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Otherwise, am really pleased with the new site.
Much thanks to Blogger for the great two years++
and especially to YOU for visiting :)
`...Welcome you to Bangkok!!, Let me know what's convenience time that you'll have when you arrive at Bangkok. I'll take you to go to somewhere to eat (Kaiyang, Thod Man Pla, Tom Yam Kung etc), to shop and to relax...' Puen's reply had me grinning like a giddy goat as I read it aloud to Ah Tan, who appeared by the door smiling like a Cheshire cat. Bangkok in December will be a riot indeed: Pohf and sis will be there, a reunion with Puen who's back from Finland and then onwards to Kanchanaburi with Ah Tan and Meng Teck!
Krungthepmahanakhon Amornrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharat Ratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphiman Awatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit (The city of angels, the great city, the residence of the Emerald Buddha, the impregnable city (of Ayutthaya) of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated God, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarn.) i.e. Bangkok, I am looking forward to falling in love with you all over again...
The lazy feline sauntered along the longkang, oblivious to the little feet that scurried behind the walls and drops of water haphazardly dripping across the floor with mischief.
"One... two.... SPLASHHH!!"
Caught by surprise, the drenched cat jumped and sped off along the wall with a loud wailing Meowwwwwwww and just as expected, it turned a right corner at the end of the wall just before the rubber processing shed, towards door number two.
"One... two... SPLASHHH!!"
The meowing siren veered off at another right angle, this time darting across the backyard towards the rubber trees. Startled chickens, ducks and geese burst into a cacophony of noises that was joined in chorus by hoots and shouts as the two kids fell on the kitchen floor laughing, water scoop and pot clanging in victory.
"Ah Mekkkkkkk! Mai ak niao ahh! Kam khong ohhh... Tan jit ae lok ho, waipo sa buay ta ahhh!!! (Ah Mekkkkkkk, do not wet the cat! Goodness, Grandmother's clothes will not get dry if it rains later!!!) "
Little feet hurriedly drag rag cloths across the floor, soaking up mini puddles of water before disappearing out of sight as a plump old lady came in through door number one with a basket of freshly plucked sweet potato leaves.
"Look out!! Monitor lizard crossing ahead!!"
"Belok kanan... kanannnnnnnn! (Turn right, righhhhtt!)"
"Too late!! Aaaaaaaaaaaahhh!!"
A rickety old bicycle whizzed past the rubber trees in a blur of rusty red followed in close pursuit by another rickety black bicycle. Both were carrying pillion riders that bounced up and down, squealing with delight while holding on for dear life as the riders navigated the bicycles at breakneck speed over roots, stones and the occasional monitor lizard that criss-crossed the path.
"Oh ohhhh... Si liao... (We are dead...)"
The black bicycle came to a screeching halt in front of a thin old man in his black pants and white singlet, standing akimbo on the porch. A split second later, the red bicycle appeared from the rubber plantation behind the house and went straight into the bougainvillea bushes, sending slippers flying and two kids tumbling onto the laterite soil. Four dusty faces squatted by the red bike, one wheel still spinning awkwardly as it laid on its side, and watched in silence as the old man wheeled his black bicycle towards the main road. The annoyed scowl never left his face as he gestured with his hand to return Waipo's bicycle to the shed.
"Waikong, lu buat apa? (Grandfather, what're you doing?)"
"Asoh pisau, toreh g'tah (Sharpening the rubber tapping knife)."
Waikong's smile had a few teeth missing and his broken Malay naturally begat a stiffled giggle or two. In the suffused light of the late afternoon sun, he sat hunched on his stool in the backyard sharpening his rubber tapping knives. Mama said Waikong was a very handsome man in his youth. The only youth left now is in his eyes and his smile, and a smiling Waikong was definitely better than an angry Waikong but not half as funny.
It's raining outside and my thoughts drift to those of my late maternal grandparents- Wàigōng and Wàipó. When I think of them, I remember their bicycles and their lovely wooden house in the rubber estate back in Muar. Nary a day went past without an adventure or two whenever we are back in the kampung. Waipo's bicycle had a softer cushioned seat but no brakes. Stopping required a skilled manouver of landing your feet on the ground to slow down the bicycle or very simply crashing into something if your legs are too short. On the days when we were grounded from cycling (usually because we were off riding in the rubber estate when Waikong needed his bicycle), we would be collecting rubber seeds, chasing poultry, catching longkang fishes or planning the next great cat splashdown.
Waipo believed that if you wet a cat on a sunny day, your day will be ruined by rain. Superstition or not, it often rained whenever we were back for the school holidays. Ambushing the cat was so much fun that it didn't matter if we had to spend the rest of the day indoors while waiting out the rain. Sweet black thick coffee with fluffy kuih bahulu (madeleines) are excellent companions on rainy afternoons as we waited for the poor cat to come indoors and dry itself by the charcoal stove, ignoring our giggles. At night, we watched the fuzzy TV that alternated between colour and monochrome as a motley crew of lizards provided lame canned laughter for every program. We would sit with our legs up on the chairs and nobody sat on the floor. Centipedes usually sought dry shelter in the house during the rainy season and in the kampung, they can grow real long and fat. According to Atah, a centipede's bite is real painful and ugly. For all the living things under the sun that Waikong and Waipo ate, we were grateful that they left the lizards and centipedes alone.
