Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Doctor Who (proper introduction)

Hello, I am the Doctor.

Doctor Who?

Just the Doctor.

The above conversation can be heard in various episodes of the famous longest running science fiction series, Doctor Who (no, not Star Trek). With 776 episodes in total, and having started from 1963, the central idea in Doctor Who still fascinates old fans and attracts new fans alike.

What in the world can withstand ideas fashion changes of almost 50 years? Time Travel. Specifically, time travel inside a time machine that looks like a blue police box (in case you have not live in the United Kingdom in the 1950s, a police box is one shaped like a telephone box, but you put a criminal in it like a temporary jail). It is called the TARDIS, Time And Relative Dimensions In Space.

So what if the Doctor has a TARDIS? What does he do with it? Who is he in the first place?

Well, who is the Doctor has been one of the greatest mystery since the series is created. Up until now, we still do not know his true name. We do know that he is not a human (obviously), but a time-lord. Well, humans do look like time lords (they came first), but the most significant physical difference is that time-lords have two hearts and they regenerate.

Regeneration comes when a time lord sustains mortal wound, so the body regenerates itself..... into another completely different body (most of the time younger). This is how the series gets to survive that long. Each time an actor quits, or got too old, just have a regeneration in the story, and we get the next Doctor. So do not be surprised that it has now come to the 11th Doctor.

With so many episodes of Doctor Who, who in the world would have time to catch up with the series? Or even want to have the motivation to start watching it? Don't fret my dear science fiction enthusiastic, the old series, starring the first to the seventh Doctor runs from 1963 to 1989, and then the series was suspended until a movie starring the eight Doctor in 1996 comes to try to revive the franchise. However, it wasn't until 2005 do we get to see the ninth Doctor on screen again.

So the new series, starting from the ninth Doctor in 2005 runs for the 6th season now, has currently only 80 episodes to catch up on. This is a good place to start, as the new fans are reintroduced to the Doctor and the TARDIS and a companion or two to join the Doctor in fantastical adventures for each episodes. Well, the Doctor having lived for about 900 years (or more) gets bored and lonely travelling through all of time and space alone, so the series features companions to the Doctor, mostly humans from earth, during the time that the series is aired. So the current companions, Amy and her husband Rory, are from the year 2011, United Kingdom, but may appear in various moments in time and space with the Doctor to save the day.

Sorry, I haven't told you just what does the Doctor do, what makes him so amazing, so wonderful, so strange, and yet so human, so...... heroic. It is just that whenever and where-ever the Doctor and his companions landed, be it an asteroid outside of the Universe, a parallel universe, World War II, the forth bountiful human empire, the end of earth, on a planet orbiting a black hole, or just contemporary earth, something goes wrong, someone needed saving. Sometimes, it is just an alien civilisation, or just a few individuals, sometimes it is the whole earth, even the whole universe!

And the Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver (does what it says, a screwdriver that uses sound to screw things), and his brilliant alien mind and alien know-how to save the day. So essentially it is a story about a hero. But with a time machine, and all of space and time to play with, the producers can make some any genre out of any episode. Want to meet Charles Dickens? William Shakespeare? Vincent van Goth? Marco Polo? The first colony on Mars? You got them and more.

Science Fiction wise, Doctor Who does a great job in making the improbable or even the impossible becomes believable. Witchcraft, space police, teleportation, robots that wants to convert you into them, emotionless aliens bent on destroying the whole universe, war-thirst alien species, ghost and more are all in Doctor Who, and they are all believable, the way they make the episodes. It is just a wonderful time enjoying the acting skills of all those involved and the sense of realism the produces inject in a series.

Well, if that is not enough to get you move out of your lazy chair and go out in search for Doctor Who, I do recommend reading this.

So to quote the tenth Doctor, there is an old Earth saying, a phrase of great power and wisdom and consolation to the soul in time of need:


Saturday, May 28, 2011



Windmill, I was on my way to Bristol, from London.

Expensive trip, mostly because it is last minute. No plans, no prior experience in travelling in the United Kingdom. Just going there to meet my friend (ex-boss) Carmen.


She’s in University of Bristol for Student Exchange Programme for one semester, and I am in Imperial College London doing summer research. Due to the difference in the term timing in UK and Singapore, we can meet up, just before her finals.

The picture above seems… to have a poster effect, cause the camera is in that effect. Carmen immediately take the burden of teaching me how to use my (newly acquired) camera.


Testing out the Marco effect.

Well, anyway, even through we didn’t met for quite a long time (a few months), we keep on knowing what happened recently to each other. The wonders of facebook.

I knew she went for an Europe tour recently, she knew about my new camera… etc… still, there’s a lot to talk with your former boss… (ok seriously I don’t see her as my former boss, just a friend!)


First thing we went to is to visit the University, it is right in the heart of Bristol. And I couldn’t resist having a photo by the Physics Department.

It was a long walk (more than an hour) because we were talking and sightseeing and taking our time……… On the way, I was the Downs, a big grass field with a beautiful sunset.


