.m., and we can't afford to be late and miss the train, we decided to head for the railway station after we have bought our food at the shop. By then, the rain had stopped.

We headed for the railway station and when we were nearby the station, we sat down at the food court of this shopping centre called Prince Mall to have dinner. Fish-and-chips in UK goes with salt and vinegar. Neither ketchup nor chilli sauce was provided. In Singapore, one would usually be given packets of ketchup and chilli sauces if one were to order fish-and-chips. In UK, vinegar is the popular choice? Anyway, I like the taste of vinegar.

At about 6.30 p.m., we board the train back to Aberdeen. We reached Aberdeen at about 9.20 p.m. We walked to the music hall and was delighted to find orchestra members at the entrance of the music hall waiting for one of the festival bus to ferry them back to the hostel. Those orchestra members were there waiting for the bus after attending a band performance. The festival organisers would usually arrange for transport for the participating members of the festival if they would to watch any of the festival programmes held within Aberdeen. That was good news, for it meant we need not walk to bus service number 20 bus-stop and pay 1.10 pounds back to hostel. We hence waited with the rest for the festival bus and took a ride on the festival bus to travel back to hostel.

Tiring day, slept as early as I could."

Links to more related photos found on my other blog:

Hoping for sunshine

My body's responses to the hours of the day are getting weird, and I am trying not to fight it too hard. Hopefully, going easy on readjusting to the time zone here would be more helpful than anxiously fighting the jet-lag.

At 1.30 p.m, I actually felt sleepy and had a two hours nap only to wake up with an uncomfortable headache. But I had to urged myself out of bed. If I had slept further, I fear I would wake up in the middle of the night like I have done in the wee hours of this morning.

It is rainy, but the rain seems to be getting not as heavy. I remember that in Scotland, most rain don't last more than half an hour, and rains were really just slight drizzles many of the times. When I was in London, there were lots of sunshine with occassional rain. I just happened to be lucky, because I was told most of the time, in UK, enjoying the beams of sunshine could be rare.

Anyway, I have yet to leave the house for my walk. Feeling a little disorientated to do much things, even if I were to need the walk to gain some sanity.

A moment ago, I decided I shall write a post about my day today and take a break from writing about the trip.

As I write my posts, I shall leave it to discerning and wise readers to read between the lines of my various posts to get a better picture of my sacred inner world. I would be pleasantly delighted if anyone could do that and write me comments that would confirm that. Afterall, I have choosen to write in such long-winded and not-so-direct fashion, that it is likely the true essence of my messages would have been masked by the narrative accounts of my various posts. But this is not a challenge, so forget about reading the lines and simply enjoy the pleasure of reading the posts. Of course, I was really saying that if you happen to read between the lines accurately and you let me know, it might just make my day that someone does truly understand.

Meantime, have a good weekend.

3 Aug 05: Parade Away and the Concert

I am feeling quite mixed up in my perception of time now. It is 10.50 a.m. and I don't feel fully awake as I would usually be. I shall get over this jet-lag soon, I hope.

I shall fight the untimely sense of sleepiness with writing.

Well, to help you folks feel mixed up, whatever dates you will see now (actually, ever since my post for 2 Aug 05) will be according to UK time. I beg you to bear with my unusual sense of being evil as I make you experience how it felt like to lose 7 hours unknowingly.
The quoted passages are entries taken directly from my tour journal, I wrote it a day after the 3 Aug:

"It is 3 Aug 05. In the morning, all participants were scheduled to participate in the Festival Parade of the Aberdeen International Youth Festival and that would start at 10.30 a.m.

I woke up at 5 a.m., Aberdeen's time. It is summertime, and even though it was just 5 a.m., it was already pretty bright. It would have been much darker in Singapore at this time in the morning.

Breakfast today started at 7 a.m. On most other days that would follow, it would be 7.45 a.m. I love breakfast and on that day, I was looking forward to it. I was early, so I had to wait for breakfast to be served. If anyone were to attempt to go into the canteen before the official breakfast time, he/she would be denied entry.

While waiting for breakfast to be served, I walked about alone around the hostel's compounds. The air is fresh in Aberdeen. I took some photographs of rabbits running around within the compounds. I also listened in to the voices of the seagulls. They do seem irritating to a light-sleeper in the early morning, but since they were novel animals to me, I could happily bear with their constant cries and enjoy their incessant crying. I had wanted to take photographs of the seagulls but not of much success."

