Hello lovelies! Sorry I have been so absent these past few weeks. First I had a visit from my wonderful sister and then I fell a wee bit under the weather, not venturing more than a few yards out of bed for two full days (meaning only trips to eat and pee). After my recovery time I flew off to Thailand and Bali for my last jaunt away from Singapore before I return home to chilly California. Yes, chilly California: I walked out into 88 degree humidity this morning and felt slightly cold. I’ve truly adapted to the tropics. Going back to the US mid-December, even if it is to the temperate Bay area climate, will be quite a shock to my current consistently sweat drenched and short-clad body.
But before I go home I have to tackle my final exams, always a horrific experience. However, it doesn’t feel like finals week for a number of reasons. 1) It’s not finals ‘week,’ it’s finals ‘two weeks’ because in the semester system the exam period is two weeks instead of five days like I’m used to. My tests are spread out and seem very far away despite the first one happening in two days. 2) I haven’t been taking my classes very seriously this semester, traveling and having fun more often than studying, so it’s hard to get in a studying mindset after avoiding it for 13 weeks. And finally 3) I just got back from an 11 day vacation and haven’t had classes for two weeks, so school seems entirely disconnected from my life right now.
Alas, none of this means I don’t have to take my tests. It’s hard for me to gauge how (badly) prepared I am because I’m not overwhelmed by a massive, crushing, close to panic attack inducing wave of stress like I normally am around finals so I have no accurate point of comparison. I also am worried about the way they grade here (on a real bell curve) but having never experienced it before I am again without the necessary knowledge base for judgment. I’ll just have to trust myself (eeeeeek) and hope I don’t fail anything.
I just hit a milestone in my fluid mechanics studying — I finished going through every lecture and transcribing my class notes from the semester to a new, more thorough notebook, a process weeks in the making — so I am rewarding myself with a study break. Huzzah!
I don’t have time to write a post that would do my trip to Chiang Mai or Bali justice, so instead I’ll update you on some Singapore goings-on! Sunday, the day after returning from my trip, a couple friends and I ticked “see something at the Esplanade theater” off our Singapore to-do list by attending the Bolshoi Ballet company production of Swan Lake. From what I can remember I haven’t ever seen a ballet besides the local production of the Nutcracker (right Mom?) so this was quite the classy affair for my semi-virgin dance-show-attending eyes (awkward sentence construction much?).
The Esplanade theater, aka the Durian theater, aka Theaters by the Bay, is a somewhat recent addition (2002) to the Marina Bay skyline. Its called the Durian theater because the metal spikes covering the domed building makes it look like the infamous Southeast Asian fruit. For S$43 we got seats with a restricted view, meaning we were on the side of the top balcony so we could see just over half of the stage. At first I was bothered by missing some of the dancing, but as soon as the freakishly fidgety family (alliteration!) in front of me gave up their seats in frustration (so many f words hehehe) I stopped noticing the obstruction and just enjoyed the magnificent performance. Nothing like watching a highly trained ballet company to remind you of how far you are from the upper limits of human perfection in flexibility and strength. Also, let’s just say the painted-on tights the male dancers wore left nothing to the imagination which I found really enhanced the, ahem, storyline.
In other Singapore news: before my vacation I got to show my sister around Singapore for a few days, which meant I revisited my favorite places. We (of course) went to Little India for food and shopped at Bugis market. We also went the Gardens by the Bay near the Marina Bay Sands hotel, but we went at night to see the Supertrees lit up and grab some satay-by-the-bay for dinner so it was a new experience for me, too, as last time I went in the daytime. We were taken to dim sum by my friends from film class which was fantastically delicious. And finally, a brand new experience for both of us was visiting Haw Par Villa, the strangest and most hilarious place in Singapore I have visited so far. I had heard about it numerous times from friends who had been before, but knowing vaguely what to expect didn’t appropriately prepare me for the astonishing outlandishness of the statue garden. The Haw Par Villa statuary contains scenes from various aspects of Chinese mythology, Confucianism, and Buddhism (with a smattering of other Asian cultural tidbits). Possibly the weirdest place I’ve ever visited. Attractions include, among many colorfully violent depictions of legends in the Asian mythological canon, the cartoonish yet horrific Ten Courts of Hell. I’ll let the photos fill you in.
And now back to studying! Blehhh.