Sunday, January 26, 2014

Tim Ho Wan

I have never tried Tim Ho Wan till today, often being repelled by their snaking long queues, irregardless of the time. Even at three in the afternoon, there would still be a frustratingly long queue in front of the restaurant. However, since I had lots of time to kill before my parents would join me for dinner at Bedok Mall, I decided that hey, why not just give it a go? So I queued. What I didn't realise was that THW seats patrons based on a who's-here-and-who's-not basis. Basically, if all members of your party are present, you will get a seat, even if you are behind fifty other hungry diners(-to-be). Well that was terrible news for me, so I ended up waiting close to forty minutes to be seated (thank you, full carparks).
Thankfully, our food came quickly, about five minutes after placing our orders!
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Glutinous rice dumpling ($5) was one of the best dishes we ordered. The rice was sticky, bursting with flavour from the chicken (or was it pork?). The generous bits of meat (pork, chicken and Chinese sausage) and mushrooms were delightful with the sticky rice. The diners at the table beside us ordered one serving of this each! On hindsight, we should have done that as well... This is totally worth the calories.
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I apologize for the poor quality of photos in advance, reason being that everyone was too eager to eat. After all, which is more important, photos of food or the eating of food? (It's the eating)
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Prawn dumplings ($5.50 for 4)
The prawn dumplings (or har gow) were good, but a bit pricy. The prawns were big and juicy, and the skin of the dumpling was thin. The secret to a good prawn dumpling lies in the recipe of its skin, and I think Tim Ho Wan has nailed it.

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Deep-fried bean curd skin roll (I forgot the price) was meh. Then again, I'm not a big fan of this so I guess I'm not the best judge.
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Of course, no visit to Tim Ho Wan is complete without the Baked BBQ Pork Buns ($4.50 for 3). These are the best-sellers of Tim Ho Wan, and rightly so.
The skin of the bun is thin and crisp, sweet yet savoury. The filling is actually oozy! Like a molten lava cake, the fluid state of the char siew filling was the icing on the cake. It was so delicious, I was tempted to order a second serving!
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Pan-fried Carrot Cake ($4.50 for 3) was unremarkable as compared to the other stellar dishes we sampled. The pieces of Chinese sausage embedded in the radish kept the dish interesting, but other than that, it tasted pretty average.

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Steamed Egg Cake ($3.80) is soft and extremely fluffy! Press it down and I'll bet it will pop up again. This cake is rather like a sponge cake, except much lighter. I don't really see how this is a dim sum item, though. I'm not an expert but I'm pretty sure this leans more towards desserts.
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The Yam Dumplings with Chilli Crab Meat ($5 I think) were one of the three special items featured. I love yam so I may be biased when I say that this was absolutely delicious! The chilli crab meat was piping hot and didn't quite complement the yam that well. But I was too busy enjoying the yam to notice. As you can see, I really like yam. A real lot.
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(the cross-section of the yam dumpling with chilli crab meat)
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To end off the lovely meal, we had the Tonic Medlar & Osmanthus Cake ($3.50 for 3).
It tasted surprisingly sweet and not at all gross (personal taste) like I expected Chinese medicinal-sounding herbs to be. It actually tasted like Western kind of jelly!
The total bill was about $48, which makes it about $12 per person. We weren't exactly full at the end of the meal, but I guess that's all right since it's never good to over-eat. I doubt we will be back again in the near future though, since the queue is pretty off-putting and the prices aren't all that cheap. However, I do imagine myself buying the glutinous rice or the baked BBQ buns as take-away on occasion as a treat, perhaps.
Tim Ho Wan is also a place you should visit for "the sake of it" so I would definitely recommend this to first-timers. But for repeat patrons, well...that would be entirely up to them.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Chin Mee Chin Confectionary

