today's thought: Net Force, Tom Clancy.
Ok, starting on my diary entry now. Its Saturday, 3 days after I came back. My first entry after I reached home was a bad-tempered one, as you could probably tell. Anyway, that was then, and the 3 days of rest has had its benefits. I have alot to write, after all, its more than 3 weeks worth of stuff to write about, and so I'll begin right away.
Exercise Crescendo finally ended, and it represents a milestone in the wasteful 2.5 years of time one spends in the army. I'm glad its over. All in all, we didn't do too bad at all. We scored a REDCON 1 for our battery, and a REDCON 2A for our battalion, REDCON 1 being the best, and REDCON 2A a grade shy of the top grade. Out of the top 3 guns, two came from our battery, occupying 1st and 3rd place, so it was, actually, a resounding success. Except that I just kinda felt that I didn't really contribute much. I didn't exactly have alot of chances to do the tasks that I've been trainined for, and in the rare (only 2, actually) instances that I've had, I screwed one up. So, yeah, I don't really have alot to be proud of.
Anyway, lemme put the 20 days spent in Thailand in short. The food was passable, the experience was interesting, the stuff on sale sucked, the training was managable, the facilities were horrible, and the sex was great.
Going into detail, sex first. The hookers there are pretty good, especially for their price. 500 baht for a blowjob, and 1000 baht for all the way. And, fuck you if you actually think I'm talking seriously. I'm only kidding, but I'm sure the first sentence of this paragraph got your attention. Of course it would, sex sells. Anyway, what I really wanna talk about is sexual identities over there. Like, everyone knows there are an inordinate amount of ladyboys in Thailand. I realized that it is really true, having seen half as many of them in my trip as I would have seen on a normal night in Changi Village. That's alot, seeing how we spend most of the time out in the field, and the population over there isn't exactly very high. Why, there's already one in our camp itself, right in the canteen. The culture there is very tolerant of such... sexual deviation. Very tolerant. And sometimes, I find it hard pressed to tell the difference, if someone's a genuine female or not. If that person is well to do, s/he would have had a boob job, and all the other necessary jobs to make the transition into a woman smoother and more convincing. ON a side note, Junsheng and I were discussing about the possibilities of a womb transplant. I figured that it wouldn't be possible yet, else scientists would be ripping wombs out of dying women and growing babies there.
Anyway, the telltale signs are to look for a budge in the pants, or in the neck. Then, if still no visible sign of imitation, any more than normal hair growth on the body, especially on the chin. Then, observe the behaviour, if the person appears to put in great effort in trying to look feminine (its kind hard to walk femininely unless you have broad hips, something a woman usually has). Then, if all else fails, talk to the person, and see if she sounds like a he. Or if she tries to hit on you at once.
Its sick. I saw this program over there which was much like those talentime programs where people get up and put on a performance (think American Idol), and get graded by judges on it. There was this young boy, like 10 years old at most, who was obviously swinging the other way, and dancing and singing like he was proud of it. Over here, it takes only an adult ladyboy to have a reaction, so... hmmm. Like I said, tolerant culture.
I gotta go for the stupid Army Half Marathon tomorrow morning, and I'm getting a tad sleepy, so I'm rushing to put in as much as I can. Next up, the food. The food there wasn't bad at all. Honestly. I'm talking about the rations, not the food at the canteen. It's prepared by SAF chefs who are doing reservists, which aren't common anymore ever since SAF contracted external caterers. In fact, sometimes its even better than what SFI (Singapore Food Industries) does. But my only gripe, and its a big one, is how they make us bring our own utensils to the cookhouse for meals, and how they make us use metal trays which look like those inmates use in prisons. And then we gotta wash it on our own, and the next poor sod who picks it up better hope you washed your tray cleanly enough. I mean, alright, fine, Shinqi's probably laughing at me again if she reads this, and thinking how spoilt I am. I think I'm spoilt too, but the metal tray is enough to make me lose all appetite. GIVE US PLATES! And you don't know how sloppy the guys are, I really don't wanna use what a few of them 'washed'. Its not so much the saliva and stuff, its the _soap and oil_ that they don't bother to get rid of. All in all, they should just have assigned us our own plates and stuff, and we'll be in charge of washing it ourselves. Then, I wouldn't bother with washing it at all. Muahahahaha. Talk about being a slop.