I shall dedicate this photo to Wabbit. Hope it would help put some smiles to her face. The date stamped on the photo reads 6 Aug 05 because I felt Wabbit would prefer this photo of the rabbits that I took on the 6th. The one that I took on the 3rd was not as nice as this one. I end this paragraph by saying: Rabbits in Aberdeen seem so carefree. They run fast too. It was hard to get too close to them. They would have ran far away.

"Breakfast is nice. I had cereals, peaches in syrup, yogurt and croissants for breakfast. Somehow the butter in Aberdeen tastes nicer than that in Singapore. It tastes more fresh."

You bet that in my mind that day was full of concern of what kind of double bass we would be getting. If I were a superb professional player, I might not have bothered as much. But I must stress that a good double bass can really help make playing so much easier.

"At 8.30 a.m., we moved the musical instruments up on the van to the music hall. I was told that I would be able to see the double basses when we reach the music hall. Unfortunately, much to my disappointments, I was not able to gain access to try on the double basses in the morning. I was at most able to see them from a distance because the room in which they were stored was occupied by dancers from one of the participating groups. Maybe I should have been more insistent?"

Anyway, to help me forget those ill-feelings of disappointments and uncertainties, I tried to catch glimpses of the rehearsals for the opening ceremony. The rehearsal was held in music hall of the City of Aberdeen, and the official opening ceremony would take place at about 11 a.m. at the same place.


Just before 10.30 a.m., a bus took those of us who were at the music hall to the East North Street where the Festival Parade would start. We were to walk from this street and then towards a street called Union Street. Then we were to walk along Union Street towards the music hall. The parade would end at the music hall.

There were many people who stood along the entire stretch of the parade. Many waved as if to welcome us. I suppose it would be polite to wave to them too? So I did. Admittedly, I am not someone bursting with energy to wave throughout the entire stretch of the parade. If I had done so, I would have been exhausted till death even before I have reached the music hall.

At about 11 a.m., the opening ceremony began. The national anthem of each of the countries of all the participating groups wer played during the opening ceremony. We were also treated to several other programmes. There were music played by a bagpipe band, and later music played by a fiddler. There were also dance items.

"My worries came a little true, and I only could realise this after the opening ceremony ended. Much earlier, before the parade, I was told that it would be quite difficult to hire good double basses from the music schools and groups in Aberdeen, and that the organisers had expressed sincere apologies for the lack of good double basses.

I only got to test out and play on the double basses on hire at about 12.15 p.m. We realised two of the four double basses allocated to us were faulty. One had a damaged machine-head, and the other a faulty end-pin. I wished I was a little more insistent on seeing the double basses a day before because that might have saved us from doing last-minute remedial work. Maybe I just needed to have my patience tested on handling last-minute unexpected events?

Thank goodness that the staff members of the AIYF have been as helpful a possible to help find replacement double basses for us. Our concert is on that very evening, and rehearsal was due to start by 2 p.m. Yet, finding replacements did take time, and the two replacement double basses only came at about midway the rehearsal.

Rehearsal was tiring. It started at about 2 p.m. and only ended slightly before 5.30 p.m. I felt quite drained by the end of the rehearsals. It was as if I had worked very intensively throughout the entire duration of the rehearsal.

I looked around after the rehearsals, and saw many of the orchestra members with looks of lethargy on their face. I suspect that could be jet-lag.

After the rehearsal, all of us gathered in one of the dressing rooms. 3 August happended to be our conductor's birthday, and several cakes were being bought to celebrate this occassion.

As the concert were to start by 7.30 p.m. and all of us have to be back by 6.45 p.m., we were really running on very tight schedule for dinner. We were supposed to buy our own dinner and then the organisers would reimbursed us later.

Before getting our dinner, QH, XM, LL and myself went to the railway station which was about 5-10 minutes away to buy train tickets to Edinburgh for our trip the next day. SY, one of ex-orchestra members who had came to Aberdeen to support our concert led the way for us to the railway station. We got our tickets alright.

We bought food from a kebab selling shop. Time was tight, so we ended rushing back to the music hall even before we could eat our meals. When we reached the music hall, we sat nearby the doors of the backdoor to have our dinner. It was just too hot inside the hall with all the heating devices. Outdoors, it was cold, but we were wearing warm clothes so that helped kept us warm. With warm clothes on, most of us would rather stay outdoors to get ventilated air than to stay indoors to bear with the heat and poor air circulation.

