Cafe Hopper @ Rice (稲禾)by 云门舞集 (Cloud Gate)

I was contemplating whether to use Mandarin for this post or English. Eventually I decided to use English for the post. I set out this year to watch at least one art performance per month for the year 2015. Why? I needed to find inspiration for my poetry writing and hopefully I will be able to publish a poetry collection by the end of the year. Ok, yes, I am working very slowly but I hope I will be able to accomplish this by this year. Let’s keep my finger cross. Rice is my third show for the year and contrary to the general impression of abstractness of this dance group, I find it easier to comprehend than the previous show I watched. The dance piece began with a beautifully crafted and coordinated earth colours from the dancers’ attire. I personally have a soft spot for earth colours. Unlike most dance pieces which has to dance alongside with music, this one began in the absence of musical piece. It began with the rhythm of earth or 大地的心跳. Each thump on the dancers’ feet awakens the heart of our soul…it awakens our senses and invoke our spirit to listen and to feel the life of this earth or 大地的生命. I quietly listened…I silently pondered.

I love the section on Pollen 1 and 2 the most. In these two sections, the dancers wished to express the pollination of crops, birthing forth life in the rice field. The dance portray a couple, from the surface, they seem like they are making love in the paid field…but I seriously think that’s what the choreographer wishes to portray. Making love or having sex is our human way of pollination. Similarly, crops pollinate and birth forth life…birth forth new hope and dreams in the process. However, this life is not complete without the nurturing of the sunlight and the nutrients from the ground or from nature. 生命是要用大自然的灌溉才能萌芽的! So very often, we are caught up with the modern and post-modern crisis of human existence that we forgot that at the most basic, we are mere sons and daughters of nature or 大自然之子女。I love this portrayal of pollination and the birthing of life.

After the great harvest, the land needs renewal. However, often, renewal comes only after a baptism of fire. The farmers would burn down the harvested land and the land will go through a period of purging and cleansing by fire. Thus, don’t despise the fire and don’t shun away from the burning. It is often necessary and essential for the land of our heart or 心田 to be renewed and revived. The dance piece ended with the return of water to the land and once more the cycle of life wheeling and re-wheeling.

I am not a dancer and thus I will not be able to say too much about the technicality of the dance piece but I do feel that the dancers have successfully brought out the essence of what the choreographer wishes to convey to the audience and its easy to know where the dance piece is leading us to.

Oh…just in case you thought that the blog has evolved into an art blog…no…no…no…its still a cafe blog…Art and Coffee are another pair of perfect partners…..

The Gatekeeper

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Cafe Hopper @ 红楼梦 What is Sex? directed by 林奕华 Edward Lam

I would like to quote from the programme booklet, “This is not a theatre that gives you an account of the plot of Dream of the Red Chamber or 红楼梦. It consists of dreams by the characters in the story, as well as the dreams of modern man. These dreams date from Cao Xueqin’s time to 2015, perhaps even into the foreseeable future.” What Edward Lam attempts to portrait are the dreams that were dreamed about by the characters of Dream of the Red Chamber and he continue to see these dreams being dreamed about by modern man today. The dream to be loved and to love, the dream of materialism and secularism, the dream of what is real and what is unreal. What do we all have dream? We have dreams because there is always that deep void within us and this void longs to to be and be. There is this existential twist in Edward Lam’s interpretation of the Chinese classic. When we see the Others, we very often see our dreams fulfilled in them. Thus, in this case in Scene 2, we have a clash between Wang Xifeng and Ping-er. However, what Edward Lam wants to express is the lack in both characters and how they see each of their lack being fulfilled in each other. So is it Ping-er who dreams of Wanf Xifeng or Wang Xifeng who dreams of Ping-er?

There is also a scene, Scene 3 (Mayhem in School), that talks about our dream of an ideal education system. In the story, the Jia family set up their own school to educate the people whom they deemed suit for education. Eventually, in the drama, the whole education system crumbled into pieces and resulting in an education system that produces people who are materialistic and extremely pragmatic. Such is a tragic of our modern society. Our education is doing more harm to our mind than to build it up. We have developed a system of education that centers so much about self and we have lost touch of communal values.

