Monday, 29 November 2010

On hearing the broken jingle
Of that childhood ice-cream van
Memories of everything I could have done
But didn’t
Came swirling into my mind.

Through the open window
The sounds of that peak-hour traffic
So typical of our decaying world today
Invades my senses
Engulfs my soul
Which to the desk in the study is chained.
I am reminded that someday
I too shall join their ranks.

And so I let my dreams
Be that river of hope running through the desert
Forever subduing my pain.

And so I let my dreams
Be that mighty lighthouse of belief
Forever guiding my way.

Sreddy Yen

Sunday, 21 November 2010

After the rain...

...this was what I found crawling along my window!

Snails are such slow-moving creatures and most people find them to be mundane. However, I found some very interesting facts about them that may show that they aren’t that boring:

As snails move they leave behind slime. This slime is like a powerful form of suction for them. This is why they are even able to move upside down, around corners, and other comical situations. It is a myth that this type of slime is going to make humans ill. Many people worry that snails being in their garden will ruin the foods grown there and make them unfit for consumption but that is all false.

They have the reproductive organs of both males and females which categorizes them as hermaphrodites. However, the myth that they can create offspring on their own is false. They must mate with another and then both of them will have the ability to lay eggs.

Snails don’t see very well so they have to rely upon their good sense of smell to help them find their prey. They also aren’t able to hear.

Snails are very strong and can lift up to 10 times their own body weight in a vertical position.

It is believed that there are at least 200,000 species of mollusks out there including snails. Many of them haven’t been found and classified yet.

Tuesday, 09 November 2010

What is this?

I found this bug sitting on the side of the wall the other day. Can anyone identify it? It looks really outlandish...

Update: Thank you Joan (a.k.a The Bug Lady) from Photographs from South Africa, for identifying this bug. This is a Rayed Slug, a moth belonging to the Limacodidae family. I did some research, but could only find some general information on the Limacodidae family. They are often called slug moths because their caterpillars bear a distinct resemblance to slugs. They are also called cup moths because of the shape of their cocoons. They are mostly tropical, but occur worldwide, with about 1000 described species and probably many more as yet undescribed species. These moths are also said to cause serious defoliation of palms.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

A poem for my friends

(For AJ, KK, SM and SM)

For me, you have been candles
That glowing, guiding light
That showed my how one handles
The daunting without fright.

For me, you have been warm
That fire, shinig bright
Ablaze in the darkest storm
Keeping me through the night.

For me, you have been spring
Those splendid, budding flowers
That did my spirit fling
Higher than tall towers.

For me, you are a friend
Helping hands did to me lend
You're people I shall never forget
The best I've ever met.
~Sreddy Yen

Friday, 16 July 2010

Grahamstown: National Schools Festival (Part 3)

On 7 July, we had free time to roam Grahamstown, nicknamed the "City of Saints" because of its many places of worship.

First, my friend and I arrived at the Albany Museum, a natural science museum housing many fossils, sea shells and stuffed mammals.

The museum also had an Egyptian mummy:

Next, I visited the Rhodes' student art exhibition where exquisitely creative works were on display. Other than the usual paintings, there were some interesting "things". Here is a face sculptured out of baked bread (Taryn King, 2nd year BFA)...

...and yes, this dog (Francois Knoetze, 2nd year BFA) is made from chewing gun and found objects!

I also went to an exhibition call "The Binding" by Christine Dixie. The hardships of children soldiers was movingly recreated by means of toy soldiers:

Next came escapade through the many buildings in Grahamstown with my daring friend, Cuan. First, we arrived at Grahamstown's landmark: The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. George.

There was a building with an impressive clock tower next to the cathedral and so we decided to go "check it out". It turned out to be the City Hall! After some unexaggerated flattery about Grahamstown's charm and splendour, we were granted permission to scale the many narrow and pigeon-poop covered stairways into the clock tower.

Here is a view from the top...

...and here is my friend capturing the scenery through a broken clock-pane (is that the right word?)

