Wednesday, November 19, 2014

So McDonalds Learned Nothing

You would think that after the Hello Kitty fiasco a few years back, McDonalds would have been smarter to not try to bring back any of the limited edition toy promotion again. Because it just encourages and brings out the worst in Singaporeans. But nope, seems like they did not, with this latest One Piece promotion.




Yes, you read it right. Only 100 pieces per store. Somehow I have a feeling that they would want to see scenes like this happening all over again:







I mean I don't understand the logic behind the whole move. I mean McDonalds is supposed to be a fast food restaurant, not a toy collectors supplier. What do you hope to possibly get by selling limited edition items again? So that greedy people will take and sell it online while true One Piece fans will not be able to get it? Why do you want to introduce long queues that seek to bore and irritate your potential customers? Are you looking to be an Apple Store?

At least the figurines are not limited edition, I guess.


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Monday, November 17, 2014

Twenty Random Thoughts #161114: Not the end, but in the midst of it

1. I am still here. Though I have been extremely caught up with Nanowrimo. Missing a few days could really mean the end of you, which was why I went on a hermit writing mode. I managed to vomit out the words needed to be back on track, but do give me a while to spell check and edit before posting them out

2. One thing good that I found out from this year's Nanowrimo was the amount of people who actually read my story. And the amount of people who come to me and tell me that they enjoyed reading it. To all of you who encouraged me, thank you. Especially to a friend who said that it was like reading Nicholas Sparks 

3. And to everyone who asked whether the novel that I am writing now is real, I must apologize first for disappointing you. My life could never be as action packed as how the novel portrayed

4. It's nearing 2015 already, and I will be 25 next year. Quarter life crisis, here I come

5. Day X of Dota All Hero Challenge: I have no idea what I am doing anymore. I am at hero 83 now, but am somehow getting a little stressed out by everything

6. Dota games are very interesting, despite having a very basic gameplay. While not boasting any impressive graphics or storyline, it's the randomness that hooks people unto it. It's just such a shame that there are so many bullies in game. I mean I know a friend who is very mild mannered in real life, but when he plays Dota, fuh, a completely different person. Fierce and condescending and what nots

7. To all girls out there, if you really want to see the real side of your boyfriend or a guy you're interested in, see him play Dota. Or any multiplayer games, like Call or Duty or Battlefield. It's under the hood of anonymity that you get to see a person's true face

8. Why on earth did I decide to name this Twenty Random Thoughts instead of Ten?

9. Am I the only one here who is worried about the current developments around the world? I mean there's Russia and ISIS, and it seemed that US is the only country who is worried about all these. One wrong step and it could be World War 3 man

10. I told myself that I would never let myself get myself stuck in a work routine, but adulthood has a way of killing and sucking away your passion

11. Malaysia: The land of no more possibilities

12. 12am: The time where I can never sleep at, despite telling myself numerous times that I have to

13. Applying for a masters programme, when criteria states that you need an academic referee (ie a prof) and immediately regretting not being close with any profs during my schooling years

14. I have literally abandoned my Tinder and OKC account :)

15. Watched Interstellar and was like why is everyone so hyped out about this movie?

16. True I agree that while some effects and themes were quite cool, but the plot holes are way too jarring. Like super. Who the heck introduces a paradox at the end of the movie? Or some wishy washy magic tesseract. So disappointing

17. Interstellar also felt a lot like the movie Gravity, except this one has blackhole and wormhole. A lot of holes. Heh. If you get what I mean

18. Things I never get myself to do despite the urgency: Buy a micro SD card. Update resume. Make a video

19. Sunday: The day where you have dilemma whether to like it or to hate it

20. Point 20! Time to sleep


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Thursday, November 13, 2014

At the End of Everything #14

The sun that was shining on us that day reminded me of the day which I went out with Phoebe, almost four months ago. It was fierce, bright and unforgiving. Already my skin glistened with sweat. 

It was surprising how fast time passed, and how faster things change with time. Just four months ago, me and Phoebe seemed like an inseparable couple, sending hundreds of messages each day, sharing almost anything with each other. Back then, it seemed as if we were going to be friends with each other for a long time. We even made plans to visit the outlying islands around Singapore together. 

But somehow I managed to screw everything up, and we reverted to being strangers. Just like before we knew each other. The mere thought of that still makes me sad of myself. I got too far ahead, and let the fear of something that was not real overwhelm me. And I chickened out. A part of me cannot help but wondered how Phoebe was doing. Will she ever remember me? 

A slap from behind startled me from my thoughts. The palm of a girl landed on my left shoulder, like the friendly pat that my buddies used to give. “Hey, what are you standing there for?” came the voice, half sarcastic, half teasing.

I turned to see Jenny, her hands on her backpack strap, a towel around her neck. She has been talking about our trip today for days now, our first attempt to scale the highest natural point in Singapore, Bukit Timah. It was our first date together too, and already we’re doing something so un-ordinary. At first I was afraid that the whole thing might turned out to be one big joke at the end. But here we were, the hill in our sight.

“Uh, nothing. Just looking at how high we need to climb later,” I said, as I turned my attention to the piece of greenery that jutted up from the landscape. Standing 164 meters tall, Bukit Timah is hardly considered one of the taller mountains around the region. 

In fact, the name itself, which meant hill in Malay, is already a good indication as any other. One could easily find higher mountains in Malaysia and Indonesia. I thought about the hill that I hiked with my father back at home. Taller than Bukit Timah as well, I thought.

But it was the tallest natural point in the whole of Singapore, with recommended hiking trails, so I guessed it was as good a choice as I could get. Besides, visiting every single popular place in Singapore was something that I have always wanted to do, and the hill happened to be on the list for nature lovers. 

Jenny and I walked along the pathway that led us to the foot of the hill, about 15 minutes away from the bus stop. Along the way we encountered some monkeys prowling on top of the roofs of some nearby houses, while others were searching a nearby rubbish bin. The internet had warned us about the presence of our furry cousins, but I never expected to see so many of them in person. Not especially in Singapore. Monkeys prowling about seemed like a far cry from the sprawling metropolis of the city center. It felt as if I have taken a step back into my home country.

“I wonder how the people deal with the presence of monkeys, given how they live in such a close proximity to them,” I wondered out aloud to Jenny. We were the only two person walking near the place at that time, while the rest of the residential area looked strangely quiet. The monkeys did not pay much heed to us though, going about their own business. They were used to human presence already, I guessed. A huge banner that hung nearby warned against giving food to them.

