Day 080 : 声影再响起

已经很久没有买 CD 了,上个星期就一口气买了三张凤飞飞的话语及台语精选集,共九张光碟。加上图中我早期买的盒集(三张光碟),我可算是半个凤迷吧。

我非常喜欢她唱红的很多首名曲,如《掌声响起》、《敲敲门》、《另一种乡愁》、《爱你在心口难开》、《巧合》、《枫叶情》、《驿站》、《陪伤心人说往事》等等。还有现在我超发热的《想要跟你飞》。自从买了她的唱片之后,我每天在家里、办公室、街上,或运动的时候都由凤飞飞的歌声陪伴。

有时候听到一些感处深的曲目是,眼眶都不经遇鼻酸。她那带有点福建唱腔的歌声让我觉得窝心,贴近。就在此,让我再度怀念这位别无仅有的帽子歌后。。。









Retrolicious or Retrodiculous?

In celebration of its 20th anniversary, Class 95FM held the retro concert of the year at Fort Canning Hill on 9 Oct 2010. Titled ‘Retrolicious’, the birthday bash featured definitive 80s stars Johnny Hates Jazz, Debbie Gibson and Rick Astley. I didn’t know about the concert until a friend told me. And I wasn’t interested in it until he mentioned Debbie Gibson as one of the performers. DEBBIE GIBSON! I’m a HHHUUUUGGGEEEEE fan. I bought the ticket right away.

Organised by Running Into the Sun, the event organisation arm of Fly Entertainment, the concert sold more than 6,000 tickets and it was the biggest show for Class 95FM. But the concert was a let-down for me. Here are 5 reasons why :

1. We had to queue for an hour to get in. We arrived at 7:30pm and was shocked to find a ridiculously long queue snaking up and down the carpark. Felt like World Expo 2010 all over again.

2. We had to queue 45 minutes and an hour on the 2 occasions we bought beer. Me and my friends spent most of our time in the queue to get drinks. For almost the entire Debbie Gibson segment, I was stuck in the queue. It’s ridiculous.

3. Johnny Hates Jazz sang too many new songs. It’s Retrolicious, not new album launch! Geez… We came here to hear songs we are familiar with, not new material that will be fighting for ear space in the download market.

4. It took them such a long time to prepare the stage in between each performer. The staging was simple and there was zero special effects, so why the long set-up? I know it’s an 80s concert, but I didn’t know they were moving at that pace too. Ridiculous.

5. Debbie Gibson sounded like an asthmatic Minnie Mouse on helium. I was crest-fallen. She is my idol and the only reason I came for the concert. Plus, this was the first time I saw her ‘live’. I was so utterly disappointed.

The saving grace was the set by Rick Astley. He sounded like his record and his humour and stage antics were very endearing. But alas, even he could not savage this sinker of a concert. At S$98.00 a tic, Retrolicious was an entertainment scrooge.

I wrote in to Class 95FM, Debbie Gibson and Running Into the Sun to request for a backstage opportunity to meet Debbie during the concert, just for a few seconds to shake her hand and take a photo with her. The 2 very first CDs I got when my aunt gave me my first hi-fi system in 1989 was Debbie’s Out of the Blue and Electric Youth albums. It could almost be said that she inducted me into the world of pop music. Prior to that, I would just listen to whatever channel my grandmother set the Rediffusion to.

Except for Wendy from Running into the Sun who replied me with leads to participate in contests to win a chance for a meet and greet session with Debbie, I didn’t get a single response from Class 95FM or Debbie Gibson. And that’s to think I emailed all 3 contacts listed on the Class 95FM website. Not even a single reply.

Anyhoo, I still love Debbie for her immense talent. She’s the youngest artist ever to write, produce and perform a no. 1 hit on Billboard Hot 100. I’ve got all her albums, remix CDs and even vinyl records although I don’t own a turntable. I would save up my pocket money just so I can go to Valentine’s Records at Selegie to buy anything new from and about her.