But out in the field, the food is actually good, minus the accursed metal trays. The food tastes really good, in fact, sometimes I actually start work on a second packet of it, on days when I'm really hungry. I practically grew fat outfield, eating alot, then sleeping, then eating again. And I can't stand how some people complain about how the food sucks and stuff. I mean, hey, its not like they get to eat really good food outside, nor are they the kinds who would willingly shell out money just to sample good food. If you ask me, I'll rather have crabs and pasta and salmon everyday, but I can't. And some of them give me crap on how it isn't nutritious. But that's simple; so they think the Western food that they send sometimes are nutritious? I hate the Western food they send for rations, burgers just don't dig it with me. Yeah, anyhow, I'm not a very fussy eater, I might pick and choose the stuff that I like to eat, but I can make do with alot of other stuff. And what other foods do you find in Thai cuisine? I can only recall Tom Yam soups, and as far as I can tell, that's the only thing I've been served there which is native. Most of the time, we get Chinese food, even at the canteen, they mostly sell what we'll normally eat in Singapore anyway.
And the bathing facilities? Well, imagine this big big tub full of water, and everyone's standing naked around the communal bathing tub, armed with a scoop and scooping the faintly green water over their heads. That's bathing for you over there, no showerheads and river water to keep us clean. Not. Very. Pleasant. I was a total slob over there, couldn't be bothered to brush my teeth in the morning, and couldn't be bothered to bathe more than once a day. At least I still conditioned my hair and washed my face at night.
Something prevailent there is the hardship that the people there face. Like I said, its really a rural area, and there are alot of farmers and what not. People there will do alot for money, and they work really hard at it. They'll also come up with innovative ideas and stuff so as to get that extra buck. For example, the one which impressed me most was how they actually, after each live firing was over, would go to the firing zone to collect scrap metal left over from the firing. And it isn't much, its only 5 baht per kg they collect, which is roughly 20 cents each kg. Yet, for this seemingly paltry sum, they'll risk life and limb just to do it. The danger of a blind exploding is significant, and there are other dangers as well. So, yeah, each time a batch of soldiers go there to train, its actually a source of income for alot of the people there. Something else they did was during the R&R. While we were leaving the Floating Market, there was this guy busily snapping pictures of each one of us using an instant camera. Was quite puzzled by it, but I thought maybe it was just for the unit magazine or whatever crap. 2 hours later, we went for lunch at another place, and surprise, there was a table laid out with nearly 300 plates arranged neatly. Each of this plate had a picture of a person in the center, so, wow. I was so impressed with their effenciency and innovation that I paid the 100 baht for one of those, which, in all honesty, was really ugly. Well, fine, maybe its because its me who's ugly, but still.....
And a common sight is the additional support personnel following us. They are what we call 'ninjas' and their vehicles, 'ninja vans'. They make rounds around deployment grounds, armed with can drinks, food, coconuts, ice cream, and other treats, hoping to make a sale or two. And they charge a pretty hefty price for them; the standard rate, for anything, is 20 baht. 20 baht for a can drink is the same as 80 cents for a can drink in Singapore. So they must have made a killing. And the food, well, they have "char mee" and "char peng". Fried noodles and friend rice respectively. 20 baht too, like I said, 20 baht for almost everything. I gotta say the food tastes pretty good, although its abit suspect on the hygiene aspect. Got a stomachache like twice, and its safe to atttribute it to the ninja food. But they are on the whole very welcome, especially when we are allowed to patronize them. Ice cream is, especially, a refreshing and highly sought after treat in the hot, dry sun of Thailand. And I've become entirely addicted to the glutinous rice they add to the ice cream. Ice cream + glutinous rice makes for a delicious combo. Really, really yummy. Ya gotta try it soon. Anyway, we had theories about why this treat isn't around in Singapore. MY theory was that rice was so abundant in Thailand that they used it as a filler whenever they sell ice cream, to make it appear more. So you can imagine the delight of one of the ninjas, when I filled 3/4s of the cup with glutinous rice, then asked for just 4 small scoops of ice cream on top to top it off. That's a really, heavenly treat.
