## Sunday, October 30, 2011

### FGS Musical Night 2011

I just came back from it and you’re going to get a real treat of pictures!

First time I went to One Marina Boulevard and it was very cool! See the two girls in green over there?

They guided me towards the Auditorium at level 7.

Going up the glass lifts:

I got my free ticket from FGS, thanks to Nelson! There’s even my name at the back!

There’s Hui Juan there too! Nicely showing me my seat.

A lot of people!

Performance started:

These are little kids, 18 to 3 years old!

And a cool dance below!

I slept through the opening speech by the Guest of Honour, but for the performances, I was perked up.

The schedule started with Talking all that Jazz by FGS Youthians Dharma Class.

Then it’s the Welcome Speech by Ven. Jue Cheng, Abbess of Fo Guang Shan (Singapore/Malaysia), the same one in the Youth Dharma Camp!

The Guest of Honour…Dr. Janil Puthucheary, member of Parliament for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.

Then I perked up for the video: vision of FGS Education and started to wear my glasses to read the things there. Not only has FGS University, it is going back down, to produce Sec, Primary and Kindergartens!

Finally the Sole Mio, by Harmonica and Electone solo. A nice starting of sunshine, followed by “Give” and “Appreciate Life” by FGS Children Dharma Class, Youthians Dharma Class and the Electone. The lyrics was super touching. It made me think of giving without expecting anything in return. Which should be my attitude towards all my friends. Non-conditional giving, non-conditional leading to non-attachments. And during the Lyrics for the second song, I realised how nice it was to be mindful of gratitude not just once per day (which is my current project in facebook, peer influenced by Carmen and Tiong Han…) but during every moment of waking life. It just touches me until I was crying… crying because I was appreciating the good things I have… the good friends that I have.

Then there’s 三好歌 by the little kids (18 months to 3 years old) you see above! I am really really impressed on the effectiveness of the Dharma on those kids that you can see directly with your own eyes.

The coolest thing of Harmonica performance, showing Baby Elephant Walk! Now I know the old baby shampoo with elephant song. Thanks to Singapore Broadway Harmonica Ensemble.

Jackson Teo, (cool singer of the old-type songs) sang 2 songs next. First one was about his love towards his wife. The lyrics is that he would choose her again in his next life. This is a very beautiful, cool love song that all couples should know! The second song is about Longing for Consolation, singing out the frustration of being not in love and placing hope on the pretty girl.

Next is the Children Dharma Class you see above, with a Dance Performance. Singing Gratitude Song. I cried again. It was soooo good. Touched, and finally knowing how to appreciate myself, to know and to tell myself that I appreciate how hard it is to keep me on being good, to make me adopting good habits. (Tai Chi, Meditation, doing homework, and Writing, early sleeping, early waking up, one good deed per day, one wise quote per day, one thing to be grateful about everyday, to not get angry easily, to be able to appear calm, no matter what deadlines I am facing, never showing stress on my face, to keep on supporting NUSBS, to keep on being normal, and not acting weird or crazy like last time, to be able to keep track of myself, not going overboard by cursing and shouting in anger and despair or falling in love again, not even in the slightest bit, in facing, almost everyday, the girl that rejected me, to be able to smile no matter what…, to be able to resist flirting with the other girls…) All these are not easy. And I appreciate how hard it has been for me. I forgive myself for the occasional slip and the temptation of the dark side to win over being so strong. I am placing a strict condition on myself. I am training myself very hard. Kudos for being able to keep on training and keep on being sane and not go weird people out. Kudos for juggling so much and yet remain relatively ok. I love you, myself. Thank you.

I was still full of tears when the 20 minutes intermission was announced.

I hadn’t had dinner, so I scooped all these up! Haha thankful for them too! Found out that these were for VIPs later on, well, no one else was taking them anyway… I took 2 full plates. The amazing thing was that Ven. Jue Cheng recognised me! She got me to sit behind the VIPs and I didn’t speak much, mouth was too full of stuffs to stuff in.

A lot of FGS people recognise me too, and me getting used to seeing them more often now.

Came in a bit late later on, I came into the HNHK Harmonica Orchestra. Playing Ju Hua Tai, Romantic Guitar and Sway. All beautifully done and nicely captivating. I swayed along during Sway!

Then the Fo Guang FanYue Choir came and joined in, making this a wonderful way of singing with the Harmonica group. Kindle was nice, but I really like 佛光山之歌 where I sang along. Listened to it so many times now that I really really enjoy singing along!

While keeping it all up, there was a girl who shared how the Dharma has changed her life. It was soooo nice and touching.. I think I cried here too.

And then they saved the best for the last: Pei Jie, a Malaysian singer of Buddhist Songs!

