dec 2012: staying at the soppong river inn

i stayed at the soppong river inn for several nights, in the bamboo room. the bamboo room is the cheapest ensuite room they have, though they do have a cheaper stand-alone hut (lahu room) with no attached washroom.


(random paperweight at the dining area)

to be honest, much of the view is obscured by foliage, but here’s the lang river (mae lang), which you can enjoy from the common area on an overhanging balcony.


you can even wade in the river via a small set of steps overgrown with moss and weeds


i liked the peace and quiet the place afforded, and spent the evenings watching sunsets


and the nights reading ray bradbury’s fahrenheit 451.

the staff members were incredibly sweet to me, and aum, the caretaker/manager of the place, looked out specially for me because i was travelling alone. i spent one night away in pai because i missed the public bus between pai and soppong (there are only two a day that go from chiang mai all the way to mae hong son via route 1095), and when i finally returned the next afternoon, aum came up to me, held my hands, and told me how worried she was when i didn’t turn up the day before. i was incredibly touched; she didn’t need to care, and i was surprised she noticed.

on my last day, aum insisted on sending me to the bus station to take the mini bus back to chiang mai. we took her scooter for the short distance of, what, 200m? with her half sitting on the seat and on my little suitcase. it was a bit of preferential treatment, and another couple that checked out that same morning watched us arrive at the bus station a little incredulously.

this was service like none other, and soppong river inn deserves all the good reviews they get for this personal touch.


dec 2012: day-tripping with two geographers

i became more emotional than i expected in the previous post; i guess i will blog about Pai as a distraction.

Thailand was my first proper solo trip (the ones before being more like weekend jaunts out of London), and God up there decided to send friends. i ran into edwin and esther at the arcade bus station in chiang mai, and we were headed for different villages up the same route. we made plans to meet up for a day trip.

i popped over to pai via a songthaew. i highly recommend taking motion sickness pills as i spent a good two hours trying not to heave at the lady opposite me.

EE rented a car for the day so that we could explore the natural wonders of pai (read: geog majors geeks)

first stop: the pambok/pembok waterfall


there was this rickety bridge that i felt rather doubtful about


until i saw a huge man walking across it. looked sturdy enough! i was a little bummed about not bringing a change of clothes (no, skinny-dipping is really not for me..) so i could only wade about knee-deep.

next stop: the pai land split. we stumbled across a wooden board advertising it, and because these are geographers we are talking about, of course we had to take a look.


the crack in the land was about 10-11m deep, about 3-5m wide, probably the result of a very minor, localized earthquake (this is hilly terrain after all). the split is set to get even wider due to soil erosion from rainfall etc. possible solution to restore it to arable land: the back-breaking work of filling the split up with surrounding soil, essentially levelling the land, which gets harder every year as more soil gets eroded by rain etc. so this enterprising farmer turned his soy plantation into a hibiscus and roselle drink + jam stall, visited by tourists enroute to and fro the waterfalls.


a view of pai from what felt like the middle of nowhere.

anyway, this was the reason my day trip turned into an overnight stay at pai –


i missed my bus because we didn’t factor in time for such! heh heh except for the fact that i had no change of clothes for that evening, this experience of driving at a stately speed behind strolling elephants is remarkable so no complaints there.

and thus starry night back at the resort it was, and i woke in the morning to a beautiful view of padi fields


im still grateful to EE for adopting me and spending such a fun and educational day with me!


(they’re getting married soon!)

starry night over a padi field

the more loving one, by w.h. auden

reading this poem made me think of the crisp, clear night when i saw so many stars in the endless tapestry of the night sky over Pai.

it was a coincidence – i crashed overnight at the Pai hotspring resort, in the hut/villa of friends whom i ran into. it happened because i missed the bus to Soppong (only 2 a day). their hut overlooked a padi field and offered a completely unobstructed view of the sky. i think about that night sky frequently, and how I’d love to return to that spot to stargaze with a lover.

i suppose it is true, as stanza 3 suggests, that we never realise what we are missing out on until we do. living in Singapore, where light pollution levels are one of the worst in the world, stars are a luxury we can only enjoy when we leave the country to visit the countryside in another. most of the time, we make do without. we have the beautiful moon to gaze at, and it was indeed beautiful on mid-autumn night. yet, how many of us took the time to enjoy the sight, instead of rushing off to do whatever it is we busy ourselves with?

and thus i find myself disagreeing with the persona in stanza 4, where he finds the total darkness of the ’empty sky’ sublime. there is a grandeur in the shadows and in darkness, but i suspect many of us would not notice the difference.

