At last I see the light

I’m 3 quarters way through my practicum. Just 18 more days left, less if my CTs take over their classes for the last week. I’m stoked and just want this to be over. I love what I do – but honestly, the stress of having people constantly watch my lessons and behavior all the time is almost more than I can bear. I guess this is the cross that Type A personalities have to bear – even though I know this is part and parcel of the learning process, I am altogether too stressed to submit half assed lesson plans or do shoddy work, and am rather upset and stressed when I do so. Cue 4 hours of sleep per night, which makes for an irritable person. I’m thankful for the amount of support my CTs, family and Ju has provided to be honest.

Batam Cable Ski Park

Batam Cable Ski Park – Julien managed to complete several circuits! So proud of him 🙂

I had a particularly restful weekend. Mostly owing to the fact that I was sick as a dog and really needed to catch up on the rest after the two observations on Thursday and Friday. I’m not sure why teaching Science is being particularly tough on me this round – I normally love teaching Science!

Anyway, for my weekend I accompanied Ju to Batam. He booked a full day cable skiing package at Batam Cable Ski Park (Waterfront City), which went for S$108 (inclusive of ferry tickets from Harbourfront Ferry Terminal to Sekupang Ferry Terminal). I brought along my work and completed it in the midst of having short naps in the sun.

We also ended up attending Ju’s friend’s housewarming and sleeping over at his friend’s place. It was rather spartan but to be honest (and as cheesy as it sounds), it was still heavenly to be able to fall asleep next to J and feel his arms around me. Irregardless of the fact that there was no air conditioning and we were pretty much sleeping on the floor. I was dead tired after my sun exposure though, and there were instances where I was literally falling asleep on my feet. Sometimes I think I really must suffer from narcolepsy.

Also, when we got back to Singapore and were talking in bed, I got invited to spend Christmas in France! I can’t wait 🙂 This really provides incentive to sign up for those Alliance Francais Conversational French lessons after my practicum is over as well. One more thing to look forward to. This weekend was one of those instances when I felt really blessed to be loved by J. There were a few moments I was annoyed, but I realized there was no point – I would have just been weirdly high maintenance. I really want us to work out. It makes a lot of difference from my past relationships, strangely. I’m learning when to take and when to compromise a lot more nowadays than in the past.

To get to Batam from Singapore, you may go to Harbourfront Ferry Terminal (closest MRT station: Harbourfront Station) and look for a ferry.

Batam Center station is the ferry terminal closest to Batam city, Sekupang is the ferry terminal closest to Waterfront city (for water sports), Nongsapura is the ferry terminal close to beach resorts and golf courses and Harbour Bay is located in the central business and commercial district.

Here are some ferry timings for your perusal – Batamfast Ferry Company | Sindo Ferry Company

Highlights of Ko Phi Phi

The first time I heard of Ko Phi Phi was from a friend from São Paulo. “It’s heaven on earth, a natural marvel and where I want to retire when I grow old,” said Ivan.

Naturally, my curiosity was piqued.

Yeah, it was beautiful. Disregarding the drunken backpackers, there was still so much to be seen. It was a little upsetting to see at times people tossing their trash on the beaches (and honestly, the party scene in Ko Phi Phi Don was intense). Which may be nice at times, but not what I’m looking for.

It kind of seems like I’m getting over this partying phase. Still, I loved what I saw of Ko Phi Phi – but to retire here? Possibly not. Onward and outward.

Love, C.

Streets of Phi Phi Don

Streets of Phi Phi Don

Sunset at Phi Phi Don

Sunset at Phi Phi Don

Longboats of Phi Phi Islands

Longboats of Phi Phi Islands

Maya Bay

Maya Bay

Portraits of Phuket and Ko Phi Phi

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Two thai ladies, taking their lunch break in a small alleyway off Bangla Road. They emanate friendliness and the halting conversation between them and us nevertheless puts us in a positive mood for the start of our trip. One of them, her name was Pai, she helped us order a plate of fresh raw vegetables with their special sambal. And she also took the initiative to pour out cups of cold water for all of us. Genuine people like these make me want to pass it on, all the time. 🙂

Near the end of day 1. Mandy and I driving on a scooter in the dark through the stinging rain. We were getting somewhat lost and slightly worried. Enroute, we bump into a tuktuk carrying a group of European passengers. “Patong? Are you guys going to Patong beach?” They reply in the affirmative and from then until we arrived behind their tail at Patong, they kept out looking for us to ensure we didn’t drop into some pothole or skid across the street.

Now we’re on the boat to Phi Phi Islands. Sitting next to me are 3 ladies from the South of France. A good conversation was had by all – made the journey pass by a lot quicker and in a more pleasant way.

Last but not least. In a small food shop at the Phuket Bus Terminal. Not only did our “chef” serve us a piping hot plate of fried pork with vegetables, she also slapped my legs with newspaper several times – in order to kill the mozzies sucking on my blood.