We last saw him in the Youth Dharma Camp, and now he’s back with the exact same style of music presentation. The clapping, the talking, cheering, the joking, the asking us to sing along. The songs even! Haha. So I really can follow him through. Song of “Three Acts of Kindness”, Journey Medley, and Eyes.

Ok I cried again. Remembering the gratitude towards my parents and opening up my heart during Eyes… I can’t help but to sing along and cry. The ending was cool, they use this song as a backdrop while everyone who performed got on stage and sang the last few lines.

There was a surprise ending where while everyone was on stage, the Venerables sang tribute to the Triple Gems song.

Then it was a good end. Venerable Jue Cheng even commented to them that it was a good job, and that they should come again, after completing homework requirements to join in FGS stuffs!

I met one of the FGS Presidents and he was telling me about this new idea, of TIBS and YAD to join in the IRCC and show the Nation how TIBS has a bigger role in Singapore. It will give the much needed publicity and attraction for people to know and join in the TIBS as we desperately need more manpower! Hope that the TIBS are able to do it!

And at the ending scene, I got to buy 2 original CDs from Pei Jie and Jackson. Got their autographs too!

Then as I was walking back, the group of Venerables were driving past and offered to drop me off at one of the MRT stations, City Hall. Venerable Jue Cheng indeed did recognised me… Haha.

So now I’m here, finishing this blog post and lovely captured most of it. Done.

## Saturday, October 29, 2011

### Advices for people going to UK

Hi,

It seems that I've an entirely different reason to post online so often now. Loneliness.

Oh what shall I talk about this time? This becomes kinda like chatting with an old buddy. Just that the world is my friend. Part of metta? For sharing it all out?

Well, since I've some topics I want to settle and post about anyway, might as well start with the United Kingdom.

I've just recently came back from the UK and thus I should be able to recall all the things that I did in UK... and give them as advices.

First things first. It is expensive in the UK.

The biggest currency around, pounds. The most expensive things, I think is the food. Convert it back to Sing dollar, you'll need to times by 2, back to Malaysian Ringgit, you'll need to times by 5. And a typical sandwich can cost 2 pounds, with a minimal of 5 pounds to get a decent meal. Fast food seems to be the ones that is almost the same after you convert it, but it is much cheaper compared to the others. The food over at France is even more expensive!

However, since the currency is so big, other stuffs looks much much cheaper there. Books costs less than 10 pounds, having lots of discounts a lot of the time, with yard sales going as low as 1 pound or even 50 pence (decimal system)! Electronic stuffs looks much cheaper there too, numerically. I've brought my Nintendo DSi there with 3 Pokemon games!

The cheapest stuffs there has got to be Primark's. Also there’s the 20% VAT refund that one should get. It comes with an admin charge and only refunded in the airport, within 3 months of departure, and you can’t go back to UK for at least a year. So buy a lot of expensive stuffs, electronics etc, make it all in one bill, then it’s very very worth it to get the refund. The admin charge is per receipt.

Soooooo…… here are some tips to save on \$

• Bring a rice cooker: you can cook anything inside a rice cooker, from rice, to porridge, to noodles, to even stir-fry it (takes longer). Buy the small, one person size rice cooker to bring to UK. Reduce the amount of clothes you’re bringing. One week’s worth is good enough, the others, do laundry there. You’ll save 1-2 pounds per meal, and it adds up to a lot. I average about 1 pound per meal, cooking non-meat meals, and to any amount that I like. Sometimes bloated full.
• Walk to most of the places: If you’re in London or Cambridge or Bristol, then the city/town is small and you can walk to most places in the vicinity to get your food, entertainment, and to the train or bus station that brings you to other parts of the UK. However, if you’re travelling from the Airport to the place you live, it is recommended that you go for the tube/local buses for the first time, especially with all those heavy luggage. If you Cab, you’ll incur a very very very heavy fare. Heavy especially if you count in the exchange rate. Tubing in London, you’ll need an Oyster card. It gives you discounts and thus it is worth it. For the Tubes in London, the fare is counted by Zones. Zone 1 is within the centre of the centre in London, flat fare throughout. So don’t tube if your destination is just 2-4 stations away, cause the distance from one station to another is so near that it is soooo not worth it to take the tube for that short distance. If you’re tubing from one end of Zone 1 to another, then it is worth it to take the Tube, and then walk the 2.5 hour walk (if you know the general direction) back to your starting point).
• Book and Plan every weekend very early on if you plan to go for sightseeing on weekends. The buses are cheaper the earlier you book it. I booked a 42 pounds bus that goes overnight to Paris to and fro. The bus boards on ferry in the middle and then continues on to France. (Warning, you don’t get to sleep much, and don’t just give one weekend to Paris, give a week! Paris is a bit more smelly than London too, for not covering their drains.) If you drag on the bus buying thing to that day itself, then… Be prepared to pay about 5-20 times more the price that you could had have if you buy it online weeks earlier.
• Have a credit card to be able to pay for stuffs online. It is really convenient to shop for tickets online. And many other stuffs too, they’ll just ship it to a UK address for free or some fee. (I got Pokemon Soul Silver shipped to me for free from GAME.uk and a free earphone that I’ve to pay the shipping fee of 3 pounds.) Also apply for the Sainsbury card or Tesco Card and keep on collecting the points for the groceries that you shop for. You can redeem the points nicely. Plus do bring your own plastic bag/ environmental bag, for they give extra points for that!

