Before Thanksgiving

Here I am, lying in bed, numb at my back and legs, unaware of the consequences of abolishing my initial plan of studying chemistry. Numb also at heart.

So much calculations have been poured into navigating a future path, the politically correct and practically feasible path. Yet, the sensations of the negligible pulses seem to fade away, unconsciously. Too long have I ignored its pulses, pounding circadianally, its movements and its feelings.

Grey is outside. Rain drops erode the most optimistic heads and hearts. No body even cares that much. Attrition of force. Wearing out. Feebled at heart.

Thanksgiving leaves the whole campus destitute. No life clues could be seen when I walk down the bare McGill Walk. No twittering of birds. No barking of dogs. Deadly silent, with only the rain constantly biting the cobbled path.

Stars are visible at night. At times, a couple of planes will make a curvy trajectory and tear up the black backdrop.

Moody days. No one really cares what is happening. No words would suffice to underline the deep anxiety and frivolity of the restless minds.

Here I am, thinking of the old days when I was similarly lying in bed, listening to the rain outside the window in Singapore and back in China, not sure what the future will bring us to.

Random shits. The magical cat summons the most sinister force upon the earth. And all things seem to fall apart at once.

If I were a pen, I would draw the most beautiful picture ever.

Hungry and numb.

Such a long hiatus!

It has been such a long hiatus since I logged into my last time (more than one year ago?), and I feel deeply guilty for not updating my blog. There are a few reasons why I stayed away from my blog, the primary being that to use a VPN in China during my time at home was such a tedious thing to do amidst the endless friendly gatherings and travelings I had. The deeper reason being, I have long stayed away from serious meditations and reading. I was in a constant vertex of meeting people, learning new things, going to new places and finding new food, failing to pause for a moment to sit down on my own and look at myself. 

That may sound too cheesy and narcissistic, but I still need to confess it. I wanted to separate from my old self, especially when I read through those old posts and twitters, most of which were in such an immature and self-absorbing tone and having no meanings and insights at all. What a waste of time for any reader who accidentally bumped into my blog! I don’t really know where I am going and who I will be even in short future, but deleting more than two thousands of my Weibo posts (a Twitter-like microblog service in China) might be my first step.

So here I am at the school I had dreamt so much last year, knowing nothing about how I should make out of it. Education is more than things we could take away from classes. Easy things such as how to deal with a tight schedule, choosing between a social life and a stoic one, or how to love a person all take time and effort. I am more dubious about myself than ever, as the future is amazing tantalising, yet completely uncertain and random. Even though I try to cling to something solid and stable, I can never guarantee that it may one day crumble. 

Shape up, pull my socks up, and move on!


Come on!

I am both curious and cautious at the fact that I want to spend the next about 20 minutes to pen down my eccentric feelings and groundless complaints here, just three days before my SAT exam and two days before the release of my Prelim Test results, believing that writing down what has mounted in me for long will help me to unleash the stress. Yes, I am stressed out now.

In the midst of application, many people feel disoriented and depressed by the uncertainty and diffidence that we all share in the face of ever escalating number of applicants and mounting competition. It is very counterproductive to have such feelings at this very moment, a period when applicants should grow ever more confident about themselves and be proud of the achievements that they have garnered through the years.  At lease I am feeling dismayed. I often feel the aching stress eating into my health and my mindset when I have a lot of things uncompleted, and the anxiety to finish them exacerbates the gnawing psychological pain. At this moment, I am still dissatisfied with my standardized test scores, my personal statement and other application-related matters, and am also worried about school work, test scores and my health (my back is aching egregiously). In old days, I would choose to escape the anxiety by reading unrelated books or emptying my thoughts for a while, but right now at this moment when everything seems to roll out at an unprecedented rate, I cannot afford to be light-minded, as each decision makes a difference. I am overwhelmed by the hefty amount of stress and the gigantic, invisible tasks lied ahead.

But thinking in a different perspective, I can assure myself. Most of the stress comes from my overestimation on my ability and peer pressure, and hence, to moderate the effects of the two can help me town down the pressure I am having now. For the former, I am always re-adjusting my goals and aims so that I will not be crippled emotionally if my Plan A fails, because I prepared myself with Plan B, Plan C or Plan D. But the latter source of stress is always the nemesis to me. I am not a very competitive person, but once someone triggers the mode of competition, I will fight to the end. I know that competition can boost productivity, but for me at this moment, it is very detrimental. So refraining from distractions seems very imperative to me now, and I should instead follow my own plan. This is difficult especially when I am living with my peers, but I will try to be more self-centered right now.

Of course, application and examinations are just part of our life; there are many more things out there worth my attention – and I hate to be so consumed by examinations and application that everything else becomes peripheral to me now.