Jenny tugged at the sleeve of my shirt. “I just hope that they don’t come close to me.” Her eyes were fixed at a group of monkeys nearby as we walked. I sensed that she was feeling a little afraid.

I gently tapped on the back of her hand, the one that was on my sleeve, somewhat elated that she was holding on to me. “Don’t worry. You have the money king beside you. I’m sure they won’t dare to come over.” She looked at me and giggled,. My heart to beam in pride.

We made small talk to distract ourselves during the walk, discussing about the latest movies in town. Jenny mentioned about wanting to watch the sequel to the movie ‘How To Train A Dragon’ and we both squealed in delight when I told her that I absolutely loved the first movie as well. We spent the rest of our journey sharing about the dragons that we would liked to own, and she decided that the big one at the end of the first movie was her favorite.

“Can you imagine what I can do with a dragon that big?” Her hands were wide open to illustrate her point, and she was practically jumping on her spot while explaining. “It’s gonna terrorize the whole Singapore!”

I was right in my guess when I read her profile. She was indeed a cheerful girl who was full with energy. And it was infectious too, her enthusiasm. I looked at how her face lit up when talking about the movie, and immediately got an idea. I stopped in my tracks and looked at her. “How about we watch the movie straight after this?”

Without even thinking for long, she immediately shouted “Yes!” on the spot. She even jumped a little. “OMG I can’t believe that I am watching Dragons 2 later!” she loudly exclaimed, all the while raising her hands in a celebratory fashion, bouncing all around. I smiled in response, happy that I made someone’s day today. I liked how she was straightforward as well. I told her that I will buy the ticket straight away.

We continued our path towards the foot of the hill, she humming a tune to song, while I tried to book the tickets to the movie on my phone. I recognized the song as one of the song from Rapunzel, another animated movie. The sounds of birds and crickets played along to her tune as our path began to get narrower. She must love animated movies, I thought, as I squinted my eyes to choose the seats in the movie theatre.

“So movie later at 8?” I asked, when the screen on my phone asked for a confirmation. She enthusiastically nodded, and I pressed the confirm button. A email was then sent to my inbox, telling me that I have successfully booked two tickets to the movie, and 24 dollars has been charged to my card. Sometimes we really have technology to thank for making our lives so much easier. 

Our path soon cut through a car park before we finally arrived at a gateway with the sign reading “Welcome to Bukit Timah” written largely on top. The path then considerably narrowed and far ahead, I could see it to begin slowly snake upwards. Trees that were much taller and bigger adorned the sides of the road. There were more people around us now too, each minding their own business. Most of them had either gray hair and wrinkled skin, or came together in family. Only me and Jenny seemed to be the boy girl couple there.

Not far from us stood a lonely building, standing guard at the bottom of the hill, just like what I saw from the various pictures found on Google. Built to resemble a traditional Malay village house, the house boast of wooden walls, attap roof and was slightly elevated from the ground. The building housed the information center of Bukit Timah. 

There were several souvenirs and memorabilia sold there, as well as facilities such as lockers and toilets. At the bottom of the building was a huge rock painted with the exact same words that greeted us at the entrance. ‘Welcome to Bukit Timah.’ Seemed like the people here were really eager to welcome us, and afraid that we would forget the name of the place as well.

Jenny and I decided that we would not keep our bags at the visitor center, because we were not sure if we would came back the same path, and we were too scared to leave our water bottles behind. In the end, we carried our backpacks with us, which made us look very odd as compared to those who were around us. Jenny did not seemed to care though, as she happily strutted along the trail that lead to the summit.

There was one main trail that connects the main road to the top of the hill, and because we have never been to Bukit Timah before, we concluded that the best option was to try the main path first before attempting other more difficult trails. The forums on the web mentioned that there were a lot more trails surrounding the entire area, which were marked as moderately challenging to highly challenging. Not sure how they were classified, I thought it was not good to take a risk. Best was to start small.

Looking at the path that led upwards, I turned towards Jenny. “So, shall we start?”

******

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P/s: I told myself that I will not play DOTA until I caught up with my word count. I played DOTA :/

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Entertainer Dinner at Papasan, Dorsett Hotel

So last week I had the chance to be treated a scrumptious dinner at PappaSan, a modern contemporary restaurant located at Dorsett Hotel, just outside of Outram Park MRT station. 


le entrance to PappaSan


The dinner was a courtesy of the good people from The Entertainer, an awesome company that offers great one-for-one deals at more than 770 different locations in Singapore. From dining treats to spa experiences to even attractions tickets, it's quite a niche app/thing to have, if you are an adventurous person who enjoys good deals. Or if you're looking for new places or experiences to explore.

It was one of my first few experiences at such a high end restaurant, being a poor working salaryman myself, and I must say, it was quite an exciting dinner outing. PappaSan is one of the many participating merchants that are featured in The Entertainer publication, which means that you can enjoy deals at the restaurant too if you're able to obtain the app or the publication. 

Anyways, one of the first thing that really caught my eye during the night was the ambience of the restaurant itself, which felt very relaxing and cosy.  It's a good place to just chill and talk with your friends, over a couple of drinks or meal.


the interior of the place


Of course, as bloggers for the day, we were treated to something really special as well, which happened to be the few signature dishes of the restaurant itself. Best of all, we got to see the special unveiling of the respective dishes as well. First up on the menu was the Italian Mountain Baked Fish!


le italian mountain baked fish


I was not able to catch the unveiling of the baked fish itself, which was quite an explosive experience, literally, according to the other bloggers. But I was able to sample some of the meat, and I must say that the fish was quite fresh and baked to a juicy perfection. I'm not quite good with describing food, forgive me, as I am not a full fledged food blogger but it was suffice to say that the dish was delicious. Kinda awesome, how you can taste the different flavours that blended together with the fish.

Our second helping of the night, after the fish, was the eye catching Portuguese Whole Roast Suckling Pig. There were two whole suckling pigs, to be exact. 


hi, my name is pig


I was able to catch the unveiling ceremony for this dish, which was quite interesting, to say the least. It involves the breaking of the pig using a plate, and two lucky bloggers were chosen to be the ones smashing cutting(?) the pig for us, so we can eat it later.


our emcee explaining to the blogger about the whole process

and there we go with the breaking of the pig!


