Its all about relationship


I recently chanced upon a video clip from Youtube and that kept me thinking for a while. The video is about a university lecturer addressing his students. It was a science lecture and he was telling them that the basis of everything, or to be more specific the basis of life is relationship. Everything on this planet earth is all about relationship; one thing links to another. The mysterious thing about life is how all these things are interconnected and how, to a large extend, can’t do without each other. He explained that when God created the universe, He first created the physical elements that support life, such as light and heat, water and the air. These elements are then interconnected and eventually giving breath to other life-forms, such as plants, vegetations, living creatures and finally humans. After He created man, He found that it is not good for him to be alone, therefore He created a companion for him, the woman. There, humans are again interconnected through various kinds of relationships. When the man and woman fell from grace, this first relationship and the whole interconnectedness of things in the world changed.

Although shared from a biblical perspective, I find this whole idea of interconnectedness very mesmerising. The fact is we are more connected than we are divided. We need each other more than the fact that we are separated. And perhaps, we are more similar than the differences we thought we have.

Some years ago, I went through a very dark period of my life and I decided to cut myself off from the people around me. I did not physically isolate myself from them, but what I was going through greatly affected my relationships with them. I felt disconnected and life was very miserable. I went away for a period of time and started traveling from Thailand to Vietnam, Malaysia and eventually to Bhutan. In Bhutan, I found a very different kind of connection. I was connected back to nature, back to the mountains and back to the valleys. I was connected back to the living streams that gave life to the trees in the forests and the creatures that inhabit the ground.

In Bhutan, I was surrounded everyday by the Himalayan mountains and everyday I walked through the woods and passed through the rivers and streams. Each step I took and each breath I breathed in, I was making renewed connection with creations and rediscovering the lost connection. It was when I reconnected myself with nature’s energy, I realised how small and tiny I was in all of these networks of life; this vast interconnectedness that we are all living in. My Bhutanese guide often told me that Bhutanese do not see themselves as superior to nature, neither do they see themselves as inferior. They see themselves as all part of nature: the trees in the forests, the rocks in the field, the fish in the streams,  the creatures roaming in the woods and the humans that inhabit the ground, all are part of this whole networks of life and breath. We all breathe in the same breath and received heat from the same Sun and enjoy the coolness of the same moon.

When I came back from my retreat in Bhutan, the first thing I wanted to do was to restore my relationships with my family and friends. With the renewed relationships, I set to make things in order, set the wrong right all over again and slowly build up my strength to face the challenges of life all over again. We never have to live in defeat and despondence if we understand how interconnected we are and how we can draw strength from one another.

Chang, from Bangkok


我偷偷的哭了!- 爱@曼谷




























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



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


Cafe Hopper Review: Full Stop Cafe@Soi Thonglor, Bangkok

This is not a difficult find at all! Situated along Soi Thonglor, Full Stop Cafe is a Japanese style cafe serving simple western delights like sandwiches and salad! The decor of the cafe is simple! It’s toys and figurine theme definitely give diners a very Japanese feel and of course the many Japanese magazines and books on display the shelves! Well, weather anyone read them or not is really not that crucial! Placing them there already fulfill the theme of the cafe! This is definitely a good theme as many Japanese stay along Soi Thonglor. Well, if you want a good treat of Japanese food in Bangkok, Thonglor is really the place!

The cafe latte is pretty ordinary and the food as well! I guess you can’t do too much of cooking with a very small kitchen just behind the counter! It took a while for the owner to get ready my breakfast and two other diners as well! Though not fantastically well in terms of food and drinks, it is certainly good for a place to sit around to do some reading! I spent quite a while reading my book this morning!

When you get tired, you can always walk around the cafe and admire the cartoon figurines and well, perhaps just take a look at some of the reading materials on the shelves! I would certainly come back here for a good read I suppose.

The gatekeeper





Cafe Hopper Review: Audrey Cafe and Bistro@Thonglor 11, Bangkok

This is certainly one cafe that your eyes can’t have enough to see. It has a French classical design for interior decor and the moment you stepped into the courtyard of the cafe, you are already spoiled by the posh and classy outlook. From the table display to the black, elegant chandelier, the cafe is just too beautiful to be missed. This is one place that has lots of personality and character in it. I decided to tuck myself in one corner of the cafe so that I can have a good view of almost everything. The ambience alone will kill diners here.

The menu is not exactly a fusion of Thai-French cuisine. It basically has two types of menu, French and Thai. I took me a while to decide what to eat cos I was really spoiled of all the choices possible. Their signature pork knuckle cube looks totally tempting and I almost gave in to it. However, I promised myself that I won’t resist the temptation again next time. The braised beef is worth trying and apparently it takes 6 hours to braised the beef. Wooooo….how not to try it. Still, I decided to give it a miss since I am travelling alone. In the end, I ordered a simple pasta dish with corn beef and a Thai appetiser, meat wrap with rice skin. Well, I didn’t quite get a fusion but I must say that I pretty like my order.

Honestly I pretty like the outdoor seating if not because the weather is rather warm. I suggest, if you come in December, take the alfresco seating and enjoy the courtyard atmosphere. Trust me, you will for a moment believe that you are in Paris.

I didn’t get to try the pastry because I simply need to reserve some parts of my stomach for other things. The coffee wasn’t really that fragrant and it is rather light for me. Well, I don’t suppose they would pride themselves with their coffee when their food is good and their ambience is almost perfect. I love the short walk out of Thonglor Soi 11…quiet, peaceful and just the right environment to think about the next cafe to hop to. Thonglor is really a cool dinning area in Bangkok!


The gatekeeper





Cafe Hopper Review: Peony Teafe and Gallery@ Sala Daeng , Bangkok

This cafe tuck in a corner of Soi Sala Daeng is an interesting find. It’s not too far away from BTS Sala Daeng where the famous street of Silom is! In the night, Silom is buzzing with fun seekers and pleasure finders, not just for the straights but also for the LGBT community! Anyway, that is not my main point! I was expecting a rather difficult find or that the cafe has closed down or something! When I saw the signboard outside the cafe I was so happy! Immediately, I took out my phone started taking pictures of its exterior. The cafe as a very elegant exterior, decorated with dotted peony flowers!

The moment you stepped into the cafe, it gives u a garden cafe kind of feeling! There is flower every where and even the cushion covers are flowers in print! There are three sections to the cafe, namely the counter area, the middle section is an alfresco concept … More like a courtyard, and finally the main dinning hall! It’s good that I have chosen to come here in the morning as the decor really makes yours early morning brighter and lighter!

The main selling point of the cafe is actually the tea as the name of the cafe suggests! There is just too many varieties of traditional tea, fushion tea and flower teas in the menu. I ordered the windmill as it says only available in Peony! The tea is very refreshing and the tea is light enough to give you that fresh sensation! I was rather disappointed that they don’t have scone today! I wanted to try their scone! Eventually I ordered some sandwiches instead.

My overall impression of the place is rather positive and the staff are certainly friendly and good to customers. If you ever come by Bangkok do look out for this flowery cafe at Sala Daeng!

The gatekeeper