(I know this post sounds like a mad man prattling about his insanity) I want to shift the tone of this post to that of relaxing, informal and appreciative. Let’s talk about books instead : ). I am currently in the midst of Emma, the second book that I’ve read by Jane Austen. Despite the provincialism of her subject matters, I still love this book as much as I love Pride and Prejudice, that is so elegantly written, characters so aptly portrayed and satirized, and language so exquisite. Well, I hope Jane Austen can save me from insanity.

Thoughts on the International Night

There are few moments in my life these days as touching as tonight: boarders from all around Asia celebrate, well, our ‘difference’ – cultural uniqueness that both sets us apart and unites us. I cannot imagine how many moments like this have been missed by me in the past three years. I, being arrogant and sometimes ignorant of the diversity of cultures in the boarding school, seem to turn a blink eye to all those cultural fusions, and will definitely miss this place – ACS(I) Boarding School.

Today is International Night, an evening where the boarders are, for the only time during a school year, being officially categorized according to  nationalities. And each nationality will present one performance that should epitomize the cultural essence of that nationality. Indian dance is always something that can stir up the ‘commotion’ in the dining hall: clamorous music, flashy costumes, energetic movements, and a beautiful Indian lady for the first time in the Boarding School, caused most of us rose to our feet. I was susceptible to music so my head kept nodding with the rhythm until my neck got fatigued. But the dance was hilarious and funny, and by the standard of entertaining the audience, it was a successful dance. Malaysians made a short video to show their appreciation to the special event. The video was hilarious yet thought-provoking. The ‘Invisible Man’ conveyed the theme of ‘you will never be alone in M’sia’, which is so sweet and warm. And our FAME Lady, how I wish she could have sung a bit longer and louder, hit me as usual with her crisp and charming voice. Coming to Vietnam, I love the Vietnamese girl in the embroidered traditional Ao Dai,  singing musingly and wistfully on the stage. The addition of girls into our midst truly makes the performance more interesting and diverse. Indonesia! Yeh! They love to have a throng of people on the stage singing and dancing. Though never changed, their performance can always make me feel empowered by the unity and the strength in their performance.

Let’s talk about China. I am not a carping person, but I feel a bit sad by today’s performance. Though the performers had put a lot of hard work finding the right song and rehearsing, there is still something missing, something that can show the width and depth of the Chinese culture. The festive drums, well, according to my friends, get most of us aesthetically fatigued. The Kung Fu and the background musicwell, are representative of Chinese culture but, come on, can we have something more creative and more contemporary? And the last song by the Comic Boyz was supposed to be upbeat and uplifting, but the singers were mostly off pitch. Besides, it is a pop song that has nothing to do with Chinese culture – the only relevance is that the song is in Chinese. Our performance was always the first, but was never the mind-blowing first – a mild opening despite the thundering drums.

I can hardly blame the performers: they’d devoted their leisure time to orchestrating and rehearsing the performances, some of which were forced out in the middle. The truth for lacking mind-blowing performance at every International Night? We, the Chinese people, have not produced something that can shock the world. We are an export country, but we rarely export our culture, besides Confucianism and Chinese characters that were produced 2000 more years ago. But in modern times, there is none. It is very sad to see all other countries neighboring our own  having something to share with the world but China. South Korea has K-POP that has it world-wide popularity for more than a decade; Japanese have had three Nobel Literature Laureates and Japanese movies are aesthetic and elegant; Taiwan’s cultural export has picked up its speed during the past few years when the Island’s film directors turn their lenses to their distinct culture and folktales. If what we can sell are still the commodities that have been existing when the other countries have not even been formed, we can see how culturally barren and infertile the current China has become. Whom to blame? God knows.

There is a dire need of a cultural revival in China. This doesn’t mean that we need to start reciting the Confucius doctrines or using brushes to write; we need to figure out the essence of our Chinese culture and tradition, and showcase it in a modern, contemporary way. Also, we have been long detached from our culture, as our youth are deeply influenced by the Occident instead, so we need to pick up our common, shared Chinese root. But the first question is, what can we pick up?

The Edge Of Glory

Lady Gaga – The Edge Of Glory

Encompassing Rock n’ Roll, 1980s’ Disco, Ballet, and even Naruto, this year’s Dance Venia’s FOA is simply breathtaking. Basking in the iridescent limelight, the dancers, or our Acsians, seemed to all forgot about their roles as IB students who are in the midst of the hectic application season; they deeply immersed in the artistic world where dance movements replaced all verbal communications. Words were redundant. Today is their moment of glory.