I played her songs on repeat loop for days and memorised her Electric Youth dance routine. Those pre-Youtube days, I sat by the MTV channel for hours to record her videos and had to press rewind and play countless times to learn the steps. I even had 2 huge posters of her stuck on my wall and would painstakingly cut-out and collect any magazine cover and news article about her. I have such devotion for Debbie Gibson.

Ah, those were the days…

Here’s a clip of the concert and of the 3 performers. This clip marks the first time I’ve ever tried creating a video entirely on my own! So please pardon the less than Spielberg quality. Hope the songs bring back warm memories for the 80-ers and intro these gems to the Lady Gaga and Katy Perry generation 😀

Welcome to the Celebration!

Hey! Thanks for visiting the new home of Celebrate Life! … now made fun with Lah!

I wanted to make the so-called ‘launch’ of this new site on 9 Sep 2010 because being a little superstitious, I wanted the ‘launch’ date to be 9.9.10 (久久依临), which in Chinese meant that readers will come to this blog for as long as it exists. Very auspicious right?! 9910 can buy 4D… May this blog and all its readers HUAT AH! *LOL*

And what better way to start off this brand new chapter in Celebrate Life Lah! than to borrow the enduring star power of Madonna in what is a perfect theme song for this blog…

Come join the party, Let’s get it started
Let me whisper in your ear an invitation to the dance of life…
Come celebrate life with me lah! 🙂

HK Day 1 : ‘Scuse Me While I Kiss The Stars

After delighting my eyes with the sparkling skyline of Hong Kong at night, I headed three floors down from the Sky Terrace to Madame Tussauds (MT). I got the 3-in-1 Combo which included a 2-way Peak Tram ride and entrances to the Sky Terrace and MT for HK$200.

Scenes at MT

Here’s the adult price if you buy them separately : Return Tram ticket – HK$36; Sky Terrance – HK$25; MT – HK$160. Total price – HK$221. You save about S$4.00, which is not much, but you save on the queue time to get the tickets separately.

Hot Tip :

• Buy the Combo ticket from the MT ticketing booth at the Peak Tram Terminus. This booth is across from the Peak Tram ticketing booth which sells Tram ride tickets or Tram ride with entry to Sky Terrace only. I was queuing at the Peak Tram line for a long time before I realized the 3-in1 MT Combo was not sold there! *gua gua gua…*

If you have not heard of Madame Tussauds, it is an exhibition where you can get really up-close and personal with wax figures of celebrities, sport stars, politicians, and historical personalities.

The stars are made with an almost 100% likeness so it is as good as seeing them for real. Even though there are so many ‘people’ there, I’d never felt more alone. I was there by myself so there’s no one to take photos of me with the stars! Even if I did ask someone to help take a photo for me, I was too embarrassed to do wacky poses. If a friend was taking the photos, they would’ve been very different.

It’s so much fun watching people posing with the famous personalities. Some of the poses were, well, let’s just say I’d seen obasans come out of menopause, young girls misplacing their chastity, and guys exploring every part of the female figures as if they’re curators making sure the wax statues were not damaged.

Out of curiosity, I did a little checking of my own and confirmed that the wax dudes have no ‘wicks’, and except for the raisins on Aaron Kwok’s exposed chest, there’re no chocolate coins on the chests of other male and female figurines. I didn’t check every one but from those that I can see, I generalized.

Lest you think I’m a pervert, I did it to see how far the replicas would go because more than 200 measurements (including the crotch and breasts area) are taken to make each figurine. And it takes more than 800 hours to complete each one. The bulk of the time is spent on inserting hair, strand by strand onto the wax scalps.

So, let’s test your knowledge of the Asian stars… how many can you recognise and name?

Asian Stars

What about the following Hollywood movers and shakers?

Hollywood Stars

Or these famous politicians and cultural icons?

Famous one way or another

For personalities who are still alive, they’ll be invited for a Sitting where their measurements are taken. But for the long-deceased such as William Shakespeare, the figures are constructed based on paintings and photos.

Of all the wax celebrities, I thought the one that looked most ‘fake’ and unlike the star it should resemble was that of Cecilia Cheung (张伯芝). I thought it was a younger Maggie Cheung (张曼玉). Well, maybe I didn’t recognise Cecilia because she wasn’t wearing a policewoman uniform. Oops!