Concert started at 7.30 p.m. I was more used to the double bass that I was using after the rehearsals. Thank goodness. I know 'my dear husband' and even 'my boyfriend' (both double basses which I call them affectionately by these names) felt better to play own but the best I could do is to make the most out of what I have. Although one part in me would still like to whine my disappointments away. I wish my feelings could have been better heard back then but I have learnt that if I had expected that, I may end up more disappointed."

Actually, I think I am awfully not understood well many of the times. I don't expect people to solve problems for me, but it often adds to my hurts when I complained about the problems and no one seems to bother to tell me they have heard my underlying feelings. But I have learnt to give people the benefit of the doubt. Not everyone experiences the world as I do. People are trying hard to be as helpful as they could, and for some, being helpful means highlighting the realistic and practical side of the matter, i.e. to tell me that the matter was not much within my full control. It was, and I know. But I was actually asking to be understood! How interesting to know how different people respond to one single situation.

Double bass section

Anyway, before I quote further from my tour journal, here is the double bass section who participated for the Aberdeen International Youth Festival. We took this photo backstage on the day of the concert.

By the way, our orchestra's concert was the opening concert for the festival. It is an honour to play for the opening concert, I suppose? Thanks to the organisers for gracing us this honour.

"Our rendition of Mendelssohn's Fingals Cave felt a little shaky. I played a wrong note for one particular bar, and it felt obvious. That was the first and only time that I had made a mistake for that bar so that mistake caught me unexpectedly.

The audience seemed to enjoy the Butterly Lovers' Concerto, and I felt it was certainly well-received. Maybe the audience's ears needed an oriental flavour of music to balance those familiar tunes that they have so often heard in their lands? My guess, and I could be wrong.

As for the Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony, I felt we were a little not-too-steady at the beginning of the first movement. I felt a sense of being hurried when I was playing. I like the way the second movement for this concert. It sounded much better in general than our rehearsal on that day and it sounded better than our pre-tour concert held on 27 July 2005. The third movement was alright but we could be more spontaneous, I was admittedly feeling more reserved. The fourth movement felt messy from the point of the player. And the entry for the fourth movement came in faster than most of us would have expected. It was a good thing that I was prepared for such an unexpected entry.

After the concert, we headed for the Hillhead hostel after spending time to clear up. It did not take too much time to pack up because the festival's staff helped us with the packing up and the transporting of the double basses.

By the time I was back in my room, I was feeling dead exhausted. I was looking forward to journey to dreamland to have my needed sleep. I slept before midnight that day as early as I could."

(For more related photos, please refer to this post on my other blog: Streets of Aberdeen and the Festival Parade.)

2 Aug 05, part two: Arrived in Aberdeen

On the flight to Aberdeen from London: There were only refreshments served on the plane. I overheard the air-stewardess telling another passenger that because the flight is no more than an-hour-and-a-half, and due to the time of the flight, it was not a regular practice to serve lunch on the flight. Instead, refreshments would be served.

Arrived at Aberdeen's airport at about 1.30 p.m. It took quite a while before we could claim and get hold of the flight case. Thank goodness the fellow gentlemen travelling with us on board the flight for the festival were very nice to help out with the flight case.

The courier (likely in-charge of the other music group who shared the same flight as we did) who came to welcome us at the airport got to know that many of us did not have a proper lunch and were hungry. As such she said she shall try her best to arrange for us to have something to eat. How nice of her.

There was a bus to pick up the participants of the festival, and a large van to help transport the instruments and the luggages. There was a camera-man who was with us throughout the journey from the airport to the hostel, which I shall refer to as the Hillhead Hostel. I believe he was there to document the arrival of the participants on video.

Now a photo that was taken outside the airport while waiting for the bus:

Taken outside Aberdeen's airport

If you would ever want to catch one glimpse of yours truly, you may. I am the one on the left of the photo.

Hillhead Hostel lies within Old Aberdeen and if you were to travel by foot from the hostel to the City of Aberdeen, that might take close to an hour. On the bus, it would be about 15 minutes or less.

When we reached the hostel, most of the orchestra members boarding the KLM flight had already arrived and more or less settled down. We were given our keys to our rooms. Our courier, K. helped us with that. Each of us is assigned to a single room with a wash-basin facility. Toilet and bathroom facilities were to be shared. Good enough to meet my basic expectations.

