The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien)

What an interesting read of fantasy, adventures, and all the exciting happenings encountered during the long and difficult journey to slay the magnificent dragon, Smaug, and reclaim all the jewels and gold to where they belong.  I like the style the story was narrated, which was easy to follow.  Enjoyed every page just like how I have enjoyed reading the Trilogy, that was in 2008.  Thanks to Bookcrossing, I have make a note on my BC profile of the books read, so now I remember.  Never thought I could finish Lord of the Rings, yet now after The Hobbit, it makes me want to continue with the Fellowship of the Ring.  So… that was how that precious came into Bilbo’s possession, and what happened long long time ago before Frodo.

I admired Tolkien’s rich imagination to come up with all these stories, and also the wordings of those songs and riddles in the pages – very amusing and chuckling.

I’m now looking forward to watch the movie, to see all the action of Thorin, the son of Tharin, and the grandson of Thror’s quest, together with his dwarvish companions – Balin, the fat Bombur, Fili and Kili, Ori and Oin etc… with Bilbo and Gandalf, how with their friends they battle with the trolls, spiders, elves, goblins & host of wargs.  So far, this is one classic I like the  most.

Here’s the trailer, couldn’t wait to watch the movie in Dec.

Farewell, Borders

Time to say goodbye and I’m feeling so sad. Borders will be closing its remaining store here today, and the brand name will go into history. The store has been having storewide 20%, 50% & 70% discounts to clear all the stock.  Ever since the news of the closure was out, and the Judicial Manager said the fate of the store will depend on how much they can get from all the Sales they were running, I have been visiting all the sales, trying to see what I could buy to help in some small ways, hoping my fave store will stay.

So far I have acquired about 20 books, from Roald Dahl to John Grisham to Jane Austen guide and authors I never knew. And the last book I just bought yesterday was “buried in Books”, a reader’s anthology by Julie Rugg. Ever since Borders came to Singapore, I have started buying books which I had seldom done before. It had also ignited in me the interests in reading and started me in my Bookcrossing hobby. I have a lot of books on my shelf which are acquired from Borders, now the goood memory will be with me.

In fact, I was previously still hopeful that the store could be saved, but my every visit to the store seeing the shelves from having less titles, to becoming emptier, to seeing some areas being cordoned till the whole store space becoming so empty and no longer look like a bookstore makes me feel really sad.

You may be wondering it’s just a bookstore, but don’t think I will feel the same loss if it’s other bookstores closing.   Just find Borders more family oriented, and the way books are being displayed make reading much more fun.

All the Best to you, Borders.  Hope you will come back one day.

Operation Valkyrie

Had Stauffenberg suceeded in his attempt of assassinating Hitler, he would have been able to reunite with his wife and children and perhaps lived to a ripe old age, like his wife till 96.  In the movie, Valkyrie, he didn’t get to see them after sending them away for safety, and was executed by the firing squad.  Remembered having read from somewhere on this piece of history, and make a note to get the book to read, but instead watched the film adaptation first.  Glad I didn’t missed watching this Sunday movie on ch5.  Was flipping through the Straits Times, and the name Stauffenberg caught my eye.  The movie was exciting and filled with suspense.  The part when Tom Cruise as Stauffenberg asked to be able to change his shirt in the room, and what happened in the room makes me sit on edge, esp when  the guard outside suddenly opened the door and nearly saw what he was doing with the explosives.  Another scene was when Stauffenberg called his comrades and asked whether to proceed with the assassination, he was put on hold, and his message was passed from one to another.  I wonder why so many people involved in the operation, and worried the message might be passed wrongly.  There are also some areas which I find quite funny – all the briefcases underneath the table are similar in colour and design.  Overall, I have enjoyed watching the film adaptation, now I just want to get the book to read, and perhaps watched it again after.  Oh yes, how come in the movie, his eyeball can be removed and put back?

Chinese Ghost Festival 31Jul to 28-Aug 2011

It’s the Seventh Lunar Month again, the Chinese Ghost Festival, when hell’s gates are opened to let out all the ghosts to wander the earth for a period of one month, this time it’s from 31 July to 28 August.  In fact, on the 30-July, the smell of incense and burning was already in the air.  There were already people burning paper money in the bin downstairs around our neighborhood.  I was also quite surprised to see office girls wearing heels, standing near to the ION MRT Station, entrance near to Wisma Atria, shuffle-ring paper money preparing for praying.  I have only seen aunties and uncles doing all these.  The smell still lingers when you go down the escalator to the area near the Sephora store.

