As a child, I remember my dad sitting in front of the television with his eyes glued to the screen, watching what I vividly recall, 20-odd people chasing after a ball – with my dad giving the occasional euphoria when a ball enters a net. Of course, I couldn’t understand why he didn’t always seem excited whenever a ball goes into a net, but all I remembered was my dad’s appointments with the television gave me the license to stay up late into the night.

Needless to say, I grew up not enjoying what I subsequently learnt was football – or soccer, depending on which part of the world you are at. Alas, when I was in varsity, the football craze came about and there was nothing much I could do except to join in the late nights with my friends. Gee… even my female counterparts got glued to the telly, which I suspected was the works of their boyfriends.

Eventually, I succumbed to the evil side my peers and decided to watch the game seriously for once. Seriously – because instead of watching 22 people or so, running after a ball, I decided to learn more about the sport. Frankly, I didn’t get to retain much of what I learnt. “Off-side”, “throw-in” and “penalties” are probably all that I can remember now, and frankly, I can’t really remember what an “off-side” is, although I am sure I know what a “sunny-side up” is 🙂

However, as recent as a couple of years back, my dad lost interest in watching football. I remembered calling up Starhub to purchase what would have been the remaining few telecasts of the matches ‘live’, before I headed off out of the town for a short trip – amidst all the late nights that my friends would have engaged. I figured that it’d have been better for me to spend some late nights elsewhere shopping 🙂

Just as I thought this would have been a good idea, I found out to my dismay that… English is no longer the language of the world – at least not during football season. What in fact is, is the language of football! Pubs, night markets and even 24-hour convenience stores all seemed to have that little telly broadcasting ‘live’ matches of the omniscient sport.

*palm faced*

Fast-forwarding to today… soccer – which I clearly remember was quite affordable in the last decade, somehow became a multi-billion dollar industry. Well, perhaps it had always been this way, but I guess it was only when news broke between Singtel, Starhub and Fifa + World Cup that I was introduced to the capitalism behind it. The thought of consumers having to fork out potentially up to a hundred bucks for ‘live’ matches almost irks me… although the reality today is that it’s probably going to be a lot more cheaper.

What people will not be looking forward to – I suspect, are the late nights that are going to happen during ‘live’ matches: people – probably ah beks, gathering at coffee shops with glasses of Tiger beer and peanut shells spread all over the table, people who have probably never eaten McDonald’s burgers for their entire lives glueing their eyes on the LCD TV inside 24-hours McDonald’s restaurants, or perhaps pubs filled to the brim with yuppies who drive flashy BMWs. Of course, I am just generalizing. There is however, one thing that I can’t refute… and that is the pseudo-sense of euphoria that you get whenever the entire neighbourhood screams in ecstasy when their favourite team scores a goal.

“And it’s a gooooooooooooooooooooal !!!! What a beautiful pass that was….. !” Oh yeah… going to be hearing that soon 🙂

Just barely after I recovered from an overseas conference, another conference came knocking. This time, it’s to Shanghai, China – where it’s Great Firewall of China can be seen by the whole world without the need of a satellite image. Packing the luggage was a simple repetition of what I did for the Taiwan trip. However, this time round, I decided to be a little more kiasu. I decided to bring my heavy trench coat along just in case a freak cold front happens at Shanghai again. Of course, my physics revision thought me that since it’s winter, the sea releases more heat for every degree drop in temperature and if the wind blows landwards, I should be getting some nice warm sea breeze. Of course, I am not taking any chance and the coat comes with me.

The luggage ended up being just a little over 10kg, while my day pack was just a little under that. Heh. I think I get enough training every day from all the carrying around. Anyway, I digress.

My trip to Shanghai is on Singapore Airlines and I somehow wonder if I will meet anyone familiar on board. Hmm.. oh well.

12:50pm: Argh! I am late. Got hijacked by my land lady to have her mmmmmm.. nice Chicken Rice. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the car was out of petrol and I had to top it up at the nearby petrol kiosk. The rain didn’t help much at all, but I am glad I got to my parents’ place at just 20 minutes to 2pm.

3:25pm: Got to the airport on time. Heh. I did an e-check-in earlier and decided to join WY and LS for lunch. I took the duck of my duck rice and passed the rice to LS – who had a rather small portion of rice for her mixed rice. Well, I guess food is either expensive at airport, or cheap but little in serving. We were contemplating Popeye’s, but I think LS preferred the foodcourt, WY, being the least fussy amongst us, went along with whatever choice we made 😛

One thing I dislike about traveling to a conference is the need to carry in my poster on board. Today, I decided to just check it in – and it got through! Yay! No more fumbling of poster holders in the cabin! Woohoo!