The only difficult part for me is that my room is on the second floor. In UK, the ground floor is the floor at the ground level, and the first floor is the floor one storey above the ground level. So my room being on the second floor was the room two storeys above the ground level. Thank goodness, one of the guys from the orchestra, YQ was so gentlemanly to help me bring my heavy luggage up. There was really not a lot of things but the luggage case itself weighed quite a bit in itself even though the case was only half full.

We were offered some refreshments for those of us who arrived after the hostel's lunch hours and had not had lunch. There were donuts, cheese and biscuits to treat us. To an Asian standard, that was not a proper meal. It was considered more of a snack, but it went fine with me. At least the food will last me well till dinnertime. Went to my room to unpack after the meal.

Soon, it was dinnertime. Spoke to MC one of the double bassists, and who was in-charge of the logistics. He told me that we won't get to see and use the double basses until the next day, the earliest being the next morning. How disappointing I was feeling. I could only try not to reveal the whole magnitude of my disappointments.

But dinner was quite good. I like the fact that there was fresh raw vegetables from the salad bar which we could all help ourselves freely to. I think if Stephanie were to read of this, she would have like the servings of vegetables too. Yummy. It helped to soothe me a little.

There were also fruit juices available. I prefer the apple juice to the orange juice. But so far, except for the tomato juices on board the Qantas flight, no other juices I have tasted throughout my entire trip tasted better than the juices from Conrad Centennial Singapore. A pity Conrad does not seem to offer tomato juices. If it does, I think the tomato juice on the flight would not be Conrad's match.

There was really no programme for the entire day except that there was a short briefing after the dinner.

After the briefing, there was a kind of welcome ceremony for all the festival participants and the Bucksburn Pipe Band played lovely tunes on the bagpipes for us. While enjoying the music, I found it nice to lay on the open spaces of grass. This is something I would not do in Singapore unless I have a ground sheet. But there is something about Aberdeen's grass, it does not have as much insects and the soil is much drier than that in Singapore. How relaxing and laid back life was lying down on the grass. A local who have spent quite some time in Singapore before she returned to Aberdeen spoke to us and even taught us how to travel to the City of Aberdeen by the public bus.

I head that there was an Opening Ceilidh for all of us after the music by the pipe band. After checking the dictionary, I learnt that the word Ceilidh refers to an informal gathering for music and dancing.

After the pipe band stopped playing, there was quite large crowd heading towards the pub-area where the Ceilidh would be held. Being not in flavour of crowds, I returned to my room. I was told much earlier that haggies, one of the national dishes of Scotland would be served during the Ceilidh. I was tempted to try it, so after about 45 minutes in my room, I headed for the pub to check out the Ceilidh. I was hoping for the crowd to clear a little, but I saw a queue outside the pub, and I would rather choose to forgo the haggies in order not to be caught in a crowd.

I slept. But it was summertime and 9 p.m. in Aberdeen seemed like it was only 7 p.m. I had to put on eye shades to put myself to sleep.

Check out more photos posted on my other blog. Look under: 2 Aug 05: At the Hostel.

2 Aug 05: On the plane and then presto in London

I shall continue to write to share with you about my recent trip. I hope doing so would help me wake up mentally. Anyway, I better write as much as I can now of the trip, I foresee a mountainful of work on my desk when I return to office for work on the coming Monday. By then, I don't know if I would feel sane enough to have the energy to write about anything except my blues and woes.

So here is quoting direct from selected passages in my tour journal:

"It is 1 a.m. Singapore time. I am now on board Qantas QF15. The plane took off about 20 minutes ago. I hope that the journey to London and Aberdeen would be smooth and safe. I will be stopping over at London's Heathrow Airport and thereafter will transfer to take an internal (domestic) flight to Aberdeen.

There seems to be a storm right outside the plane. The plane feels rather rocky from where I am sitting. I am sitting in one of the seats at the last row of the plane. There certainly seems to be a lot of turbulence outside the plane right now. That should be normal, but I shall be act a little concern, and hope that we will be safe.

Sitting on the same row as myself is a young boy who isn't feeling quite well. I hope he will get better soon.

I think I shall get myself a writing pen when I am in UK. I left the writing pen that I had intended to bring along for the trip at my home. I am now writing with one of my drawing pens.