So throughout the show, Edwards Lam uses the various key scenes from the Red Chamber to depict various aspects of human issues and crisis. The 大观园 is certainly not a place to find solution. It is a place where we see a reflection of ourselves and what is real. Very often, we what deem as real is unreal and simply a visage. Thus, through the interaction between the various characters, the subconscious mind of each individuals emerged and surfaced as a cruel reality they have to face. For instant, Scene 15, where You Sanjie fell in love with Liu Xianglian despite the improbability of a requited love. “In the end, Liu Xianglian is nothing but a mirage, and Sanjie’s suicide after the return of the betrothal gifts becomes a rude awakening.”

The fact of the matter is that there are many of such characters similar to those in the story in our lives. They are real and they exist among us…they stand helpless, confused, despaired, lost and certainly living in bad faith. They are so filled with angst of the reality of living. Thus, to many, their dreams remained unfulfilled and their dreams remain as dreams. There’s so much to say about Edward Lam’s depiction of the Chinese classics and and his attempt to answer the question of what is sex or to be precise what life is? Sex to Edward is not sexual. Sex is an integral part of life and thus to relook at sex is to relook at our life. The modern men and those in the characters of Red Chamber, focus too much on sexual rather than sex. Sexual is passive passion with no love. However, sex is the genuine demands for love.

If you have missed this interesting interpretation of  Red Chamber, I am sure you will have the chance to do it. To me, the depiction of each character has become a reflection of apart of myself. As an audience, I can see a little part of my dream and aspiration in each of the characters depicted. Its reflective and meditative.

Oh yah…I got a prosperity bag watching the show! Happy Chinese New Year to all my readers!

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The Gatekeeper

Cafe Hopper Review: Doi Chaang Coffee @ Rochester Park

Was at a lost of which cafe to hop to for my off day and decided to consult some of my friends for suggestion. One of my friends reminded me of this thai origin cafe at Rochester Park. I have heard people talked about it but haven’t been there. For Doi Chaang Coffee please do me a favour to Google on your own.

I was really feeling very tired this week and was really hoping that I can find a good resting place for my tired soul. It wasn’t that difficult to find the cafe after all. It wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be but reasonably simple decor…more minimalist style. They are suppose to be famous for their layered cheese cake, especially the matcha flavoured. Sadly it was out of stock this morning. I guess the only reason why it’s out of stock could be that its really damn bloody good. Haha. I ordered the Hokkaido milk layered cake and their iced lemongrass americano. I was quite impressed by the lemongrass americano. The Thai people can make anything out of lemongrass and I guess this time is coffee. The lemongrass favour really made me miss Thailand and I was reminiscing Bangkok and Korat as I savour the coffee. The layered cake was refreshing and very pleasant to my taste. The textual is soft but not looking it’s feel.

I spent a good one hour plus there and started writing my next piece of poem. I had inspiration then. I think this is a good attempt to bring a piece of Thailand to our Singaporean cafe enthusiasts here. Worth the visit guys!

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The Gatekeeper

Cafe Hopper at Chinatown, Singapore

I decided to take a walk down the old lanes and corners of Chinatown in Singapore yesterday. I love walking through the stalls and shophouses along all the avenues, Smith Street, Pagoda Street, Kreta Ayer Street and more! Took lots of photos as I walked through the many people and the braving the hot sun. But I think it’s worth the effort as I captured some interesting angles and corners of the area. Here are some of my works from yesterday….of course I didn’t forget to hop into some cafes along the way. I have written about The Lokal…next on line will be Roosevelt Diner and Bar.