I never knew that you could cut up a roasted pig using just a plate. The whole process seemed quite thrilling as well, judging from how the two bloggers were enjoying themselves as they were bringing down the plate on the pig. And at the end of it, as a token for good luck, they were required to smash the plate that they used on the floor. Who knew cutting up suckling pigs could be so destressing?


one suckling pig, ready for serving

the plates which were smashed into a dozen pieces


Served together with mantou, the suckling pig was delicious as well, especially if you eat both of them together. The skin was crispy and the meat juicy, though like any other roasted pigs, you might want to avoid areas of the pig that are too oily or fatty. Still it was nice, especially since the meat is not as tough as some roasted meat, and you can taste the fragrance of the meat itself.

But of course, my favorite dish for the day was the dessert that was served right at the very end. The chocolate lava cake, topped with slices of mango. We had a live demonstration by the chef who prepared a hot steaming mango sauce for the cake itself, and you could feel your mouth water as you observe the entire process.


the sugar was melted and the mango slices were added in


The end product, however, was even more mouth watering.


how can one not go goey from the sight of this?


I have eaten chocolate lava cake countless of times before, but never had I tried it with mango. Being a mango fan as well as a chocolate lover, you could say that this is my kind of best of both worlds. The sourness of the mango mixed together with the warm chocolate sauce in the cake, that's the closest you can get to food heaven, at least for me. In fact, I took two helpings of the cake just because I could not get enough of one.


I'm a happy man, though i don't seemed quite happy here


The cake can get a bit sweet though, with all the sugar around, but if you have a sweet tooth like me, it's quite the treat.

All in all it was quite an awesome experience, being treated to an awesome dinner by The Entertainer and PappaSan. Of course, PappaSan is not participating merchant in The Entertainer, so you might want to check out their website or Facebook page for more information. The 2015 version of the Entertainer will be launched soon as well, where you can get an all year round one-for-one deal around Singapore just through one medium. Quite a deal, if you ask me, so be sure to keep an eye for it.

As for PappaSan, they offer different items in their menu as well in addition to what we sampled for the night, and if you're looking for a place to just drink and chill, it's a good place to be considered too. In addition to that, they also have different types of promotion that you can check on their website

Do make sure to check them out!


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Monday, November 10, 2014

At the End of Everything #13

“Omg I love watching South Park too!” A new message greeted me in the app the next morning. Curious, I fired up the app to see whom was it from. In my half sleepy state, like I always do during the early morning commute, I saw that the message was from a girl called Jenny. She was probably commenting on a part of my profile that mentioned that one of my favorite cartoons was South Park.

It was unusual for a girl to drop a guy a message, so I found myself looking at her profile soon after. Aged 25, she was two years younger than me, and currently studying for a masters degree in a local university. Masters in science communication, her profile states. She seemed quite a cheerful person from the way she described herself. 

Life is like a box of sunshine, full of happiness if you know where to find them. That was what she wrote. The key to life was to just keep smiling, another line read. On a typical Friday night, she talked about exploring the sights and sounds of the island, uncovering any hidden gem that people might miss.

I clicked on her photos, to see how she looked like. She was certainly not as pretty or eye catching like Phoebe. but she had this smile that glowed. Slim figured and tall, at least that was what the photo showed, she has the everyday girl look. The one that you would call your buddy, or fist bump her on the shoulder. Looking at her photos and her profile, something inside of me stirred. It felt as if an invisible connection was formed. That connection reached out and pulled me in.

A part of me grew excited at the possibility of getting to know someone again. I hastily typed out a reply for her. “Yeah, South Park is like the most awesome show ever! Who is your favorite character?” I re-read the message again, just to make that it sounded alright. That I would not sound too disinterested, or too eager at the same time. Satisfied, I hit the send button, and hoped for the best.

Her reply came soon after, as I was reaching my school. Seeing that blinking notification light on my phone, I found myself suddenly becoming nervous. What her reply was going to be like? Would it be a good one, or an aloof one? Suddenly, I found myself caring again.

“Amen to that! I like Butters a lot! I think he is a very cute character, with a naive and simple perspective of the world. And he loves his friends too, though they always bully him! :(

How about you? Which character do you like most? And you mentioned you liked the outdoors a lot in your profile. What’s your favorite activity?”

I read the message several times over, crafting the reply that I had in my head. Reading her replies gave me a weird tingling sensation inside. I would describe it as happy, like the kind of feeling that makes your heart beat faster.

Before entering my class, I found myself standing near the staffroom corridor, hands hastily typing away. I replied her saying that I loved Kenny a lot, because he always seemed so cool, and he has the superpower of coming back from the dead. I tapped send, and watched the message get uploaded unto the small chat space that we were sharing.

Sliding the phone into my breast pocket, I wondered when she would reply. I actually found myself looking forward to it. A big smile plastered my face as I entered class that day, suddenly undeterred by the noisy students that welcomed me. It was strange, how a simple message from a complete stranger could affect my day that much.

Lunch that day was spent alone in the staff room, as I continued to exchange messages with Jenny. She told me that I was lucky because it was her free day and hence she was able to reply faster. I replied her saying that I should be considered lucky already because she chose to message me. She laughed in her next reply, saying that I am indeed a rare case, because normally she would not make the first move. But something in my profile caught her eye.

We continued to learn more about each other during that short one hour break that I had. Our messages were long and elaborate. In one, she talked about why she chose her field of study. “I have always been interested in teaching students, hence my major in science communication. I want to impart the knowledge of science to the the next generation, and to cultivate a better interest in science among them.” 

I told her that English language, especially the artistic expression of it, has always fascinated me. Which was why I took up English Literature. When she asked about my work, I told her that one could not possibly feed oneself by becoming a poet in Singapore, which was why I chose the path of teacher instead.

Before I knew it, my one hour break was already ending. After I told her that I had to leave, she said okay but not before sending a message that got me jumping in joy. It had a line that read,. “Speaking of which, you mentioned about hiking right? Have you tried Bukit Timah before? As a Singaporean, I have never been there. Why don’t we try going there as our first date?”

“Why not?” I tried to sound cool, but I was already looking forward to it. It was the first time everything happened so quickly, where a date was arranged on the first day we exchanged messages itself. A part of me felt thrilled by the thought of everything, while another part felt strangely suspicious. It seemed too easy, in a way. I suppose that when there is this bond that reaches out for two individuals, things will naturally get accelerated. It made me nervous.

