Saturday, March 21, 2015

Musical journey (56)

I am now back in boring Papua New Guinea and certain that you are not keen to hear more about my mundane life here, so let's move straight to this month's musical piece.

I have always found Jay Chou immensely talented. He spearheaded a whole musical genre in the Asian pop industry and is so well-trained musically that I think he deserves all the fame and fortune he currently holds. Did I mention that he has also acted in a Hollywood movie, directed award-winning movies and is a successful businessman? He constantly pushes his craft to the limit from different angles unlike most other pop stars who keep rehashing the tried and tested formula that got them famous in the first place. It is true that he can't sing that well so I classify him as a performer rather than a singer (FYI I think Madonna sits in the same category). However with his multifaceted talents, I am sure he can stay popular for as long as he wishes. The Asian music scene needs more people like him in order to raise its own standards to match that of the West.

This is why when Jay Chou wrote both the lyrics and tune to a song for one of my favourite male singers (Eason Chan), it became an instant hit on my play list and I knew I had to cover it. This song is called "淘汰", which roughly translates to "weeding out inferior competitors". Enjoy!

Friday, March 13, 2015

In the country yet again (part 2)

Here is part two of the pictures detailing the interesting sights and things we did during our trip back to the country to visit my in-laws (part one can be found here).

Sunrises and sunsets in the country are peaceful and quiet times when you can really hear nature in all its glory and connect with everything in it. The top picture features the backyard sunset view and at the bottom is the scene inside the house when the sun has just risen. You can never get this serenity living in the city.

All organic matter from around the kitchen is collected in these metal buckets so that they can be used to create compost that is used as fertiliser around the estate. That green packaging quickly biodegrades after being buried and compost is created in a few months by the worms in the bed. The finished product was added to the soil when we were planting sweetcorn (refer to the pictures below).

One of the many tasks we were given was to plant sweetcorn in this patch of soil (where I once harvested potatoes from). It was a 10-step process involving three people as follows: Step 1 – Whinge at the weed-overgrown patch; Step 2 – Loosen the soil so that the weed’s entire root structure can be removed; Step 3 – Removing the weeds (me topless yet again, thanks to Aeroguard); Step 4 – Adding mulch; Step 5 – Mixing in the mulch; Step 6 – First watering; Steps 7 & 8 – Digging shallow trenches (width and distance apart measured) and adding fertiliser (the white pellets); Step 9 – Planting the seeds within the trenches; Step 10 – Final watering. Then only was the job done. Phew! We felt we needed another holiday within this holiday straight after the job.

We went out to buy deceivingly-heavy coiled-up rolls of barb wire to keep out the kangaroos. I felt I couldn’t carry them safely when they weighed that much and so Ision had to carry them all. So it was partly my fault he got hurt from the exercise. Sorry boo!

Ision’s cooking that impressed his folks namely the wantons (top), pan-fried minced chicken loaf (middle) and chicken potstickers with home-made skin (bottom). The cooking expert a.k.a. my mother-in-law even asked him for the recipes.

This is the first house I have lived in with a central vacuum system–impressive to say the least.

That’s another of my photo shoot moment. I simply couldn't help it!

It never fails to warm my heart to see myself amongst the other members of the family. Strangely my brother-in-law’s picture is missing (but his son’s is there).

The size of the land surrounding the house owned by my in-laws is 30 acres and it even boasts a waterfall (not pictured). Suffice to say you are immersed in the thick of nature everywhere you go.

After de-weeding the perimeter of the pond, it was time to feed the fish in it. I am not sure if you can see the tortoise in this clip but there is one.

Can you believe that this was my first time at Bunnings? I was quite impressed with the range of products that were on sale, most of which I will never get to use (or even touch) in my life.

The in-laws gave us a lunch treat just before we headed to the airport where this picture was taken. We will definitely be back again. The longer we wait to revisit, the longer the list of to-do tasks there will be.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

In the country yet again (part 1)

My mum is now with me in Melbourne for the next 10 days and we are going to travel around, doing short one-day tours and walking around the city as well as the suburbs. I have just returned from a 16-day trip back to Singapore for Chinese New Year during which I caught up with the three F's–food, family, friends. I shall post the pictures from that visit soon but first let me share the snaps taken during my previous holiday. At the beginning of the year, Ision and I went back to visit his parents (previous visits were documented here, here and here). I will let the photos from that trip speak a thousand words in two separate posts.

This is the backyard panoramic view. Pretty? Yes. Expansive? Hell yes.

Sightings of kangaroos and wallabies (ie. pests) are a very common thing. They scurry away as soon as you get close so there is no need to worry until they collide with your moving vehicle. According to my father-in-law, usually the vehicle won’t survive in that scenario (and the kangaroos do).

With Ision in the picture, you can see the size of the mosquito-infested pond and we were tasked to de-weed its perimeter. This is just one of the many tasks assigned to us whenever we get back. Think of it as a working holiday–we work in exchange for food and lodgings. For this task, Ision worked the grass-cutter and I had to rake the bits and pieces far away enough from the pond edge so that the lawn-mover can be driven over it to turn it into mulch.

My in-laws are not doomsday preppers but looking at this pantry (and a chest freezer full of meat), you can’t really tell.

I grabbed hold of the new thick Belgian chocolate-flavoured Bailey’s as soon as I saw it at the Duty Free shop and knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. Home-made Bailey’s chocolate ice-cream–what could be more heavenly that that?

Task #n: Building a mini mountain with garbage and fallen tree branches. An formal application had to be made in advance to start this fire and we had to go check it the next day to ensure that everything is all right. There was increased amount of junk because of ongoing renovation work in the house. The bonfire would have looked more spectacular at night but the mosquito problem would be much worse as well then I bet.

Plum, papaya and banana trees are but a small sample of the fruit species grown here. The leafless tree is a fig one–I was told it is a parasitic (notice how it took over another tree)?

Harvesting mangoes using a makeshift entrapment developed by my father-in-law which really works and it makes light work without the need for cumbersome and dangerous ladders! I think he should get it patented.

Feeding lorikeets is one of the things we do to relieve a little of the boredom city-dwellers inevitably encounter when “stuck” in the country. What a pretty sight… and the bird is magnificent too.

Ision told me that cats are defenseless against Reiki and proved it to me. The cat’s restlessness immediately stopped and it assumed that still position in the picture when Ision started giving it Reiki. That cat belongs to Ision’s estranged brother but lives there now as his apartment doesn’t allow pets.

Massager my ass! This must be the best-selling product in the catalogue for I am sure there are plenty of lonely middle-aged women in the country who need to please themselves in the absence of husbands that can truly satisfy them.

I was told this gigantic prawn a.k.a. icon of Ballina (the town where the airport nearest to my in-laws’ estate in Ashby is) used to be even larger but it was torn down and rebuilt smaller to make way for the Bunnings store that is next to it.