Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Brokeback Mountain buzz

In the midst of the year-end festivities, I didn’t realize that Brokeback Mountain (BBM) has generated such a level of publicity and excitement till I read this.

With BBM having won the Golden Lion award at the Venice File Festival in September, critics from Boston, New York and Los Angeles have also named it the best film of the year.

Of course, the indicator awards to the Oscars, the Golden Globes has BBM nominated in seven categories, leading the rest of the pack. Categories in which it has been nominated include Best Film (Drama), Best Director and Best Actor in a Drama (Heath Ledger).

All these accolades are from the critics. What about the man on the street?

Apparently, the movie is expanded to being shown in Texas and Wyoming, where the film was shot in and where the population is not exactly “gay-friendly” and is generally downright conservative.

I can’t put in words how excited I am that the film is having such an impact on the audience and potential audience. Some of the comments on the film (taken from Yawning Bread):

First off, I am writing this story from a heterosexual point of view. I attended the screening in Los Angeles with my girlfriend. As the story unfolded, I found myself more and more intrigued with the story, especially Heath's character. In addition, every scene looks like a postcard, speaking straight to you with so much emotion and heart. When the movie concluded, I must admit that I did feel a lot of pain for Ennis Del Mar. You can only wonder what could have happened? How will he live out the rest of his life? My girlfriend could not control her emotions, and could not stop crying long after the film was over. She claims this as "the greatest love story and poignant love story ever told, with so much honesty and truth being portrayed among the characters". This is why I decided to share my story, because it has such a profound effect in everyone, including straight male audiences. It's not to be missed. -- Roger, Culver City, California, USA

I plan on seeing this movie. I know it will remind me of my husband and his best friend of many years. If you think it is tough on one of the men involved in this kind of romance, I can tell you it is hell on earth for one of their wives. I don't know if they have expressed their love physically and will probably never find out, but it has been obvious to me for many years that they are in love with each other. For any of you men out there who are in this situation, I urge you to leave your wives for the other man. It is actually the kinder thing to do, as those of us who are the wives, are suffering also. It is better not to live your life with a lie. -- Anonymous, USA

I wanted to see this movie for several reasons. Obviously I was curious about the tension involved in a love seen between two heterosexual actors, one of whom has a real life girlfriend sharing many scenes with him. But also I just wanted to see a different kind of love story. But the thing is, after watching the film, I realized that there is no "different" kind of love story. Love is love. The only thing that differs is people and circumstances. As a heterosexual female I have certainly experienced the feeling of being in a relationship that was doomed never to evolve or last for whatever reasons, but which I could not give up immediately solely because of those reasons although perhaps I should have. That feeling was captured perfectly in this movie. There is always one person who feels they cannot live without the other. The other is always resigned to try the more mainstream path to avoid shame and inner turmoil. It always ends in tears. -- Zenzile, Bronx, New York, USA

All these seem very positive, don’t you think? Though obviously you can argue that these people are already ambivalent or somewhat gay-friendly in the first place. Thus, it's not like it's a big deal that they would watch the movie and end up enjoying it.

Yup, the people who would get the most good and where the movie would be an eye-opener for them are those bigots and homophobes.

People like this:
They shouldnt be allowed to put stuff like that in movies. I'm not going to pay to see two guys do each other; that is sick. I wounder why those two actors would want to do that. Me I wouldnt. And why would you put a movie like that over the hoildays. I personally don't even want to see this movie because it is really disgusting and disturbing. So why do people see because they're weird. – BlackHawk324, posted on the IMDB Boards

OK, I guess I'm going to have to repeat this again for the umpteenth time. There is no such thing as a "scared" homophobe! Men who are not comfortable with homosexuality are not frightened of homosexuals, they are disgusted by them. I for one do not relish watching a movie about two cowboys making out! I'm sorry, but it is not because I am scared of homosexuality; I am repulsed by it. I hope this movie makes nothing at the box office. Nothing! But of course, it will be praised by limp-wristed critics and Hollywood gay-backers because it "dares to show the gay lifestyle without shame, dares to shake up the status quo, and dares to flaunt homosexuality in front of the average moral theatre-goer". What a crock of sh*t. –jerryip54, posted on the IMDB Boards

About the last bit there, perhaps he should go to Jay’s blog and realize how he and the rest of the straight population “flaunts” their heterosexuality.

But the point to all these is the buzz it has generated. Even people who have only watched the trailer are excited to watch it. And these are not just Americans, but people from all around the world.

A lot of people who are connected to the Internet or who are even remotely aware of news and current events, would have known about BBM, or rather, the movie about “two gay cowboys.” (Though Alex Au did correctly point out that they were not cowboys. In the movie, they do not herd cattle. They herd sheep, and that makes them shepherds.)