“Just take everything slowly, and don’t overthink things,” Lucas sternly reminded me, when I told him about Jenny. “Don’t get too far ahead of yourself, but at the same time don’t let the past pull you too far down. Just take each moment as it goes, and see how things turn out.”

He certainly has the best quotes sometimes. 

*****

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P/s: Huzzah! That's 4 or 5 posts in one day? And I am back on track!


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At the End of Everything #12

“So I heard you’ve been trying out online dating huh? How is it?” I smiled awkwardly at the question, unsure of what to answer. The sound of people talking and eating filled the air, fueled by the dinner peak hour. Utensils scraped against plates and bowls around me.

I looked around the table, studying the faces of the people who were sitting on it. It was a gathering of university friends that evening, as we came together to celebrate the birthday of a mutual friend. Birthday gatherings were normally opportunities for friends to meet up and to catch up with one another, given how difficult it is to keep in touch after leaving school. A couple of them I have not met since graduating. It was good to see each other again. 

The guy who asked the question was seated in front of me, a glass of water in his hands. His name was Kevin, and we had been friends in university ever since our freshman year. Coming from the same country as me, we both stayed in the same hostel, along with rest of the people on the table. There were almost ten of us, all seated along the long wooden table in Marche, a popular western restaurant on top of Vivocity.

Kevin and I were good friends, having been neighbours for several term. He was a good friend, never hesitating to help those around him. We were updating each other about our relationship status, having talked about work and what we were currently doing. The both of us were still single, and hence the topic naturally drifted to relationships. It was a constant topic that everyone talks about when one enters the young adult phase.

“Yeah, I heard that too! Did you find anyone from there?” Another friend popped her head over, having heard the conversation between me and Kevin. She smiled cheekily at me, her eyebrows raised in a questioning manner. By now the section of my table fell silent, as I could feel several pair of eyes staring at me, waiting for my answer. I gulped uncomfortably, as I searched for an answer.

I scratched my head, even though there was no itch. “Err… Well I think it’s not bad?” Even after several times of answering the same question, I was still not used to it.

“What’s not bad? You gotta elaborate more please,” my female friend quipped, leaning her head towards me. I cast a annoyed look at her, sticking my tongue out. 

She shrugged back at me. “You still need to tell us more, you know.”

“Yeah, tell us more about your online dating story!” Another friend from the far side of the table suddenly chimed in. By now I was the center of attention on the table, with everyone focused on me. I shifted uncomfortably in my chair and let me face turn into a grimace.

“Are you all really sure you want to hear what I have to say? It’s really boring, to be honest.” I tried to divert them. A not very successful attempt, judging from the loud “Yes” from almost everyone on the table. I gave a defeated sigh, and thought about what to say. It has been more than two months since I first joined the online dating site in hopes of finding someone new. By now most of my friends had already heard about it, and considered me a rare species of some sort, being the only person among our cliques who used it.

I thought about the first girl that I have met, about my drama with Phoebe, and the several girls that I was still chatting with currently. There was another two girls whom I went out with for dinner post Phoebe, but none of them lasted after the initial date. It was amusing, to see the speed at which online dating works. If the first date did not work out, there was this unwritten custom to not contact each other after that again. I changed my hand to scratch my chin this time, as I carefully chose the words.

“Well… it’s kinda different to be honest. Online dating gives you the ability to meet people that you otherwise you would not be able to meet in real life, and I think that is kinda awesome itself, because it opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. With that being said however, there are so many choices available to you, to a point where it is tough to weed out those who are really worth your time. It can get pretty tiring sometimes.” The first sentence I quoted from a website that reviewed online dating providers, while the rest of it was how I truly felt as of now. Some of friends gave a knowing nod to what I said, while others continued to fix their eyes on me. 

They had not asked enough, I felt. And sure enough, the next question came immediately after. “So have you found anyone yet from there?” the girl next to me asked. It was not the first time someone asked me questions about my online dating experience, and every time someone does, the single most important question that they wanted to know was if I had found anyone yet.

I guessed it was because people wanted to see if online dating really worked, despite all the negative stereotypes that were attached to it. I looked at my friend and simply answered, “No,” before quickly adding, “But we’ll see how things turn out.” That was my standard answer to the question. It kills off the conversation, and is vague enough to not provide any materials for people to gossip on. Satisfied, the rest of the group turned their attention away from me. It did not take long long before the conversation drifted away from me, something which I was happy for. 

Even though I could already be considered as an experienced user of the dating site by then, it was still not something that I would talk freely about to my other friends. There is still this certain stigma attached to online dating, and I felt that whenever people ask, they were not really asking out of concern, but rather to judge you. There was this look from them that said, “Oh, you’re using online dating sites, what a loser.” It was something that I did not really enjoy.

Aside from the small interrogation, he rest of the evening went on smoothly without much incident, like any birthday celebration would. We brought out the cake, sang the birthday song, ate our dinner, exchanged any latest happenings and soon we were saying goodbye to each other, and promised that we will meet again. Perhaps during the next birthday dinner. 

Looking at the group of friends, I find what the review website was saying was indeed really true. There was no chance that I would get attached to any of the girls in my current circle of friends. It was either that they were attached or we were friends for so long that the mere thought of getting together sounded downright strange and weird. Some of us knew that we were not meant to be together. And therefore the best choice was to reach out from the circle that we had, and what online dating offered was the easiest and fastest choice available.

But it was true too what I said about being tired. While waiting for the bus home later that night, I found myself looking at my phone again, browsing through all the conversations that I had. The app tells me that there are hundreds of girls online near my area right now, but I could just not find the energy to go through all the introductions and small talk again. There are times where I wished I could be straight to the point, message the girl and tell them that I was looking for a girlfriend, and would like to meet up with them to see if we were compatible.

Sadly things never work this way. Call it sentimental or culture, but we humans still enjoyed the nuances that come together with dating. The slow chase period, the flowers giving, expression of love, all for the sake of finding someone to settle down together. It is inefficient, wastes time and not entirely effective as well. The high rates of divorce in our society is a testament to that, despite how our society has romanticized this idea of love. Could it be that love is only an illusion, just as how some scientist claim that it is? A feeling that trick us into reproducing?

My thoughts went back to the conversation that I had earlier with the friend who was sitting next to me during the birthday dinner. While talking about our work, she mentioned that she was currently working in a family service center, handling cases of domestic abuse, child abuse or any issues that involve family problems. Out of all the friends who were at the dinner that night, she was the only one working in a social service sector.