I arrived around 8pm, it was about 9:30pm by then. Summer, still not used to the long day time…….

Generously, she let me stayed in her room, with meal tickets purchased too (I’ve paid for the meals), but she did treated me one dinner (later on)……


Ya, the first reaction is (if you’re used to staying in Singapore), “Your room is soooo big!!!!”. Got a sink in it too, and a previous fireplace. We had a late night discussions about many stuffs… talking about Bristol, and NUS…

Ok again…I don’t think I need to add this, but… oh right… I won’t add this in. Those of you who knows me, knows me.

The next day, Saturday. After a good brunch, we went out and explore the whole of Bristol city centre. Or at least it seems to be a lot of the city centre……


On the way, this is the Downs again! Beautiful big tree!


Nice sky, notice the flowers. Carmen said that when she came here (on Jan) there wasn’t the greenery to appreciate.


And so off we went…… from the day market of


which features:


To seeing various war monuments, churches, brands, statues and BBC…and a cool looking car.


Our first real stop was to see the Bristol Museum, lots of display up there to see and be awe in (I haven’t visited the Natural History Museum in London yet…)

Pictures of Natural scenes (and wild-life) competition…


Believe it or not, they are all real, even through they look like they were painted/computer generated cause it is wayyy too beautiful. Little wonder that Carmen spends all the time in the Museum reading the descriptions (lots more other categories there). I went on and see fossils:


Right, by now you guys are skipping the photos and looking for what will I write next, isn’t it? Haha…

Sorry, alright not too much photos now, you can see the whole deal in facebook at here.

I got to confess, I’ve been a bad guest… I got late to Bristol, missing a hunted tour on Friday night, missing a bus ride back to her room and back again (she borrowed her friend’s card for me). And I let her wait for me while I’m in the toilet… several times… (waste her time…) Because I didn’t bring my hand phone charger… It was a relieve to find her the day before, before my phone battery ran out…

Well, let’s get on to the fun part. We went down to the docks and saw many many ships. Did you know that Bristol had been a floating harbour until recently? We were exploring so much of Bristol on foot (oh the cold wind) and sharing so much stuffs that I kinda make the comparison that Bristol is a lot like Malacca. (Lazy to compare details) Well, the most important thing is, that I’m bringing people to visit Malacca on foot from now on! Carmen is amongst the list of people who wants to visit Malacca!

Why on foot? Cause, as Carmen said: you get to go to places unplanned. So after the museum, we saw went as marked in red.

Bristol Path

In the floating harbour, we saw these:


A car with a Pirate in it!



And then we went off the trail and followed a river that eventually leads to a famous suspension bridge in Bristol.


We were so happy to found out that our hunch was true! The river did lead to the bridge and we were thinking of how to get there?

Carmen let me decide, and we went for the greener road there (from the left),


We soon got relieved that we had chosen this path because the other road is just beside a car road. This path we were walking on is a cycling/walking route. Due to negligence I didn’t bring my camera charger too, and the camera battery is starting to run low by now. So sorry, but for the really exciting part, there’s no picture from me.

We went on the road, IMG_0620 and it doesn’t seems to be leading upwards, and we thought, uh oh, we just passed the bottom of the bridge, how do we get up?

Luckily, there was a couple walking in front of us, and we can always ask them for directions if we really get lost. (Amazing that I don’t write as much about the cold as I’ve complained to Carmen that day) Anyway, there was a jungle path leading left into the land that holds the bridge. We travelled on and did climb higher and higher. And eventually after going from the jungle path into the main road (which features this cool home:IMG_0626) we got into the Clifton suspension Bridge!


It was a scared smile…… I kinda fear heights…

We went to both sides of the bridge, got cool photos, and then walked back to the city centre where we eat at “Start the Bus”. A pub’s name, don’t ask me why.

On the way, we talked about Pokemon and that we constantly amaze each other of the ability to walk this far (in the cold for me, Carmen got used to the cold, having gone through winter) and still have the energy to bounce about.


Carmen once again being the generous host, treated me to a hamburger. I tried on the various additives they had and indeed, it is nice (and filling too). Well, we bid our farewells to the city centre as Bristol (finally) gets dark and gone back to Carmen’s room and talk, again!

We talked about NUSBS, PhD or other alternatives and shared lots of stuffs and about this blog post (that’s long overdue, sorry!) and then we got tired and need some good night’s sleep.

Next morning, we had a good breakfast and visited the mall area of Bristol along with Castle Park, whereby I commented: “Malacca also has ancient ruins.” And this time, the exhaustion and cold get to me and I had to rest quite a few times… along the road.

We went back for lunch, and then I said I was too tired to go on for another trip outside. And so, we rested. I had a good afternoon nap, and about one hour before my bus arrives, we walked the half hour walk to the city and bid our “See ya later in Singapore…” Oh and here’s THANK YOU CARMEN! *virtual hug*

One last picture on the way back, cause I saw so many livestock and horses along the bus back to London, it was Sunday. And I cooked for dinner!