After popping in some of the shops lining the Grahamstown streets, we arrived at the Methodist Church. Unfortunately, this was the only photo I could get of the exterior:

However, here is a photo of one of the magnificent stained-windows:

The Observatory Museum was our next stop. In 1859, Henry Carter Galpin bought a simple double-storey establishment in Bathurst Street for £300. During the next 23 years, he made extensive changes. The front was elegantly decorated, and a basement and three floors added to the back. Rooftop developments included an observatory, from which the building took its name, and what was for many years the only Camera Obscura in the Southern Hemisphere.

Next on the list was St Patrick's Catholic Church. Unfortunately, after knocking for five minutes, the doors just would not budge.

We even went into the library (because I insisted)!

By this time, four hours had passed since we set off on this adventure. Our legs were exhausted and so we decided to sit down on the sidewalk to jot down the day's events.

On the way back to our residence, we dropped by the High Court. I was so worried that we would be arrested for tresspassing!

Next to the High Court is the South African Library for the Blind. Since Cuan and I had literally invaded every attraction in Grahamstown, we decided to have a look inside.

A woman who works there gave us an unexpected tour of the Library. I was so moved by what they do for the blind that I forgot to take photos. The Library has two Norway-imported braille-printing machines costing half a million each and they print bestsellers for the blind. A 300 page Stephen King novel translates to 10 thick braille books! There are also numerous volunteers who read books which are recorded and made into audio books. Thus ended an extraordinary and unforgettable tramp through Grahamstown.

Monday, 12 July 2010

This photo was taken at The Owl House in Nieu Bethesda. I will soon be posting more photos and stories about my Grahamstown trip.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Grahamstown: National Schools Festival (Part 2)

After signing the Code of Conduct (yes, this meant no smoking and drinking for some!), we boarded the bus again and rolled down the hill to our respective residences. The boys stayed in Jameson House and so I lugged my luggage up a flight of stairs to Room 9.

We then had a quick supper and rushed off to our first show: Angeli e Demoni. The effects created by this spectacle using fire, flare and fireworks were amazing. Throughout the performance, fiery images of serpents, bats, gigantic marionettes, mirrors, flaming walls, claws and wings appear drawn in fire. However, I felt that the cliched storyline of good versus evil was a bit disappointing.

The next day (o5 July) started with the official opening ceremony and a keynote address by Dada Masilo at the 1820 Settlers Monument. Then it was time for my first workshop! I was assigned one called Beneath Your Body and here I explored my ability to express myself through physical works and discovered my inner capabilities.

We saw three productions that day: Molly Bloom, Quack! and A Teacher in the Bushveld. This version of Molly Bloom was edited from the final chapters of Joyce's classic novel Ulysses, but did not lose any of its poetic beauty and erotic bawdiness. Quack! was an interesting "Afro-Gothic thriller" about a man who escapes into a parallel universe while lying delirious in hospital. A Teacher in the Bushveld was an adaption of Herman Charles Bosman's short story about the adventures of a young man in a teaching post at a small bushveld school.

A lecture by Donna McCallum (a.k.a The Fairy Godmother) was on the programme for Tuesday (06 July) morning. I truly enjoyed her motivational speech on Creating your Extraordinary Life. It was not the usual didactic type; she involved the audience and gave her speech "oomph!" through her enthusiasm.

On this day, we watched two productions: Tree Boy and Swan Lake. Tree Boy was my favourite production throughout the festival. Within a simple narrative frame set in the South Africa of the 1960s, the piece evokes the nature of a journey through time, relationships, growth, loss and healing. I was not "mesmorised with [Dada Masilo's] contemporary take on Swan Lake", as the programme notes said. I did not like her amalgamation of African dance with classical ballet. However, everyone else seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed the performance.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Grahamstown: National Schools Festival (Part 1)

On 03 July, two bus, with about 70 pupils from PBHS, PHSG and CBC, commenced their journey down to Grahamstown.

"Oh my word! How much longer will this bus ride be?" After travelling for 11 hours on the bus, that was all I thought. On this first day (03 July), we travelled throught three provinces before arriving at our first destination: Nieu Bethesda. This place is the home of the world-renowned Helen Martins and The Owl House.

