思乡


夕阳无限群鸟飞

挥之不散思乡绵

路上不见绿草青

只见异土遥不连

By Chang 

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Cafe Hopper Review: Mad About Sucre @ Bukit Pasoh (Teo Hong Road)

It was my laze around day and I wanted to laze to a nearby cafe in the same area. However, the cafe that I intended to go had a private function, so I decided to hop to this one which I missed the other day when I was here for staycation. From the time I stepped into the cafe till the moment I left the cafe, I must say that I was very pampered by the staff of the cafe. I stepped in and was greeted by the staff. I was not allowed to order anything until the staff had finished explaining to me all their products on the classy glass display. It was very boutique indeed. They had a few dessert on display and the staff took a lot of pride and most importantly, a lot of heart to introduce all of them to me before I decided on one.

I was ushered to my seat and was made very comfortable there. When my dessert arrived, the staff once again explained in greater details about the making of the dessert and how I should go about consuming it. From his narration of the dessert I ordered, I came to know that this little piece of thing have ingredients from more than 3 different continents and countries. After all the narrative, I finally get to savour my precious dessert served by staff with so much heart and soul in them. With all the narrative still at the back of my mind and my tongue physically tasting it, I must say that the experience was heavenly. The chocolate was smooth and the fill inside this little thing is wholesome and and not overwhelming.

Throughout my stay in the cafe, the staff would regularly, at a very comfortable pace, check on my well-being and asked if I am alright with everything. The attention that I received from them was superb and I felt almost like a celebrity. After I have posted my food picture on my Instagram, they replied to my IG and they actually remembered that I came and remembered that I was writing my poem then and they actually refrained from disturbing too much. I was extremely touched by their service…or I should say more than service to me. They have made dining at Mad About Sucre an art by itself….They are inspirational!

Thank you guys for your hospitality…

 
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Cafe Hopper @ New Majestic Hotel (Bukit Pasoh)

This is a long-awaited staycation I have planned for myself. I first heard about the hotel beginning of the year. I walked pass it a couple of times while cafe hopping and often I am attracted by the unique character of the hotel. This time round I was very impressed by the unique design of the hotel. I was told all the 30 rooms in the hotel is uniquely designed and I got the A Big Goldfish room for the stay. I love this room. And I must say the courtyard style bathtub was awesome! I visited nearby spa and it was super rejuvenating. The staycation was partly my writer’s residence as well. I hope to be able to publish a poetry collection by the end of this year. Have been working hard on it.

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Cafe Hopper @ 老舍 [茶馆]

The stage craft of this play was simply excellent. When the curtain was drawn, the buzzing and hustle of the teahouse was felt and we could even smell the breathe in the smell of old teahouse in Beijing. Simply loving the stage. Ok, back to what I feel about the play or my reflection after watching it. I always think that if at the core of art is not human, then art is not art at all. To me all forms of art have to be about people. We cannot move away from this anthropological mission. To me, 老舍 Teahouse is all about people, common people to be specific.

The theme that I keep seeing from the play is that of time. The theme move from the late Qing dynasty when people were concern about the coming of the westerners asked the reformation and modernization that were taking place. Then in Act 2, the play move from the late Qing period to the warlords period or 军阀混战的时代 . The post Japanese occupation period sets Act 3. In all of these three acts, we see the movements and sentiments of common people, people like you and,me. We struggle, we fight to meet ends needs, we change and constantly make changes to fit ourselves to this society. More still, we constantly hope for a better world to come.

The same characters, the same teahouse, from one period in history to another, they hope for a better future, a world with less poverty, less turmoil, less suffering. Sadly, it didn’t happen to the main three characters in this play write. In Act 1, there was the hope of a better future when the westerners came in and everyone was talking about reforms and changes. The reforms did not take place, churches were burnt down and huge sum of money meant for reforms ended up in somebody’s pockets. In Act 2, no more Qing emperor, no more corrupted officials but came the warlords. They hurled bombs and bullets all over just to have a greater share of whatever that was left. The people continued to hope, hope to be better. However, the better things didn’t happen and the poor remained poor. In Act 3, the same people and the same teahouse, the people continued to hope. However, this period of China was only left with the internal strife between the KMT and CCP. At the last scene, we saw the three main casts philosophizing about the society they were living in. 

I was struck by one statement that 老掌柜 said in Act 3, “这茶馆是我的。活也在这里,死也在这里.” This is the sentiment of many in today’s society I believe. This coffeeshop, this town center, this public housing, this community… we live and we die here. It’s these places that connect lives together…It’s these places that chain and bind us together. In the show, it’s the teahouse that connects all the characters together…They talked here, they sell their daughter here, they do their dirty things here, they see changes here and etc. 小小的茶馆带出了人的喜怒哀乐,爱恨情仇。它也带初了人生百态,社会的起落!Another statement that struck me was this, “我们这么爱国家,国家有爱我们吗?” This was said by 常四爷 who used to be a rich man but was imprisoned by the Qing government for spreading messages on the fall of the dynasty which eventually did happened.

The story ended with all three main characters, namely, 秦二爷, 老掌柜 and 常四爷, lamenting over the despair and failures of the country’s development all these years. Eventually 老掌柜 decided to end his life and this coincide with the entrance of the Red Liberation Army led by the Chinese Communist Party.

The Gatekeeper

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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 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 on Special Task Part 2

Right now I am taking my Christmas leave from the works in Korat. Although I was only in Korat for a few days but I have experienced much of the work there. I know that the work in Korat is extensive and I really respect people like Kim Yien and Pastor Dickson and the rest of the team for holding the fort there. I saw everyone so eager to do God’s work and they all contributed in so many ways big or small just to share the gospel with the community. Really a beautiful bunch of people.

After a few days there in Korat, I am having a clearer picture of my role there. I thank God for showing me clearer what I am suppose to do in Korat. I thank God for the people that I met in Korat, both locals and friends from Singapore. I am thankful to God for Mark and Angela for also ministering to me by praying for me before I leave for Bangkok for my Christmas break. They have been a tremendous blessing to me and I am sure to the people at Alpha.

So what did I do in Korat for the past few days. Honestly, The things that I am doing is only such a small fraction of what the whole team in Korat is doing. Basically for the past few days, I have been going for one Christmas event to another Christmas…and all these events are organized with just one purpose – that is so that the people can hear the gospel. For the past few days, I have been following them from Christmas party to caroling…then the Christmas service on Sunday. We also go to members house to pray and bless them. Then it was meeting at the university and at Boonwattana. The meetings were basically our way of building bridges to the various schools and institutions. Its been very exciting and I pray for God to bless the works of our hands. Unless the Lord build the house, the laborer would labour in vain.

Well, at night I am usually all by myself in the house of God. I live in the church and I will be living there for the second round when I am in Korat. Its simply amazing because this is really a dream come true. I always wanted to be a gatekeeper in the house of God and there you go…I am a gatekeeper for the past few days. At night I would do some housekeeping by washing my clothes and hanging them up. I would also iron my clothes so that I can look presentable at times in the ministry. I find worship in doing all of these. They are not chores but a worship unto the Lord. Sometimes I would help mop the floor of Alpha Cafe, which is at the first floor. I also helped to tidy up the place to make sure that the place is ready the next day.

Once all of those things are done, I will go to the Lord in prayer using the Book of Common Prayer. This is really my personal time with God and it has been most wonderful standing before Him and to worship Him; to give thanks to Him the day’s works. I do the same in the morning. I pray the Morning Prayer and offer the day to God and to His work in Korat.

For now, Merry Christmas to all my readers and May the Lord richly bless you!

the gatekeeper