Singaporeans have the opportunity of watching it in February 2006. The rest of us in Malaysia would never get to see it on the big screen. Click here for the trailer .

To be cynical, perhaps I am being hopeful and optimistic over nothing. There would still be people who would dismiss it as being a gay movie and thus has nothing to do with them (but who would happily go watch movies about violent rape and with excessive violence). Or those who think that if they were seen coming out of the cinema showing BBM, they would be thought of as being homosexual. Or that watching that movie would turn them gay.

Ridiculous as all those opinions may sound, unbelievably, there are many people who think exactly like that.

It is indeed refreshing and long overdue. It's completely threatening to those that have notions of what masculinity is and isn't and how being gay plays into that. - Jamessemaj12

Someone commented that this movie “frightens” the mainstream because the protagonists aren’t what they are used to see on Queer Eye or the other movies with gay characters, namely they are masculine and not feminine at all.

It is scary to some that they can’t say anymore that “Oh, he’s such a sissy he must be gay.” or “He’s so manly he can’t possibly be gay.”

Because now, that totally manly guy who sat across him at the other table, or any guy at all, could be gay.

Which scares the shit out of them.

All I can say is - Deal with it.

I am hopeful that at the very least, the movie would make people think. Think about their preconceived ideas of homosexuality. Look beyond the gay theme and realise that basically, they were just two people deeply in love.

Annie Proulx, the author, hopes the film provokes conversations, "that it's going to awaken in people an empathy for diversity, for each other and the larger world. I'm really hoping that the idea of tolerance will come through discussions about the film."

So do I.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Stay back from my backside

Overheard during my colleagues’ visit to my house on Friday.

PL: I used to have piles before. Damn painful when I need to go toilet. You see, when I am studying, I don’t like to go and do other things. Even when nature calls, I will still sit there at the table.
JS: No wonder la you have piles.
PL: Yeah. So I went to see the doctor. You know what he did? He put one finger in my asshole. Quite deep some more. I was like Wahhhh ….

At this point, I was smirking.

JS: How did you feel?
Me (thinking): You had a hard on?
PL: Pain lar of course. Damn pain you know. You try putting a finger and see what it feels like.
JS: Oh no no no … no need … I don’t want anybody to go near there ….

I was like, what the fuck? That wasn’t the answer I expected. Probably it was painful because of the piles. If he was healthy and all, I am certain the answer would be quite different.

Anyway, straight people and their extreme phobia (paranoia?) of other people doing things to their butts. With that kind of attitude, they clearly are missing out on something good and don't know it. They keep thinking that they can only feel good with that dangly organ in front and completely ignore the pleasure they can get from behind.

Which is the male G-spot, i.e. the prostate.

I do realize that even if they do know, they are not gonna openly admit it.

Silly straight boys. And their equally silly ideas of masculinity.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Derek, how are you doing?

Thank you again for all the well wishes of speedy recovery and take care. I am doing fine. I eally appreciate the concern shown to me for the past few days from all you.

*muacks muacks*

Just a short update here on how I am doing.

Three days ago
I walked really slow, like an elderly gentleman. Pain was less than the day after the operation, but I was still on painkillers.

When I slept, I had to lie flat on my back. I couldn’t lie on my sides at all, without feeling discomfort.

When it came to getting out of bed, I had quite a difficult time too. I had to get into a sitting position first using my elbows, and then put my feet on the floor. This, in usual circumstances would be extremely easy, took more than ten seconds to accomplish.

No stretching for me after waking up. I can only swing my arms, slowly. Like I was doing tai chi.

I couldn’t wear tight fitting pants. A sarong would be an obvious choice, but I don’t have any. So I am wearing extremely loose pants.

Well, not that loose anyway, till it can come off easily with just a tug.

I walk at a faster pace now, perhaps 80% of my usual speed. I have stopped taking painkillers.

Though the pain in my right testicles is still excruciating at times. The pain comes and goes.

It usually comes when I am standing up or walking after sitting for a while. And then it goes away till I rest my butt on a seat again and get up.

I can sleep well now. Or at least, yesterday night. Nevertheless, I didn’t get much sleep the night before. This was due to the sharp ache in my balls almost the entire night.

Getting out of bed takes mere seconds. I can swing my arms now. And even squat a little to get the blood flowing in my legs.

So basically, I think I am recovering quite well. But of course, I will still be spending Christmas Eve at home.

To all my readers, I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas! Sha la la la ……

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Derek's hospital stay

*edited, with picture

Saturday, 17th December

Three hours later, I came to. It was after seven. I was feeling extremely drowsy. Tried to open my eyes, but my eyelids felt so heavy. Was shivering a little from the cold too.

I could hear clearly the voices around me. The nurses were talking softly to another patient next to me, telling her that her operation went well and that she would be fine.