“Sometimes you don’t even know why or how on earth these people get married,” she quipped, when I asked her about the clients that she would serve. “It’s like they got married just for the sake of getting married, without even a single thought about their future children or even about growing old together.” 

It was a feeling that I well understood, being a teacher myself. There were parents that constantly gave you headache, whom you have no idea why they chose to become parents. It feels that the last thing that they were well equipped for was to be responsible for another person’s life, which in their case, was the lives of their children. 

The family service center friend made a very apt observation when she mentioned that, “If we are required to have license to own a vehicle, I don’t see why not we are required to own a license just to have children.” I could only laugh at her statement. Dealing with parents is not one easy thing, that I have to concur. And working with parents taught me the single most important life lesson that not many people seem to understand. That finding the mother (or father) to your future children was not a decision to be taken lightly. Screw that up and you screw up the rest of your life.

It was funny how much my brain could muse on a single bus ride, as a jerk on the bus broke me from my thoughts. A tiny beep on my phone made me pull it out, just to see what news my phone had to deliver. There was a message for me on the dating app, left behind by a girl whom I had messaged  earlier.

“That’s right! I am currently working as an accountant right now, which is quite a stressful job. How about you?” It was a reply to a question that I had asked a few days before, about her profile picture of her standing in front of the logo of a well known auditing firm. She had changed her picture since then, this time in a smart office wear with a slight hint of eyeliner and lipstick. If she had replied a few days before, I would have been excited and immediately show back a reply. But not tonight.

I closed the the app, and tapped on the folder that read “Games”. 

*****

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P/s: It feels like I'm on writer's steroid. Lets see if I can post another chapter by tonight


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At the End of Everything #11

“What on earth were you thinking?!” That was Lucas’s first reaction when I told him about what I have done to Phoebe. The goodbye message and my bouts of insecurity. His eyes widened in an unbelieved shock as he raised both his hands at me.

“Why would you…?!” He could not finish the sentence. I could tell that he was furious, perplexed. I have never seen Lucas so angry before. I guessed I never expected him to have such a huge reaction to this as well. His hands rubbed against his forehead, as he gave a really loud sigh. I twitched uncomfortably, trying to divert my sight away from him. A part of me wanted to just run away. 

He shot me another exasperated look. “Everything was going so well, why did you went and sabotage yourself, for goodness sake?” I did not know how to respond. In fact, I could not answer the question myself too. I looked down instead, studying the number of cracks that I could find on the floor’s tilling, not knowing what to answer Lucas.

To be honest, I wished I knew the answer. A part of me was furious at myself too, just like how Lucas was scolding me now. Why? That was the question that I kept asking myself. Why was I so stupid? So impulsive? Why did I choose to give up before anything even happened? Everything was going well, at least in the eyes of every logical human being. But yet I convinced myself that something was amiss, and something was bound to go wrong sooner or later. I took the easy way out. Coward, was what Lucas called me.

We both just sat there in silence. “I wish I knew too,” was all I could answer. The air felt heavy. “I wish I knew too,” I repeated. Something tugged inside of me, as my emotions boiled inside of me. Before I knew it, tears were already gushing out from my eyes. It felt as if a switch was flipped inside of me. For the first time in years, I actually broke down and cried. Everything that I had pent up in me all these months were suddenly unleashed.

“I wish I knew…. I wish I knew too!” I repeated the sentence again and again, in between my sobs. I felt ashamed of myself that I had to crumble like this. But the feeling just poured out on itself, and overwhelmed every single bit of myself. Lucas stared dumbfounded at me, unsure of what to do. He must have not expected this to happen. I buried my face in my arms, as I continued to heave. I wanted to stop, I wanted to argue back, but my body seemed to have taken a life of its own. I did not even know where this feeling of grief came from.

In the end, Lucas just sat beside me, and put his arms across my shoulders. He pressed tightly against it and just kept quiet. We just sat there, on the curb of the street, under the orange glow of the street lamp.

“You still cannot forget about her, is it?” Lucas gave a knowing guess. I could only nod weakly. I missed her. Of what we used to have. I longed for the feeling where I could be myself, and still be loved. With Phoebe, I felt stressed. There was this constant need to put on my best front, because she just seemed too perfect. I felt that there was this constant need to match up to her standards, that I needed to be this successful person for her. There was this invisible bar that I strived to touch, I mould that I had to fill. In a way, everything that I said, every action that I made, I had to weigh the consequence of each of them. It felt tiring and energy sapping, and I could not really be myself. With Phoebe, it seemed as if my self-confidence was non-existent.

I missed the eight years relationship. Where we had grown so comfortable with each other that there was no more guard up, no more acting. We knew the most embarrassing side of each other, and loved ourselves equally as much. Being loved deeply gives you strength, someone once said, and when that love was gone, suddenly that pillar of strength was gone too. You are suddenly caught off guard, unsure of what to do. Life was suddenly unstable again. You had to find a way to love yourself again, to accept yourself for who you are.

But I was not able to do that yet. Somehow I never realize how important was the love that had supported me until I lost it. Without it, I was suddenly made aware of all my shortcomings and areas in which I lacked. Any self-confidence and self-respect that I once had were all blown away. And in the midst of my sudden insecurity, I panicked. I freaked out. I bailed. A pointless and stupid action. And in the process, I might have hurt a totally innocent party as well. Phoebe. 

A ton of emotion swirled and twisted inside me. It made me feel terrible. Tears continued to pour out as I struggled to control my emotions. I hated every part of this love thing back there on the curb. Everything felt so pointless. Why do we need to constantly put up this show anyway? Why couldn’t we just love for being ourselves, but instead we have to put on this fake mask to make other love us? I grew angry at myself. I cursed at myself. And I bawled, letting all my emotions take control of me that night. Everything just flowed out, like a dam that broke.

We continued to sit there on the pavement, just the two of us. Cars and people passed us by, some throwing us strange looks, perhaps confused over why a grown man was weeping at the side of the road. But I did not care about anything. 

Lucas sat beside me for the whole night. “Slowly take your time alright. We’ll start again.” He gently tapped on my shoulder. His voice sounded much calmer now. At least I still had him. Someone who understood. I nodded weakly, as I started to quiet down. There is still a long journey to ahead, I thought sadly.

*****

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P/s: Third update for the day! Don't forget to read #10 first!


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At the End of Everything #10

I need someone to be there for when I am weak too. The sentence stared back at me, sitting alone on a white page.