But my main target at Madame Tussauds was to take a photo with Anita Mui (梅艳芳). Among all the Hong Kong celebrities, she’s one of my favourite because she’s a great performer and actress. I grew up listening to her during her 妖女 (vixen) days and loved her comic performance in the movie 钟无艳. So I was pretty saddened when she passed on due to cancer in 2003. But thankfully for Madame Tussauds, the likeness of her is preserved and made immortal…

Tribute to Anita Mui

Here’s my favouritest song from her. It is a duet with Jacky Cheung called 相爱很难 (Love is Difficult). Enjoy… 🙂

For more photos, please visit my album A Lingering Fragrance.

Countdown to Hong Kong : – 6 Days

THE TRAINING

I read Aussie Pete’s post about his ‘secret training’ with much admiration. More than the post being hilarious, he is really taking the bathtub race seriously! So I better not slack and spend the 6 days that’s left till the race to do some training.

I don’t expect to get back in top physical form in just 7 days, but at least to start getting the body used to sweat again and don’t turn blue at the 100m finishing mark. I used to be a dragon boater and had taken part in 500m and 800m races so 100m should be sup sup sui (Cantonese. Direct translation as ‘wet wet water’, meaning no sweat!). But that’s years ago. Now I just hope I don’t lose face for my country!

The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival 2010 has 191 dragon boat teams from 12 countries and regions competing. Considering that a small boat has 10 paddlers, a drummer and coxswain (12 people) and a big boat has 20 paddlers, a drummer and coxswain (22 people), there would be a lot of people for laughing at a Singaporean buffoon.

Dragon boating has a long tradition as a celebratory folk ritual, but it is in Hong Kong that the sport has evolved into what it is today. So Hong Kong can be considered the birthplace of modern dragon boating. I wonder where is the birthplace for bathtub boating?

I took up dragon boating in 2005 but stopped in 2008 after my lasik surgery. My wooden paddle is chucked somewhere in the storeroom and I haven’t touched it in more than 2 years. It must feel like Woody in Toy Story. May be it is plotting its escape with all the other forgotten things in the store now. Should I bring it to Hong Kong for some play time?

Before I think about that, I shall try to rehash the exercise routine from my former boating days. So I’ll be practically be living in the gym for the next few days with cardio workouts, weight training, and yoga.

Yes yoga. Dragon boating is not a brute sport. It requires technique and true rowing power comes from the trunk, not arms and shoulders. Hence, flexibility and core muscle strength would be very helpful during a race and can delay the onset of lactic acid build-up and muscle fatigue. Even though this is a just-for-fun 100m bathtub race, I’ll do my best!

And the best tune to accompany any gym time at the moment is…

Pete is thinking of wearing something outrageous for the event. I wonder what my other fellow bathtub racers – Violet, Geck Geck and Alvin would wear. Should we have a boomz team outfit with leopard preens and khaki green (including a rad bigini for the ladies)? That would be Uniquely Singapore! 😀

Celebrating Life at the Singapore Blog Awards 2010

First and foremost, a big THANK YOU for visiting this blog and if you’ve voted for it in this year’s Singapore Blog Awards, my deepest and most sincere appreciation for your support. Celebrate Life! won Best Lifestyle Blog at the awards.

I shan’t attempt to describe how I’m feeling because words would only castrate the magnitude of emotions that I felt before, during, and two days after the award ceremony. I wanted to post my thoughts and experience about the whole SAB2010 experience and wrote a colossal post. But I caught a cold from my long-windedness and decided to rewrite.

That’s the responsibility of winning. It’s an encouragement to be more critical and do better. More stress!

So after going through some dieting in vocabulary and topics, here’s Version 2. It offers a glimpse of the awards event and ceremony held at Movida last Saturday (10 Jul 10) from 4 – 6:30pm.

All the award winners

It is not because I won the award that I thought the event was pretty well organized, fun and definitely had a glam factor! Maybe I haven’t clocked enough mileage at such events so I’m easily impressed, but it did exceed my expectations. The organizer, Omy.sg really did a great job in my limited opinion and I’m not sucking up.

