Monday, March 31, 2008

A break, after a holiday

Recently I was invited up to Bangkok for a friend's wedding dinner at the Sukothai Bangkok. Took the opportunity to spend the weekend there too.

My accommodation while in Bangkok is Citi Chic Hotel. Located deep in Sukhumvit Soi 13, it has comfortable rooms, a pool at the rooftop, and a tuk tuk shuttle to the nearest BTS station. At 2000-2500 baht per night, it is reasonable to pay for a nice room to settle in after going about in the city.

I committed a faux pas at the wedding when I extended my hand for a handshake instead of clasping them together to perform the wai, which is the more common form of introduction in Thailand. I realized it only after the 3rd handshake when I noticed the surprised faces on the locals when they saw my hand hanging out there.

Getting around is easy if you just take the BTS, Bangkok's equivalent of our MRT. Easier to buy a stored value card than to queue up each time to buy tickets. Trains can be very packed during the day, but most just squeeze into every inch of the cabin and are quite tolerant during rush hours. They also have an underground system called the MRT, so coupled with the BTS there really isn't a need to use the local taxi, whose drivers may or may not turn on their meters.

Tuk tuks, while a novelty ride, are not really comfortable and haggling over fares with the driver is not what I would recommend. They have an army of motorcyclist who zips you in and out of traffic, but again there is a fare to discuss and being foreign one may actually be taken for more than a ride too.

Nightlife is the best at RCA, with Route66 and Slim/Flix holding the fort at a stretch of road not different from Mohammed Sultan in it's hey days. A bottle of whisky with mixers cost just around 2000 Baht, the equilvalent of entry for 2 to the "farang" clubs like BedSupper Club/QBar at Sukhomvit district. Good mix of locals and tourists, highly recommended.

Near our hotel is a pool hall where we chilled out. We were fortunate to enter one where the bar maids were more like big sisters to us. So other than the usual coaxing to play more games, buy more drinks than we need, we were not hustled too much during the time we were there. My friend even managed to rally them to support the Arsenal when they played it in their pool hall! I had to be stuck in traffic, not realizing that Bangkok time was an hour behind Singapore, and thus missing the great comeback by the Gunners!

The day of departure we were treated to lunch by a Bangkokian couple whom I know. More window shopping followed, till we had just about enough time to have a last round of pool with the big sisters at the above mentioned pool hall. Then it was a short ride to the airport for our flight back to Singapore.

My friend and I mentioned that some people need a break, after their holiday break.

I am thankful I don't start work till Wednesday...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Making something outta nothing

Sometimes I have not much to write about, and when I do it is something as trivial as what beer I had the night before, to something indulgent; like watching Arsenal Football Club.


It's like buying 4D or Toto. You see the long lines, filled with people from a broad spectrum of the population, young and old, the haves and the have-nots. What do they all have in common?

Hope. Hope that a big win will lift them from a life of mediocrity. It most probably will not. But still, they pine for that jackpot. It's what keeps them waking up everyday to go to work, it gives them something to look forward to at the end of a work week, it's a pleasant distraction.

It keeps them sane for the most parts.

And if they don't win this week? A shrug of the shoulder, a resigned chuckle, and back in line for next week's winning digits.

What if these people were to be told, while in line for their ticket, that there will not an inkling of a chance that they will strike it rich. Zilch. Nadah. That they should just leave the line, go on back to their daily grind, and wait for a paycheck every end of the month.

We would be like walking zombies.

In this big, bad world. We all need some hope, and a huge dose of humour.

Come on Arsenal!!

Opps, there I go again...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Moblog: Bottom's up...

Well, we all need SOMETHING to keep us going till Saturday...

The REAL football hooligans...

My cable subscription is the most basic one can find amongst the plethora of options on ShiteHub. I watch StarWorld, AXN, Discovery, and leave the BBC on when I'm not actually watching TV.

Although I had cancelled my sports subscription due to some(unfair?) bidding war, I'm still disappointed to hear that now ShitTel has outbid ESS ( who runs ESPN Asia) for the rights to all UEFA matches in 2009.

That means that if one wants to watch it in the comfort of his own home, all the football he wants, he has to have 2 subscriptions; one for ShiteHub's Football Channel, one for ShitTel's mio TV for all UEFA competitions. Even then, the real football fanatic still does not get to watch the Italian league.

