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Friday, May 26, 2006
China Trip colour photos are online -vvv vwv

Selected colour photographs from our (Shuquan, Len Chow and I) ORD trip to China are now online. As usual, you can find them here. Since I have always been interested in legends and folklore, I shall share some stories related to some of the places we visited.

(Note: Use Unicode UTF-8 encoding on your browser to see the chinese words)

Long ago, there was a man called Shiwa. He would spend his days skillfully carving stone Buddhas in the hills with other youths of his village. There was a woman named Huamei whose embroidery and singing skills were unparalleled. Naturally, they were a perfect match as these stories go.

On their wedding day, the thunder god became jealous and tried to abduct Huamei. To separate the couple, he split the hill in two. The half that Huamei was standing on flew off into the sky. Shiwa reacted quickly and managed to hold on to a vine and flew off with half the hill. The flying hill eventually landed in Hangzhou near Lingyin Temple 灵隐寺 (where Jigong 濟公 came from). From then on, the hill became known as 飞来峰 (the peak that flew from afar) shown in the picture here.


Shiwa fell unconscious from the shock of the impact while Huamei became trapped under the hill. When Shiwa regained consciousness, he had transformed into a bird. So he flew around looking for Huamei. Eventually he heard her singing and started pecking at the rocks to dig her out. When Huamei heard the pecking, she dug from the other side with her hairpin. When they managed to complete the tunnel, Huamei too became a bird and they both flew to the thunder god and pecked his eyes out (quite a vengeful act for humble villagers). From then on, the thunder god can only make rumbling sounds and no longer dares to come down to Earth to disturb people because he's freakin' blind. The hole that they dug came to be known as 一线天 (Gleam from Heaven).


Ok, I'm not so sure if this picture I took is indeed the Gleam from Heaven because it looks like a really big hole and the Gleam from Heaven was supposed to be a small stream of light. But this is the closest cave to the explanatory tablet that has a visible hole showing the sky so I guess this must be it.

I would share some pictures of Lingyin Temple as well but it was a rainy day so I didn't really have any good photos of it. Moreover, taking photos of the gigantic golden Buddha (I estimate it to be 5 or 6 storeys high) in one of the halls is not allowed.

* * *

This is Huangshan 黄山. It consists of 72 major peaks and is home to many strange looking rocks.


Places that look like this usually inspire many imaginative tales. For example, a monk used to live on one of the highest peaks in Huangshan. One day, three deities (I can't remember who but Goddess of Mercy was one of them) descended from the sky to visit, maybe go sightseeing or something. They emitted such bright divine light that the monk subsequently named the peak Guangmingding 光明顶, literally translated as Bright Summit. This is not a picture of Guangmingding though. Frankly, Guangmingding looked pretty boring, especially when there is a large weather station on it. Not to mention the large number of tourists and aunties due to the relative ease to climb to the top.

I think Huangshan is a place full of forgotten deities who earn a living now by becoming tour guides and porters because the porters here are damn strong and the tour guides can suddenly step out of the mist to offer their services.

* * *

This is a picture of the famous West Lake 西湖 of Hangzhou. In the background is another famous architecture, the Leifeng (Thunder Peak) Pagoda 雷峰塔.


Actually, this pagoda is built in 2002. The original collapsed in 1924 due to the weakening of its foundations caused by theft of its bricks. Yeah, people will steal anything. The locals believed that the bricks possess magical properties. The Pagoda also used to house what is supposed to be the 舍利子 of Sakyamuni (founder of Buddhism), which is now in a museum in Hangzhou.

According to the tour guide, the government offered 30000 RMB to buy back the original bricks but people refused to part with their bricks. Eventually the abbot of Lingyin Temple donated three bricks and they are now in a museum too. I really wonder how he got those bricks in the first place.

When the pagoda collapsed in 1924, many locals headed to the ruins for two reasons:
1. To get more bricks
2. To see if 白娘子 is inside


Coincidentally, we managed to catch the last 4 episodes of the Liu Tao (actress on left as 白素贞) edition of the Legend of the White Snake on Chinese TV back in the hotel room. Some people might remember her as 阿朱 from 天龙八部. The 4 episodes we watched pretty much covered 80% of the White Snake story, so I guess the first 26 episodes must be really long winded. Anyway, I liked 刘涛's portrayal but I digress.