This coffee shop (confectionary...) needs no further introduction. Most Singaporean foodies would have heard of it or read about it on other blogs. Yet, its relatively inaccessible (except for motorists and people who have lots of time to walk) location makes it difficult for one to actually get there to see what the hype is all about. It is tucked away along a row of shophouses in Katong, right at the corner of the lane. The exterior is unpretentious, with a plain signboard saying "Chin Mee Chin Confectionary" plastered not-so-visibly above the entrance.
Upon entering CMC, you will be greeted with trays and trays of baked goods. Egg tarts, choux puffs, luncheon meat buns, curry pastries and cupcakes are among the many available. Plates and tongs are at your disposal to pick 'em all up to eat then and there, or to take-away.
If you are intending to dine there, you may expect to wait a while before finding a seat. There are in total about five or six tables in the entire shop. Most of the shop's space is devoted to the kitchen, where they bake their breads and make their kaya (a kind of coconut jam) from scratch. I literally saw the uncle stirring a pot of kaya in the kitchen. That's how "fresh" it is.
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We snacked on the baked goods while waiting for the eggs and kaya toasts to arrive.
The egg tart shells were very...solid. That's the most apt word I can think of to describe it. The egg custard was flowy (surprisingly). The taste of custard was way too strong though, and it felt as though I were eating a custard tart instead of an egg tart.
The luncheon meat bun was nothing to shout about. The bread was pretty thick and the slice of luncheon meat was, well, just a thin slice. So yeah, not fantastic but not that bad either. (The saving grace being the fresh and fluffy bread)
The choux puff was one of the better baked goodies. Though it wasn't served cold (as I like my sweet puffs to be), that meant that the custard filling would be molten-ish. It tasted almost similar to the filling in the egg tart! The puff itself was soft and gave the lou feng kind of texture, though. :-(
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See how solid the egg tart's crust is?!
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 Cream horn was essentially a swirly pastry with cream in it. Not very good, unfortunately. The cream just tasted like plain, normal cream and the pastry was thin and too crispy (how ironic).
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The curry puff was really delicious! (on the left) The pastry was so flaky and buttery, it was both sinful yet heavenly at the same time. However, the curry filling was not that great. It tasted little like curry and had close to no meat/potato/egg/etc. in it! If you're looking for a good curry puff, just go straight to Old Chang Kee. But if it is a delicious pastry you're game for, this is the one for you.
CMC has to work on its consistency, because their raisin bun (on the right) was a major letdown. There were about three or four pathetic raisins in the entire roll, and the bread was a little hard. I would choose Cedele's raisin brioche roll any time over this, or even Gardenia's raisin roll for that matter. Anything has to be better than this.
ImageThe kaya toast and eggs were really good, that I have to give CMC credit for. The eggs were well-timed and tasted absolutely fresh! It was so so so yummy. The bread is best eaten when burger-ized, meaning that you eat both halves of the roll together. I ate the one without butter, and kind of regret it. I took a bite of the bread (burger?) with butter and it tasted a million times better than mine. :-( Oh well, live and learn. So to all the health freaks out there, just go for the butter! Seriously! Or you'd really just be cheating yourself of the complete CMC experience.
We bought home a small tub of kaya for $3, and it can last up to a month in the refrigerator. (Just thought it would be appropriate to add this statement here LOL)
Overall, I wouldn't say CMC is the best place to go for the Singaporean breakfast as I feel that it is on par with many other coffee shops selling the same thing. However, the kaya toasts here are definitely unique, different from the sliced bread versions sold in most other places. So come here as a form of foodie pilgrimage, if you will, but I wouldn't place it on my die-die-must-try list.