(Left) Via Laietana, home to Xurreria Laietana where you can find the most delicious churros con chocolate in Barcelona. Have it with a glass of cafe latte and attempt a Catalan conversation with the guy behind the counter as the smell of freshly-fried churros wafts and spills into the busy Catalonian street outside.
After a two hours-long trek from Anacapri down the cliffs dotted with magnificent villas by the sea, we came upon a scene of comedic madness as boatmen and tour operators exchange curses and shouts as they compete to take flustered tourists into the Grotta Azzurra. Only one boat at a time can pass through the entrance with the people in it lying down. The commotion continued the whole afternoon. Nonchalant old men cast their fishing lines and fat cats snoozed on the steps while suicidal backpackers jumped off the cliff. It is a wonder how they managed the tangential dive without impaling themselves on the sharp spikes below. The only near-fatality was the cat that choked on some biscuits we gave.
After the paying tourists and boats were gone, we swam in for free. Threading water outside the entrance as people emerge with cuts and gashes onto the algae-covered steps, I rued our shoestring budget and my great suggestion. With every second of hesitation, hidden sharp rocks and the narrow gap grew more menacing. Finally riding the next wave in, the adrenaline rush was pure intoxication.
So into the iridescent cave of hynoptic blue we went and out again into the crashing waves of the rising tide as the sun descended on the horizon outside. Moments later, the sight of Sugeo jubilantly pumping his fist in the air while doing some crazy frog-dolphin-chimaera-style swimming in the sea and toAdie shivering on the steps looking mighty pleased made me forget about my heart that almost froze fifteen minutes before.
The gangster in me
Resides on my wrist
Stainless steel band
With a plastic face
Chain of Love
The name’s for real
Lament not its look
It is one with my pulse
Mail metal medieval
Links that cross
Bracelet that charms
Keeper of time
Celebrant of memories
An almost fall
A bleeding toe
A relieved sigh
Tough love, baby
But it's love all the same
For the lil' mob in you
- how surprised you are that PC.com magazine is so interesting(after browsing through it for ten minutes);
- a demonstration of how your portable GPS navigator works (which you had stuck onto the bus window screen complete with the voice prompter turned on i.e. annoying) and how you're very much into gadgets;
- assuming that she's a first year undergraduate, and with that she'd be more than half your age younger (you also declare proudly that you're a graduate from a Singapore university)
- how you are unaware of other SIN-KL express coach services other than those hopeless ones operating from the Golden Mile Complex;
- that you are into cycling, both road and off-road and that you're looking for some ways to mount your GPS gadget onto your bike (she then asks you is there really a need for GPS while cycling in Bukit Timah or also around Singapore generally; she thinks the idea of staring into a jiggling LCD screen while cycling is weird);
- the last fiction book you read was that very famous book about Christianity which you found so `deep' and `heavy' that you could barely read a few pages before surrendering (she asks you if you're refering to The Da Vinci Code to which you exclaim in shock when she says it's an easy read; upon seeing your reaction, she wished she guessed the Bible instead);
- how surprised you were that you are able to manually search for a local network on your mobile phone when on roaming (she wonders if she misheard that you were into gadgets and all that techie stuff).
- "You read a lot, don't you?" (Repeat question when she doesn't hear you because she's wearing earphones.)
- When she's adjusting her iPod mini's volume higher: "Is that an iPod nano? It's the latest, isn't it?" (Proceed to explain you're not into mp3 players because you have a PDA.)
- "Are you on school holidays now?" (She already mentioned that she's not an undergraduate) followed half an hour later by "So, your final exams are over? You must be going back for your holidays."
- "If you don't mind, can I have your phone number?" (She offers to give her e-mail address instead and regrets not saying point blank that she minds.)
- "Do you have a pen and a piece of paper?" (She wonders why you can't just use your multi-purpose PDA. You give her your bus ticket stub and then make this statement as she scribbles her e-mail address: "You look scared. Please don't be afraid, it's just that I've taken this bus so many times and I've never met anyone who is so intellectually different from me. So I'd like to keep in touch. I will definitely e-mail you when I'm back in Singapore.")
- When the bus reaches its destination after the agonizing ten minutes that lapsed since you asked for her phone number: "Does the LRT actually work? I mean, is it really functioning? People use it?" (points to the nearby LRT station.)
Meanwhile, the rainy season has finally arrived. Plenty of evening walks before heaven-sent showers and windy spells to look forward to while I work hard to redeem myself this November. Bangkok in December beckons once that bound volume closes this chapter of my life... Aja! Aja!