Before taking part, I’ve not heard of the Singapore Blog Awards or Omy.sg although this is the third year the contest has been held. I am very sua ku one. The news portal’s name sounds like what I would use at a coffeeshop… “Li ai lim kopi-O MAI? Teh-O MAI? Ah Oh, ai jiak siew MAI boh?”

So I thought SBA2010 would be some just some housefly trying to be a butterfly. But oh my, how very wrong I am! The polished bloggers and event left me with so much to reflect and ponder upon. It was a real eye-opener and here’s a record of some of the more candid moments for me.

DRESSED TO BE PAPARAZZI-SPOTTED

I didn’t give much thought about what to wear to the event initially. I planned to go in just a black t-shirt and black jeans. Can’t go wrong with that right?

Then I received the event’s invite and I almost blacked-out when I saw words such as ‘Oscar night’, ‘glamourous’, ‘Bling’, ‘Paparazzi’… I was screwed. I have no super-glam outfit except for a business suit. That’s a surefire paparazzi anesthesia.

Wardrobe must function.“Eh, Celebrate Life! has been one of the top 3 most voted blogs leh, at least go in something with more thought than that tranquilising suit lah!” said the voice in my head.

It continued to coax me. Fine, I will go in something out of character then! A dire decision called for a desperate solution. It was time I release something I bought some time ago but don’t have the guts to wear.

With a handkerchief tied around my nose, I battled dust bunnies and mites, hunted all shelves and drawers, searched through bags of clothes, until I came face-to-face with it… the beast. Leopard-Face. Now that’s fashion with a bite! Meow…

I bought the singlet with a friend at Platinum Mall, a wholesale shopping centre in Bangkok. He wanted to buy 2 pieces but if we bought 3 pieces, each singlet cost only 150 bht (approx. S$6.00). So I ‘sacrificed’ and got this translucent singlet with a silvery print. It’s so boomz. And my nipples can be seen through it. Thankfully my nips are not the size of dinner plates. And furry.

To top off the look and hide the obscene nips, I threw on a brown suede jacket I bought 2 years ago but worn only once. I also took the advice of someone to wear red underwear for luck!

Thrift glamour? Hollywood next top red carpet pose

Red briefs, leopard preens and 3 crosses… that’s what I call feng-shui for your wardrobe. And it worked! Haha… Siow Har was very cooperative too. She wore a rad dress to multiply the luck factor. She’s lady luck!

And her pose is sure to be the de facto Hollywood red carpet posture to adopt at the next Oscars. I’m immensely grateful to her for attending the awards event with me and helping me photograph the happenings.

饮酒思源 (MY WOULD-BE THANK YOU SPEECH)

The awards ceremony was very fast and we did not get a chance to say a few words of thanks. So here’s what I would say if given time to have a Thank You speech… (then again, if I was really given time on stage, I would not know what to say!)

Lip serviceI would like to thank all the main sponsors, sponsors, media support and event partners. Sounds like I’m paying lip service but well, it is a commercial world. If the participating merchants don’t make money, there won’t be prizes or this award.

If there are no prizes, I doubt it would be as attractive for bloggers to take part. So yeah, I seldom name brands in my blog, but my gratitude to all the contributors who made this event possible. (I typed out each of their names instead of using their logos to show sincerity hor.)

I would also like to thank Omy.sg for giving us bloggers a platform to gather and be recognized, and all the judges for shortlisting my blog as one of the finalists and deciding that it’s good enough to win. (I wonder what are the winning factor/s of this rather unfanciful and technologically primitive blog.) A special thank you too to Alvin Lim from Omy who’s been liaising with me and keeping me in the loop of things.

Next, I want to thank all my friends and family who have knowingly or unknowingly provided inspiration willingly or unwillingly. Ha. (If I’ve offended you in any way, please pardon me and be prepared to pardon me for future posts as well.)

And most importantly, I want to thank all readers. This blog was started as an outlet for me to vent but over the course of the contest, I began to write with a mindfulness of an audience. I’m still amazed that people read my blog because unless you know me personally, what’s so interesting to follow what’s happening to a stranger? So thank you for reading.