Chin Mee Chin Confectionary
204 East Coast Road
63450419

Friday, January 17, 2014

Food For Thought

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Food For Thought is about transforming community spaces & bringing people together to enjoy Good Food for a Good Cause.
Food For Thought is a chain of restaurants with outlets in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, National Museum of Singapore as well as the Singapore Art Museum (8 Queen Street). It is somewhat a hybrid between a charity organisation and a restaurant. It serves up delicious food, while at the same time reaching out to its patrons about their charitable causes. This includes brochures that encourage diners to support children in third world countries, etc.
That is all very nice. Especially since you feel as if you are contributing to the "greater good" when
spending money eating there.
They do not implement service charge so the meal was very affordable. That is no surprise though, as the whole place was pretty much self-service. We had to go to the counter to place our order and serve ourselves water etc. The only service is the cooking (which is already included in the net price) and the waiters serving the food to our table.
The ambiance was really nice as well, since the restaurant was incredibly huge. The high ceiling boosted the spaciousness of the place. It could easily seat a hundred diners! The only downside was the lighting, which was rather dim due to the yellow lights used, and the individual lamps in lieu of proper (ish) central lighting.
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This is the alfresco dining area. Very nice as well! We would've sat there if we weren't so hot and tired and in desperate need of air-conditioning.
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You can actually get a picnic basket filled with yummy goodies for a lovely picnic in the Botanic Gardens! What a great idea (slash marketing gimmick).
On to the food...!
After reading a few reviews online, I decided to go with the customised brunch set (Buttered toast + Scrambled eggs + Hash browns) ($11) and the Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pancakes ($13). I was with Hansol, and we were starving after walking around the Botanic Gardens for over an hour. Also, it was brunch.
IMG_1129The pancakes came with a side of whipped cream and maple syrup. The whipped cream was surprisingly good. This is coming from someone who absolutely hates cream. The cream was light and literally melted in my mouth! Goes well with pancakes or on its own...oh the calories.
The raspberry jam (/sauce?) was delicious, and reminded me of the mixed berry jam at Baker & Cook. The dark chocolate discs had a very intense cocoa flavour and could be overwhelming for the faint-hearted. The stack of two pancakes sandwiched a thick layer of rich chocolate (NOT Nutella) that was oh-so-sinful yet irresistible. With all that, who needs maple syrup?
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The buttered toast was really thick and yellow...looks good, huh. Unfortunately, the taste was so-so only, definitely not worth the $4 we paid for it. I would prefer if they used brioche instead.
The hash-browns were good though. The little balls were made of pure mashed potato. By pure I mean it wasn't just deep fried balls of air, like in most fast-food joints (ahem). It was lightly fried, and I felt no regret in popping them into my mouth again and again and again. You can't get sick of this.
I saved the best for the last. Behold, the loveliest scrambled eggs in all of Scrambledeggshire. Ok I'm being really lame but I'm not kidding when I say this is the best scrambled eggs I've ever eaten!!! Maybe I'm deprived of good eggs but whatever, this has definitely got to be one of the best in town. The eggs were not overcooked so it was still pretty runny, and the yolk-y taste was subdued so that it wouldn't be too ~much~. It was just so so so good. :'-)
Trust me on this.

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All right, the lighting is terrible and I'm impatient and hungry... :-(
After finishing every morsel on both plates, both Hansol and I were  s t u f f e d. But we wore satisfaction on our faces. I would definitely pay FFT another visit as I love (almost) everything about it. I hope I will be more adventurous and try other items on their menu but something tells me that I will still order their scrambled eggs (for a cut-throat price of $4 but you get what you pay for). It was definitely a great way to reward our "exercise" (walking around BG haha). :-)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Raffles Snapshots (RI Year 5-6 Open House 2014)

