28 June 2007

Courting the Holidays

Just on a short break from uni. I haven't ceased contemplating and dabbling about aimlessly. To begin, I vaguely (but only vaguely) considered a trip to Queenstown, just like that, only to remind myself how snow looks like. But without warning, the icy, dry winds picked up in Brisbane and I realised then, much to my surprise, how bony and fat-less I am and how much that trip to Queenstown may eventually cost me from a chill factor. Severely discouraged from ever becoming a snowboarding champion, I decided to stay put and to continue what I've since been doing in Brisbane, covering myself like a ridiculous snow bunny all the while making Nivea and Garnier very rich.

It's a pity really because at least 3 of my friends (and that includes the Twisted One) have snowboarded and I've always wanted to try it out.

Oh, well. Poor me.

To cheer myself up, I decided to indulge in "Les Laisons Dangereuses". By Jove it's working. I'm having a marvellous time as I read each of the scandalous letters that constitute this 18th century novel. At last, a means of indirectly giving way to my frivolous libertinage!! I feel just as I did when I first discovered my mother's saucy vampire comic books as a child. (Well not quite, but it's close, very close.) What delicious pleasures this correspondence affords me. Ok, I'm only exaggerating, there's nothing really osé about the novel (so far, anyway). In fact it's simply hilarious. I'm laughing all the way. To be honest it's the most witty thing I've ever read primarily because it's so damn well written. In short, I feel jealous of Laclos. And whatsmore I find it so amusing that nothing really has changed these days in matters of courting and amorous liaisons. How advanced is this Laclos? I mean, to have expounded in such a shameless manner all the human motivations and machinations of courting, rejection, seduction etc...etc...No wonder this novel was banned in France at the time! I even read that Marie Antoinette had hidden a copy of the book before she was emprisonned. I guess no woman could resist the appeal of forbidden fruit.

To further entertain my sordid imagination, I've begun to speculate on what character I could possibly embody from the Liaisons Dangereuses. While the Marquise de Merteuil would no doubt possess a splendid wardrobe, and this in itself would appeal to my excessive vanity, I'm nevertheless convinced that I'd do much better as a man of disrepute. I think the ridiculous Vicomte de Valmont would suit me to a t.

So there you have it, Les Liaisons Dangereuses.
Worth a peak.

I can only wonder why it was never recommended to me in my teenage years. I'm sure that I would have appreciated it, if only as a self-help book. I do think no serious curriculum should be without it. If not, how would one ever learn to recognise a Valmont? Or a Merteuil, for that matter?

9 June 2007

Belated Postcards - Great Wall of China

In October last year I did what every self-respecting Chinese must do: I climbed the great wall of China!!! It so happens that the Chinese part of me ( 1/16th or thereabouts) was simply thrilled to make this hyper-elating journey. Yes, my ancestors, I have not failed you!

So how did the day go again?
Ah, yes.

Oct 2006. After stuffing ourselves with pastries from the Novotel's breakfast buffet, we cought a taxi to Tiannamen Square. Across from Tiannamen Square, just beside the Qianmen metro stop, is the Qianmen Tour Bus station. We didn't want to do the Ming tombs, so we bought a tour ticket to Badaling only. Then we sat in a waiting room for an available bus. It was amusing seeing the mounting confusion in that room. We sat there among other clueless domestic tourists until the number corresponding to our tour number was called. (Hint: sign the number with your fingers for confirmation if you prefer...just don't get on the wrong bus!)

Now listen carefully: Do WHATEVER you can to get on that bus. Before the 11th of the month, that is, 'voluntarily wait in line' day was inaugurated in Beijing, there was a lack of a queue etiquette. Things should be much improved by 2008. LOL. If not, don't be intimidated and don't take things personally. You simply have to push in...gently. Just be assertive. Hopefully, if you mind your manners and stick to your spot you'll get on that bus without having to wait for another one to arrive. But they are scheduled frequently anyway so it wouldn't be the end of the world.

After about 1.5 hours drive in a comfy air-con bus, we stopped at the scenic spot of Badaling where visitors have two choices for climbing the wall:
1. They can walk up past each tower to a remarkable scenic spot, the eighth tower I think, to admire sweeping views of the restored wall snaking across beautiful ondulating hills OR
2. They can choose to catch the cable car directly up to the eighth tower.

The second option is highly recommended if you have opted to do the sensible thing and are wearing high heels on your visit to the Great Wall. WHAT THE?? Although, come to think of it, I did spot a couple of tourists braving the steps in their killer heels. I admired their composure. It was all done very stylishly.

Beware, it is a physically exhausting climb, bring water! However, if you are fit, you shouldn't listen to those clever tour operators who assure you that you MUST take the cable car. We were almost conned into it. We bought the tickets thinking we had no choice and found that we could simply walk from the bottom up. Later, we went to the ticket office to get a refund for the unused cable car tickets. All in sign language, since I don't know enough Mandarin (yet) but we managed to be understood and it was all in good spirit. The tour operator didn't make a deal of it but I think she was a little sheepish afterwards. Overall though, skip the cable car, make sure you have plenty of Getorade or salty chips or whatever, to keep your legs from cramping due to the non-stop stepping, and off you go!!!! You little trooper!