My abdomen hurt. Just above the groin area.

I tried to get the nurses attention by moaning. By turning my head left and right. I could barely open my eyes for more than a second.

Finally, I mumbled, “Cold.” Only then did someone gave me an extra blanket.

Later, as I was pushed out of the room, my head has cleared up a bit. I saw my family waiting outside. They followed me as I was brought back to my ward.

I felt numb and weak all over. The nurses asked whether I could get back into the bed. Obviously I couldn't. Thus, they had to carry me, slowly and gently, back to the bed.

By now, I could speak and knew what I was talking about. My family was around me and we talked for a while. They left a while later, after having said, “Just rest. We’ll come see you tomorrow.”

I began to feel increasing pain at my lower abdomen. The anesthetic must be wearing off. Not long after, I fell asleep.

I woke up at about ten. I was hungry, but the pain was stronger and it overwhelmed the former. The nurse came in to give me an antibiotic jab.

I was told that if I was hungry, they could heat up some porridge for me. If the pain become unbearable, I could request for painkillers.

No, I said that I wasn't hungry yet. And I drifted into slumber once more.

Close to midnight, I was awake again. I felt a little better. I have had enough of sleeping for the time being and took out my book to read.

I was quite absorbed in the book till a nurse came in and I was interrupted. She asked if I would like some Milo as I shouldn’t be eating food yet.

Hmmm ... I was receiving conflicting messages here. Didn’t another nurse earlier wanted to bring me porridge, which never come?

I said OK.

After I have finished my Milo, I returned to sleep.

Less than hour later, I was awaken as another nurse came in to take my blood pressure and temperature.

Throughout the night, I was intermittently awake. And the pain was persistent and keenly felt.

Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer; I couldn't have my rest. I requested for the painkiller.

To my shock, it didn’t come orally. I had to take it up the ass.

In that period, the nurse came in check on my vitals one more time. Or twice. Can’t really remember.

Warning: Vivid description follows. Might be too much information for some of you.

By then, I had taken a look at my bandage. It was just above my groin area and went up 8 centimeters, at a 45 degrees angle.

And my bush had to be shaved to make way. Heh, I felt like a porn star. ;P

Anyway, the whole area hurt. The surrounding skin was red and it extended till my stomach. It felt painful to the touch.

The doctor also removed something that measured about 5cm, called a hyrdrocele (a collection of fluid in the scrotum that surrounds the testicle).

The hydrocele, which measured about 5 cm

Thus, my balls hurt as well. Just the right one. It has turned a shade of purple black. This was due to the surgery affecting some of the nerves, which lead into the testicle.

When morning came, I was assured by the doctor that the bruised testicle was nothing to worry about. I had my doubts, as my genitals was still feeling numb and unresponsive ...

It was also quite difficult for me to pee.

Did I just reveal things I shouldn’t? Oh what the heck, these are just human anatomy and bodily functions. ;P

End of description.

When it was a third into Sunday, a male nurse brought breakfast, which consisted of porridge (hopefully it wasn’t the one promised last night) and two slices of bread.

I just had the bread and a cup of Milo.

Later at ten, I was discharged.

In short, what I can say about my hospital stay was that it was utterly boring. Though it was comfortable and the nurses were warm and friendly, I don’t think I could stand another night in the hospital (the doctor did suggest for me to stay another night if I wanted to).

I stayed in a four-bedded room, which is a misnomer really, as it only had two beds. The hospital has two bedded rooms, which cost about 50% more.

The difference between the two rooms? The latter has a television and a phone. Comfort, hygiene and service wise, they are the same.

I sure hope I won’t be seeing the insides of a ward anytime soon, looking at the ceiling from the bed.

The doctor gave me three weeks of medical leave, which I think is quite excessive. But who am I to argue with the doctor anyway? ;P

Monday, December 19, 2005

Derek's first ever surgery

With so many things happening recently, I don’t even have time to stop and think.

After the hectic weekend to Banting and Ipoh last weekend, I was back at work on Wednesday.

Thankfully, work has somewhat slowed down towards the end of the year. As such, I decided to do something about a persistent problem that I have, an inguinal hernia.

Time for some medical lessons, boys and girls.

Inguinial hernia: protrusions of abdominal cavity contents through an area of the abdominal wall, commonly referred to as the groin, and known in anatomic language as the inguinal area or the myopectineal orifice.

They are very common and their repair is one of the most frequently performed surgical operations. They usually arise as a consequence of the descent of the testis from the abdomen into the scrotum during early fetal life, and are therefore far more commonly seen in men than women. They present as painless bulges in the groin area that can become more prominent when coughing, straining, or standing up.

The most recent one happened when I was in Singapore. I was shopping at Orchard Road and the hernia occured. Which was why I had to take a cab home to lie down.

