Remembering Jean, my best friend

I realised when I can’t sleep, I write. So tonight is one of those sleepless nights again.

Primary school was a fleeting memory for me. I remember I used to do Chinese Dance on Thursdays and dressed in costumes that weren’t the coolest but that was okay for a tween. I learnt how to do a front walkover, struggled with spilts and aced my Chinese Dance examinations somehow.

Secondary school was impactful. I was posted to my third choice of school (then we had to choose schools before we received our results, such a dumb system honestly). It was one hour away from my home and I had just maybe a couple of primary school friends in the same school. And, the school had no dance as a CCA. What a downer.

Luckily enough, I made a friend right on my first day of school. Her name was Jean and she asked to share my orientation booklet. She told me that she came to the school to join the band – I was like what?! You actually selected a school for its band?

And you know what, I joined the band with her. LOL.

We became fast friends being classmates and bandmates. We were similar in personality, sucked at homework (read: hated maths), hung out at Bugis and Parkway Parade after school and enjoyed going to band practices. We spoke on the phone every night about all things that mattered to teenage girls. No such thing as BFF then so we were best friends.

When we were 15, she started complaining about being exhausted and had bad headaches. We always brushed it off because that was our military band year – which kid won’t be tired after marching in the hot sun for hours right?

One day, she collapsed in school – then again, pretty common because we had kids fainting from exhaustion in band all the time. We only realised how serious it was when she was sent to the hospital. Then, the news came.

She had a brain tumour.

She never woke up from her coma and we never got to say bye or our last words. The next year was spent shuttling between school, hospital and home visits. We celebrated her 15th birthday with her hooked up to many machines. We made 1,000 cranes for her. She passed on a year later, on 22 May 2005, age 15-almost-16.

Today, she would have turned 25 if she is still with us. I always wonder how will life be like if she’s still here. Would she have gone to a polytechnic or junior college? Maybe she would be my roomie in NUS? Would she still be playing the clarinet?

Now that I’m old(er), I look back and smile at the good times we had. (Okay when I was younger, I tend to cry more and was more angst). I try to remember all the good lessons she had taught me. Her perseverance and determination in life, hardworking attitude, humility and willingness to lend a helping hand anywhere, anytime always inspires me.

jean 2

So tonight, I go to bed not in tears but in happy memories of our beautiful teenage times.

Post note: Also, here’s a sincere shout out to all my secondary school friends and those who may have crossed paths with Jean. Thanks for sharing your memories of her with me, it’s so sweet to read them again. They’re so poignant for me. Also, to my band mates and classmates (where ma homies from 3K/4K at?) : thank you for supporting and helping to hold me up when we were kids at 15/16 because I wouldn’t have made it till now.

Bali food: Nasi Campurs all over

One of my favourite dish to order in Bali: which I can eat all day, everyday, is Nasi Campur. It’s a direct translation to “mixed rice” which is exactly what it is! Most restaurants in Bali offer this as it is the most basic Balinese dish. Nasi Campur is also the cheapest option usually.

I don’t really get why this is the cheapest option as I feel that Nasi Campur is the most “all in” dish. You get rice, some veggies and a little meat to go along with it. These are some of my favourite Nasi Campurs from Bali!

Biah Biah
Okay Biah Biah first caught my eyes because of their quirky decor. I mean, pigs on the table really? Their Nasi Campur is one of the more generous versions with two kinds of meat and extra tempe. The tempe is a perfect combination of soy and sweetness mixed. I ordered extra satay sticks too.

Biah Biah (Google Map link): Jl Goutama 13 Padantegal Kaja, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Ne Warung
A small little place that probably doesn’t sit more than 15 at any go. It’s best to either pop by for a late dinner (if you’re comfortable sharing tables) or make a reservation. I saw many people being turned away as the place was full. I loved how uniquely spiced the chicken chunks was – I can’t even describe it well. The sambal (which was not spicy at all) paired perfectly with the egg..

Continue reading “Bali food: Nasi Campurs all over”

Bali: My top food list

I did a lot of research before and when I was in Bali so this is my list of top food spots in Bali: mainly Ubud, Canggu and Kuta/Seminyak.

Ubud 

  • Ne WarungGoutama Street, Ubud, Bali 80571 – Try the pork ribs or Nasi Campur!
  • Biah BiahJl Goutama 13 Padantegal Kaja, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
  • Fair Warung Bale: Jalan Sriwedari 6 | 100m Up From Main Road Ubud, Ubud, Bali 80517, Indonesia
  • Caramel : Jalan Hanoman No.4B, Ubud, Bali 80571, Indonesia
  • Seniman Coffee Studio: Jl Sriwedari | (1 min off Jl. Raya – main road), Ubud, Bali 80581, Indonesia 
  • Warung Schnitzel: Jalan Sriwedari 2 | 20 metres from Jl Raya Ubud, Ubud, Bali 80571, Indonesia
  • Warung WayanMonkey Forest Rd., Ubud, Bali 80571, Indonesia 
  • Yoga Barn Kafe: Jalan Raya Pengosekan, Ubud

