Thursday, December 18, 2008

When I'm home...

...everything seems to be ri-ight.

Except that it feels funny not to be walking, even if it IS raining... heck, I DID walk for miles through much windy-er & rainy-er weather in Amsterdam and London, after all! And I can't find stuff in my room, one of the reasons being I now have more than one suitcase of it! And my sleeping time is all messed up, although a friend pointed out that it usually is anyway!

Only comparatively trivial things that I face coming home. But before I jump into deeper waters of things that really matter, or goh off in a tirade of factors John & Paul really didn't look into when they wrote that line, or before I just simply plain forget - I should spend some time logging down some of the experiences & memories from this past month that I don't want to forget.

(Note: This post was mainly written on Nov 19 but it got stuck as a draft mostly because there were just too many photos to goh through. Decided in the end to not need to post too many shots here - an extended selection can be viewed in Facebook instead.)

In no particularly-special order:

#1: Seeing how creativity is nurtured & expressed

Being in a culture that encourages art & creative expression as well as the appreciation for it has been most inspiring. Not just in museums & galleries but also on the streets & in the tube stations. Was telling a friend that there are 2 things the time there has made me dream about, and the first thing, which I also mentioned in a comment under the "Goh-ing dutch" post, is to set up an art gallery in Malaysia. One that will pay tribute to the works of south east asian artists of old, encourage current talents and nurture future ones.

Two British artists I met whose work particularly intrigued me go by interesting pseudonyms:

1. Delicate Mayhem - her intricately sketched prints of London sky & tube scapes were on display in Portobello Market. My camera put away & forgotten in awe of her work, I didn't take any photos. She has low-res files in her online gallery but really, they need to be seen up close & personal.

2. Stanza - he had an exhibit as part of the Cold War late-night open at the V&A Museum. He let loose about 10 little robots onto a large white paper within a rectangular parameter of police-lines. Each robot had a coloured pen stuck to its back which drew patterns on the paper as it moved within the parameter. Meanwhile, the remote cams on top of some of the robots sent video signals to a cctv unit and a VHS recorder. So by the end of the night, the robots had created art on paper and on video. And Stanza had made a statement about Control inside the Panopticon. The 20 shots I took of the robots are posted up for him on my picasaweb.

#2: Walking & train-ing

Two good points from travelling extensively by foot and by trains: 1. You see more of what's around you. 2. You lose more of what's around you. (i.e. fats =P) ANyway, the following are miscellaneous shots of what I spotted while on foot and from trains. The first shot is simply the sidewalk to my bro's flat... I simply love the way the ground glistens after the rain. Although photographing was rather difficult WHILE it rained, especially if you're also holding an umbrella.

Shot on foot:

Shot on train:

#3: Browsing through 2nd-hand shops

I must have gone into at least 30 2nd-hand bookstores, charity shops and road market stalls to leaf & scan through books, music, movies, games & knick-knacks.

There's something addictive about the anticipation of wondering what treasures you're gonna find among other people's junk. I must say the English really take good care of their stuff. My bro and I found Cranium for £3 and Scene It for £7! Both board games were in mint condition. I picked up a couple of books for £1 each. One was a pristine hardcovered copy of The Rhyming History of Britain which comes to the 2nd thing I wondered if I could do - write a rhyming history of Malaysia!

#4: Window watching, etc.

If you've travelled with me before, you'd know that one of the things I can't help collecting on camera are windows. Well, and doors. And flowers. And bikes. And bridges. And chairs. And shadows. And silhouettes. And skies. Hhaha... here are just a few of the above that got added to my collection.

One sad thing that I only realized when I got back: I somehow lost a whole batch of windows and doors as well as Portobello street shots from a walk on 18 Oct 2008. =(

Just remembered a 3rd thing I felt inspired to do: Stereography. This may actually be more achieveable than setting up an art gallery and writing a rhyming history!

#5: Watching Wicked

Since I'm on a "W" roll, thought I'd mention this next. It took me quite long to decide on the one west-end show I had budgeted to watch. I had been in NYC when Wicked had started its 2nd season on Broadway but I had opted instead for Jewtopia, a play that I knew I wouldn't be able to catch anywhere else. Incidentally, after the play, my buddy Michelle was mistaken for the Chinese actress in it and actually got compliments for her acting!

Anyway, when I knew I was going to be in London this year, I aimed to watch Wicked. But then I heard from my brother that the London cast was not as good as the Sydney cast which made me think maybe I should wait till I get to either the latter or NYC again. Then again, what if I don't make it there? So after scanning repeatedly through the promo posters of countless shows as I rode up & down the tube escalators and doing online research on my narrowed down list of 3, it was only on the 4th week that I finally decided on Wicked.