And forget about watching it at the local S-11. Last I know, ShitTel's mio TV doesn't have a commercial license for these owners.

Even alternative sources of broadcast/streaming online are drying up, with the FAs all out to grab any last penny they can squeeze out of folks just wanting to watch 22 men huff and puff a ball up and down a field.

If oxygen could be packaged and sold, I'm sure them evil capitalists will do it.

And knowing the lan-lan attitude of the locals, we will pay the highest price.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Give me that I can fly

What does one do when opportunities dry up.

Fly the coop.

Sometimes I wished that I had taken the plunge and worked for a foreign company in a foreign land. It could've opened my eyes, widen my horizons, and perhaps come back with a different perspective on most things.

Alas, I am past my wayward youth and have settled down to the bread and butter issues on this small island.

Which is why I am willing to support someone close in her pursuit of a different life overseas. It takes a chunk out of my savings, but hey, it's not like the interest rates are at attractive rates.

I think it'll do more good, going into an overseas education, albeit not mine.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Living in Singapore Inc, there's one thing that's topmost on everyone's mind: where/when/how can one make more money.

Now, I'm the not most savvy investor when it comes to my financial health. Most of my dough are stashed away in an almost zero-interest savings account. I still maintain an almost infantile save-as-you-earn account too.

Having kinda lost my thrifty ways recently, am now looking into adding to my forced savings every month. RSP, dollar cost averaging, equities, bonds, unit trusts... Have to look those words up in the financial pages.

With new changes to the CPF, I have been inundated with offers to invest in a variety of funds, all assuring that I can earn more interest in the long run compared to keeping it in the CPF. Having spoken to a few people, and weighing the options, I made some conservative fund switches.

A few signatures here and there, and I'm set to hopefully reap, if nothing, a small reward in the far away future.

Like they say; In Singapore eh sai see, buay sai pua peh (can die, cannot fall sick).

If do fall sick, better have some cash on ya.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Mission accomplished! Victorious at San Siro!!!

...continued from last post

The pitch, with the Champions League canvas in the centre, was pristine. I had an aerial view of the pitch below, it was so breathtaking! From where I was seated, I could hear both sides' supporter belting out their cheers. The Milan fans always whistled when the Gooners did their songs, which I think was not very kind.

The teams were introduced, with the home team getting the loudest cheers naturally. At the first kick off whistle, many in the crowd threw shimmering confetti into the air!

Many in the crowd had brought food in, and smokers smoked openly in their seats. I had to clap along politely many times, as I was seated in the Milan section. My colleague and I spoke in hushed tones, mainly in Hokkien, trying our best not to give my allegiance away.

The pitch was slippery, as I saw many of the players lose their footing. The flow was good, with both teams sticking to playing actual football, and short of a few theatrics here and there, it was champagne football between 2 technical teams.

Arsenal had a few good chances in the 1st half, and I had to curse silently in my dialect, covering my mouth with my hands feigning relief for the Milan side.

When Walcott came on for Eboue, I was sure a goal was coming! Arsenal didn't disappoint, and I had to bend over and bite my tongue when Fabregas scored on the 84th minute! That was all it took to empty the Milan stands to 2/3 of capacity, as disenchanted fans couldn't imagine how AC Milan was gonna score 2 goals in 5 minutes.

I was most impressed when Walcott decided to chase the ball in injury time to cross for Adebayor to score the sucker punch 2nd goal. Those who remained in the stand stood up and applauded Arsenal this time!!

Very gracious fans they have in Milan.

Final whistle blew, and everyone gave a standing ovation to the victors, perhaps admitting that their beloved AC Milan are not the same Champions of last season.

We lingered on for a while longer to see the replays on the jumbo screen.

After that it was a 1 hour trek back to our hotel.

I met some away fans in the same lift, and they joked that since all the rooms in the hotel are soundproof, we can let loose and scream our heads off!

I'm never good with match reports. You can go to SgGooner's, Siren's and Steve-O's for hot-blooded recounts of the match.

We're on our way...
We're on our way...

Objective: San Siro

I should look up the dude who agreed to swap my Rome flight for this Milan one, and but him a drink...