Secondly, travelling.

Megabus is one of the cheapest bus you can get. However, only National express has the trip from London to Paris. So go to their website and do your research well. Trains are almost always more expensive and less of a price variable. For Birmingham, the International Airport is directly connected to the train station that connects to the rest of UK and also the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) where Pokemon National Championship event had been held before. It is not the same as the main Birmingham City, so there’s some travelling involved. Bus or train, find it out online.

For Bristol, the main city is Bristol University. Not any other University. So do not stop and get down randomly anywhere. Always bring your handphone, camera and the charger for both too anywhere you go. Lest you become like me, who got low battery in my handphone and almost got lost in Bristol.

Next in Cambridge, the maps are nice to read, and the whole city’s the University, so do know which place you’re staying in and take your time to read the map, photograph it if needed. For Paris, their train is insanely low tech near the edge of Paris. You should press a button and lift the catch to the door to be open when it arrives at the station. Some station doesn’t even have a ticketing pass, so some of the people could had ride for free. Just don’t get caught.

Walk to the bus station first before you’re supposed to go there on the first day that you use the bus station for travelling. Especially in London, the Victoria train station is not directly connected to the Victoria Coach station, they are near, but not so near. (Made me miss one bus over that point, Bristol) So do walk there before boarding it for the first time. Record the time you need to walk there and then plan to reach there at least half an hour before departure. Just in case. For the London-Paris Bus, reach at least 1 hour before, or else you’ll be wasting so much more pounds. They’ll need to verify your ticket and passport and therefore you should not reach there at 9:55pm for a 10pm bus. (Like I did, and I made it for the 11pm bus, luckily there’s a 11pm bus! Paris) Also remember to bring your printed or mailed tickets to your trip. Not just the to, but also the back. (Not like me, forgetting to bring my back tickets…, having to rebuy it. Birmingham) So do buy your own ticket, you’ll feel more ownership and therefore will not likely to forget about it.

There’s also the bike for hire, Barclays in London. Do use it for one day (needs credit card) for one pound and save the walking time. But remember to dock in every 30 minutes or else get charged extra.

Thirdly, Safety:

Do not move out of your dwelling at night. Drunk people hang out at night and drunk people are scary. Not that they might steal/rob you but they most probably will shout at you. Be cool, avoid eye contact, be in a group and then you’re cool. But better not to hang out after 9 or 10pm. It’s not as safe as Singapore. Oh ya, and riots can happen suddenly. I just left the day before the riots would had stroke at the place I would go to.

Be aware of the people in bright daylight too. Especially those that dressed with a bright vest. It doesn’t mean that they are the authorities and thus trust-worthy. Don’t borrow money to anyone. Give it to a begger if you want, but don’t borrow money, not even when they offer you to keep their car keys, flash their identity card on you, etc… (20 pounds gone because of that, not upset, but still, worth to be vigilant ).

Don’t simply talk to strangers too, they are generally bigger sized than you are and thus may physically do some strange things that are not of Asian culture (rude even in our culture) so, until we got used to the Western culture, don’t simply talk and reveal of your tourist nature.

Fourthly, Weather:

It’s cold. No kidding cold. Even in Summer you’ll need jackets that are thicker than what you are used to wear in aircon rooms (even SPS room). Imagine Winter. Dreaded cold. Wear an inner vest, 2-3 layers of T-shirt, a thick, winter jacket, long enough scarf, and thick gloves, thick jeans, thick socks, good shoes, etc… and then you might feel just a bit cold outside. I dunno, dreading winter now. Haiz…

Also as a side note, Imperial College London has a Science Fiction Library and a Buddhist Society! Get to join them when you’re in Imperial! That’s all from me now. Have a nice trip to UK! Feel free to add a comment if you think I missed out something.