Too bad I missed out on the community service trip they had. We brought some books which everyone donated back in Singapore before we left, and we were supposed to bring those books to a school to distribute them to the school children. We also had to paint for the school, as part of the community. While usually, I can't be bothered with painting anything for most reasons, this is different. It was a chance to like do something for the people to, at least, elevate abit of their problems and to make a small difference. Too bad the number of places got cut down to 4 from 7, and since I was the 5th to volunteer, I didn't get to go in the end. Grrrrr.... But really. In Singapore, people generally have good lives. Even those in need get to turn to the numerous charities for help. And the numerous blood-sucking charities turn to us for bloo.. I mean, money. But they don't have the Community Chest over there, so they need the help doubly much.
The R&R sucked. The stuff they sold was all the same everywhere! There's hardly any variety. And hardly anything nice at all. All in all, I didn't get to buy as much stuff as I wanted to. I got 3 filament lighters, 1 for Chua, 1 for Choy and 1 for myself. Then, I got Crescendo t-shirts for all the 4 guys back in camp, plus 3 more for myself. Then I got a fake Oakley bag for my brother, which actually didn't look as fake as the other ones. And I got this bag for my mum, which was surprisingly cheap, and looked decent. Oh, and I got a United Colors of Benetton Cold cologne for Chua. And 2 more singlets and a t-shirt for myself. And a fake Quiksilver tshirt, which I totally regret cause its too small, plus it didn't look all that convincing. And a fake stussy polo-t, which was only for the R&R, not planning to wear it again. Although it did look quite nice.
There are so many fake things there that I just got sick of it. I don't have much love for imitations, I'll rather shell out the same amount of money for something that had a crap brand or something, yet looked nice. Even better, come up with an original design. I thought that since all these goods came from factories which actually manufactured the same goods for brands like Oakley, it wouldn't be too shabby. Wrong, the reason why they didn't sell these goods to Oakley was because it would never have passed the quality control. Quality just sucks eggs. Anyway, couldn't find that bag for Shinqi, although I tried really hard, believe me. Tried really really hard, but there just isn't a bag good enough for you. Hehe, or maybe I just couldn't be bothered. =P
There was this imitation floating market there too, really small, and really commercial. A bad experience there, the people there are cutthroats, mercernary and merciless. Just even stop the boat to look at an item, and they'll hand you a calculator quoting a price which can be as much as 10 times the original price. Then you gesture a "not interested" and they'll be persistent and keep slashing the price, and asking you how much you want. Fuckin annoying. That's how one of them got pissed at me, I quoted a price which I thought was below what she would wanna sell it for, and surprise, she agreed. Never mind what happened afterwards, it just wasn't a pleasant experience. Lot of fucking persistent cutthroats.
Chua wasn't there, he didn't go to Crescendo, so I felt kinda bored sometimes, since everyone else had their own groups to hang aroud with, while with me I only had Junsheng, a perpetual loner, and Yong Ann, another perpetual loner. As well as Robert, who only sticks to Jason all day long. As for the signallers, well, my patience with alot of them is growing shorter. Don't wanna say whom and why, just that, yeah, I'm starting to think that they can be annoying at times. I did get closer to two people, Lennard and Teh. Haha, in a way, I think we share quite abit of common traits. I think all 3 of us have the prankster in us, just that it's in a different form. Teh's the childish kind, Lennard is the umm, teasing kind, and I'm the chidlish kind too. So that's why I get along well with Teh. And Lennard, his dad is a CEO of Super, that company famous for its 3-in-1 cereals, and that's pretty well-to-do. The mercenary in me just like rich people. =P And he is a computer game enthusiast, great with computers, and has shares in one of the local game magazines, forgot the name, but its pretty well known. But Lennard, although he's pretty generous and ummm, what's the word for da fang? Open-minded? Casual? Uncalculative? Language block there, but you get the idea. He's pretty generous with money, but he doesn't waste money like I do. I waste money. He might be a spendthrift, or maybe he's more willing to spend, but I waste money. I'm the kind who actually derives pleasure from spending money. I'm sick like that, muahahaha. No, not that bad, but I still gotta change. I'll waste money on things which could be saved on, which achieve no obvious benefits. Taking a cab all over the place is a prime example. Anyway, enough about that already, I've writting so much since the stupid time-wasting Army Half Marathon, and I'm only done with 2 or 3 points. I still have..... 8 more points to go. Woah.