For sure we met a lot of people this trip. Some were sketchy, some were quality, some were people I wouldn’t ever remember again in the future. But these instances were the ones that touched the heart and hopefully I will remember them for time to come 🙂

Summer Rolls: Since it’s always Summer in Singapore.

vietnamese, summer rolls, spring rolls, rice paper rolls

Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls

Something a little different – a rooftop potluck party in Outram/Chinatown. So my alarm had just gone off and I was lying in bed, half caught between that bushy tail bright eyed zone and lazing in bed until the cows come home mood. Which is, of course, when lightning strikes. Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls!

It was a hit – an hour of prep (30 rolls) gone within 5 – 10 minutes.

Ingredients

Peanut Sauce (more suited for chicken rolls)
Lee Kum Kee Hoisin Sauce, 240g
Sesame Oil, 1 tea spoon
Camel Peanuts, shelled and crushed into pieces, 40g
Mix.
Sweet Chilli Sauce (better for prawn rolls)
Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce
1/4 cup water
1 Lime
Mix.
Rice Paper Rolls
Bowl of lukewarm water
16 cm round Rice paper sheets
100g Rice Vermicelli
Basil leaves
Mint leaves
Iceburg Lettuce, cut into strips
Tiger Prawn or Chicken, to your preference

Method

  1. De-shell the prawns, cook them and slice them in half.
    If you are using chicken, boil the chicken and shred it into thin strips with a fork.
  2. Put the Rice vermicelli to boil for 3 – 5 minutes in boiling water. You want the texture of the rice vermicelli to be more soft than al dente.
  3. Dip your round rice paper sheet into the water. Really quickly. This is the most difficult part of making the rolls. You want the sheet to be somewhat solid still, yet not rigid enough that it breaks off when you bend it.
  4. Put the prawns/ chicken on the rice paper.
  5. Lay a layer of lettuce
  6. Place a small amount of rice vermicelli (a small pinch will do). Make sure the rice vermicelli does not touch the rice paper if possible, as it will make the rice paper even soggier.
  7. Place 2 – 3 leaves of mint.
  8. Add 2 leaves of basil.
  9. Fold the roll in from the top and bottom, and roll it across.
  10. Seal with water if necessary.

There you have it! Such a simple thing to make, but so delicious! Hope you have as much fun making it as much as I did. If you fail, well just stick it in your tummy 🙂

Bangkok Birthday: #4

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A light mist descends, and rolls over the street. Sandman goes to work – and across the country, people pull their duvets up to their chins and curl up on their sides. As the clock strikes two, Khao San deflates and tarps are pulled over shops that were not too long ago sporting cutoff tees and shorts of every conceivable shade. Lights are cut and music stops abruptly – it is the approximate of the witching hour here in Bangkok.

But in some small unnamed alley, two friends sit and partake of a bowl of noodles. Because mealtimes are sacred – the act of sharing a meal is an act of unification and it allows a commune of thought and ideas that link people together.

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An amazing sunrise – from this city of smiles.

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An amazing sunset from our balcony

And because I’ve neglected to do so, here are some pictures from our balcony. We stayed at the lebua state tower in an apartment (condominium side). We had an incredible view from our balcony as shown above. Definitely happy with the choice of place that we picked.

This kind of wraps up my Bangkok posts. But I know that I will be back. 🙂

Bangkok Birthday: #3

It was a sensory experience for us. As we looked this way and that, many sights bamboozled the eyes. At the corner in her shop, a grizzled woman beams to us as she stirs her beef broth and offers us chairs to partake of Bangkok’s Boat Noodles. Cables dangle overhead, creating a motif of organized chaos. Everywhere we look, people are studying trinkets, almost frenetic in their hunt for that perfect souvenir. You got that right – in Chatuchak Weekend Market, the characters are loud (or soft, if they’re trying to throw off a hangover), the smiles warm and the food incredible (we had 5 meals that morning!).

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Mandy and the paella chef at Viva, Chatuchak Weekend Market

Naturalment, we couldn’t let a night escape us without attempting to have the full Khao San Road experience. Having learnt our lesson from last night, we didn’t faff around the apartment pre-drinking this night 😉 Instead we just fooled around and took silly pictures.

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Tanzie, Clarey & Mandy.

Before Khao San however – Birthday Dinner at Sala with the ENTIRE crew (yes, everyone’s here!). It just amazed me how everyone was willing to just up and come to Bangkok like that. I have an amazing bunch of friends. Hands down one of my best birthdays in recent years. The view was great, the company was amazing.

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From L to R: Zan, Supei, Abel, Jon, Me, Mandy, Tanzie & Ali

And here we have it – while on Khao San, we picked up Antoine, a traveller from Paris. While everyone was wussy and went for the massage option, we had awesome fun at the fish spa (if you’ve never tried it, I suggest you stick your feet in and make plenty of noise as the fish start sucking at your feet – we did! I believe I kicked and stunned a fish too – oops?). Either way, fun filled day (and evening). And promises of a future date in Singapore with a french boy from Bangkok!

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Fish Spa in Bangkok!

From the land of smiles,

Clarey xo