The thought of dating Phoebe, and actually going long term with her, freaked me out all of a sudden. While things have been going on fine so far, a part of me was afraid. I sat there in my room, looking at the words that I have written on my diary. Somehow, how the thought came so naturally to me scared me. There I was, pen in my hand, looking to write something nice about what has been happening. The first dinner, the subsequent boat trip. Even the trip to the ice cream shop went smoothly. 

Everything looked as if they were lifted out from a Hollywood romance drama. We would go out on subsequent more dates, get to know each other better and ultimately be together. That was how things usually work.

But as I sat there, thinking about our relationship, the first sentence that popped into my mind was of fear, not a happy one. Fear that I was not adequate. Sure, we may both share the same course of study and other smaller traits, but that was as far as our similarity goes. 

She was way more prettier, her future much more brighter. Her dating prospects were much more better than me. That was something that she admitted as well. She has engineers, lawyers, doctors and even CEOs all waiting for her. While I was only a teacher. A lowly teacher in a neighbourhood school. A teacher who lacked the status nor the future that many other guys who were after her held. I was nowhere as buffed nor good looking, nowhere as rich or successful. 

The sudden realization of it all affected me. It was all a sweet dream, the initial two dates. That someone of a supposed lower status like me could get a girl of a higher status like Phoebe. But sweet dreams always come to an end. The more I thought about it, the more worried I became. What if suddenly she wakes up and decide that her future with me was not as bright as a future with all the other guys?

When one comes to think about it, it is not entirely illogical. Her family owned a business. In fact she lived in a landed property, along with three cars that her family owned. In Singapore, the number of cars you owned and the type of house live in says a lot about the wealth of your family. Her brother worked as a high flier in the civil service, earning a paycheck that was equivalent to three of mine. She took trips yearly to different continents. The only trips that I could take was back to my hometown.

Both of us were of a huge mismatch if one were to simply compare. Sure, the initial honeymoon period may seem great, but from how I look at it, it was a downhill path. I was sure to not be able to provide her with a level of comfort that her family did if we do settle down. I felt sorely ill equipped. And I was afraid of the future.

In the end, I called it off, scared of what may laid ahead. I was scared only disappointment would greet me should I continue down this path, and decided that the best way to not get hurt was to not try at all. 

It was precisely one night after the boating trip in which I began to craft the message. My roommate was deep in sleep behind me, perhaps enjoying the cool breeze that the rain brought. But I was too preoccupied with all the thoughts that were running in my head. I felt that I had to get it out. So much so that I let my feelings take control of me. Only the bright glow of my monitor accompanied me as my fingers began to furiously type on the keyboard, led on only by my emotions.

“Dear Phoebe, the past two dates has been a great experience to me. I had a great time with you, and to be honest, I had never expected you to agree to go out with me on both occasions. You are the prettiest girl that I have met so far, and I am sure that the scores of people that go after you is a proof to that. You shared that with me before, and it is really not surprising, since you have the looks that reminded me of a model. You have the brains the looks and the elegance that brings about this aura of perfection around you. You were like a dream come true to me, someone whom I would never imagine to be together with. 

But somehow, around you, I just felt stressed. Intimidated by you. You’re like a dream too good to be true, and somehow, I cannot help but feel constantly insecure and paranoid around you. I mean after all, I am a no one. I am not rich, not good looking nor half as successful as the guys that you have around you. I don’t even know which part of me is better than them. Compared to those guys, I am worried that I could not give you the sense of security and love that they would be able to provide you with. All I could give is love, and sadly we could not solely survive on love in our world. And I am worried about what would happen in the future as well too. What if one day you suddenly decide that I am not good enough? That I could not provide? I could not even bear the thought of suddenly losing you.

I know all these talk is too soon to say only after the second date, but a part of me tells me that this is not a battle I could win. I am not sure if I even have the ability to fight fairly, to be honest. You could say that I am giving up the fight even before I start it. But I wanted to pull myself out before I fall in any deeper. The last thing that I wanted was to get hurt again, and with you, it seemed to be a very likely scenario. As for now, I think that best way is not to contact each other anymore. It’s the best way, I suppose. And I’m sorry. For being so selfish and immature. And for being the biggest coward in the history of mankind. Goodbye Phoebe.” 

I did not even bother to re-read the message. I hit send, before adding her number to my blocked list. “Are you sure you want to add Phoebe to the list of blocked numbers?” the confirmation message tried to dissuade me. 

‘Press no, you fool!’ I could hear Lucas saying. I gave another heavy sigh, pressed yes, and went back to my bed. Perhaps I would well better now, I told myself, even though my heart ached badly. It was for the better, I tried to convince myself, although it felt like I have committed the stupidest mistake in mankind history.

*****

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P/s: Mega update, coming right up~


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At the End of Everything #9

The lake at MacRitchie can be quite calming when you are drifting aimlessly on the boat, watching the water ripple as you enjoy the different sights and sounds around you. Especially the sound of the different birds and insects, and the water gently lapping the side of your boat. That would have been the case though, if not for the past fifteen minutes that I have spent awkwardly on the on it, because of the girl who was sitting in front of me.

We had been sitting in silence ever since the old man pushed us away from the jetty. I swung my oars gently and brought us to the center of the lake while Phoebe sat there mostly in silence.

I was not sure if she was angry at me, or if she was only waiting for me to talk to her. Guessing what a girl is thinking was never really my forte. I looked at my surroundings, trying to decide what to do. Most of the people around me were having a good time. They were enjoying themselves in the different activities that they were doing. I could hear laughter and chatter in the air. One could almost feel the energy in the atmosphere. Except in our boat though. 

Different scenarios ran across my mind as I weighed my options. Talking to her was definitely the best solution, but I did not know what to say. Picking the correct words and sentence was never easy. I was afraid that the day would only go downhill should I decide to say something. The last thing that I wanted was to worsen the whole situation with my words. Things have the tendency of breaking down whenever I try to fix stuff. Bad luck Brian, that was how the internet would describe the situation that I usually end up in.

But the day should not go on like this, I thought. Or worse still, end on such a sour note. It was supposed to be a fun outing, after all. It should be remembered with fondness, not bitterness. My ego would not allow the day to go down like this.