A testimony to my spendthrift ways, I took in the hard lives of the Thais, and as a result I came back to Singapore, grateful that I'm a Singaporean. And I went out to splash 200 bucks on games. Doesn't seem like lesson learnt eh, other people would be more thrifty after what they've experienced, but I just go out and spend more. 3 original games, C&C Generals, NWN: Shadows of Unrentide and Xenosaga. 3 pirated games, Winning Eleven 7, Soul Calibur 2 (Eng) and Yu-Gi-Oh. And a cd, some collection of fantasical, medieval-age music called the Celtic.. Circle? Too lazy to double-check. C&C Generals seemed great back in the LAN shop in Thailand, but my interested waned as quickly as it waxed. Shadows of Unrentide is a much better game. I'm using a sorcerer again, I finally decided that I preferred raw power to memorizing spells beforehand. I'll miss the mage-battles though, I used to enjoy fighting a powerful mage or a lich or something like that one-on-one with my wizard, stacking spells in the right order to disable the enemy mage and leave him vulnerable to a powerful spell. No more epic battles like those, now its more raw damage spells. And I'll be working towards an Arcane Archer, cause that's the easiest to attain, but I don't know if I'll actualy bother to spend levels in it. I'll much prefer to specialize in my Sorcerer class. Anyway, enough of it. Xenosaga isn't touched yet. Winning Eleven 7 is a good improvement, the realism is improved, and the gameplay feels even more smoother and more realistic. Soul Calibur 2 isn't too bad, better than trying to understand Jap. And of course, having Seung Mina to look at can't be bad at all. Sophitia, Cassandra (in her secret attire, Viking-style), and Talim aren't too shabby either, nice eye candy. I'm such a pervert. But they do look pretty realistic. And Xianghua, Taki and Ivy just don't cut it with me. Kilik is pretty good looking too, I think Nightmare and Kilik look the best for the guys. Oh, and Voldo too. Yu-gi-oh sucked, I still don't get the hang of it, its different from the GBA version, which I've gotten quite good at from all the time spent during Crescendo playing it. Talking about Yu-Gi-Oh, its a relatively simple card game. Like Raw Deal, there are too many useless cards around. Magic is good, in the way that almost all of the cards are balanced. Though this balance may once in a while be upset, sometimes due to a need to adjust the balance, most of the time you find it hard to say that one card is truly superior to another card all the time. An offhand example would be Youthful Knight (Tempest) and say, White Knight, Silver Knight or Longbow Archer. Youthful Knight is a 2/1 First Strike for 2 mana, while White Knight is a 2/2 First Strike and protection from black. for 2 mana. Difference is, Youthful Knight requires only 1 white mana, while White Knight requires 2 white mana to cast. If in a draft you do not have alot of white, splashing a Youthful Knight is a better idea. And in a game, a Youthful Knight would be more useful if you had a plains and an island, rather than a White Knight. You'll still hit the guy for 2 damage, except that you would be more vulnerable. Take Raw Deal. Put in simply, there is no reason why I would rather use a Punch than a Super Kick. Well, except maybe as combos with other cards, I don't know if Punch has any combos. But you get the picture. Then Yu-Gi-Oh. Why would anyone wanna run a Dumanes Dark Witch over a Gemini Elf? Well, maybe for the sake of themes, but there are alot of other worst 4-star cards compared to Dumanes Dark Witch. So you see, there is an obvious disparity between the common and rare cards, and this makes the rare cards more sought after. This makes it hard for players to advance in the game, since they would be finding themselves pitted against Gemini Elves and Summoned Skulls, with they whatever-they-have-crap-creatures. And, in serious tournament play, the card pool is limited to all the cards that are actually considered good. So, in this case, the card selection for serious play is very limited, unlike in magic, where there are alot of alternatives for various cards which can win you games without too much compromise.
Too much crap. Anyway, I just wanna say that my Exodia deck kicksass, and Gravity Bind rules.