I declared my decision to my brother and he told me that everyday at 10am, the Apollo Victoria box office released 24 front row stall tickets for just £25 (as opposed to £50-£60). The next day, I was there at 9am, ready to join a queue that usually starts by that time. I was the 1st in line! So I whipped out my Rhyming History of Britain and read away the hour. That night I was sitting right in front and right in the middle and right behind the orchestra conductor! Wicked seat & wicked show!! A superb must-watch if one gets the chance! Even if the guy playing the male lead couldn't really dance. But er... definitely much easier to take than Pierce Brosnan singing. This is the pre-show view from where I was sitting:

#6: Ordering & receiving things by post

I took opportunity to order stuff online while I was in a country where access to discounted hard to-find-goods is a-plenty (like the Back to the Future 4-Disc set which I got for £8 instead of RM169), & where delivery of the goods is fast and cheap or free. I already blogged about the arrival of my PDA's new battery. As time went on, I received a few more padded envelopes and that gave a rather nice feeling - getting things through a postman. Hhaha, even if I did initiate the sending myself.

The most interesting item that came through physical mail was an NPW (NasaParaWing) kite from Germany.

It came in a medium-sized box and Kerstin Born, the kite's maker, had attached a note which said, "Hi Choon Ean, I am sending you a liquid greetings from Germany." Now in earlier emails with him, I'd been having trouble fully understanding his translated-from-German English, so this note made me wonder if that was some sort of German expression or proverb. Then I pulled out a bubble-wrapped item from the box, unrolled it and out came a bottle of German lager! I laughed out loud when I realized that Kerstin had meant his greeting to be literally liquid!

#7: Being in the audience of a BBC Radio show

One of the websites I checked often was which lists down all the free things to do in London. From there I got to learn about applying for tickets to watch recordings of BBC radio shows. So one of my nights was spent at the BBC Broadcast House and laughing myself silly, alongside the rest of the (mostly British) audience, at a recording of I've Never Seen Star Wars hosted by Marcus Brigstocke. Every episode he'd challenge a guest star to try things they've never done before, then discuss & rate how much they enjoyed it. That night it was British comedian Barry Cryer, and Marcus got him to watch Friends, read Catcher in the Rye, listen to an ACDC album, try a variety of tofu products and change a real-life baby's nappy. The two of them were just hilarious! And although it was for a radio broadcast, there were parts of it that everyone there, including Barry, wished listeners could see and not just hear. Tune into BBC Radio 4's next season of the show and you may just catch me laughing over the airwaves! =D (Incidentally, I caught Marcus playing the Radio DJ in the film Love Actually when I rewatched it a few days ago.)

#8: Feeling at home away from home

It's always nice to be able to visit with different members of God's family wherever I goh. From Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), where the Alpha course was first developed, to Hillsong London, where I got to observe the workings of their elaborate visual setup in the Dominion Theatre... from dropping in on the Amsterdam Shelter prayer meet to staying with the Ouwerkerks... I was greeted & treated in such ways that made me feel right at home. =)

I also had a splendid 24 hours with my mum's close friend from before I was born, Aunty Pansy & her husband Uncle Dave, who must have fed me the highest number of meals I ever got to eat in just one day throughout the 4 weeks I was there. =D

#9: Goh-ing on Tours

I'm actually the kind of person who hates tour-package-travelling. Besides the fact that they often cost a ridiculous sum of money to move you by the herd and lure you into tourist traps, I like mapping out my own routes & researching about stuff & moving at my own pace & not be rushed through sights that personally interest me. (Not forgetting having the option of stopping to add to my collection of windows, doors, bikes, etc.) I must say however, that many of my memorable experiences have been kinda tour-related, though not of the "package" kind -- looking out of the misty windows of the canal tour boat in Amsterdam, peddling away on Christina's bike-around-Zwijndrecht tour, dashing all over the British Museum to catch as many 40-min free guided tours of different civilizations as I could, catching the 3-hour Royal London Free Walking Tour, following Uncle Dave to the places around his & Aunty Pansy's home in Solihull & enjoying his verbal illustrations of what we saw, and listening to the Windsor Castle audio guide which was supplemented by the wealthy storehouse of British trivia in my brother's head. He actually gives an excellent tour of Cambridge by the way. When he said he needed to find a part-time job, I told him he should consider doing walking tours in London.

To not break my back any further by sorting through the 3000+ photos, for this section I'll only include some of the images I caught on the Royal London Walking tour.

#10: Spending time with my brother

Which was the main reason why I had gone there in the first place. =)

I was nine when I first felt that God could hear my innermost wishes - He gave me a baby brother! I remember I was so thrilled & preoccupied with the wonderful gift that 1st year, that my studies got neglected quite a bit and I think I even dropped to the 2nd class the following year. But that didn't bother me at all - what could compare with a baby brother?! =D

He's no longer a baby of course. He's not even smaller than me anymore. But I'm still thrilled and thankful that I have a brother. So from grocery-shopping & cooking & having typical Goh-family mealtimes (in front of a screen), to walking around London or standing around in a field trying to fly his kite in the crazy wind... it was really great to have time together for a whole month!


chrystin said...

choon ean.... WOW!

Anonymous said...

you have such an eye for capturing images! They're really-really-REALLY great!