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Yesterday was the RI Open House for potential JAE (O-level) students to find out more about the school etc. The theme for this year’s Open House is Raffles Snapshots. It could be interpreted as “snapshots” of what life in RI is like, or an excuse to camwhore a lot haha. Both are good, actually. There was a photo booth where we could take and print photos but unfortunately, I didn’t realise that till seeing the photos posted by my seniors all over Instagram. :-( Nonetheless, we got polaroid photos taken courtesy of the Befrienders (I’m guessing they’re the students actively involved in the main planning/execution of Open House?) though I suspect the Polaroid settings were set wrongly because the photos ended up really dark (we took the photos when it was quite bright so…) Anyway, at least the iPhone photos turned out nice! :-) The decorations all around campus was really nice as well! I’m really impressed by the hard work and meticulous-ness of the Open House team, it’s really, just, WOW.
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I AM SO SAD I DIDN’T GET TO WEAR CIVILIAN CLOTHES but that’s just because I was too lazy to bring (and change) clothes hahaha. Qing Kai (the band DSA dude) ((I think his name is Gion though…)) brought an entire outfit to change into haha but why trouble yourself if it is unnecessary??!
As I’m sort-of already in RI through band, I had to perform for the Open House! Our performance was at 9.30am (ish, depending on the crowd) and so we had to report by 7.30am at the band room. I arrived at 6.50am…haha the school is really dark and big and scary in the early morning so thankfully there were lots of eager-beaver RI (Secondary) boys there or I would have been completely lost inside the school.
The performance went pretty all right; though it was not as loud and resonant since the Multi-Purpose Hall (MPH) was quite big, and the doors were wide open. Also, I think our audience was mostly the Year 6s and just a sprinkling of Year 5s-to-be since it was pretty early. Anyway, performing early means I had more time to hang around the open house! :-)
I met Valerie, Shi Min and Victoria after walking across the entire Raffles campus back to the band room to keep my instrument and all that other stuff. They were on a tour and their tour guide (Befriender) was their church friend! So I just joined the tour with them and a few other people who were also in their church. Haha, well it was a little awkward but mostly fine.
Our Befriender (haha it feels really weird to use this term but bear with me please) was super enthusiastic and smiled a lot, which made Victoria laugh a lot and Victoria’s laughs are…hard to subside HAHAHA. It was quite contagious and we ended up laughing as well and our Befriender (Daniel Boey I think) was just like “Why y’all keep laughing at me?” and I felt so bad because we weren’t laughing AT him, per se. Anyway he was a pretty good guide and brought us around the JC campus, allowing us to have a feel of the school. It’s starting to seem more “manageable” now, in the sense that I won’t be utterly and completely lost. Just slightly lost, perhaps. He also answered some of our questions so we know what we are signing up for (if my friends decide to go to RI, that is) ((please please please)). Also, he seemed to be very popz (popular) ((it’s nicer said than written haha)) because a lot of other people kept coming up to our group to kajiao(disturb) him and it was quite funny. :-)
I saw quite a few familiar faces throughout the whole Open House. There was Carolyn, Abel and Esther from NavTeens; Vegas, Chuan Yao, Zhi Han, Kylie from Pei Hwa; Devni and Theng Yi from RSB (lul) and many more that I can’t remember right now!
There were also a few mascots (of the different houses, I think) roaming around, and one mascot that we kept bumping into was the gryphon with wings and a tail. It was really funny because the mascot was trying to “run” towards us but because of his (or her) costume, it was kind of hard so the “run” was in slow-motion, like in movies. Also, it whacked my head (according to Shi Min) when I bumped into it while walking out of the registration line HAHA. Accidentally, of course.
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We got to watch the performances by Raffles Street Dance, Raffles Runway (where everyone looks so incredibly amazing like, your self-esteem just goes all the way down to the dogs), Raffles Dance Club and Raffles Chorale! They were all really really good, especially the dance groups! It was so very impressive I’m sure they will have lots of recruits this year.
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(Raffles Runway)
Afterwards, I dragged Victoria to the band booth to put her name under the appeal list…thing as she was really impressed with Raffles after touring the school and everything. :-) She stands a chance, since she has 4 points. But then again, so does everybody else appealing into RI (/HC lol). :/ Anyway, she got her trombone sticker and here’s a happy photo of her with her sticker (strategically placed over her heart, to symbolise her love for RI and to join band hahahaha)
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Ended Open House with Little Pancakes and Brownice with Val, Shi Min, Victoria and Beatrice (their church friend)! I’ll blog about Little Pancakes later (or when I go back again for a second try haha to give a fair-er review).
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Note: We shared the ice-cream…I’m not a glutton :-(
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I just realised the SMSB shirt is very very unflattering lol, at least for me.
I had to rush back to RI at 2.30pm though, because I had band practice till 7pm with RI (Secondary). I felt really claustrophobic because everyone was just SQUISHED together like what even. And one of the RI boys called me “ma’am” and I felt so old HAHAHA oh well. T’was a great day. :’)
<Okay so from here on is entirely just what I feel about this whole experience and it may be sappy and gross so if you feel bored you can just skip this>
<Disclaimer: The transitions are also pretty awkward>
So…I feel incredibly fortunate and definitely blessed to even be able to get into RI. Arithmetically, it is impossible for me to get in since I can only have a net score of 4 points (the unspoken cut-off is 2). The whole journey (DSA/Conditional JAE offer) was truly a grace from God. I could feel God’s hand actively involved during that whole process. Because (yes I know you can’t start a sentence with Because so please calm down, grammar ((/English)) nazis) of that, I knew straight away that God wanted me to go to RI. I’m also blessed in the sense that I don’t have to make any more of such decisions (well, now, anyway). I have many friends who are still undecided on which JC/Polytechnic to enrol for and I’m glad I don’t have to suffer that headache.
Seeing so many talented students in RI also makes me feel very humbled. Previously, I kept having thoughts that I didn’t deserve to be in RI and was no match for all those other multi-talented over-achievers. I was so so afraid yet annoyed with myself for thinking that way. Now, I still feel awed by the whole “scene” there, but I’m no longer afraid. Rather, I’m excited to join in their so-called league and better myself. (The best is yet to be, hahaha) The past few days/weeks/months have only served to increase my enthusiasm for being a Rafflesian and I’m just…so…happy now hahaha. (It’ll be a different story when school actually starts…)
ALSO, I think that a few of my St. Marg’s friends getting 2/3/4 points is a sign from God that I should not be alone in RI (as I had feared). It is my opinion that He has opened the pathways for them, who would never have dreamt of even being able to consider RI. Anyway, I’m just going to pray for all of them and leave it all in His hands. ^_^