Helen Martins began an obsessive project around 1945 to decorate her home and garden. She used cement, glass and wire to decorate the interior of her home and later build sculptures in her garden. Almost all the walls of the interior of the house were covered in decorative and colourful crushed glass. In 1964, she was joined in her work by a Coloured man named Koos Malgas, who helped her build the sculptures in her garden. Martins drew on inspiration from Christian biblical texts, the poetry of Omar Khayyam and various works by William Blake. The sculptures are predominantly owls, camels and people, mostly pointing toward the east as a tribute to Martins' fascination with The Orient. Though the sculptures in The Owl House do not show great detail, I was extrememly fascinated by the tales behind their creation.

That evening, we headed off further into the hills to Weltevreden Farm for a supper in the shed and a wonderful overnight rest.
The next day (04 July), we were on the road again and reached Graaff Reinet. Here we visited the Pierneef Museum, which houses the thirty-two panels Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef was commissioned to paint for the interior of the then-new Johannesburg Railway. These panels are considered to be some of his best work and display his distinctive style. I felt very privileged to view the artwork of one of the best of the old South African masters.

At around noon, we boarded the bus again and roared off to Somerset East to see the Walter Battiss Museum. The Karoo town of Somerset East is Walter Battiss' birthplace and the museum houses a lot of his works. Walter Battiss is considered the foremost South African abstract painter. During a 1949 trip to Europe, he befriended Picasso, who would have an influence on his already quirky style. Though I am not interested in abstract art in general, it was amusing to see the works of someone who taught at my school for many years.

After that short visit, we raced off to Grahamstown. We went straight up to the 1820 Settlers National Monument. The Monument honours the contribution to South African society made by the first big influx of English settlers. However, it commemorates the English language as much as the Settlers themselves, as it is the main venue for the National Arts Festival. At this monument, we received the information regarding the National Schools Festival, which was the main reason for our visit to Grahamstown.

Monday, 28 June 2010

FIFA 2010 hype!

It has been some two weeks since FIFA 2010 first kicked off here in South Africa. Thanks to this, I have a five-week winter holiday! I am definitely not a fan of the "hooligan sport", and thus did not buy any tickets to watch the games live at the stadia. However, I did take part in this lavishly splendid event in my own way...

Sunday, 04 April 2010

My third oil painting!

My third oil painting is finally complete! It has taken me about a year, with long breaks in between, to finish. The original picture of these irides from which I worked came out of a book for watercolours. I think it definitely has more "feel" in oils.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Back with a photo...

Whew...what a busy first term back at school, but now it's time for Easter holiday! Anyway, here is a photo I took just yesterday. It seems as if the flower is of the same species as this Foto Friday post...

Saturday, 06 February 2010

Kissing a dolphin!

Three years ago, I was in Hualien Ocean Park and I kissed a bottlenose dolphin! Their skin texture is so smooth and dry.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Still-Thoughts Sunday

This is another one of my French poems...

La vie – c'est quoi?
On voyage
Sur le chemin de la vie
Mais à la fin
On ne saura plus
Le but de cette odyssée.
Cependant, on n'apprend
Qu'une realité:
On détruit cette planète fragile.
Donc, on aurait mieux fait
D'être mort?

Photo source: click here

Monday, 11 January 2010

Thought for the day

There is nothing like the razor sharp tongue of a good friend to cut through the lies we tell ourselves.

~Laura Moncur

Photo source: click here

Friday, 08 January 2010

Foto Friday

I haven't been away this whole holiday so I haven't had a chance to add to my photo collection. However, here is one I took a few years ago when I visited my home country, Republic of Taiwan. This photo depicts an inlet of Nanfang-ao Port, a major fishing port of Taiwan.

Thursday, 07 January 2010

Hualien Distillery

Here are some innovative ideas on how to decorate a toilet. I took these photos a few years ago, when I visited the Hualien Distillery in Hualien County, Republic of Taiwan.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas to all!