Jason the little trooper.

Badaling is really an easy climb compared to some more 'authentic' parts of the Great Wall. You know, those other 'real' parts of the Great Wall, that I have not experienced since I'm just a loser compared to all those intrepid and experienced travellers out there. LOL! :)
Here's a thought in case you are considering a visit. In 221 BC, Qin dynasty, there existed only a little part of the great wall. I guess it is the Qin wall that could be called the 'authentic' bit. Following that, during the Han, Jin and Ming dynasties, further sections of the wall were built and/or renovated. Following that, some sections of the wall continue to be maintained and restored...right up till now. Kind of makes authenticity very relative. Can you imagine someone telling emperor Zhu Di, back in the Ming dynasty, that his wall is not the 'real' wall???? That it's not authentic??? Whatever. They'd be automatically emprisoned by the embroidered uniform guards. Or worse. So get over it, it's the real thing!!!!

Here it is then, for your enjoyment. It's the Great Wall of China and it spans kilometers and centuries:

7 June 2007

Hot Women

Ok, just so you know, I'm one of the biggest perverts on the planet. Nothing wrong with that, right? Problem is, I only perve at women. There are so many gorgeous creatures on earth it would be such a waste to refrain myself from admiring them. Nothing like an honest, appreciative glance in the direction of living art.

And you know, it's a common trait in many women. You have probably noticed the way some women explicitly check each other out and the way female strangers often glance across the room or street at each other, zooming in on the fine details of each other's outfits or hairstyle. Whenever this happens, men like to imagine that it is because we envy and/or are jealous of each other. That's a possibility. But I reckon it's wishful thinking from some men who like to entertain the idea of alpha-female competition. I reckon they imagine all that nasty stuff in order to reassure themselves of their worth. Because I assure you, if jealousy were the only reason for the amount of female perving that goes on out there, then women must derive a hell of a lot of pleasure from feeding their jealousies.

Now I'm getting to the point. One of the funniest things about girls is watching them ooh and aah to one another when they first meet up for a night out. High pitched voices fizzing all over the place:

- You look hot!
- No, you look hot!!
- Honey, I love your skirt!
- Oh, wow! Your hair looks so good like that.
- Where did you get your bag?
etc... etc...

To a lot of people, especially those who are unappreciative of aesthetics, this sounds just like a drawn out compliment seeking ritual and it's severely frowned upon as superficial babbling. But if you listen closely, it's all too evident!! To hear these gals speak you'd think they wanted to tear each others' clothes off and get it on. Well yes, some would now, wouldn't they?
The only problem is that many females refuse to do that. (You know, get it on.) In the dark recesses of their minds, they'd like to pash their hot best friend, well, perhaps, but for some reason, they can't seem to make any moves?? And so it goes.
Ever heard of the male gaze? It's a cinematic term for the way the camera simulates the gaze of men over particular objects (usually naked women) during filming. The 'gaze' evokes male desire. No, not female desire. Just male desire. That's just how it is in film. Anyway, forget it. My theory, is that in real life, women become uncomfortable whenever they exercise a 'male gaze' over other women. They end up sublimating their feelings through an overly explicit display of appreciation for other women's superficial attributes (clothes,hair etc...) That way, they can keep perving but for legitimate reasons.
It's only a theory, get over it. No one else thinks like me.
So who cares right?

Anyway since we're on the subject, I'm going to list my Tops (not in any order).

Women I find HOT:
1. Scarlett Johanssen - especially in Match Point, wow! The best.
2. Eva Green - my favourite Bond girl. Acid on ice.
3. Asia Argento - sigh
4. Salma Hayek - an ingenious, talented person. A true inspiration.

Women who I find absolutely perfect and whom I elevate to muse status. (i.e. You can look but you can't touch.)

1. Rosamond Pike
2. Charlize Theron
3. Sophie Marceau (10 years ago)
4. Monica Belluci (5 years ago)
5. Aishwarya Rai (5 years ago)
Isabelle Adjani would be somewhere in there too...does that woman ever age?

last but not least,
Women that fascinate me, but not necessarily for their physique:

1. Kirsten Dunst - I can't figure her out. Intense. Especially in Mona Lisa Smile.
2. Oksana Akinshina (from Lilja forever)
3. Julia Stiles
4. Kylie Travis - my favourite 'bitch' from Models Inc. Oh, that voice!
5. Asia Argento (especially in XxX)
6. Queen Latifah - I really don't know why. Her smile brightens me up anyday. I get all tingly and stuff...very soulful.
7. Ashley Judd - After careful consideration, I think she was my mum in a previous life.
8. And many strangers...

6 June 2007

Bang On

Which Emily Strange Are You?

Strange Emily

Take this quiz!