Monday, January 13, 2014

Pre-results

I feel awful right now.
It’s approximately 4 hours till I get my O-lvl results and that’s the last thing that’s bothering me right now. Funny, isn’t it?
Instead, all I can think about is how crappy I feel (headache + sore throat) and how sick I am of everything. I also feel very alone now because Hansol is in Korea. Honestly, I don’t know how I will be able to handle going back to school without her. She’s been my best friend in school the past two years and I know I can always count on her for support etc. (sorry I don’t do sappy) I just really wished she were back in Singapore, if even just for a day (TOday) so we can finish what we “started” together. :(
I think I really need to get out of my house. I’m going to go for a walk outside and hopefully that’ll clear my head.
Though it doesn’t help that my house is practically enveloped by construction work and busy roads, ugh.
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'O's

Hello! I just got back from school and have mixed feelings about my results. I got 7A1s and 1 A2 (Chinese), which I suppose is considered pretty good. Our cohort did well this year, in general, with quite a number of 6-pointers! I am just really bummed that I didm;t get straight A1s or I could’ve made it to the Top Students board in the hall. Now, I just get a star just like thousands of other St. Margaret’s girls. :-( I think this is God’s way of telling me not to be complacent and be humble always. So I guess it’s a blessing in disguise. Though it doesn’t change the fact that I am kind of disappointed.
Anyway, I’m just really happy for all my friends who did well! It felt really good to see the satisfaction on our teachers’ faces and the atmosphere in the hall was mostly that of celebration. :-) I did get to speak to some of my teachers, but didn’t get to thank them all. So I think I’ll just do it here (even though I doubt they will see this) ((but I just feel like it’s something I should do haha)).
IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER;
Mrs Rethinam, for giving me the ego-boost that I needed and having so much confidence in me. It really made a difference in the way I saw myself (academically). :-)
Ms Chang, for being a super understanding and approachable form teacher, and making Chinese bearable.
Mrs Yang and Mr Ang, for grading my many self-timed essays and staying back for many consultation sessions because I was so so so paranoid and insecure about SS/Lit.
Mrs Law, Mrs Tan and Ms Tan for making Physics/Bio/Chemistry concepts crystal clear and easy to understand!
Mrs Low and Mrs Chua(t) ((hehe)), for being really funny math teachers and having so much confidence in 4/6. :-)
I really do feel thankful for the results I’ve achieved and yes, I know it may seem very whiny/ungrateful that I feel disappointed…it’s just what I feel, y’know? Can’t really alter that. Speaking of which, I’m taking my Chinese A-levels this year so maybe this A2 is a sign, telling me to buck up for Chinese. :/
ANYWAY thanks to the conditional JAE thing I have, I’ll be going to RI next year, hopefully with some other St. Marg’s girls as well. :-) (I hope Val chooses RI over HC hehehe)
Okay this is a rather awkward post and I may delete it so bye!!!