5:25pm: Found out that I forgot to pass LS the ticket stub to be mailed back to Japan! Argh! Needless to say, I had to go through the procedures of getting out of the restricted area if I wanted to go out, which will almost certainly mean that I miss my flight! Thank goodness there was a postal-on-wheels in the transit area and I got my stub sent to Japan. Hopefully it gets there in 1 piece 😛

It’s been a while since I was last on an SQ flight. Ah… brings back memories. The seats do seem more crammed than China Airlines’ and Qantas for some strange reason. I always thought that SQ had one of the more comfortable seating arrangements… but perhaps I “thought” wrongly. The familiar chattering of the cabin crew makes the entire cabin livelier, although some people might start to mistake it for a fish market.

Then again, perhaps my ears were a little sensitive today.

7:30pm: Saw my Prof on the same flight! I kinda thought he would be on this flight and if I have chosen the front seats, I would have been seated just 1 seat in front of him! Anyway, he was rushing through his grant application while I was rushing through my exam revision. Time flies when you are having fun regardless if you are having fun or not and my exams are just barely a month away! Oh dear!

And oh, you know what? Remember that SQ used to have one of the better KrisWorld Entertainment System on board? Well, their Video-On-Demand just became a pseudo-VOD! It seems that despite you going through their Interactive menu, the system still brings you back to the movie that is playing half way! Oh, what a bummer.

10:30pm: The plane finally landed after a 5 hour flight. I spent the remaining hours on flight doing my revision since there wasn’t much of a movie to talk about. I chatted with a cabin crew who would have been my junior. Heh. She was supposed to be on stand-by and had been called up to do a turn. Apparently, she had been doing so many turns that if she did a couple more, it would have been turn-turn-turn-turn (ok, old internal joke here). The small talk was quite nice and I ended up being almost the last one to leave the plane. That chat really made the flight pleasant.

11:30pm: The airport is a pretty new one and there’s no special clearance for diplomats. Oh well, at least the clearance was fast! I got my luggage without much of a hassle. There was apparently a diplomat channel *after* the immigration clearance, but no way am I going to go through that. I saw my Prof and quickly got out of the restricted area. There was someone waiting for him and I got a lift to the hotel too. Along the way, my Prof asked if I could speak Mandarin and he was surprised when I said I could 😛

The trip to the airport took a little over 40 minutes along what seemed like a newly built expressway with lots of speed cameras built into it. In fact, the speed cameras kept flashing and I wondered if the taxi driver actually bothered with it. Apparently, it’s very hard to get a taxi from the airport and according to my Prof, the queue could take up to an hour to clear and if you are unlucky, you’d end up being one of the last few to leave the airport. Also, there are apparently taxi drivers/touts who would promise you cheaper fares to the city centre, but that’s allegedly a sham. After hearing this, I was quite pretty glad that I met my Prof on the same flight.

1:30pm: Shanghai turned out to be rather warm. It actually is! I got to the nearby 24-hour convenience store with nothing more than just my polo shirt, jeans and the school jacket! The winds were a little too much though, but nothing that a school jacket can’t handle 😉

I got a couple of flavours of cup noodles and a row of Yakult-like stuff. I didn’t get the original Yakult because I remembered not liking terrible. After I got all my stuff and made myself more satisfied from pacifying my tummy, I got on to investigating how I could make the network work for me. As with Murphy’s Law, the brand new RJ-45 Cat 5e cable from Challenger turned out to be a fluke. It didn’t work at all and I spent the next 15 minutes trying to figure out if my Mac was having some problem. Shame on Challenger! They should have at least tested the connectivity of their cable!

To add to that, the mobile router didn’t work as well! Argh! Seems like I have to get some other ways of getting the wireless up. The Mac can probably run wired, but the iPhone is giving a little headache. Damn. I will just have to make do with the wired connection for now.

2:10am: Heh. I experienced first hand the effects of the Great Firewall of China. Facebook – banned. Twitter – banned. Google groups – banned. Plurk – banned. Oh wait, why in the world would they want to ban Plurk?!?! Thank goodness MSN is still alive 🙂 Apparently many people have found various ways to jump over the Firewall, but most of them just end up falling flat on their faces. Now, the Firewall comes with barbed wire 😛

The only thing that is left to do is to get myself registered tomorrow. Let’s hope things go on well. Argh. Exams…

It’s been a long while since I last been overseas. Last Sunday, I had a chance to go overseas. Well, quite literally over the waters. I went to Sentosa.

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In the last year that I hadn’t been there, many things have indeed changed – starting from the monorail station, to the stations on the sunny island that’s set in the… sea, to the landscape at Sentosa. I remembered going there frequently with a friend, and his friends for games of beach volleyball. However, he has since married and I guess that’s when the ball stops to.

Oh well…

Thankfully, I am going over to Sentosa for more fun things last Sunday! As everyone knows… the latest attraction at Sentosa is…

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