THE BLOGS, THE PEOPLE, THE EXPERIENCE

Winning was definitely the icing on the cake. Truth be told, I’ve thought all along that Bing would win the Best Lifestyle Blog category because her blog was visually appealing, she’s got a great sense of humour, a very accessible writing-style, and a way of turning mundane everyday happenings into a talking point.

Meeting the finalistsHers is the blog I followed the most because well, you have to know your competition right(?) and I can identify with some of her issues, such as giving up an addiction. And I should blame her for getting me addicted to her blog!

Meeting her in person was something I looked forward to at the awards because I wanted to grill her about blogging tips. When I finally saw her, it was like meeting an idol (plus she looks like one of my favourite local singers, 孙燕姿)!

I was also looking out to meet the other 8 finalists in the category but I failed to sight or recognize them. Lifestyle is a very broad category in terms of subject matters and I would like to thank my fellow finalists for the ideas I’ve gotten from their blogs :

Miss Glitzy Monologue, PassportChop Travel Blog, Trishalavittae, Emma – $30 date Night, Fidgety Fingers, Holly Jean, Alafista, and Muiee.

I also had the privilege of meeting some of the winners from other categories such as Pete, Priscilla and Hendra. I didn’t have a chance to visit their blogs before the awards coz I was busy creating blog contents after work, but I popped by their sites to browse around after I met them in person. They’re definitely worth the mouseclicks!

Because of youThe awards event was quite a blast. Some of the bloggers were invited to perform and I’m awed by the fact that these people were not only good bloggers, they can sing and dance too! So multi-talented. And my only talent that night was drinking 5 bottles of Tiger beer.

I know, I said I wanted to stop being an alcolwhore in a previous post not too far down. But it’s a happy occasion mah… To be surrounded by so many people brimming with creativity and a casual atmosphere of fun!

And I needed the drinks to calm me down. I was soooo nervous when I went on stage to get the award coz I was caught by what I call the Surprise Fallacy. This is how it works… I WANT to win but have to prepare myself emotionally if I don’t win. In order to manage emotional disappointments, I had to inflate the bubble of nonchalance and indifference to ‘failure’.

So when my name was called, it acts like a pin that punctured the bubble and the amount of time taken to go from exaggerated self-consolation (with such headtalk as “It’s ok to not win, it’s good enough to have come this far”, “You’ve done your best”, etc) to actually letting the WANT to take over, is the Surprise Fallacy. I am prepared for surprise but pretended I’m not.

I love Omy!And the nervousness is the vacuum that exists before the full acceptance of having won sets in. Yes, when faced with bad things, we have to stop denying that it has happened and accept the reality in order to move on. It is the same when good things happen. It takes time to accept.

I haven’t felt a nervousness of such epic proportions in a long time. I could actually feel my face twitching and jaw quivering when I received the award from Mr Teo Ser Luck (Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, and Ministry of Transport). He’s also the Mayor of the North East Community Development Council. My fingers went sore typing his titles. So many portfolios and yet he looks so young! I don’t believe he’s 42 years-old.

From the moment I received my trophy to all the media interviews afterwards, it was a blur. With all the flashes and spotlights, it scared the soul right out of my body. It felt surreal to be interviewed and I was so awkward with all the attention.

I was so busy being a wreck of nerves, my thoughts didn’t have the chance to catch up with me and I free-wheeled during the interviews. I don’t understand what I’m saying most of the time, acted silly and I was unusually fidgety. I hope the reporters and public will be forgiving towards a newbie like me.

TIME TO RELAX AND TAKE IT EASY?

After all the excitements leading up to and during the ceremony, I must say I’m relieved. I was pretty exhausted from all the late nights spent blogging after work during the voting period.

Some of the blogs were completed close to 6am in the morning but posted at a later time when I could get some rest and rethink what was being said.

Bye bye waistlineEven those posts with just a photo and some thoughts about what the image says to me can take hours to find the words that I felt captured the spirit of it.

I think as far as blogging goes, I’m a pretty hardworking blogger! Ha.