I asked my colleague an interesting question today – whether the gates are opened in the night or day.  Does the gate closed in the day, and letting out the hungry ghosts only during the night?  Was told it’s left opened for the whole month, never close.  I have thought ghosts come out only during the night.  How are they to survive under the sun?  The colleague said they find shelter to hide.  Immediately what came to mind was a pretty ghost walking under the shade of an umbrella up and down the street visiting the living, and hid inside only when the umbrella is closed.

Max Perry Handmade Chocolates from Athens, Greece

Couldn’t stop loving it – the handmade bitter chocolates in small square cubes covered with coco, and oval-shaped types with nut inside.   Couldn’t stop eating though it’s making me put on weight.  Recently been eating lots of chocolates, Frey Suisse with 72% Cacoa, M&Ms, Ferrero Ronduoir etc… .  Looked up the website www.maxperrychocolates.com.gr trying to see whether can get here locally, but the site is all in foreign language.  Don’t think we have it here.  My niece also got me a SESAME NOUGAT BAR WITH MASTIHA AND NUTS and a Santorini magnet, with carvings of the stone houses in Greece.  Nice.

Shiroi Kobito Chocolates & other treats from Hokkaido

Tastes nice though a bit sweet, with a thin slice of chocolate (like Lindt) sandwiched between 2 slices of crisp biscuits. There are 2 types I think – Milk and White Chocolate. Good to go with tea. A colleague just came back from Hokkaido, brought us some of these kawaii-wrapped treats from the local Shiroi Kobito Theme Park Chocolate Factory. So Willy Wonker. I like best the抹茶 Matcha Green Tea wafer biscuit, as well as the Firenze & Firenze Tiramisu Chocolate with a whole almond nut inside. Both of these come in green wrappers which initially I thought were candies. Hope I could get these from our local Japanese supermarkets, but it may not taste as good as given by friends.

Once upon a time, I used to like going to Liang Court as there was a Daimaru Department Store there. There were lots of eateries at the basement. Now it seems much emptier, though there are also some Japanese Restaurants, a MEIDI-YA supermarket, a Kinokuniya Bookstore and a lot of Japanese expatriates there with their children doing their shopping. During one of the weekends there at the Tampopo Restaurant which said to serve authentic Black Pig Ramen, saw a game show going on at the centre stage with the deejay talking in Japanese. So entertaining and amusing, as this was my first time watching a Japanese version game show live. It’s a cosy family-oriented shopping mall.

Then there was Yaohan. The one I visited very often during my school days was the Plaza Singapura outlet. I go there specially for my favourite Taiyaki fish-shaped cake with Japanese Red Bean paste. Now the Japanese version is still my favourite, compared to those from Mr Bean and Jollybean. Taiyaki is available at Takashimaya.

Also a Japanese Cartoon “Candy Candy” which I watched during my childhood days. It didn’t finish airing; think it has too many episodes. I remember the protagonist, Little Candy 小甜甜, who’s an orphan, and a handsome boy Anthony 安东尼, whom she loves, but died later.

So much of walking down memory lane just from the few humble Hokkaido treats.

Received: CIAK

So happy to receive a package with the Royal Mail stamp on it, and immediately I knew what’s inside. It was delivered on Christmas Eve and I was so excited when opened to see a shrink-wrapped orange diary inside. Though after found the design not what I expected with Italian & french wordings inside – lunedi, martedi, mercoledi, gennaio, febbraio etc… The seller was very nice to allow me to exchange, but considering the recent freak winter in Europe leading to airports shutting down and flights being cancelled or delayed, I decided I should appreciate that my order arrived in good conditon, when there were other orders not delivered on time. Anyway, I’m starting to love my CIAK diary, as long as I could understand the English words, and it’s in a colour I like.

Now when comparing my previous diaries and the new CIAK, I realised the differences. At the back of my new CIAK, there’s the wordings “Handmade in Italy”, while my old ones were imprinted “Paperchase”. And the front cover of CIAK is blank, while Paperchase version had the year 2010 on it. I have all along been getting it from Borders, but they no longer bring in this year. Other than these differences, overall both designs look very similar with also an elastic band in the centre.