Anyway, I went to the family doctor on Thursday and he wrote a letter to a surgeon to perform the surgery.

There I was at the surgeon’s office on Friday afternoon. He took one look and he asked me to strip.

Now, I have never stripped completely even in front of my doctor before - I always have a piece of clothing on me.

There was also a female nurse in the room. Anyway I did strip. A little hesitantly at first.

Then I thought. What the heck? It’s not like I have not strip in front of a stranger before.

After he did all the necessary check-up and all, he asked when do I want the surgery done. The receptionist had told me that he will be on holiday starting next Wednesday.

I wanted Monday, because I have plans to attend YTL’s 50th anniversary celebration at KLPAC on Saturday. There was going to be a performance by Russell Watson and the Adelaide Philharmonic Orchestra.

On Sunday, I had made plans to watch the Queer Film Fest.

Thus naturally, I wanted Monday. There was only an afternoon slot left. He suggested the next day (Saturday) and to take whatever free slot that was available.

As such, without being psychologically prepared and informing all my friends of my surgery, I found myself admitted in the hospital at ten in the morning the next day.

The surgery was scheduled for half past four in the afternoon. Of course, I had to fast from the time of admission to surgery.

My family was with me for a while. They decided to come back later at about three before I was brought to the operating theatre.

In the meantime, I was bored. Nothing much to do in the ward except to sleep. I did manage to read a few pages of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman in that time.

Unexpectedly, a male and female nurse came into the room at half past two and told me to put on the hospital gown and get ready to be wheeled to the operation theatre. I was hurried and I was like OMG, OMG. So soon ar? But I haven’t made my final phone call to inform my parents.

They required that I leave all my valuables in an envelope for safekeeping. Immediately after I passed my mobile phone to them, I was rolled to the lift which would take me to the operating theatre three floors below.

When I was on the bed, being pushed to the lift, I was smiling to myself. You know all those medical shows like ER or whatever show that has someone being frantically pushed to the OT? I felt like that, with me looking up at the ceiling, interspaced by fluorescent lights.

The feeling was surreal.

Even though my operation was supposedly brought forward a little, it turned out that the operation before me had some complications and thus was taking up more time. I ended spending about an hour at the waiting bay.

While I was lying there, bored, an anesthethst came over and attached a drip on me. She said I must be shivering as I haven't had food for the past six hours.

Which I was. I was feeling kinda hungry.

Half an hour later, I was pushed into the operating theatre ...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Ipoh and Taiping

I was in Ipoh last Sunday for my cousin’s wedding.

I have no idea why my dad wanted to go for the wedding dinner in Ipoh, as my cousin would organize one in KL this weekend anyway.

Probably he wanted to opportunity to meet up with his sisters and brothers and relatives. Which doesn’t make sense either as he is not close to any of them.

Well, except maybe just one.

Since most of my relatives on dad’s side are in Ipoh, I am not really chummy to any of my cousins. In addition, they are at least five years older than I am.

I do have cousins of similar age to me. But they are all girls. And my dad isn’t close to their parents.

Which basically means that I don’t really have cousins.

Anyway, there we were at the dinner. Thankfully, there weren’t many annoying marriage questions directed at me. Just a simple “Do you have a girlfriend yet?”

In family gatherings, no, in any gatherings with my dad around, he would always answer questions intended for me.

I have gotten used to it. Hence, in such gatherings, I would seem like a quiet boy. Or indifferent.


My dad answered no for me. The relatives chipped in, “He’s what, 24? Nowadays where got people marry so early one. No need to hurry. Wait till thirty. Thirty is a good age to marry.”

I very nearly rolled my eyes. At the absurdity of that statement.

So anyway, the marriage issue was neatly wrapped up.

The food was OK. I have learnt to control my appetite, so that my waist is under control too. ;P

On Monday, we drove up to Taiping to check out the Taiping Zoo.

Yeah, I know. First, it was the Night Safari in Singapore and less than two weeks later, I was at another animal enclave.

No, I don’t have a thing for animals. Unlike another goddamned fabulous blogger (in his own words).

We were there because my family wanted to check out the place, as my brother might be doing his industrial training here.

And no, I don’t think he has a thing for animals either.

Taiping Zoo is OK. A bit rundown and not well-maintained. As proof of how terribly it was maintained, there were rats in the cages, eating from the same food bowl of the animals.

Not only that, some cages were overgrown with plants and without animals inside.

It's basically like any other zoo in Malaysia - lethargic animals in enclosures which are mostly to small for them. Not much landscaping done either.

Surprisingly, there were quite a number of visitors. Mostly kids with their parents. My brother even said that the zoo is profitable, unlike the one in KL.

From the look of things, I found that hard to believe.