I am feeling a little tired right now but I'll see if I could sleep at 5 a.m. Singapore time instead. QH, one of the double bassists who is also travelling to Aberdeen, said that doing so may help reduce the effects of jetlag. It does make some sense because there is an about 7 hours of difference between UK time and Singapore time since I was told it is now summer and UK time is tuned to +1 GMT. If I sleep at about 5 a.m. Singapore time and sleep through the rest of the journey, when I wake up it would be close to 7 a.m. London time when I reach London. The flight is about 13 hours. How strange it is that I could lose 7 hours just like that. And if I didn't know my maths and time correct, I would have thought that I had slept only 2 hours when I actually had slept more than that!

There is not much of an excitement to be heading for Aberdeen, but there is some sense of anticipation for my stay in Aberdeen. Some feelings of uncertainties too. I hope all would turn out alright."

Actually, I ended up not sleeping throughout the rest of the journey after 5 a.m. Singapore time. I started sleeping around that time, but woke up about 3 hours later. I watched the shows on the in-flight entertainment system for a while then went to another cycle of 2 - 3 hours of sleep. There was one monitor per passenger. I was told this was considered good facilities by Qantas for those travelling on the KLM flight had to share one screen with a hundred (or slightly fewer) other passengers. Am I not fortunate?

"It is 10.40 a.m. at Heathrow Airport now. I am there waiting for the domestic flight that would leave for Aberdeen. While waiting, I also notice members from a few other musical groups. I could tell so because the prints on their T-shirt told me so. Also a few of them were carrying what look like musical instruments. My hunch tells me that they will be heading for exactly the same destination, i.e. Aberdeen, for the Aberdeen International Youth Festival.

Thank goodness, I have survived the 13 hours long flight from Singapore to London. The flight to Aberdeen should just take about an-hour-and-a-half.

It took a while to clear the rather tight customs and security within Heathrow Airport. We took about an hour just to clear the security.

Now I just hope that things would turn out fine for us in Aberdeen and that I would see myself having a nice double bass to play on when I get there."

Awfully mixed up

I don't know if I should go to bed or I should be awake. It is 6.42 a.m. now and I have tried about an hour ago to go back to rest, but I could not. Yet, my mind is not operating anywhere near its optimal and that signals I might need a little more rest. But my body tells me that I am hungry for breakfast and I don't need anymore sleep.

I felt a little mixed up. I hope this would not cause me mood swings. Forgive me if I were to take twenty minutes to respond to something which I would normally take no more than one minute. My mind is slow when it is not functioning at its optimal.

I shall go out for a walk later the day. I am feeling a little stifled, I was at home the entire day yesterday. Not work, and no play. Just simply unpacking, helping with the laundry and sleeping. Oh yes, not to forget, surfing the internet to keep myself updated, and blogging.

Not to mention, I was too tired to even offer "my husband" (the double bass) any companionship at all. Lack of practice does not seem good for yours truly who will be having a few more upcoming performances within the next three weeks.

Anyhow, I would have asked for the company of any kind soul for my needed walk, but I fear my mood would swing drastically with me feeling awfully mixed up with bed-times and waking-up times. I shall be kind not to drag anyone into this possibly terrible mess. Just empathise with me for what I am going through please, I like to feel and to be understood.

1 Aug 2005: At the airport

Since I feel awake to go to dreamland, I reckon I shall try to do something productive, that is, to share with you about my UK trip.

Even though the most productive and reasonable thing to do at this hour is to rest. But I have slept till 9 a.m. the day before and I slept 3 hours in the afternoon of the day before that I don't think my body felt like it needed any more sleep.

I have tried to keep a tour journal with me, so that I could log into it my experiences throughout the trip. I shall quote wholesale from the journal where appropriate. But pardon me, due to busy schedules and tiring times, I usually ended up logging into the logbook only about several days after the event has occurred. In fact I have only wrote up till 15 Aug 2005 noon, and my trip lasted till 18 Aug 2005. I shall try my best to ensure that my accounts and recollections are as accurate as I could remember.

If I do make my accounts too vivid at the expense of possibly hurting anyone, this would have been most unintentional.

1 Aug 2005 and I am technically still in Singapore. We were told to be at the airport at 7.30 p.m., I remember. But actually, my flight was only due to depart at 0035 on 2 Aug 2005. I was told to arrive at the airport early because most of the rest of the orchestra members would be travelling on a earlier flight that leaves at about 10.40 p.m.

One of my younger brothers was nice and he rented a car to drive mom and myself to the airport. He helped me with the luggage too. Mom did too. I shall learn to better appreciate my family members' way of expressing their love. After seeing that things are fine on my side at the airport, they left for my grandma's place. My maternal grandma had wanted to send me off but she was having a flu and could not do so.