So I am rather worn out. But the award changes things. It is a booster. I can foresee that there will be many more nights of overnight blogging during the weekends. This is only the beginning!

But for the time being, I will take things a little easy, chill out more, spend time with friends, go back to the lifestyle I had before, get back in shape and along the way, if something screams “Blog Me!”, I will share it with you.

To mark the new journey ahead for this blog, I’m offering a toast to you in the photo. Cheers! 🙂 Next time I will toast with tea. I don’t know when that will be!

SO WHAT ARE THE PRIZES?

First of all, everyone who’s been asking me for a treat, know this… there are no cash prizes. I already very pok gai (broke) from paying bills at home so may just being happy for my triumph be your best treat! 🙂 Wahahaha…

Of the prizes, I think the most interesting item amongst them would be the trophy designed by one of Singapore’s artistic treasures, Mr Tan Swie Hian. I read a book about him, ‘To Paint a Smile: Insights of One Artist’s Approach to Happiness’, and have been filled with admiration since for how meaningful messages and symbols are imbibed into his works. The colourful wall mural at the Chinatown’s MRT Station is a work of Mr Tan.

Can't wait to get home A fusion of new and old

So to receive a trophy designed by him was an honour above honours! And I got to shake his hand and he gave me a personal explanation of his inspiration for the trophy!

We spoke in Mandarin so I’m not sure if I got his explanation accurately in English but here’s a gist of it :

• &nbspIt is in the shape of the ancient drinking cup used by royalties known as 鼎 and it has 3 legs. ‘鼎’ also means ‘top’ in Chinese.

• &nbsp1 of the 3 legs is in its traditional form while the other 2 are of different shapes to represent new media forms such as the internet. It represented the fusion of tradition with technology.

When I brought home all the prizes and my mum was going through the bags, she lifted the trophy and asked, “What is this? Why you bring home an incense burner?” Another *gua gua gua…* moment.

Personally, I felt Mr Tan understands bloggers very well. We spend a lot of time to spread information about things but don’t get paid. I can now use the trophy to go 化缘 (the bowl used by monks to ask for alms)! Haha.

Greedy meInitially I thought the trophy was odd because it is not the usual types we’re used to. I think it is sculptured in cast iron coz it’s very heavy. I placed it on the top shelf in front of my bed and each time I see it, I have a certain sense of calm. I guess true art changes you.

The next big prizes are of course the ASUS Eee-PC Touch netbook and a 4D3N trip sponsored by the Hong Kong Tourism Board. So I’ll be joining the other category winners to Hong Kong from 23 – 26 July 10. I will also be taking part in the dragon boat festival there! Now my years of dragon boat training can come into use. Except, I’ll be rowing a bathtub in the media race.

Another ‘substantial’ prize is a 3D2N accommodation at Baramee Resortel at Phuket, Thailand. There are other small souvenirs and memorabilia given by sponsors but the free passes given by the Singapore National Heritage Board (NHB) made me rub my eyes a few times to read.

The Best Lifestyle Blog category, the category I won in, is sponsored by NHB. I got 3 museum passes – 2 passes to visit the National Museum (ONE VISIT. ADMITS 1 EACH), and 1 pass to visit the Asian Civilisations Museum (ONE VISIT. ADMITS 2.). I thought I saw wrongly that it is NOT a 1-year free entry pass for 2 to all the museums and boutique galleries in Singapore.

CELEBRATE LIFE WITH OUR TRUE COLOURS

I guess whether it is 1 visit, or unlimited visits, it’s still better than no visits. I have learnt to count every blessing and be grateful for everything big or small. For whether we want to nick pick or just not sweat over the small stuff, life goes on.

Why Celebrate Life?And that is the spirit behind the title of this blog – Celebrate Life!. It is a common phrase that a group of my friends use a lot in the past. Even now. Each time someone gets flustered or unhappy over something, we’ll just say, “Celebrate life… tomorrow will come with or without you.”

