My Bucket List

A friend of mine is travelling in Italy right now.  She posted photos of Cinque Terre on Facebook.  I commented that I was jealous because Italy is still on my bucket list.  It occurred to me that I am either incredibly selfish or pathologically addicted to doing things that are not routine.

I have lived in five countries in three of the seven continents but I am still not satisfied.  I have travelled to dozens of countries and the only continent left for me to set foot on is Antartica, but I am still not content.  What will it take for me to stop travelling and settle down?

My bucket list is not getting shorter.  When I was a child I wanted to go to Greece which I called “the birthplace of civilization” and to Rome which I called “the cradle of civilization”.  A few years later, I had added Egypt to the list because of the Pyramids.  I also decided that I was going to live in Paris but I can’t honestly remember why.  When I did finally start travelling, more places got added to the list than got struck off.  It was a bit like a hamster-wheel.  I was going places but not getting any closer to finding completion.

If you would like me to write about a particular place, just ask.  It is always my pleasure to share the trip.

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A Music Tasting

Being neither a chamber music expert nor a French wine expert, last night’s event was an opportunity to learn a bit about both.  The venue was @Libitum Pte Ltd, Music and Art Studio on East Coast Road.  The wine and the information about it were provided by Guillaume of The French Cellar.  The music was performed by @Libitum Quartet.

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I imagine some of my readers are thinking “isn’t a quartet four musicians?”  but these five very talented people to not all play at the same time.  When a piece called for the flute, Albert Shagimardanov gave up his seat to his father, Zufar.  The musicians from left to right are Zufar Shagimardanov, Elena Shagimardanov, Albert Shagimardanov, Narine Gevorgyan, and Khachatur Khachatryan.

There were four types of wine, each paired with two pieces of music.  Pairing wine with food has become almost commonplace but pairing it with music was a novelty I could not resist.  Here are my impressions:  The first wine was a sparkling wine called Clairette de Die Tradition.  The first piece of music was Polka Pizzicato by Johan Strauss; bubbly and light-hearted, it danced like the bubbles in my glass.  The next piece, also by Strauss was Tales from the Vienna Woods.  At first, the music seemed staid and sombre, so I was afraid it had been mismatched, and that it would be better with a red wine. Soon the music changed and became whimsical and playful.  I was told later that this kind of music was written to be played in the wine houses on the outskirts of Vienna and was meant to emulate the drunkenness of the patrons.

The next wine was Chateau Haut Bessac, a white wine from Bordeaux.  I thought I must have misunderstood because I thought Bordeaux wine is always red, but Guillaume explained that 80% of the wine from that region is red but not all.  I discovered that white wines from the Bordeaux region are very interesting.  Elena invited the audience to close their eyes and imagine they are in a garden.  The quartet played Mozart’s Flute Quartet in D major and suddenly Zufar’s flute filled the garden with birdsong.  It was magical.  The second piece paired with the white wine was a Baroque Quartet by J.S. Fasch.  This time the music was led by the flute and the strings were like gentle breezes blowing through the imaginary garden.

It was time now to start getting serious.  The first red wine was Bastien from the Cotes de Provence. Accompanying this wine were two pieces by A. Piazzolla, Oblivion and Adios Nanino.  The music, like the wine, was intense.  The finale was a red wine from Bordeaux (Orby) and two tangos; one, Chao Paris by Piazzolla, and Pur Una Cabeza by Carlos Gardel, probably the most recognizable tango ever.

For my readers in Singapore, I recommend checking out the @Libitum Facebook page for upcoming events.

A Five Hour Bus Ride

The cheapest way, short of walking or hitching a ride, to get between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur is by coach.  Several companies ply this route so choosing which one to use is based largely on how convenient the departure and arrival points are to where you are, and where you want to go.

I used to use a company that departs from a shopping mall 10 minutes on foot from my office. My last trip with my usual bus company ended up taking 8 hours instead of 5.  I did get to see a part of Singapore that I had never seen before and I took some photos while waiting for another bus to arrive so that the passengers could be consolidated.  This is a smart move, business-wise, for the bus company but it made my normal trip intolerably long.

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Unlike long flights on airplanes, there are no meals served, no movies to watch, and no toilets.  That is why I changed bus companies.  It is not as convenient for me to get to the new departure point (I have to take my luggage on the public transit) but at least once I am on the coach it is only 5 hours travelling time to Kuala Lumpur and a meal of nasi lemak and hot coffee were served on board.

Please note – there are sometimes long delays at the border crossings which are beyond the control of the bus companies.