Back to the story. I assume everyone is familiar with the White Snake legend so I shall not repeat that. As the legend goes, Fahai imprisoned Bai Suzhen in Leifeng Pagoda and that she will only be free when either the West Lake dries up or the pagoda collapses. Obviously the locals wanted to verify if the legends were true. But I doubt they saw anything because as all who watches TV knows, she went to Hong Kong to open Waiting Bar.


-- permalink --
Yiheng made
5:59 PM

2 Comments:

Great trip yah!!! Incidentally I'm going to these same places next month. Exciting man...

Saw your mention about tianlongbabu and I suddenly remembered the time we watched it together at Mount Tremblant...forgoing our day ski pass as a result. :)

By Anonymous jangace, at 12:12 AM  

Haha, yah I remember Tremblant too. The weather wasn't that great that day anyway. Besides, you can't stop once you start on these drama serials. Enjoy your trip man!
By Anonymous Yiheng, at 9:49 PM  

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006
ASCII -vvx


Warning! Large Image. Click on picture to see the details.
ASCII-O-Matic


-- permalink --
Yiheng made
10:46 AM

2 Comments:

hey how did you do that?
By Anonymous jiangzheng, at 10:50 AM  

Click on the ASCII-O-Matic link. It's a site that lets you upload images and converts it for you.
By Anonymous Yiheng, at 10:57 AM  

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Monday, May 22, 2006
My take on Ike -vvw

If you haven't heard, Ike See is a young talented musician who was offered a rare opportunity to study in a prestigious music school (Curtis Institute of Music in the US) but could not attend due to National Service. So far, Mindef isn't giving this guy any deferment even though he had promised to return to serve if he is allowed to defer.

There are those who think Mindef should let him defer and there are those who think otherwise. I belong to the former. Since I prefer to prove other people wrong rather than prove myself correct, I shall attack the arguments against deferment instead of building a case for it. Besides, many people have already pointed out why Mindef should let Ike defer and most of the points are about how he is such a great talent who can bring glory to Singapore.

Some people said that in case Ike See couldn't defer, serving NS wouldn't be so bad because National Service
1) brings you out of your comfort zone,
2) makes you mature,
3) teaches you leadership skills, responsibility, discipline, etc.
If you've said this based on personal experience, you should know that some of us already had such benefits before enlisting. I spent many years in a marching band in school and I can tell you that compared to band, the discipline and regimentation in the army is a joke. I am confident that anyone who was in a uniform group or any competitive sports CCA will probably agree with me on this. Moreover, even if one is an irresponsible, useless brat before NS, it doesn't mean that he will always be one if he doesn't go for NS. The various people skills learnt in the army can easily be learnt in any workplace in the civilian world. Of course, there are also the counterexamples of people who completed NS as the disgusting spoilt brat they were before. Therefore, the claim that disallowing Ike to defer benefits him is utter rubbish.

Then there are those who suggest that he continue his musical studies after NS. Perhaps these people do not know that getting accepted into Curtis is not like signing up for a course at your nearest community centre. Only 5% of applicants are admitted each year and I am sure the average applicant is not the average busker you see at the bus interchange.

I am a mediocre amateur pianist who plays only recreationally (no hardcore 4 hours per day practices for me). When I returned home after two weeks of BMT, my fingers felt significantly stiffer. Imagine what 2 years of NS can do to a musician of professional standards. That's assuming he doesn't get injured. And then there is also the age problem since Curtis only accepts young students.

The worst people are those who wants Ike to serve just because they themselves could not disrupt or defer. If one is not an excellent musician, it is nothing to cry about. Not everyone is a prodigy. The world is unfair. But to deny another the chance to develop his talents because one has no such talent or opportunities is just plain selfish. These people need to stop abusing words like "fairness" or "national security" to make others suffer with them. Is Singapore really gonna be less of a deterrent because there is one less guy in MDC?