Other than that, I did some Warcraft 3 and some Silent Hill 3. I reached the most scary scene in Silent Hill 3, and its truly scary. Someday if I get to show it to someone, I bet they'll probably be freaked out. Silent Hill 3 is indeed a well made horror game, and anyway I made some decent progress in it. Warcraft 3, I'm still messing around with all the custom games. Wintermaul and 3 Corridors are my favourites. I've learnt quite abit more about Wintermaul, and in 3 Corridors I've improved my game significantly. Anyway, people in Battlenet are soooo childish. Some of them talk alot, some of them have fucking enormous egos for a game which doesn't even count at all; its only a custom games with no ranking. Alot of them are seriously, fucked up people. But I'm just there to have fun, so I usually ignore them, keep quiet, and do my part.
If you didn't already find out, my dad's back. And he doesn't look so good, I think he's lost quite abit of weight. And he's out of a job, contract ended, company didn't wanna renew it cause of the poor economic outlook, so you can probably call it retrenchment, except that it isn't sudden and my dad's been seeing it coming for a long time and preparing for it. Company's paying him too much anyway, even he admits that.
Music is so important. After the initial foul mood, all I needed was to listen to some music and I calmed down all over again. Deprived of music for 20 days isn't a good thing. I haven't heard any new songs, so my theme songs aren't anything new. Delta Goodrem's Not Me, Not I, goes in, I realized that I've been subconsciously mouthing the words sometimes, so it's a good song. Michelle Branch's Til I Get OVer You is still playing in my mind alot, especially in Thailand. Howard Shore's The Fellowship of the Ring Suite, from that Celtic Circle compilation, is great. It's one of the theme songs in LOTR 2, and its absolutely wonderful. That gets 3rd spot. I wanna throw in Delta Goodrem's Butterful into the mix too, but I can only list 3 songs, so it'll hafta wait on the sidelines.
Newcastle, buck up and start to fuckin win already.
Books. OVer there, the few ways of killing time was to play my Gameboy, sleep, write a letter, and read books, in that order. Oh, and to play LAN too, towards the last few days. I made incredible progress with my Mechwarrior: Dark Age books. Trudged through The Ruins of Power and finally finished it, although I gotta admit the latter part of the book was more gripping. Stayed until 2am one night just to finish it. Interesting ending, too bad it doesn't seem linked to the main plot. I sped through A Silence in the Heavens, which is Book One of the Proving Grounds Trilogy. Haven't seen the other 2 books yet, but in the last day of R&R before we got back to Singapore I completed 2/3s of the book, and finished up the other 1/3 by Saturday, during times like waiting for a game to load, meals, and potty breaks. it's more interesting, and actually more familiar to me. My major gripe is the Void in between the Battletech series and the Dark Age. So how did Devlin Stone come about? If I'm not wrong, he's from the Word of Blake faction. How did he manage to establish the Republic? And to get all the factions to join, especially the Sandovals, who were loyal to the Davions, and the Wolves, whom I think should be from the Wolves-in-exile. And I just found out that Phelan Kell moved the Wolves-in-exile to Arc Royal. Didn't know that. So where's all the familiar names? What happened to my hero, Sun-Tzu? His territority seems to have been affected the most. All I know is that the Capellan Confederation ordered a massacre on Liao. Why I have no idea, but it did seem kinda brutal. Maybe Kali Liao ordered it, Sun-Tzu for all his cruelty will never murder Capellans, be they under another government or not. So where's the Davions, the Steiners, the Kuritas, the Mariks? All that's I've seen that's familiar is the Sandovals, a Kerensky and the Northwind Highlanders. Sandovals have become corrupted, Anastasia Kerensky won my heart when she was Tassa Kay and worked with Raul Ortega, but as Anastasia Kerensky she seems to be more reckless, ruthless, and just too much brawl. Tara Campbell is more attractive, she's diplomatic, intelligent, and has a heart for her people. But I guess that's the difference between the Clans and the freebirth.