## Wednesday, October 19, 2011

### Chasing girls algorithm (What kind of wanna-be-lover are you?)

Here's an algorithm for chasing girls, I generally adhere to this. However, I rarely get to use it now, not wanting a girlfriend. Not that I ever did got one. Ok let's concentrate on the moves:
• Find a girl, it should be someone you can talk to. A celebrity whom you got very little chance to meet out of the question then.
• Talk to the girl, it should lead you to be able to talk to her again. So a one time talk to a pretty lady who's queuing behind you for food in the canteen doesn't count. Not if you can't get her phone no. or learn that you are in the same class/work/society/interest as her. A girl you meet regularly can count!
• Be friends with the girl. Not just facebook friend, real friend as in you can be comfortable with each other, not having the nervous thinking of "what does she like?", "should I say/do this or that to impress her?" Be a friend with her for at least one year, to get to know her personality, habits and character from the idle talks you'll have as friends. Don't steer the conversation to one point or another just to gather the information, it'll be too forced and fake.
• Make sure the girl is single and available. As in she doesn't have a boyfriend or a husband. Someone else chasing her doesn't count, well, unless you are have too low a self esteem. In fact, you should know this sometime in the first few meetings with her. It's to make sure you don't waste time and energy on something unethical. Also available is a key word. If she's single and do not wish to have a relationship, then you may melt her heart with your sincerity or wait until she is ready. Of course, you can remain friends with her if she has another significant one, just don't harbour second thoughts about her. Do not even think of a way to make her single again. She'll hate you for it once she finds out.
From this point on, it's more of a preference style, I'll tell you my style.
1. Observe to see if the girl likes you more than a friend. If so, she might drops hints to you that a normal friend who's also a girl would not. So it's important to have more than one friend who is a girl. Sorry if it sound very manipulative. If there are those hints, start asking her out for more personal dates, instead of just hanging out with other mutual friends.
2. If the girl doesn't drops hints, you can. See if she picks it up and respond. If she still treats you like normal, just start asking her out on personal dates then. Make her fall in love with you, etc... and then eventually, when the mood is right, confess. In confessing, be ready for rejection and acceptance. Remember, rejection means you can still be friends, if you don't make it too awkward to remain friends, but you'll have to root out the feelings you have for her, or else it'll be suffering on your part, and your friendship may suffer too, if you have a moment of weakness and broke the trust of "just friends". And acceptance maybe a worst fate. Acceptance means there's only 2 possible path from then on: Marriage or breakup. Of course marriage is not happily ever after, but requires constant effort to keep the relationship strong and healthy. A breakup is just a stronger version of rejection, with deeper attachments comes deeper hurts. Especially if you have to meet her again, almost everyday. You'll have to find something that is neutral to say and redefine the relationship to friends, which is not easy if you're used to being intimate with her. Sometimes the things you see might remind you of happier times in the past, it might make you realise that there'll be no way this will happen in the future again, therefore causing sorrow. Or you'll desire for the relationship to be salvaged and saved, and if you don't handle it well and solve the incompatibility that caused the breakup in the first place, then it is just making things worse.
3. If for any reason, you do not wish to have a girlfriend, just ignore the hints that the girl drops for you, and do not initiate any hint dropping yourself. This is important so that you do not send mixed signals to the girl and avoid possible rejections that you'll have to otherwise do.
Also for a bit more details:
1. I take the words of a girl literally, so if you say you're busy when I asked you out, I'll assume you're really busy. If you do that for each of the 20 times I asked you out, then I'll infer that you really don't like to hang out with me.
2. If you really want me, but is just playing hard to get, giving the same excuses, I'll not be able to infer the hard to get part, and take it the same as point 1.
3. I fall in love too easily. Just put me together with a pretty girl that I fancied, and I'll be trying to flirt with her within a few hours.
4. I like to give the girl the authority and leadership role in defining the relationship. This is because I respect the girl's feelings and would not force anything that she doesn't like onto her.
5. I do not have the courage to initiate holding hands with a girl even on a date due to point 4.
6. When I chase a girl, I kept on asking for tips from various sources, therefore keeping an inconsistent standards of which is what on a relationship scale. One should have a consistent standard for which stage of the relationship is suitable for which actions to take. As a result, I mistook the action of giving a stuff bear as an acceptable close friends action, when it is inferred differently from the other side.
7. I do tend to be shameless in asking questions like "do you like me?", "is this a date?", "what are we?". However, I tend to be shy to voice it out too, especially when I sense that this will be damaging to the friendship that we have.
Lastly, I do wish that parents would pass this kinda information on to their children before the child gets their hormones fired up to want to seek a significant other. Hmm... maybe with examples too. That would be very helpful instead of just a general guideline: be yourself, be friend with the girl first... Aye, and since you're not my child, I'm not sharing my examples here.

## Sunday, October 16, 2011

### Grateful 2

2:
I'm grateful for the hospitality of Martin Henz and family for the open house today!
Good deeds done: mentioned NUSBS to a Cambodian exchange student.
Wise words: Go check out your future university before deciding to go there and study.
Meditation: yet to do
Writing: none
Homework: none
Tai Chi: nope, didn't do.

### Grateful 1

1:
I am grateful for Tzu Ching's wonderful event every 2nd and 4th Saturday night at Pasir Ris. It's my first time attending the event!