After that, we had lunch in the town of Taiping and returned to Ipoh.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Food trip to Banting

On Saturday, my friends and I went to Banting to celebrate KY’s birthday. We went all the way there to try the famous hak yi kai (beggar chicken). Why it is called as such is because it is cooked in a pile of charcoal.

How did it get its name? I didn’t know there is a story (come to think of it, everything has a origins story!) behind it until my brother told me.

Back in the olden days, there was a beggar who stole a chicken. The townspeople gave chase and managed to trap him inside a house. The beggar, not knowing what to do, decided to wrap that chicken in cloth and buried it under the house.

Somehow, he managed to escape from the house without being detected by the mob gathered outside demanding the release of the chicken.

The townspeople must be crazy over chickens, because they decided that if they couldn’t have their chicken, then no one can have it.

Or maybe they were just being selfish. So they decided to burn the house down.

For goodness sakes, it was only a goddamned chicken! Burn down a house for a chicken – I really can’t see the sense in that.

Anyway, the house was burned down and the mob left. The beggar returned later and dug through the debris (and soil) to recover his chicken.

Lo and behold, the chicken was found and it tasted absolutely delicious and heavenly! Word of mouth spread about this new way of cooking chicken and it caught on. And became famous.

Of course, no one would burn down a house just to cook a chicken. Hence, the next best thing is to simulate a burning house or a very hot environment – cover the cock in hot charcoal.

We took pictures of the food. These are the other four dishes we had.

And this is the main attraction – beggar chicken.

It is actually herbal chicken. But cooked ala beggar style. Yummy!

The other dishes were good as well. Not spectacular, but they were full of flavour. We over-ordered, as we had difficulty finishing the food. But we managed to finally.

Price was a tad expensive. The chicken was RM43.

But OK-lar.

My friends and I had been talking about trying it since three years ago. Now I can finally say that I have!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Singapore Trip Part IV

Wednesday, 30th November

I had arranged to meet Takashi for lunch. As I was not that familiar with Orchard Road yet, we agreed to meet at Takashimaya.

Interestingly, Takashi is Malaysian and he moved to Singapore to work only in August this year. I have never met him before, so I am sure you can imagine the peculiarity of two Malaysians meeting for the very first time in Singapore.

He brought me to Lucky Plaza. He had chicken rice and I had wan tan mee.

As he had to go to Bugis for work later, we took a stroll along Orchard Road after lunch. He brought me to The Heeran, where apparently a lot of the employees there are our brothers.

Not surprisingly, there is a New Urban Male store there too. Although the shirts there are nice and of good material, the prices aren’t friendly to the pocket. A long sleeve shirt costs about SGD100.

At half past one, S came to join us. He has such envious work days – only four days in a week.

P and I had to go home as I wasn’t feeling so well. I was feeling nauseas and my stomach was aching. Hence, we took a cab home.

After resting for an hour, I was feeling better and we proceeded with original plan of going to the Night Safari. There was a third person with us – P’s niece. She hasn’t been there before and she likes animal a lot, so we brought her along as well.

Of all the tourist attractions in Singapore, I feel that the Night Safari is not to be missed. The d├ęcor and setting was excellent, ala Survivor with a lot torches and palm trees.

The first thing that we did was to go for the Animal Show. Nothing spectacular, just a Mat Salleh (Caucasian) making jokes and exaggerated drama to make the audience laugh.

After that, we took the tram and were shown the various animals that they have. Most of them are in encircled in low wooden fencing with a lot of space to roam. In addition, it’s not just one or two animals in a space the size of a half a football field, but there are usually half a dozen to a dozen.

What made the whole thing interesting was that the animals are active. I have not been to the National Zoo in Kuala Lumpur since I was in Standard Six, but I remembered that the animals were few in one enclosure (the most was three) and they were just lazing around.

Fine, one might argue that the animals at the Night Safari might be nocturnal, which is why they are active and prowling about. Still, I believe leopards and deers are not really nocturnal, are they? Tigers and lions definitely do not always hunt at night.

But all those were not lying almost motionless, with the only signs of them being alive their flicking tails. They were actually roaming in their open spaces.

Twenty minutes into the tram ride, we had to get down and explore the treks. They had the Leopard Trail and etc. There was even a cage with bats flying about, in which one can enter. A sign clearly says “Those with a fear of bats are not encouraged to enter”.

In the enclosure, bats were flying from one tree to another to eat the fruits. They are fruit bats and not blood-sucking ones. One flew above my head and instinctively I ducked, even though, logically, they wouldn’t hit me. This is because bats have very good ultrasonic ears to avoid hitting into objects, even though they are blind.

After that, we took the tram back to the main entrance after traversing the Himalayan mountains, the African savanna, the jungles of South America, etc.