What was I even afraid of, actually? It made no sense or whatsoever that I was afraid to talk to Phoebe. So I convinced myself to pluck up whatever courage that I had left, and to just take the leap of faith. “Hey, sorry for what happened back there.” That was the best that I could muster. For a few moments after my sentence, we both just sat there in silence. I wondered if she heard what I said. My heart beat in anticipation.

After what seemed like an eternity, she turned back to face me, her face tilted sideways. A slight smile, the kind that you give when you are tired, formed on her face. “It’s okay. Lets enjoy the rest of the day, shall we?” A huge sense of relief took over me. The wind carried the slight scent of her hair towards me as I beamed happily.

I was still unsure if her reply was good, but I took it as a positive change nonetheless. I smiled back in response. Trying to brighten up the mood, I replied with with a enthusiastic “Sure!” and started to ramble off about how crowded the lake seemed.

She smiled again, and her eyes joined in too. It felt more genuine this time. “So, where shall we explore?” she said as she turned back to face to front. At least we were talking again. 

We spent the next one and a half hour on the kayak, rowing around the lake, joking about how challenging the whole activity was. Alone in our own world on that boat, we talked and talked. Secrets were shared and our plans for life was discussed. But somehow, the magic of the day seemed lost. It felt as if most of the talk were only scratching on the surface, without anything that was going deeply. She was a girl who was reluctant to talk about her feelings, I noticed, as our conversation deepened. Whenever we talked about her past, she would always mention about what happened, without touching on how she felt during those incidents.

She was talking about how she broke up with her previous boyfriend, going into details about how long they were together, how they met and his different traits, but she never mentioned about how she felt during the relationship or after she broke up. Like if she was happy or excited when he first confessed, or whether she was sad or disappointed when he decided to cut things off.

“So how did that make you feel?” I would occasionally try to probe, but her replies would usually be “I don’t know” or a vague “Like that, I guess.” Or she might just change the topic. I guessed that she may not be comfortable in sharing her feelings yet, as it was just our second date. It made me slightly uneasy, as I felt that she did not yet trust me, while I tried to share as much as possible because I wanted to let her know that I trusted her.

A whistle blow from the old man at the jetty signaled that our time was almost up, and we began to slowly paddle back to the direction of the jetty. My muscles were aching by now, unused to the amount of effort needed to row the oars. The back of my t-shirt was damp with sweat, and I could understand why Phoebe chose to wear a dri fit singlet instead. The thought of it made me felt stupid suddenly, because it seemed that I was not entirely prepared for the occasion. 

I studied other couples around us. In most of the couples, the guys all appeared to be the one who is superior, the better prepared one. They looked like they were the ones in charge. A sudden sense of insecurity gripped me, as I realized that from the start until now, it was Phoebe who had been the lead for everything. I was merely following suit. It scared me. Suddenly everything scared me. The realization that I shared more of my feelings to Phoebe while she was holding most of her thoughts back, and how she was the one taking the lead in most of the interaction all along.

My suddenly decided to switch into paranoid mode, as it began to overanalyze everything. 

“Hey, are you okay?” Her voice startled me. We were taking off our vests back on shore, returning them to the boat owner. He was asking how the entire experience was, and Phoebe was mentioning about how fun it was to learn how to control the boat. I was mostly silent, as I have been lost in my thoughts ever since we stepped on shore. The thought of inadequacy tugged uncomfortably at my heart. It was like an anchor that was pulling me down. 

But it was not something that I would share. So I lied. “Yeah I am okay. What’s up?” I faked a grin as an attempt to reassure her.

My acting skills were never good. She looked at me skeptically for a while, before deciding that she would not ask further, and changed the topic. “Want some dessert? I know of a great dessert shop nearby.” Her voice sounded cheerful now, and she looked happy.

I agreed to it without thinking much. We set off to the dessert place that she wanted to go, an ice-cream shop located just a few bus stops away. It would have been a great experience, but already my heart was worried about something else. A nagging thought of insecurity lingered at a corner of it and gnawed at what we already had. And I did nothing to stop it.

*****

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P/s: I was initially afraid that I would not catch up because I was like three days behind schedule (6000 words short), but I decided to just fuck it and plough on. Rawr


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Thursday, November 6, 2014

At the End of Everything #8

We agreed to meet in front of the MacRitchie Reservoir the following Sunday, the oldest reservoir in Singapore. My university friends were the ones who suggested this place as a good kayaking venu. I read about MacRitchie’s history a long time ago, back when I was still in university. It was part of the compulsory Singapore education that all university students were required to take.

One of the readings talked about how the reservoir  came about. From how it was built, to interesting facts about it, such as the existence of a small Shinto shrine right in the middle of the forest, built by the Japanese during the second world war. It was sadly destroyed by the British forces when they reoccupied Singapore, and remained in that state until today. The abandoned shrine served as a quaint historical attraction for those who are more adventurous. A part of me wondered if Phoebe was the type who would be open to the idea of finding the shrine.

While the reservoir still played its role as a water catchment area today, it also serves as a recreation area for those who enjoy the nature. Activities like treetop walking, hiking and jogging are part of the different things that one can do at the park. As for me however, it was kayaking today. With a girl named Phoebe. I reached a few minutes earlier, so I waited at the bus stop as agreed. I watched the cars and buses pass, as I wondered how would today turned out like. I wondered what lay in front too. How many dates must we go before I can confess? Or are the feelings mutual in the first place? The mechanics of a courtship were all so confusing.

A short buzz in my pocket startled me. It was from Phoebe. “So sorry but I will be a little late! Boarded the wrong bus!” The messaged made me chuckle. I replied her saying that that it was okay, and to take her time. Looking at her display picture in the instant messaging app, I still had a hard time believing that an actual beautiful girl, who can easily pass off as a model, is willing to go out with me. On a date that was totally unconventional. Spent on a boat. Under the hot tropical sun of Singapore.

Lucas, of course, was skeptical too. He thought that I was lying, that I’m just cooking up a story as part of an April Fool’s joke when I first showed him Phoebe’s picture. Still, he was happy for me, just that he felt that something was not right. Such a beautiful girl would hardly be single, let alone on a dating site. Most surprising of all, she chose a guy who is neither rich, charismatic or insanely good looking. Not the typical guy that girls would fancy.

“Something smells fishy,” he said, but was not able to pinpoint what exactly that was fishy. In the end, he just asked me to enjoy myself, and to update him on the progress. I told him that I would. “Since when have I not told you first?” I asked him. He chuckled at my comment.