Here are some Christmas trivia which I found amusing...

1. The abbreviation of Xmas for Christmas is not irreligious. The first letter of the word Christ in Greek is chi, which is identical to our X. Xmas was originally an ecclesiastical abbreviation that was used in tables and charts.

2. In France, Christmas is called Noel. This is derived from the French phrase "les bonnes nouvelles," which means literally "the good news" and refers to the gospel.

3. Christmas trees are edible. Many parts of pines, spruces, and firs can be eaten. The needles are a good source of vitamin C. Pine nuts, or pine cones, are also a good source of nutrition.

4. Christmas trees are known to have been popular in Germany as far back as the sixteenth century. In England, they became popular after Queen Victoria's husband Albert, who came from Germany, made a tree part of the celebrations at Windsor Castle. In the United States, the earliest known mention of a Christmas tree is in the diary of a German who settled in Pennsylvania.

5. Christmas was once a moveable feast celebrated at many different times during the year. The choice of December 25, was made by Pope Julius I, in the 4th century A.D., because this coincided with the pagan rituals of Winter Solstice, or Return of the Sun. The intent was to replace the pagan celebration with the Christian one.

6. During the ancient 12-day Christmas celebration, the log burned was called the "Yule log." Sometimes a piece of the Yule log would be kept to kindle the fire the following winter, to ensure that the good luck carried on from year to year. The Yule log custom was handed down from the Druids.

7. Hallmark introduced its first Christmas cards in 1915, five years after the founding of the company.

8. Historians have traced some of the current traditions surrounding Father Christmas, or Santa Claus, back to ancient Celtic roots. Father Christmas's elves are the modernization of the "Nature folk" of the Pagan religions; his reindeer are associated with the "Horned God," which was one of the Pagan deities.

9. In 1647, the English parliament passed a law that made Christmas illegal. Festivities were banned by Puritan leader, Oliver Cromwell, who considered feasting and revelry, on what was supposed to be a holy day, to be immoral. The ban was lifted only when the Puritans lost power in 1660.

10. It is estimated that 400,000 people become sick each year from eating tainted Christmas leftovers.

Source: click here

Monday, 21 December 2009


"Avatar", directed by James Cameron, is certainly a compelling movie. Some of the themes portrayed in the film really made me think. Why do culture clashes always seem to end up in a chaotic mess? The colonists (in this movie, the humans) did not appreciate the positive aspects about the indigenous people(the Na'vi tribe). Also, the humans desired the precious stones that were under the dwelling place of the Na'vi tribe. Does this not epitomise what colonisation was about? Lands were only made colonies because they contained valuable resources or because they were "strategic".

I feel that major underlying messages include the destructive potential of science and technology, and the importance of religion as a support. The Na'vi people had a well-established religious belief. The humans tried to destroy the Tree of Souls (the center of Na'vi religion and culture) with their advanced weapons; however, the Tree is unscathed in the end. Does this mean that religion will always prevail over science? However, it is due to science and technology that the protagonist, Jake, was able to "move" into his Avatar (a genetically-engineered human-Na'vi hybrid body). Does this mean that science will aid religion in its fight for survival in modern day society?

As always, love is another theme in "Avatar". It was not only Jake's love for Neytiri, a princess of the Na'vi tribe, but also his love for his adopted home and people, that moved him to protect them.

The Na'vi people lived in harmony with nature because they formed bonds with the wildlife they tamed. This reminds of of the French novel, "Le Petit Prince", where the fox says that to really understand someone, one has to form bonds with it. Does global warming tell us that we do not know our planet well enough yet?

I really thought that the graphics were amazing, especially the 3D effects. I highly recommend this film to everyone, though it is rated PG-13 in USA.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Look at the similarity...

I saw this post on another blog and I felt a deep urge to post it on my blog. Look at the similarities between the Obama 2008 campaign logo and the logo of the Taiwan Solidarity Union. Does Obama support the independence of Taiwan like the TSU? Well, if he does, I definitely support him!