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Cafe Hopper Review: The Lokal@Neil Road

I heard so much about the cafe and looked out some review about the place. Now finally I am here today. It’s not exactly a difficult find but still I decided to take a cab just to avoid wasted walking. The cafe is really located at the corner between Bukit Pasoh and Neil Road. A very nice corner indeed. I walked in and just as I expected, not crowded. It’s a weekday you see and it’s always a good privilege to be able to visit cafe during weekdays, not crowded and you can slowly take your time to savour the coffee and the cafe food. Over the years, due to the cafe culture, there has developed this category of cafe cuisine. I guess it’s the same for The Lokal as well.

I ordered my usual latte and this time with their French toast. They did surprised me with their combination of,French toast, melted ice cream and crispy strip bacon. Lovely combination of sweet and savoury taste. The coffee was something I would really love to have another cup if not because I was hopping to somewhere else later. The overall environment is cosy and with a little pinch of street arts on the wall and at the counter. The cafe provides nice, cosy corners for people to have mini discussion or simply to soak in your quiet time alone!

They have friendly staff here. Was reading somewhere that somebody commented the staff were unfriendly. I didn’t feel that at all when I was there. The lady that served me was even sensitive to my need of my personal quiet solace and thus recommended a corner that I was able to have that. Thanks Germaine if you are reading this.

Lovely place and accessible…So do drop by The Lokal and experience the cafe space too.

The Gatekeeper

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Cafe Hopper at Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra

It was a full house performance! It’s awesome and magnificent. I love it when at the beginning Adrain Tan, the music director, brought down the formality of classical music for the general audience, making it closer to everyone.

The symphony itself brought the audience into the deepest and darkest corner of human struggles, manifesting for the listeners the reality of human suffering and turmoil. It’s like a journey… A journey into our deepest self. Then at the third part of the symphony, it was like spring emerging after the cold and dark winter. You can literally feel the sun beam penetrating through the cold and life returning to the pasture.

The piece reaches its climax at the fourth part and the final part, when the symphony broke through into singing, deliberating joy and hope to humanity. Just when you thought that is all, the singing and the music proceed on to a joy and pleasure so heavenly and so divine…ending with an expression and explosion of elation so unexplainable!

Marvellous presentation of Beethoven 9th Symphony by the Braddell Height Symphony Orchestra or BHSO. At the end,.it received from the audience a standing ovation of almost 10 mins!

AWESOME! This is truly an anthem for all humanity! A hymn of freedom and joy unspeakable! #sg50

The Gatekeeper

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Cafe Hopper Review: My Awesome Cafe @ Telok Ayer

This is one very unique cafe in Singapore. It’s uniqueness is in the fact that it’s formerly Chung Hwa Free Clinic! This Chinese clinic used to provide free medical care to our pioneer immigrants in the early days of Singapore history. Till today, Chung Hwa Free Clinic still functions as a free clinic in various parts of the island. I love the fact that they have preserved the original main entrance of the clinic. The interior decor of the cafe left some traces of the old medical clinic and added in elements of the modern cafe. Love the overall feel the cafe have to me when I stepped into the premise.

However,I was rather disappointed with the food they serve. I couldn’t decide what to order and eventually ordered their Awesome Breakfast Set. Well, since it’s called awesome, I was expecting it to be awesome. When the set came, I was rather disappointed by the food. It was simply very ordinary croissants and a few pieces of normal hams and scrambled eggs. That’s about it. They tasted very ordinary and
I really don’t think it would take a lot of skill to make the set at all. Adding to my dissatisfaction, the avocado and pineapple which was in the menu were missing from the late and when probed, the service free said they don’t have the ingredients in the kitchen. Well, I mean if you don’t have the full ingredients in the kitchen, you should at least inform me before I made a decision!

This incident made me minus some points from my original good impression of the cafe. The latte was ordinary as well I must add. In general, I should think that the selling point for the cafe is really the historical context of the place. Give it benefit of doubt, maybe I haven’t experience the cafe enough to give a fair judgement. Perhaps the next time I will try something different and maybe I will say something else about it.

Just a side note, I did have a good get together with my friends, chatting and making jokes. Thanks for the very cosy place to chill out.

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The Gatekeeper