-- permalink --
Yiheng made
4:59 PM

2 Comments:

Ns is lame...they should let him go lor.. such talent cannot be wasted.. i agree with u.
By Anonymous jiangzheng, at 9:01 AM  

Typical of Mindef and SAF. Just need one joker (ie THAT pianist) to come and SPOIL market, then now everybody also kena this stiff ruling. Does the public really care or give a shit about it? Probably not so much now. Really, MINDEF should stop being so reactionary and be consistent about their policies.
By Anonymous Shuquan, at 12:35 AM  

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What have I got? -vvv





-- permalink --
Yiheng made
4:42 PM

1 Comments:

PINK I C !!!!
By Anonymous Shuquan, at 12:38 AM  

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Saturday, May 20, 2006
Yet another sad old man -vvv

Yesterday during guard mounting, this warrant officer gave me a long speech about my uniform. Actually, he was almost shouting but it didn't feel like a scolding because I had to try so hard to keep myself from laughing.

In case you didn't know, the upper half of the uniform I have been wearing for the past 2.5 years of NS is the older, reservist type uniform that was issued to me during BMT in 2000. The lower half was also issued by BMT but they are of the newer type. Therefore, there is a slight noticeable difference in the camouflage patterns and colours.

And so this old man kept saying things like "They never teach you uniform cannot wear two different colour, is it?!" What a stupid question. Who the heck would think up a regulation that states that the two halves of the camouflage uniform must be of the same colour? Besides, each half possesses at least three colours. Duh.

He actually wanted me to go change a set of uniform but I told him I have only this set in camp. When he said "You have no credits meh, cannot buy new uniform is it?", I was so tempted to reply "that's right" because I just finished clearing out all my credits down to zero cents, which I was very proud of.

Then he went on to repeatedly warn me "Better not let me see you in this uniform again!" Yeah, yeah, whatever man, I am a civilian come Monday, you won't even see me in uniform again, har har.

So here at the end of my NS days, I meet the last in a series of sad old men whose greatest meaning in life is enforcing impractical self-created rules. Before he left, he made a last comment on how I have no pride in my uniform, which is absolutely not true. I am very proud of my uniform. It has been through thick and thin with me, shielding me from the elements and protecting me from strange insects and thorny branches. It is really ironic that the issue of having pride in the way one wears his uniform would come from a man who wears dirty boots, doesn't velcro the sides and folds his sleeves up to his elbows.


-- permalink --
Yiheng made
12:03 PM

3 Comments:

is that wo one that has fluid retention above the upper torso?
By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:30 PM  

That guy is such an ass. Speaking of self-imposed rules, he was also groussing about how in guard mounting we always ease-spring differently everytime. Although i seem to remember doing it the exact same way everytime I do guard; just that it's not his way. Funny thing is that he said he will be reflecting back to the other RSMs in the future, but thats EXACTLY the same thing he said the last time I did guard duty last month. I must imagine that everytime he comes down for guard mounting, he sees the drills being done our way, comments about how 'unstandardised' they are and how they should be done 'his' way, then meets up to bitch with the other RSMs but they just ignore him anyway and the cycle repeats.

Seriously, these people need a wake-up call. You know how those recently retrenched managers and supervisors during the financial crisis had to become taxi drivers and the govt was asking them to "change their mindset"? We should just discharge all these useless personnel and throw them out in the society, then they'll find out what real losers they are.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:19 AM  

ORD lor..... freedom oh yeah
By Anonymous jiangzheng, at 7:36 PM  

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Friday, May 19, 2006
Three Days to ORD -vvv vwv

Three days and my duty to nation
will finally reach its conclusion.
And then my phone rang,
through it someone sang,
"You're up for more guard duty action!"


-- permalink --
Yiheng made
9:19 AM

1 Comments:

aahhhhh! I'm sooo sorrry! But don't blame me. Blame the battalion and join me in bringing 23SA down in the near future!
By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:40 PM  

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Previous Posts

Swing Along 2009 -vvv

FF13 -vvx

YGBSM -vvw

Tibetan Song -vvx

Unfortunate Side Effects -vwv

Memorable News -vwv

Five Golden Flowers -vvz

Art Appreciation in Singapore -vvw

Openmindedness -vvx

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