When Phoebe finally arrived, I found myself staring at her in disbelief again, just like the first time when I met her. She was that kind of girl who catches your attention when you walk pass her in the street. Dressed in a pink dri fit singlet and in a FBT shorts, she was a sight to behold. Her figure glowed through the figure hugging clothes. A drawstring bag hung from her back, and her hair flowed through the cap that she was wearing, into a neatly tied ponytail.

“Hi…” I said as I casually walked up to her, trying to not be too anxious. “You’re finally here!” An obvious fact, and I did not know why I said that. It sounded as if I was annoyed that she was late, which I was not. 

She smiled apologetically, as the rest of the people getting down from the bus brushed against us. “Yeah, sorry about that.” 

“Nah it’s okay.” I shrugged, and waved my hands as a signal that I don’t mind. I motioned towards the park and smile back at her. “Lets go get our boat then, shall we?”

She gave a nod, and we started along the trail into the reservoir. The path was lined with greenery, both big and small. Trees, bushes, grasses and even flowers. The fresh air here felt like a far throw away from the air that we usually get back in the city. It was refreshing, to step into nature every once in a while, and to soak in the surroundings.

Back when I first came to Singapore, I found it hard to believe that the country actually hid an outdoor gem like this right in the middle of the island. Unspoiled by civilization, I loved how the place offered a solace from our everyday technology.

We walked for a while in silence and I was not really sure of what to say to break the ice. I kept looking around me, searching for something suitable to say. I wondered if the awkwardness can still be considered normal during the second date. It was Phoebe who started the ball rolling. “So how have you been?” She turned and look at me.

I searched for an answer. There were so many things happening in my life, and I didn’t know what would be best to tell her. In the end, I settled only for “Like that lo.” Which was totally a lame way to answer questions. Who gives such a vague answer? And such a total conversation stopper too. Lucas would have definitely scolded me for this. I needed to make the answer longer, or at least ask a longer question. To keep the conversation going. “How about you? How has school been?” I simply blurted out.

She thought about for a while, her index finger on her chin. “Hmm.... like that lo,” she answered, imitating my voice, with a frown on her face. I immediately recognized it as my own. She looked at me with the frown that my friends always teased me about, waiting for a response. Her face betrayed a hint of playfulness on it. I laughed. She followed suit.

“You’re evil!” I said in between our laughter, to which she replied with a shrug. At least it did not felt awkward anymore, as we began to feel more at ease. We updated each other about our lives, about what has been happening since we last met up. Me about my work, she about her school. We continued along the tarred road, heading towards the lake.

The sun shone through the leaves, bringing a warmth mixed together with the freshness of the air. The smell of a lake hung in the air. Our feet rubbed against a dirt path path now, as our trail began to look more rugged. We were close to our destination, I guessed. Before long, we found ourselves greeted by a green wooden shack, its paint somewhat worn, with peels here and there. The zinc roof that covered the shack were rusting too. perhaps an evidence of how long has the shack been keeping watch over the lake.

Next to the shack, rows and rows of brightly painted kayaks laid, propped against a metal railing. A few dozen life vests, in an equally bright colour, hung close to the boats. Further down the shack there was a makeshift wooden jetty, where I could see other people busy getting into their kayaks, guided by an middle aged man, tanned from the head to toe. He was busy shouting instructions, gesturing wildly to make his point.

As we approached the shack, another man greeted us, whom I assumed to be the jetty man’s colleague. He asked whether we were looking rent kayaks for the day. He was a middle aged too, tanned as his colleague. His hands were wrinkled and his hair white, perhaps a result of all the hard years of work under the sun, renting out kayaks. I told him that I was, and he quoted me a price that I have already knew from online. Four crisp ten dollars note exchanged hands that day.

Phoebe immediately took out her wallet and wanted to pay for her share. I pushed her purse back into her bag. “My treat,” was all I said. I wanted her to not feel burdened. Or perhaps it was me trying to appeal to the belief that guys must always pay.

She looked surprised. “You sure about that? I mean it’s no big deal if I share, and I will feel bad if we don’t.” Her hands were still holding on the purse.

“Yeah, I’m sure. You’re still a student, and I am already working. You can treat me back the next time when we’re doing something that you like, if you feel bad for this.” I did not give her a chance to reply, as I immediately walked towards the locker. I just turned towards her and grinned. In the end she just gave a sigh, before putting back her purse into her bag.

“Thanks,” she muttered, as we were putting our belongings into our locker. Her lips parted into a smile. I let my lips do the same.

The old man then asked us to pick our life vest and our kayak, before directing us to his colleague at the jetty. It was a busy Sunday morning, and there were several other people around us, each picking their own life vest and boat. There were already several boats in the water as well. It was the first time that I was trying this, so I did not know what to expect.

Phoebe offered to help me carry the kayak to the jetty when she saw me struggling to drag the kayak to the water. But not wanting to appear weak, I told her that it was fine, and boasted that I was a king scout back in my secondary school. Any effect from my scouting experience has been long gone by now though, replaced by the product of years of not so active lifestyle once I step foot in Singapore. My arms strained to carry all the weight. Deep down inside I felt ashamed.

Phoebe must have seen through the facade, because she gave me a ‘are you sure face’. We walked a bit more, before she asked if I was okay again. I hobbled around, but still insisted that I was okay. Without saying a word, she proceeded to carry the end of the boat, which has been dragging through the ground for a while now. 

“Hey!” I turned and looked at her. “Really, there’s no need. I can do this.” The harshness of my voice caught me off guard. Beads of sweat rolled down my forehead.

She gave me a serious stare. “Just let me help, can?” There was slight hint of annoyance in her voice. The conversation was headed into dangerous water, so I shrugged, and dropped the topic. We walked in an uncomfortable silence for the remainder of the journey. The distance to the jetty was much shorter than the distance from the bus stop to the shack, but it felt like forever to me.

“Girlfriend, boyfriend?” the old man at the jetty gestured at the both of us, his finger moving from me to Phoebe. He was trying to be friendly, but it was just the wrong timing. Only an uncomfortable silence greeted him. Phoebe smiled weakly, without saying anything. She quickly climbed down to the boat, taking the front seat. I followed suit as well, but not before thanking the uncle for helping us.

This is going to be awkward, I thought, as we began to swing our oars, and paddled  towards the center of the lake.

*****

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P/s; The main character is such a dick, don't you agree? Anyways, here's to hoping I could continue to write once I'm in Malaysia!

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