Dance as an art form dates back to the Ancient Greek, where the great philosophers consider dancing as the best way to expressing human emotions. This magical form of arts has not lost its aurora; instead, it continues to blossom in this age of Facebook, Twitter or iPad. I guess it is one way in which people can unburden their worldly anxieties and let the body move, spin, jump to unleash the mounting pressure that everyone in this modern age bear. I used to consider dancing as girlish, frivolous and sassy; yet, when I saw the dancers used their body language to communicate the hidden message embedded in each music piece, I was spellbound.  All adjectives are unnecessary; dancing is one of our primal human desires, is how we should live, is how we should interact with other human beings.

Life isn’t easy for the dancers. I cannot estimate the number of hours they had locked in for practice. It must be unsurprisingly enormous. The year sixes experienced even greater pressure: sandwished by unfinished assignments and the imminent IB examinations, they needed to strike a balance between dancing and school work. Well, I wasn’t an overachiever so I could not balance myself well between two demanding tasks.

Maybe in 20 years’ time, what the group of talented and diligent dancers would remember isn’t the academic vigor in this institution, but the every tear and sweat that they sprinkled on the dance floor, the standing ovation that today’s spectators gave for the curtain call, and the limelight that showered on them. Yes, it was their moment of glory; they were on the edge of glory.


Words on the Good Earth

The Good Earth cover (Mass Market Paperback, Enriched Classics)

I spent some time reading The Good Earth during the five days hiatus before school restarted. Before reading the book, I had read negative reviews on this book claiming that what Pearl B. Suck wrote in this book is the stereotypical images of Chinese people, instead of characters with distinct characters. Some reviews even claimed that this book has molded a false impression of Chinese on Westerners. Well, I felt but indignation and doubt towards those reviews after finishing this book as a Chinese national.

It may seem that the characters in this book are all but static and without development and serve the purpose of portraying Chinese people in the 1900s to 1920s. But when I read these characters, I felt that they are relatable to me: they reminded me of my grandparents and the stories that I heard from them. The central character Wang Lung who established his wealth through his hard work on the earth is similar to thousands of assiduous Chinese farmers during the old times and even today. Their fate depends very much on how much they can reap from the earth, their harvest, and any natural disasters can easily cripple the hard work they put in. Wang Lung is not a special character; he is the stereotypical character who manifests characters that are shared with thousands of farmers, or in a broader perspective, the general Chinese people, diligent, assiduous, vulnerable to natural disasters and power, but still optimistic about their future as they believe in hard work can lead to a good life. So it is not that Pearl B. Suck wanted to make a character that encompassed the stereotypical characteristics of Chinese people, it is that anyone at that time being a farmer is more or less similar to Wang Lung; Pearl B. Suck simply wrote what she saw and experienced with a bit of artistic processing. She was just taking a facet of the multifaceted social life of China and processed it with her literary prowess.

Coming back to the book per se, I do feel awe by Pearl B. Suck’s encompassing narration of the China at that time and her keen observation of the Chinese people as an outsider. Her narration may seem plain, but the details in the description made all flowery language redundant. The descriptions of a typical Chinese farmer, the wedding scene, the sumptuous tea house (brothel), the mansion of Hwang, or even the details in a bride’s wedding dress make me wonder how she could ever experience all these events as a foreigner who looked drastically from the Chinese and might be inconveniently evaded. She immersed herself into the original Chinese farmers’ lifestyle, breathe it, sense it, so that she could write such an authentic and detailed description of China at that time.

Language-wise, she wasn’t on par with Virginia Woolf or F. Scott Fitzgerald. She did not produce many witty and beautiful sentences that I felt compelled to note down. As I said, her language is plain and down-to-earth, which seems suitable for a book that is about a Chinese farmer’s life story. One thing that is worth commenting is that she tried to translate Chinese language into English. Sentences like ‘Oh, Heaven, please rain’ may seem strange in English context, but when I translated it back into Chinese, I immediately understood what that meant. This may give a sense of strangeness to English readers, but strangeness, or exoticity, is why this book came about – to reveal a Chinese farmer’s life that was never known to the Westerners before.

The Good Earth, though written 80 years ago, is still relevant to Chinese people. The general themes on fighting against poverty, rising up the social ladder from hardship, vulnerability of life of people in lower social status, and the sense of insecurity when the Chinese are deprived of land can still resonate with today’s Chinese readers. The Good Earth is truly a timeless masterpiece.

A Respite : )

Having endured two weeks’ dreadful examinations, I was exhausted from the late-night cramming and rote study, both mentally and physically. So the weekend that has just passed and the coming three days are like sudden windfalls to me, arriving at the right time for me to take a rest and do things I surely love. Here are what I have done during the weekend.