At the airport, the orchestra members participating in the festival met and reported. Not all smooth sailing I suppose? I heard that a few people got themselves stuck in the expressways on the way to the airport. Even though that was a Monday, I suppose the roads are crowded, awfully perhaps. As such, several came much later than the official reporting time.

Dear Emily was nice and kind to help bring the four flight cases from the university to the airport with YY. I think YYY was there with them too? I heard the vehicles that they were taking were caught in the traffic jams. Good thing that while they were later than expected, they came in time to catch the flight.

I was asked to be in-charge to make sure that all the folks who were travelling on British Airways and Qantas were around and had their passports given to me so that the travel agent would later collect those from me and to help check-in everyone taking the British Airways and Qantas. I got to realise that none of us who were taking the British Airways and Qantas flights were NUS undergraduates. We were either graduates or guest players. But I shall highlight that it was no exercise of discrimination. I requested to travel on Qantas and British Airways for this trip so that I could stop by London without having to incur extra charges of booking an additional domestic fligh from Aberdeen to London.

Most of the other orchestra members were taking KLM airlines which departs at an earlier time. Their flight would stopover at Amsterdam (Holland) before reaching Aberdeen.

In the end, after much careful checks by the airlines' staff, it ended up that all members who wanted their instruments and bows to be carried up the plane as hand-carry could do so. The idea of the special safety container just does not seem enticing. Instruments are personal and of great sentimental value. If I were rich, I would have bought my dear instrument (be it "my husband" or "my boyfriend") a business class seat at least and have it on the cabin with me. Somehow it doesn't feel safe to have it in flight cases, and flight cases are heavy.

I should say that someone could consider making a business out of manufacturing and selling flight cases that are sturdy and protective, yet light-weight. It will be a needed service. At about 9 p.m plus, as best as I could recall, the travel agent who was with me and the rest of the people taking the British Airways and Qantas flights received a call from one of the university's representative staff members who was to go with the orchestra for the Aberdeen International Youth Festival.

It was said to the best of my recall that the rest of the orchestra travelling on KLM airlines had excess baggage due to the heavy four flight cases, and it was asked if one of the flight cases could be put on the Qantas flight that nine of us were on. It turns out the flight case was at least 65 kg. I was told most of this weight is that of the weight of the case itself. The instruments inside it took up no more than a third of the total weight.

We should be thankful that after weighing the flight case with its contents, the group of us on the Quantas flight have sufficient weight allowance to have that flight case with us without having to bear any excess baggage penalty charges. However, the dimensions of the flight case was an issue. It was an unexpected move to have the flight case on the Qantas flight. The airlines has not been given prior notice to expect a flight case of that dimension. As such the airlines was not quite prepared to take the flight case. Safety is of top paramount and the containers that the flight uses to store the checked-in luggages are not intended to store such a dimension of the flight-case upright. Experts have to be called in to see if it would be safe to carry the flight-case as a check-in baggage. We were advised that in worst scenario, it may have to go by cargo.

I went for a quick meal at Popeyes while the travel agent waited for the airlines' expert to come to view the flight case. It was a sweet gesture and I appreciate her helping to wait. She knew that I felt a little hungry.

When the experts arrived, the agent gave me a call on my mobile upon my request. It just doesn't seem nice to leave everything all to the agent when one is a member of the orchestra and the issue is that concerning the travelling orchestra. (I took a break from my meal and my accompanying dinner-mates were very nice to save enough food for me when I was back. Thanks.)

In the end, after much checks by the experts, the flight case finally got clearance. The experts have to absolutely ensure that it would be safe. I respect that safety has to be of top priority. The suggestion is that the flight-case would be kept in one of those containers not upright, but a little tilted. I shall be thankful that the flight case is sturdy enough to protect the instruments even while being left tilted.

I shall be thankful that we have a travel agent who was patient enough and responsible enough to see us through this entire flight case issue. I could also see that the airlines ground staff were trying their best to assist, while safety will still be their top concern.

There was much a relief when Qantas ascertain it was safe to carry the flight case on the flight. A few of the folks due to board the KLM flight had not boarded their plane as they needed to see to this matter. Thank goodness all went well, even though it felt a little last-minute.

Lessons learnt: More may need to be taken into considerations on the weight and dimensions issues when travelling with a large orchestra with so many large instruments. For the first time, I realise how very expensive it can be to be charged for excess baggage. The rate of the penalty charges goes exponential.