* * *
[failed, unintelligent, lazy attempt at ‘reader-response’]

i know, i am missing the more obvious point about [not] having an object to love that the poet seems to be lamenting. getting used to that, accepting that, is presented as a rational solution to unrequited love. i disagree with that sickening seemingly self-imposed self-sacrifice that the persona exerts on himself.

perhaps i dislike it only because the opening lines seem to describe my post break-up state only too well: “the stars…for all they care, i can go to hell”. it does feel that way, when one is cut off so abruptly and so cruelly from your beloved; when, within a month or two, your beloved’s facebook is cleared of all traces of you.

and so, which would you have? would you rather be the indifferent one, and have your beloved suffer as you do, pining for you as you have for him, or would you submit yourself to be “the more loving one”, accepting the way things are stoically, trusting the passage of time to get you used to solitude?

sometimes, i can persuade myself to be that, to wallow in unrequited love and want only the best for him. sometimes, i turn selfish and find myself nowhere near as self-sacrificial as the persona. i want him to hurt the way i have, if only to make it feel more fair, even if it serves no further purpose than having more broken hearts than necessary.


girls’ day out

my girly meet-up with jy ended with us browsing the stacks at toa payoh library. (while we enjoy doing that, there always is a part of us that feels we might need to get more of a ‘life’..)


she cuts a lovely but forlorn figure over in the corner.

we made an interesting discovery while hunting for a recipe book – the topics bled from cooking into dieting/health, then grooming, make-up and fashion, followed by dating (clearly, the shelving was done by a sexist, or someone who is unaware of/can’t be bothered to do anything about these tropes). the shelves opposite were concerned with pets – cats, then, if that’s not to your liking, dogs. it’s like the stereotypical single girls’ life laid out for you, failing which, you could be the cat lady.



asian-style pasta

i needed to use up my unused linguine because i wouldn’t have the time to cook anymore after this short lull of a term break. my family has been rather sick of ‘western’-style cooking, so i decided to experiment by cooking it asian-style (yes, that usually involves soy sauce somewhere…)


i used cabbage and narcissus brand canned stewed pork this time for the pasta sauce.


i love stirfried veggies and this was seasoned with soya sauce and sarawak white pepper. i used the cabbage to line the plates.


then i stirfried the cooked pasta and the stewed pork. i had to let the combination simmer for quite a while as the pasta took some time to pick up the sauce. i imagine this would be much easier with beehoon (aka rice vermicelli).


it turned out much better than i imagined (ok, ok, canned food unfortunately always turns out tasty, what with all the preservatives and salt/msg. i mean, anyone can cook instant noodles for a reason.)

i do intend to blog more about travelling, so stay tuned if you are interested!

(all photos on this post taken with a Samsung galaxy ace 2 mobile)


white pepper

my colleague returned from a weekend jaunt to kuching, sarawak. (haha my autocorrect actually turned that into ‘f**king faraway’, which is totally untrue given my location)

she said to me, ‘heard you’ve been cooking…’, and presented me with


our friend in kuching insists that their sarawak pepper is different better than what we get in singapore. i took a whiff of it and boy, is it fragrant! and sharply pungent.

i took it home and got my dad to sniff it too, who, upon doing so, promptly threw away our current slightly stale bottle of peppercorn. can’t wait to use this, and yay for practical gifts!


tang yuan, just because


glutinous rice balls in pandan (aka screwpine) and vanilla bourbon tea sweet soup.

this is usually eaten during the winter solstice, and the last day of the chinese new year. im just cooking this today because my family’s leftover riceballs are expiring soon heh.