1. The Amazing Spiderman


(from Wikipedia)

I didn’t intend to watch The Amazing Spider-man initially because after watching so many similar, repeated superhero movies, be it Spider-man, Iron man or the hodge-podge The Avengers, I grew kind of bored of this genre, which always features a freakish superhero and a monstrous villain who wants to mow down the New York City (or Chicago in the case of Transformers III). Also, the name The Amazing Spider-man got me frowned: the word ‘amazing’ seems to suggest that this movie is the copycat sort of thing of the Spider-man franchise. With all these musings, I had decided to watch Abraham Lincoln: The Vampire Hunter, which blends fantasy and history together interestingly.

So when I went to the cinema and was going to buy the tickets, I realized that I forgot to bring my ID, for The Vampire Hunter is an NC 16 movie. As a result, I could only watch nothing but The Amazing Spider-man. And this turned out to be a mind blower.

The storyline takes an unusual pathway compared to the other superhero movies: Peter Parker, the Spider-man in disguise, did not start out as some freakish scientists or involve in some freakish scientist projects. He was just a normal high school humble guy, beaten at times by the sportsmen in his school. When he was accidentally bitten by a spider and discovered with ecstasy the unusual power that he possessed, he started to think whether he could use such power to do good deeds. So he learned how to camouflage himself by wearing the loose mask at first, and later the tight red-and-black costume that we are familiar with. He also made the gadgets to splurt the web-line and installed them around his wrist. Everything seemed much authentic and down-to-earth compared to the previous Spider-man series, and the audience could be related to Parker too, as he is just a normal guy.

The plot is well-woven. Each character has one kind or another relationship with one another, making all characters interrelated. So killing one would mean to bring loss to another, either a villain or a good guy. And the very interrelationship between characters magnified the sacrifice and loyalty displayed at the end of the movie, blowing the audience away with the intensified emotions and the heightened theme of unity and the good against the evil. I was moved in the scene when the injured Spider-man swung across the crane jibs belonging to the men whose son Parker had saved and reached the evil tower of life and death.

On a side note, the actor and actress are better than the two in the previous Spider-man movies.

2. Garden by the Bay

Singaporeans are pragmatic and creative. Bestowed with limited resources, Singapore strives to diversify and expand its economy by upgrading its tertiary sectors to attract more tourists to the island-city. The two IRs have been bold enough; the supertrees in the Garden by the Bay are just wonders. Nestled between the sumptuous Sands and the seafront, the 1-billion-boosted Garden by the Bay is the home to over thousands of species, be it natural or artificial – the supertrees.


(the picture is taken from

With a structure of over 40 meters high, the supertrees are cladded in greenery. Numerous pots containing orchids and other flowers are installed on the ‘tree’ trunk. The vertical projection of the canopy makes a stretching gesture, as if wealth comes from the sky and can be hoarded within the canopy.

Such a marvelous creation draws tourists in drove. When I visited there yesterday in rain, hordes of tourists were not slightly deterred by the bad weather, taking pictures in front of the supertrees or relishing delicacies in the eateries near the supertrees. And in the good weather days, the number of tourists will be whopping.

Singapore is just like the supertrees, growing from nowhere but stretching itself to reach the sky. Created on the basis of innovation and technology, the island-state is taking in the nutrition from its vibrant economy and stable society, reaping benefits from the tourists and the gamblers, growing high inch by inch. Good luck Singapore!

3. Concert in Singapore Botanic Garden.

What is one of the best ways to spend an afternoon in a sunny day? Listening to a concert in the center of a forest. This was what I did today. The Singapore National Youth Orchestra threw out a free concert in the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage in Singapore Botanic Garden today from 5:00pm to 6:00.

Luckily the weather was good: sunny and warm. Bounded by small hills, the stage is nestled well in the center of a lake, facing the valley. When it was time, droves of people settled down upon the lawn facing the stage, spreading out picnic mats. There were families, lovebirds, and people going alone like me. The sky was crystal blue, birds hovering above, the scent of soil and grass permeating.

Being only a philistine, I was only familiar with two of the compositions, one from the Pixar movie Up, the other one Debussy’s Clair de Lune. Regardless of whether I could understand or appreciate the music, I was truly immersed in this special experience. Music came from afar blended with the rustling sound of trees and buzzing sound of the people around me, with the scorching tropical sun above, I felt surreal and magical. But it was a pity that I don’t understand music, or I would have enjoyed the forest concert much better. : (

Here are the picturesImage

Many people came in three or more, scattered across the lawn


People sitting on the picnic mats, drinking or chatting leisurely. The stage is in the middle of the lake.


An European lady savoring the music with wine accompanied