So technically, on 1 Aug 2005, I was still in Singapore.

But I shall forward time a little ahead to the time that I took this picture below on the plane. I took this on the plane, about a few hours prior to my arrival at London's Heathrow Airport. I was due to arrive Heathrow Airport at about 0715 London's time on 2 Aug 2005.

I shall not hold myself to delay writing about the picture below, for I can't bring myself to delay sharing it with you. I shall dedicate this to Mistipurple for I think she might like it. I know she might prefer sunsets more than sunrises, but for a change, I hope it would still delight her to see how the skies would look like during a sunrise.


If you like my writings so far, please stay tuned for more.

Time confusion

It is 3 a.m. Singapore time and after sleeping at about 11.30 p.m., I am now awake. My body does not feel tired and I could not coax it to sleep after much attempts.

But my mind is half-asleep, I know because it felt as if it is slurring. Yet it is also half-awake and is refusing to go to dreamland.

Time confusion. I shall get over it soon.

Let me count, it is actually 8 p.m. in UK since it is now summer time. I have just returned to Singapore from UK a day ago. I don't know if that might help explain my time confusion.

I know I may not make sense, so I thank you for bearing with me.

Friday, August 19, 2005

For "Xiaofen"

I dedicate this post to Xiaofen. In part to seek her forgiveness. I had wanted to post a postcard to her from UK and I have brought along what is likely to be her mailing address.

However, forgive me, when I reached Aberdeen, I was not sure if it was her most updated address and had not dare to send her anything. Have sent to that address a few times but wasn't sure if she would have receive those posts. I must have been such a worrisome person that I didn't dare to take the risk to post one more time. Pardon me, it is me, one of my failings is that I tend to get a little worrisome about things and end up too careful.

This post won't be sufficient to compensate for my failing and oversight but hopefully that might bring some smiles on Xiaofen's face that she is in my thoughts.

This is by far my best picture taken of the St Paul's Cathedral, in London. My photography skills seem to have tremendously declined due to lack of time to make good observations of the subject matter that I would like to take. I could only look and then shot without having the luxury to observe. In the end, I end up with snapshots, not photographs of good art. This one is acceptable, but I had taken at least ten photos which are not quite up to my mark before I get this one.

Anyway, when one walks down to the crypt (an underground room that is usually used as a burial ground) of the cathedral, one would find the tombs of some of Britain's greatest heroes, including Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Christopher Wren (who designed this very cathedral, the fourth cathedral to be built on that site). The thought of this lends one some sense of chivalry which would deserving earn the respect of posterity.

This cathedral has nice baroque interior. I will talk a little more about it as I write about my stay in UK.

For Mystic

I promise Mystic earlier this evening that I will post a picture that I have taken in UK specially for her. It took a while to decide what to choose for her.

Here it is. Hope this would soothe her anger a little. Her day had seemed to end with some frustrations and anger, and though that was not of any fault of yours truly, I would try what I could as a friend if by doing so helps her feel better and find perspective. This is a perspective that one would not find on the ground. Hope it would soothe Mystic.

I beg for your forgiveness if you were ever to feel jealous with Mystic. For a post dedicated to her.

There is certainly no reason to. As I have said in one of my posts on Mistipurple's blog, I am likely not more charming than most other people and fellow bloggers. I won't even dare to make a single claim that I would win the every affection of whoever reads this blog. The point is if anyone were to feel jealous, it was absolutely not intended to be.

Beaded Trinkets

Proudly presenting Goldilocks' other blog: Beaded Trinkets.

I remember a few years ago, I signed up for a wiring (cum jewellery making) course with her but she could not attend it at the last minute. Later after the course ended, I spent a day with her to share with her what I learnt. Fast-learner she has been. Now, it is pleasant to know that she has came so far and she has done so much beaded jewelleries.

For myself, after that sharing session with Goldilocks (I would address her as JY), I don't remember making much jewellery thereafter. I only found myself analysing how beaded jewlleries in the market are made.

To side track, I guess it does take a lot of commitment to be "married to a double bass" that I have limited time for most things else. Please bear with me.

Anyway, do have a look, I find the jewellery on the site nice. Cheers to JY for the works of art.

What's Happening in Singapore: SSO@Toa Payoh

For those of you who might like a suggestion on a possible way to spend the upcoming weekend:

Sponsored by: Singapore Press Holdings

Date: 21 August 2005, Sunday
Venue: Open space in front of Toa Payoh Community Library
Time: 6.30 p.m.
Free Admission.