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

ACJC Open House 2014

SO O-LEVEL RESULTS WILL BE OUT ON MONDAY. I have a sick feeling in my stomach about this and I just want these five days to be spent as carefree as possible before reality hits me *like a wreeeeeecking ball* (that was pretty lame of me) ((not sorry though))
Anyway, I just want to get this post down before today’s ~memories~ are lost in the abyss of my mind for ever.
Started the day with prata breakfast with Valerie. We talked about a lot of deep stuff and just chatted, caught up with each other’s lives etc. It’s really been a long time since I last really had a chance to hang with her so I treasured this morning a lot. :-) she’s one of those friends whom you can not speak to for a long whole yet still chat again like nothing changed after. (You get me?)
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Found a hippie-ish alley near the prata shop
Ft. shorts from Topshop and my Kanken bag hehe ^_^
Also, my hair looks less curly now. :’-(
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My first time having prata in close to two years! It was really good though, and I have no regrets at all! (Also, this was brunch so I guess that made it ok?)
Afterwards, we headed to Carpenter & Cook! I always bring friends to C&C when they come over/near my house lol, it’s like some kind of initiation process now. Anyway, they all love it so that’s probably a good thing.
Continued to talk and stalked some Tumblr accounts together and it was all good fun.
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Valerie is so so so so pretty :*
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Headed to Anglo-Chinese Junior College afterwards for their Open House! We took half an hour to get there because we alighted at one-north instead of Buona Vista. Also, we entered through the back door LOL. Is this supposed to be a metaphor/pre-empt??! Anyway, we were still pretty early for the Open House and it was quite awkward, with more ACJC students than “us”.
There wasn’t really much to do there actually. We saw lots of familiar faces, though! However, the number of MG/Fairfield/Barker kids was waaaay more impressive than ours. You could throw a stone amongst the crowd of Open House-goers and ten-to-one, you’d hit a MG/Fairfield/Barker girl/boy.
Stayed for the Debate, Drama, Dance and Band performances before rushing off to RI for band practice.
I was really impressed with the CCA showcases, especially the aesthetic CCAs. (Big shocker) ((sarcasm is the lowest form of wit)) (((sorry))) I recognized a lot of MTDC people in the ACJC band lol. Not to mention this guy named Erwin, who recently sat for his diploma in trombone performance. This made me realize that if I had chosen AC over RI, it would’ve have been less stressful but perhaps even more. I guess everywhere is full of talented people now and you really have to work your butt off no matter where you are! Sadly, Mr Alvin wasn’t there to conduct haha. Though come to think of it, I’m not surprised as he doesn’t really ~do~ these kind of things, judging from his track record with SMSS. I suppose it’s better to leave the performance entirely to the students so it’s more…impressive? Perhaps.
Anyway, I was running a little tight on time and literally ran from Marymount MRT station to RI. The afternoon sun was at its peak and I would not be surprised if I do get a sunburn. It also doesn’t help that I don’t have the pass to enter RI by the “shortcut” gates yet so I have to go all the way to the main entrance, sigh. ALSO, the band room is in the RI Year 1-4 building which is allllllllllll the way at the end of the campus (from Marymount MRT)
Turns out, I wasn’t late. Or even if I was, everyone was busy moving instruments to the multi-purpose hall (MPH) so my tardiness didn’t really matter haha. I learnt from the seniors that a lot of their juniors don’t really want to come to Raffles. It’s quite sad because I really do want to have a lot of people attending our Open House haha. After seeing so many people at ACJC this afternoon, I hope RI will be equally…populated (???!) on the Open House day. :-) (also because it’s no fun performing to an empty hall) ((and how to be enthu if there is no crowd???))
I guess that pretty much sums of my day! Today was a relatively good day, even though I’m really exhausted (and have work tomorrow, oh man)