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Wednesday
Dec192012

Singapore/Bahau

It had been quite an eventful week. Not quite globe-trotting but nevertheless exciting. 

It was a first for many things for me. It was the first time I took a bus from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan. It is a hub to service most modes of transportation to the south. It looked rather empty though. Perhaps it is still so new. 

The ride down to Singapore was also quite interesting. It was drizzling but that did not deter the bus from 'getting ahead'. 

Singapore is rather convenient in terms of public transport. For most of the time, we shall travel on the MRT. When we were down in October, we discovered a new line - the Circle Line. I have tackled some of the most intricate underground train lines like those in London and recently in Hong Kong ( well, Hong Kong was not difficult at all ) but this Circle Line stumps me. If you want to go to Marina Square, you don't stop at Marina Bay. You stop at Esplanade. And when you want to go to Marina Bay, you don't stop at Marina Bay, you stop at Bayfront. And if you want to go to Woodlands train station, you stop at Marsling and NOT Woodlands! Perhaps this is one of those Singapore thing - to confuse non-Singaporeans.

To back up a bit, this Singapore trip was courtesy of my friend, Kin Wee. He so generously bought tickets to Sleeping Beauty and even paid my hotel for me. I am truly blessed. Beauty was interesting. I must confess that I have never sat through an entire Beauty DVD. Most of the time, I had to break up the viewing. It is such a long ballet. But when I go for a performance, I HAD to finish it! And finish it, we did! We went on the second night, therefore, we watched the second cast perform. 

The next morning, we went to Ballet51 for Kin Wee's morning classes. Wei Cheng joined the class. It was an interesting mixed group. I saw students of all ages. There were older ladies and gentleman and also those of working age and perhaps school-going ones too. I was particularly impressed by one older lady. Her earlier training showed. She has the certain poise and elegance which made her stand out amongst the rest. Someday, when I am very old and I join a class, I hope I shall stand out like her too.

In the afternoon, we went to Marina Bay Sands, complete with our backpacks. We checked out Louis Vuitton looking a lot like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And then I discovered Beanstro! It is a Coffee Bean outlet but with a bistro, and hence, Beanstro. What is amazing at Beanstro? Their Chicago Cheesecake! Even the thought of it makes me salivate!

Then, we are off to another adventure - the rush to the Woodlands train station to go to Bahau. The train is supposed to be an express train. However, it was anything but. It stopped at almost every station. I did not really mind, actually, because I managed to get my higher level Trainspotter badge on FourSquare. 

Wen Yee has a ballet school in Bahau. For years, we have been trying to organise a workshop/ visit to her school. The last time I was there was when her son (also my godson) Wan Jun was born. He is already 14! So, this time, I was to conduct 2 workshops, watch the school Chinese dance demonstrations and give away awards. It was a  very productive day. More about it later but now back to my train ride.

I have never had a meal in the dinner car of a train before. This was my first! I have read so many books about train travels, about how people will move to the dinner car for their meals. There is a certain air of romance and adventure about it. Although it was just a simple meal of Nasi Goreng and a very salty one, I must say, I can now strike it off my bucket list. There were 2 toilets in the carriage. One works but does not lock and the other does not work but locks. I took the lock option. There were lots of people loitering in-between carriages as well. Smoker or just who merely wants the feel of fresh air. Although, I wonder seriously about the fresh air bit, since it's right next to the toilets. Wen Yee told us to look out for our stop, Bahau. It is right after Gemas. But it was not necessary. The train master walked over to us and quietly told us that Bahau was the next stop and we are to get out there. A very nice personal touch, I thought. 

However, the train stopped short of the station, possibly to allow another train to pass. I was a nervous wreak, not wanting to miss my stop. Wei Cheng had to reassure me that we are in the middle of nowhere and not at the station. BUT when we actually got to the station, we alighted to a narrow curb right beside the train and to be greeted by a sea of muddy water. We were on the last carriage and therefore, did not quite stop at the station. We had to gingerly walk along the narrow curb, with our bags, being careful not to fall into muddy abyss. Then the train whistled! Oh no! We are going to be 'slapped' on our shoulders by the moving train into muddy sea! Wei Cheng told me to hurry. How to hurry??? Then I saw dry land and jumped on it! There! one does not get adventures like this everyday! Another strike off for the bucket list - to nearly die by train.

When we got to the hotel, it was past 1AM. The hotel was ABSOLUTELY EMPTY except for the receptionist. It had a creepy, eerie feeling. I will confess I did not feel brave at all. But, the next morning, there were lots of living, breating human. I think in Bahau bedtime is a lot earlier.

The 2 workshops was fun, for me anyways. It is always interesting to go and teach a whole new bunch of new people, not knowing what may work and what may not. The challenge is to prepare something that is both exciting, challenging but yet do-able. The participants must go away, having learnt something they never knew before but not feel a total failure by not being able to understand nor achieve anything during the lesson. The 5 Intermediate girls impressed me by their maturity of being able to handle and organise the entire school for the afternoon's demonstration. Wen Yee have trained them well. The little ones were quite a bunch. There were 21 of them and I had them eating out of my hand with my 'scary face' exercise :) 

With award presentations and demonstations, the afternoon quickly passed and then it was time to go home. Going home this time involves travelling on the bus to Seremban then the KTM Komuter. A lesson I learnt was that I must try to travel lighter. But how much lighter? As it is, I did not pack enough clothes for the entire duration. Kin Wee had to lend me a T-shirt. 

I had a great time over the weekend. Great catching up with friends, exciting adventures, great classes and a great companion. 

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