Not only did I get to watch Arsenal fight tooth and nail for a draw with Aston Villa at the Liz Pub, I got to fly into Milan to catch the Champions League!!

Thank you, FS Sanjeev Nair.


I had planned to leave the hotel by 6pm, so that I could soak up the pre-match atmosphere. A last minute decision to catch a cab proved unwise, as I had to stand in the drizzle along a busy road that does not have a vacant taxi.

By 7pm I headed back to the hotel to call for one. It arrived quickly enough, and I hopped in with my colleague. The ride to San Siro was taking tooo long, with all roads leading there jammed up. The driver tried to make small talk with us...

Driver:"You..AC Milan??"

Me:" Kaka! Kaka!"

Driver:"Si.. Kaka..Pato.."

Me:"Si.. Forza Milano!"

Further attempts at communication came to naught, as I no speak the Italiano, eh??

We were dropped off at the 1st gate at San Siro. Even before heading in we could hear the early supporters inside singing their respective songs. We headed into the dense crowd and grabbed some sandwiches and drinks. Scarves were bought and photos taken. I had to pick a neutral one, as I was seated in the Milan section. More photos, a cigarette and we headed towards our entrance.

At the entrance, stewards were checking names on tickets against passports. This botak checking ours was not too convinced when we told him that we had done the name change over the internet earlier in the day.

Stunned, we headed to the ticket booths desperate to clear our names (pun intended). The time then was 815pm. I was stressing out as we were so close to getting into the San Siro. Thankfully, the nice lady officer at the booth cleared it up for us quickly and we rushed back to the queue, avoiding the one manned by the botak steward.

The machine at the turnstiles read our ticket properly and we were soon climbing up what I can best describe as a multi-storey carpark. It goes round and round all the way to the top tier, with regular staircases in the middle if one is up for it.

When we reached the top, the view was simply breathtaking. The drizzle had stopped earlier, and the air was crisp. I wrapped my newly purchased scarves around me and settled into our seats.

To be continued...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Tick tock Tick tock...

Just a few more hours to The Showdown.

As this is a new hotel that we are staying at, had some trouble getting to the meet up point to pick up my tickets. Topo-ing was not my strong suit while in army, still is I guess.

By lunch I met up with the dude with the coveted tickets. Nice fella I must say. After entering the name change into the system, I now present to you...

My seats are in the upper tier of the Milan section. Good thing is I can see the length of the pitch while I'm up there with the Milan supporters. No Arsenal gear as mentioned before, but will wrap myself with as many scarves as I can afford.

One more to drool over...

Come on Arsenal!!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Countdown to the Showdown

I am that much closer to getting my ticket to the showdown at San Siro bewteen AC Milan and Arsenal.

After trawling the world wide web for a whole Sunday afternoon, I have managed to get in touch with a dude who holds season tickets for both teams. Found him on TripAdvisor, of all places. He seems pretty reliable, even offers name change of ticket over the internet at a net cafe nearby.

A few emails and sms later, a meet up has been arranged to hand over tickets to the match at a local metro station here in Milan tomorrow at noon.

I also "stirred" a colleague to come along with me, convincing him that it'll be the best 65Euros he can spend while in Milan.

It's Monday, nearly 5pm in Milan now. Initially planned a stadium tour of the San Siro, Unfortunately, I had caught a chill while sleeping in the crew bunk on the way here, and taken some meds so that I can better handle the chilly night tomorrow at the San Siro.

Had brought my 3rd kit along this trip, hoping to wear it at the stadium.

However, on the advice of the seller, will not be putting it on at the stadium.

Especially since the ticket is in the Milan section.

Still, will have my wristband tucked into my jeans during the match.

Come on Arsenal!!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Drawing the fine line between love & hate

They say reel life reflects real life. The same can be said about football.

You try your darnedest best to score, yet still the net will not bulge. Chut pattern, cannot. Play to formula, tak boleh. One moment on fire, next moment flickering in the wind.

Watching Arsenal can be treat sometimes, yet it's really very gek sim more often than not.

We celebrated as if we won the match, yet it is a small consolation in the larger scheme of the season.

Someone said I was literally pulling my hair out, watching the match. It was that frustrating.

Especially when you see people leave before the match is over.