Singapore Symphony Orchestra
Lim Yau conductor

Repertoire/ Programme:
BERLIOZ - Roman Carnival Overture, Op. 9
KABALEVSKY - 'Galop' from The Comedians Suite
ORTOLANI, R. & OLIVIERO, N. - More, Theme from the motion picture “Mondo Cane” arr. HAYMAN, R.
KELLY TANG - Symphonic Suite – On a Set of Local Tunes
Chan Mali Chan
Bunga Sayang
Singapore Heartbeat
TCHAIKOVSKY - 1812 Overture, Op. 49

Thursday, August 18, 2005

I'm back

This post was not meant to be a public announcement but it might end up appearing like one.

If it does delight anyone of you to know this, I shall hence humbly announce that yours truly is back in Singapore, and this shall be my first post after my 17-days absence from blogger land.

Of course, I shall balance viewpoints up by saying that if my return does not delight you, I am regretfully not in position to apologise. I could only empathise. Tell me what I could do to delight you, and I shall see if that would be something within my means which I won't mind working on. Then again, I know I can't please everyone no matter how hard I try to, so up to a certain point, such unhappy souls may just find themselves reading other blogs instead. As such, I shall make a self-depreciating remark to admit that my blog, like its author, isn't that perfect afterall.

I reached Singapore after taking a long-distance flight from London. The flight took about 13 hours. For some reasons, there is lethargy that I could feel. I am still trying to reorientate myself to hometown. It took me a while to orientate to UK and now I needed to reorientate myself to Singapore. I could only say that this process seems an inevitable necessity.

I'm feeling tired and a little dizzy. It is supposed to be 3.29 p.m. in UK now. Lethargy due to jet-lag? I am not sure.

Bear with me as I try to catch up on reading and postings. The mood is one of trying to adjust and grieving a little. Hence the mood is a rather dark one. Imagine how it would feel to leave one place for another, even though both are almost equally good in their own ways. I am just trying hard to reorientate myself.

I'll be catching up on my rest soon. Take care folks. I appreciate your concern and well-wishes.

If you would like to help boost my weak ego, please send me genuine sweet thoughts to let me know that you have been missing me.

Monday, August 01, 2005

"Away" message

Hi folks, this is to inform you that I will be away from today till 18 Aug 2005. I will be participating in the Aberdeen Internation Youth Festival held in Aberdeen, Scotland.

From 13 Aug 2005, I will be at London.

Please wish me a safe journey throughout. I keep my fingers crossed that all will turn out well.

Malay wedding

Yesterday, I attended a Malay wedding ceremony. That was the first Malay wedding ceremony that I have attended.

Earlier in July, I have attended the wedding dinner of the very same couple. It is interesting to be witness to an inter-racial wedding ceremony.

I reached there at about 11.30 a.m. The bride, my friend, was not there. It was nice of the bridegroom, who recognised me, to get me to talk to my friend over the phone to have me send my regards to her.

I had to rush for rehearsals which was in the early afternoon, so it was disappointing that I had to leave by 12.35 p.m. to be in time for the rehearsals. As such, I missed seeing the bride. The invitation stated that the event starts from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. When I was there, there were already some people. I was sitted at a table with three other people, and we were treated to nasi briyani (a kind of rice which has colourings added to it.) and other dishes. I also went to look at the photographs that the couple has taken. At about 12 noon, I could see a stream of students turning up for the event. My friend, the bride, is a teacher. I reckon that she has invited her students for this special occasion.

It was a pity that I had missed seeing my friend to give her my personal well-wishes face-to-face. I guess I cannot have the best of both worlds. Now I have learnt that when we attend a Malay wedding ceremony, and if we want to see the bride and the bridegroom, we have to ask the host when would be the time that the bride and the bridegroom would be at the ceremony. With this information, we can try to arrive not too early, and not too late for the ceremony. For yesterday's case, it was not possible for me to catch the bride anyway, because the time had clashed with rehearsals. I try not to miss rehearsals especially when the orchestra's next performance is less than three days away. Anyway, I heard that in a Malay wedding ceremony, the bridegroom and the bride would be dressed up like the King and Queen. It is sad that I have to miss seeing the ceremony.

I have taken a picture before the bridegroom and bride turned up for the official Malay wedding ceremony.