The next morning, which was my last day in Singapore, P and I went to Queensway. I had actually wanted to get an amphibious shoe but then thought the better of it. I mean, how often would I be wearing them anyway?

As such, I decided to get something else instead. A pair of Adidas shoes for casual wear. A nice black pair, made of leather, with three white stripes on the sides. Really comfy too.

Took the 4 p.m. bus and surprisingly, I arrived back in PJ at 8.30 p.m. And no, the bus wasn’t speeding.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Singapore Trip Part III

Tuesday, 29th November

The only attraction I wanted to visit in Sentosa was The Underwater World. The others, like Fort Siloso, the beach, Carlsberg Sky Tower, Images of Singapore, Volcano Land (pre-historic exhibition with dinosaurs and all) – I think those were pretty ordinary.

At the entrance to the Underwater World, there is a pond with turtles, fishes and some sort of ray.

There were many marine creatures swimming in the aquarium – crabs, sharks, manta rays, starfishes, etc.

I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Some sort of rays. They are not shadows. This was taken under bright sunlight, hence the slightly overexposed effect.

Turtles. After learning how to take clear pictures in bright light.

Some species of fish.

It is called angel fish, for obvious reasons. It's actually very small; measures less than an inch.

Doesn't it look like an alien or something out of a horror movie? It is actually a Japanese giant spider crab.

Something that looks like a seahorse, but is not.

These are real shark eggs at various ages. Look carefully at "After 9 weeks". The baby shark inside has grown and the yolk has shrunk.

One of the most recognisable fish, after the release of the movie Finding Nemo. Tthe clown fish, swimming in anemone.

After that, P and I went to the Dolphin Lagoon to watch the pink dolphins perform. Unfortunately, the two dolphins were not wholly pink; just the edge of their fins and their bellies are pink.

Before the dolphin show started, the MC had some plastic bottles strewn on the beach. Two tiny furry animals (couldn’t see what they were from my seats) appeared and then picked them up and threw them into a waste basket.

And then surprise, surprise. The MC then went on to expound that even animals hate garbage and that everyone should keep the environment clean.

Yup, the city-state just lived up to its reputation of being staid and sober.

After that we left Sentosa and proceeded to Beach Road to get my ticket home. As it turned out, a lot of Friday tickets were sold out.

Thus, I decided to get a Thursday ticket.

We headed home to get ready. Our plan for the evening was to attend a choir rehearsal, as P couldn’t make it for the actual performance on Friday. Obviously, neither can I.

The rehearsal was at eight. As we had quite a lot of time to spare, P and I visited the National Arts Museum. There was an exhibition by the Chinese Nobel Laureate in Literature, Gao Xingjian. His art work are mostly black and white, as he painted using ink.

Not long after, we proceeded to the rehearsal place. Actually, P was the one who got invited by W. Inadvertently, I got invited too.

W plays the piano and sings too. The singing group that he is in is known as the Singapore Men’s Chorus, which was formed in early 2005. Last Friday’s (2nd December) performance was their very first.

The theme of the performance was “Mad about Musicals”. The rehearsal kicked off with a song from Rent (Seasons of Love) followed by songs from Les Miserables, Chicago, The King and I, etc.

I have no professional training in singing (imagine a very bad William Hung imitation), or in music for that matter, but to me, they sounded excellent. It was pleasant to the ears and I thoroughly enjoy the performance.

It was energetic, fun and well-coordinated. I would love to catch the actual performance if I were still in Singapore.

I could tell that the conductor knows his stuff well. Apparently, he has many years of experience and even sings in an a capella group.

The rehearsal ended about ten but it was raining cats and dogs. Considering the fact that it is currently the wet season, this was the first time that it rained heavily in my three days here.

We proceeded to Kopitiam, which is a food court located nearby. I sat at a table with P and W and three other people – M, K and Y. The last three turned out to be Malaysians who are working in Singapore.

I so hope that they don’t read my blog. From where I was sitting during the rehearsal, I was snapping pictures of M. Not sure whether he noticed me doing that from the stage.

At the table, I didn’t get to talk to him because K was sitting between us. However, Y was sitting in front of me and he is quite cute too.

He didn’t catch my eye earlier, till P pointed out to me. And I have to agree he is charming. Oh, he has a very powerful voice too. In addition, he plays the flute. And very well too. *Ahem*

We talked and joked and laughed. Unfortunately, when it was time to go, I forgot to ask Y for his number. When I remembered later, I immediately asked W, but he didn’t have it.

Which might not be a bad thing after all. Now, I have a reason to go to Singapore again. Soon. ;P

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Singapore Trip Part II

Pardon me if I seem to be gushing over Singapore. What to do, haven’t been out of the country much. The last time I was in Singapore was when I was seven.