Enough about books. I'm making good progress here, down to 4 main points, after that its freestyle, where I write about anything that pops to my mind. Things like so-and-so is a fucker. Then I still gotta write my private entry, and after that I would be done for the month. This is gonna be the only entry in a month, barring that foul-tempered entry before this. I'm gonna be on standby in the coming week, that means no out of camp until the following tuesday, 10 days. So 10 days more, and 20 days in Thailand, and that makes a month with only this break in between. Ok, going for dinner now, SUSHI! =P
Sushi sucked. Never mind. Its over. Anyway, back to my points. Next one is smoking. Smoked Alot with a capital A over there. But it can't be helped. Its a bad habit, and one of the triggers to this habit is just being around the guys in army. The other trigger is fatigue, and I get that quite often too. There's a 3rd trigger too, but its rarely activated. Its when I need to think really hard, then I'll pull out a cig too. Anyway, Thai cigarettes aren't nice at all. I usually smoke menthol light, limit the damage to my lungs, but they only have menthol there, and the filter sucks. So I think I did quite a good deal of damage to me lungs then. Cigarettes there are cheap though, I got 10 packs for 600 baht, which is relaly a bargain. Ended up with 4 packs unfinished, had to give em away. I dunno, but for the past 3 days I haven't smoked one bit. And I didn't really miss it much, so. Maybe I'm not as addicted to smoking as I think I hope. =P Its all in the mind, ya know.
Yes, left with 2 major points. First one is emotional detachment, the one which I was talking about in my rage-charged entry. I think I'm able achieve it more and more. Like being able to actually not feel attached to too many stuff. Like people, for one, places for another. I don't know how to put it, but I guess I used to like, ya know, miss more stuff when they are not within reach. Which is great, it means I'm a more indifferent person now, and I like it. I like not caring about alot of things.
Ok, see, my juices are running dry already, paragraphs are becoming shorter. Last point then I'll pack up and move on to my private entry. I'm planning on redesigning my diary again. I think its time for another revamp, cause I remember the last time I said that the theme reflected me as a person as a whole. (Fatigue is setting in now, and I still gotta finish my private entry and pack my stuff for tomorrow. hmmm...) But I guess I'm no longer angry with God. I'm starting to realize that its futile to be fighting against him, cause you can't win, you only screw yourself up in the process. And I guess I'm no longer as defiant as I used to be when I created all these. I'm starting to think about going back to church, but not that stuffy old church of mine. I'm opening up to all the New Age churches, Charismatic churches, like my church would say. And my church would conduct services after services on what they do are wrong, how it is wrong, and refer to Bible verses to back them up, then proclaim that the end times are near because this is the sign of false prophets. Maybe, perhaps, but really, my stand is always that if there is at least one saved believer in the church, who believes that the Lord Jesus die for his/her sins, then the church would have succeeded at what it has done. I mean, thinking back, alot of the mistakes my church picked on weren't that big of a deal anyway. Like speaking on tongues, my church condemned it alot, but, hey. If you speak in tongues but believe, you are still saved. Same thing with holy laughter, and holy healing, although I think that the miracle healing is a load of crap. They may not be right, but they do not affect a person's salvation in any way, only perhaps the record of sins committed. And the Bible, the NIV, modern version of the Bible, has discrepancies compared to the KJV, the older version of the Bible which uses Shakespearian era English. But someone told me; if merely updating the language into a modern form could result in errors, what more translating it from Hebrew, in a time centuries ago? They said that the people who translated the Bible was inspired, but hey, the Bible never predicted that it'll be translated into English by inspired people, so how do you know that for sure? Anything the Bible doesn't say, you can't know for sure. So, yeah, there are loopholes in it, and the more I look at it, the more I see the pointless struggle between different denominations in Christianity to install their way of worship as the right way, something which is inherently pointless and serves no end. Face it, there are always gonna be Charismatics around, Jehovah's Witnesses, Methodists, Roman Catholics, what-have-you. You will never be able to force any one side to become extinct. What you can do, is to innoculate your congregation against any supposed evil. And herein lies the hypocrisy. They claim to want to shield us from the wrongs of other churches, or are they really? Maybe they would not want to lose their members to other churches, especially after seeing how strong they are, and how effective are they in drawing people to them. We'll never know.
Ok, I'm tired, so I'll end here, but I'll be pushing on and finishing my private entry, a really short one, then I'll pack up and surrender to the sweet oblivion of sleep.
Monday, Sept. 15, 2003 @ 00:57
current music: Not Me, Not I, Delta Goodrem
Fellowship of the Ring Suite, Howard Shore
'Til I Get Over You, Michelle Branch
letter from a VIP
letter from a VIP
letter from a VIP