Other places which I wished I got to try:

  • Restaurant Locavore: Jalan Dewi Sita, Ubud, Bali 80571, Indonesia
  • Bridges: Jalan Raya Campuhan, Ubud, Bali 80581, Indonesia 
  • Room 4 Dessert: Jl. Raya Sanggingan | Next to Nuri’s, Ubud, Bali 80571, Indonesia

Other places that I went but won’t recommend (in Ubud):

  • Naughty Nuri’s: This is just over rated and bad service
  • Bebek Bengil: Very dry duck

Canggu (Only stayed for a night though)

  • Dian Cafe Canggu: Jl Pura Batu Mejan | Echo Beach House, Canggu, Bali 80361, Indonesia
  • Ole Ole Ollie:Jalan Batu Mejan | Echo Beach, Canggu, Bali, Canggu, Bali 80361, Indonesia 
  • Samadi Bali: Jl. Padang Linjong no. 39, Canggu, Bali 80361, Indonesia

Kuta/Seminyak (My meal times were at warped times)

  • Bikujl. Raya Petitenget no.888, Kerobokan, Bali 80571, Indonesia – Check out high tea here, this is the header image. 
  • Tekor: Double Six (Arjuna) St., Legian, Bali 80001, Indonesia – Breakfast here

Post Shut Up And Dance (SUAD) Reflections 2014

I’ve been dancing with NUS Dance Blast! (the National University of Singapore’s varsity hip hop crew) for a while. I’m into my third year of working life, sometimes it gets tough managing my schedule and also, I juggle other commitments too. This year, I’m so glad I made the decision to head back for our bi-annual production, Shut Up And Dance (SUAD).

The production happens only once every two years, so it really depends on how lucky you are on the year you enter Blast. For me, SUAD occurred when I was in year one and that year, there were no plans to include the new dancers. My first SUAD (the navy shirt) was when I was in year 3 – and that was probably my most impactful SUAD. That SUAD was super intense for me – I did three items,  Nash + Ahmad, FredChun and finale. I remember then, everyone turned up for rehearsals faithfully (somehow everyone had no other rehearsals/ important family appointments/ holidays), organised our own clean up sessions and even… had to audition for blocking in the formations. SAY WHAT?

The following SUAD was the most tiring for me I feel (almost to the point, I don’t remember much about it) because I thought, three items no kick since I could do it in undergrad days so I went ahead and signed myself up for three – the alumni item, a Sasha Fierce item and Magnus’s contemporary piece. However, I forgot to factor in working life. I remember spending 8 hours to sew that damn sequinned cloth onto my dress (which still hangs in my cupboard because I feel too emotionally attached to my sewing).

That year, I joined the alumni item very late and learnt so much choreography in a single session I was brain fried. I believe th item had 6- 8 sessions where we learnt steps and blocked in six sessions and had two clean up rehearsals. Very effective and efficient but also in a stressful environment where you’re dancing with some of the most veteran dancers in the scene.

My third SUAD (which just happened yesterday) was probably the most memorable and joyful SUAD for me. I only did two items (or rather one and maybe one-fifth of the finale item) this time because I felt that my creaky bones couldn’t do it any more. It turned out to be the right decision – because I was away for 3.5 weeks in July – August. I would have missed plenty of rehearsals and died 10 times over trying to catch up with steps and blocking. The alumni item was quite small, we had 24 dancers as compared to other items that had 40 dancers. However, it was also this smaller item that made me feel at home and at ease. I was initially hesitant to join the alumni item because I was afraid I’ll be awkward and lonely – being in an item where dancers previously danced together (in S24 and a smaller concert earlier in Feb) and not having my batch mates with me. (They are all old/ not happening / not dancing anymore.)

I know I work in communications but I’m actually sometimes quite an awkward person.

Okay back to the topic – the choreography wasn’t the easiest and definitely too fast to be comfortable but we pulled through. I enjoyed hanging out with everyone during dinners even though we’re multiple batches across. In a normal item, I think it’d be tough because the senior/junior segregation tends to be a bit more obvious. I made some new friends, found back old friendships and learnt a lot from my seniors in the dance scene during random conversations at rehearsals and dinners.

My most poignant memory has to be hanging in the nice-smelling girls’ dressing room with everyone else, trying our best to hustle everyone to finish writing notes for the choreographers’ presents and jamming on the ukulele.

You know how some memories are so precious to you that you just Zip it so you can extract them later? I have a folder in my brain like that.

Dancing on stage with the alumni this right felt right and hit the perfect spot. It was a sweet closure to the end of my SUAD 2014 journey. Thank you to NUS Dance Blast and the organising committee for putting together SUAD.

P.S. Header photo taken by the talented Roger.