One can’t help but compare. In this case, it is between KL and Singapore.

For someone like me who uses the public transportation, Singapore’s one is like paradise. Frequent buses, common ticketing (EZlink prepaid card), notices put up at bus stops which show bus routes – basically a seamless system.

No such thing as alighting at a station, getting out the station, crossing the street to another rail system. Heck, the bus stops are right in front of the stations.

Of course, the system isn’t perfect. Still, it is like ten times better than what we have here. I have not waited longer than 20 minutes for a bus in Singapore, whereas waiting for 30 to 45 minutes is pretty common in KL.

My second day in Singapore was spent at the shopping malls. We visited Suntec City, Citylink and Raffles City. I bought a couple of Polo tees and a pair of pants for myself. I also bought a book for P’s niece.

At about four, we proceeded to the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, their performing arts center which overlooks Marina Bay. The two buildings, which are also called The Durian locally because of its spiky and pointed roof, do not look as nice when captured on film.

At least, not on my camera. Check out the those on Visit Singapore’s website though.

There were an exhibition going on. Something about Asia being traditional and modern at the same time. Of how colourful and diverse our societies are.

There was also a very interesting giant elephant balloon.

After that, we crossed the bridge to the other side of the river where Merlion Park is.

I think it's pretty self-explanatory why it is called Merlion Park. Though it is not actually a park. Just the Merlion and some food stalls around it.

Earlier, I had made dinner plans with a Form Six friend of mine, SM, who is currently pursuing her Masters at National University of Singapore (NUS). We agreed to meet up at Holland Village.

We had dinner at this place called Essential Brew, where its trademark is that tea leaves are infused or added into the dishes.

I haven’t met SM for more than two years. Of course, conversation revolved around her life in Singapore and comparisons with Malaysia.

She said that the food in Singapore is bland, people there are really competitive and would not think twice about stabbing you in the back, there’s no place to hang out at night (i.e. no mamak), shopping malls close at 9.30 p.m..

Nevertheless, there are good points too. One that I can remember clearly was “When you see a policeman in Malaysia, you get scared. When you see one in Singapore, it’s OK.”

Which was what I noticed too. Crime in Singapore is less than 400 for every 100,000 people, which is one of the lowest in the world.

I see people jogging on the streets at almost all times of the day – even after 10 in the evening.

One can also walk the streets alone at night after midnight and yet feel safe as streets are well lit. I don’t think many countries can boast of that.

We finished dinner at about nine. It was great seeing her again after all this while, as she is still as bubbly as ever.

I went back to P’s place after that and got a good night’s sleep. We planned to go to Sentosa the next day.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Singapore Trip Part I

I am uncertain whether my absense was noticed, but I was in Singapore from the 24th (Saturday) till 29th (Thursday).

Currently, I am suffering from PHS – Post Holiday Syndrome. Surely you know that feeling of looking-back-at-and-missing-all-the-fun-and-stress-free-

I travelled with Aeroline. I took the 3.30 p.m. coach and I was really unlucky. Firstly, it was a working Saturday and the traffic in KL was terrible. In addition, there was an overturned lorry on the North-South highway. I finally reached Singapore at 10; one and a half hour later than scheduled.

At the price that they charge, I was disappointed that the coach’s seats were quite uncomfortable. Perhaps it was just me.

And they don’t serve dinner either! They served some titbits and tea at 4 p.m. and nothing else.


On Sunday, it was the finals of the 23rd Singapore River Regatta. It was held at Boat Quay and I was there at 11 a.m.

The reason was my friend, P, who was also my host during the duration of my stay, qualified for the finals and thus his team would be competing.

As expected, there were plenty of boys around. There were secondary school, junior colleges and universities students. There were also grown-ups in the corporate and community centers categories.

There were girls too. Most of them were very butch. After all, dragon boat rowing is not for the average female.

They even had a breast cancer survivors’ category. There were a couple of ang-moh (Caucasian) teams – the Singapore Canadian Association and another one which I couldn’t remember.

So basically almost all types of preferences were covered; whether one wants their boys tall, fat, buffed, thin, young-looking, mature, white, Asian, etc.

Now, all Singaporeans males above 18 have to go undergo National Service, which is two years long. Hence, they generally have really toned bodies.

Consider too the fact that they are dragon boat rowers. Which means they have healthy tans too.

Tall and tanned.

Needless to say, I had a field day ogling at them. Especially the shirtless ones.

As P’s race was scheduled at 2.30 p.m., I had plenty of time to do a little sightseeing. Not just the boys. I actually meant the surrounding buildings and environment.

Moreover, I have not watched any dragon boat races before. I took in the many sights and sounds, the cheering and clapping, the adrenalin and excitement, the camaraderie and teamwork.

The event also provided many opportunities for photo-taking.