I like this saying because it has a dual feel to it. There is the uplifting first part (celebrate life), and the cold comfort that follows (you don’t live forever). It struck a deep chord for me so when I was thinking for a name for this blog about 5 years ago, I decided to call it Celebrate Life!. I wanted it to be a celebration that life has to offer.

The good. The bad. The beautiful. The ugly. The happiness. The sorrows. 人生的酸甜苦辣,喜怒哀乐,悲欢离合。And the exclamation mark adds a sense of urgency to celebrate now. Today. Because tomorrow may or may not come.

To win, or lose, it doesn’t matter. Winning may not be a blessing, losing may be a blessing in disguise. 欢乐无长在,悲痛需简短。

For all the 1,000 over bloggers who submitted entries for the Singapore Blog Awards 2010, and the number of us who made it into the finals but didn’t win, I may not know you, I may not have read your blogs, and I’m a nobody and in no position to encourage you, but if I may, I would like to urge you to be not discouraged.

Continue to blog and while we may put ourselves out for criticism, there is only one way to truly celebrate life… and that is to live out our true colours.

Thank you once again for reading. It is my pleasure writing for you.

Ah Lian Vs. Lily

Ah Beng and Ah Lian went on a date at Singapore Botanic Gardens. At the spur of romance, Ah Beng plucked a jubilantly blossomed water lily from a nearby pond and gave it to his sweetheart.

Wa diam diam kua dio jit aey huey, wa dio siong ki li (Every time I see this flower, I think about you),” he said lovingly.

Ah Lian looked at the beautiful flower and cupped her lover’s face in her hands. She looked deep into Ah Beng’s eyes, tears brimming from hers. She started to cry.

“This flower is salah (wrong)!” she wailed. “I am lian huey (lotus flower), not water leelee!”

For the uninitiated, Ah Lian is a derogatory nickname given to a subculture of Singaporean girls, typically teenagers, who are characterized by loud, uncouth behavior and mismatched fashion sense. They’re also associated with gangsterism in the early days. But I think they’re kinda cool!

‘Lian’ is derived from 莲花, which is Chinese for lotus flower. I can’t trace the etymology of why this word was used to represent this group but presumably, it’s due to the common usage of 莲 ‘lian’ in girl’s name.

Are you like Ah Beng and can’t tell the difference between a lotus and a water lily? Well, not that being able to identify them correctly is crucial to survival, but I thought it is rather interesting how these two aquatic plants are same same but different!

A friend recently went to Pulau Ubin and knowing that I like taking photos of lotuses, tagged me in a photo showing a lotus pond there. But it was a water lily pond, not lotus. To her, the difference is negligible and I totally agree that the point is not in identifying the flowers correctly, but to enjoy the great outdoors.

These are water lilies

But would you put salt in your coffee and sugar on your French fries? Both seasoning without labels can look the same, yet what a difference they make in taste! I wouldn’t go all the way to Changi and take a boat to Pulau Ubin just to photograph water lilies because great pictures can come from them even in a small pot. Lotuses on the other hand, in my preference, look best when photographed in a big open pond.

But for a change from the concrete jungle on mainland to the rustic, back to nature appeal of Pulau Ubin, I would still make the trip. Some day. When I’m not lazy. And I think it’s soon.

Seems like I’m distracted from what I want to talk about again… and that’s how to tell the difference between a lotus from a water lily. Actually, it’s very obvious. The easiest way to differentiate them is their leaves.

These are lotuses

Lotuses have leaves that extend out and above the water whereas lilies have leaves that float or sit on the water surface. The other difference is that the lotus has a fruiting body in the middle that gives us lotus pods, whereas water lily produces nectar.

For me, I differentiate between lotus and lily simply from the shape of their petals. Lilies have petals shaped like the fingers, and lotuses have petals that are shaped like a closed palm.

Pointed lily petals Rounded lotus petals

Knowing the difference between a lotus and water lily now, Ah Beng scoured all 63.7 hectares of the botanic gardens in search of the flower that befitted his darling’s name. His eyes descended on a bril莲t bloom in a lotus pond and swiftly plucked it for Ah Lian.

Just then, a park ranger came up to him and handed him a S$500 fine for plucking flowers in the garden. *gua gua gua…*

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