Here are some pictures I have taken.

Rowers getting ready with the oars held horizontally.

All set and ready to go!

Boat number 5 seemed to be heading for a victory.

P’s team got second place. And team that they lost to was NUM (New Urban Male). It’s a brand that sells men’s clothes. Wingedman has mentioned about them before.

They even have a website. Not surprisingly, they have their winning team's picture shown prominently.

It was a bit ironic as P’s team beat them in the semi-finals but lost to them in the finals.

Still, it was an improvement for his team, as they got the bronze last year.

The whole thing ended at about seven with the prize giving ceremony.

Later that night, P and I went to Happy. The name itself is so obvious that I don’t think I even need to explain.

We were there at about half past eleven.

When I entered, my first impression was that it was similar to Frangi. Cute guys aplenty.

Or at least, most of them looked cute in the dark.

Yup, lighting was almost non-existent. The only place that was sufficiently-lit was the bar.

Anyway, P’s friends came half an hour later and I was duly introduced to D, M and W. S was there too.

Besides the lack of light, there were a lot of smoke from those smoke-churning gadgets and cigarettes.

We drank very watered-down vodka lime, as I try to look around for the cute guys. Clearly, that was difficult to do.

S asked whether I found anyone cute.

Me: Very hard to see the faces la. So dark.
S: But you gotta admit that almost everybody here has nice bodies.
Me: Well, true.
S: Which you don’t see a lot of in the KL.
Me: ….
S: I like men with good bodies. Face not so much.
Me: I go for faces. But I find many of them to be too bulky and muscular. Like those in body-building. I prefer those swimmer types. Toned, not bulging muscles.

S himself has quite a nice body. Not too bulky. When he said that he goes for someone with a beautiful body, it struck me that people with great bodies would most probably expect the same of the other person. I mean, how could someone with a "perfect" body settle for anything less?

As such, there was only one thing left to do. Dance.

Honestly, I didn’t found the music to be that danceable. Very techno. Beats that, to me, sounded jerky. With a lot of thumping and not much of a rhythm.

There was someone who took off his shirt and dancing on the platform. S cheekily pulled me close to him to dance.

Sigh. Though I was about a foot away, I only caught glimpses in those flashing lights and swirling smoke. But the body looked fantastic.

S noticed another person dancing next to the shirtless one. He was dressed and S shouted over the music to me, “Look at that guy. He’s just waiting for someone to rip that shirt off.”

Next thing I knew, he did exactly that. Or at least, he tried.

But of course, S had asked him first. The guy seemed reluctant and kept his shirt on. ;P

I spent about 20 minutes on the dance floor. After that, I gave up.

I was told there was a raid last Sunday. I know another one was unlikely. People were still coming in as they thought so too.

Which might be exactly what the authorities were expecting. Better not take my chances.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Red Carnival

I have been away for almost a week. Will update on what has happened soon.

Meanwhile, as part of World AIDS Day celebration worldwide - this year's theme "Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise" - and to create more awareness, PT Foundation will have something going on this weekend.

You can find more information about it below.

PT Foundation public event of the year is on this weekend at Sungai Wang Plaza in Kuala Lumpur - The Red Carnival.

The Red Carnival kicks off at Fiesta Street, Sungai Wang from 1 pm till 7pm, and continues the next day (Sunday 4 Dec) for the same time duration.

The Red Carnival is organized by PT Foundation to generate HIV/AIDS awareness among the young people of Kuala Lumpur, and to raise funds for HIV/AIDS programmes.

Unlike conventional campaigns, the Red Carnival showcases the vibrancy and energy of KLites via the performing arts - dances, skits, bands, all forms of street theatre, DJs and celebrity appearances. Volunteers in stunning bunny costumes will distribute Red Ribbons and HIV/AIDS information to remind us all that HIV/AIDS is everyone's concern, and we all need to take personal responsibility to fight HIV/AIDS.

The Red Carnival is a collaborative effort involving NGOs, the retail and corporate sector, the entertainment fraternity, celebrities and the media.

Partners in collaboration are Malaysian AIDS Council, United Nations in Malaysia and the Ministry Of Health. Official media include RedFM and 98.8 radio stations and TV3 and 8TV.

Both RedFM and 988 has been providing generous publicity on this event. One of the highlights that they have been promoting for us is Malaysian Idol Daniel crooning 2 songs on the PTF stage. Other attractions are Philippine singer Ina Fabregas, the Brazilian Capoeria troupe, Jude Benjamin's Team All Stars, RedFM DJs Tim, Terry, Chris, etc.

We look forward to seeing you at the Carnival. Now is the best time to show that gay men is very much part of a caring society despite all the horrible things as reported in the gutter press.

Stop AIDS. Make a promise today to make a difference.