I was checking out the hotel where we will be staying. This is something of a far cry from my original thoughts about Operation Smile missions. Obviously, there will still be missions where we will be sleeping rough, or at least not in any luxury, but this time we will be staying in a hotel that lays claim to five-star status.
Unfortunately, their website manages to combine the looks of a cosmopolitan hotel with the quaint use and misuse of English that is fast becoming a web favourite.
Have a look at the picture: Note they are happy angles… Does that mean that they are more than 90 degrees or is that acute? My maths was never that good.
Then, I read the description of their recreation facilities:
I can use the Sport Health Club, where I am advised that it will: “Health, happy and self-confident follow you to go to every day!”
Or, if I’m wanting to kick back a little I can go to the V Bar where the following delights await me: “All kinds of import red wind, beer etc, a vibrant V bar wake your tired body.”
I can’t wait to try the “import red wind” – although my wife has been known to comment on the subject of “wind” after I have eaten too many onions, she doesn’t usually refer to the actual colour.
As for food… Well, the thought of eating in the Youranju Jiangnan Restaurant makes my mouth water. There I will be treated to: “The style of Jiangnan makes you forget all unpleasant things. 12 boxes for you choose.”
News from China is very much on my mind at the moment. The Olympics started with a huge song and dance and a Singapore swimmer came within an ace of winning the first Olympic medal for decades, the Singapore table-tennis team have just secured at least a silver medal and the coverage dominates the front page of the Straits Times every day.
However, Olympic glory is pushed to one side as I search for the headlines that read “Renewed Violence in West China” (BBC Online 14/08/2008). As I write this I’m reading about how more people have been killed in a stabbing attack by presumed Uighur Muslim separatists/terrorists. The latest attack comes after a string of attacks launched since the Olympics began, and they are all in Xin Jiang – the province that is just about to become my first experience of China.
The practical side of me says that things are not going to be too bad – I went to Northern Ireland in the midst of the “Troubles” and I regularly cross the road without dying (something that is more likely to cause you death and injury than terrorists). On the other hand in Urumqi (the main city) where we will be I’m guessing that I will stand out from the crowd and it’s not unknown for terrorists to target westerners to get more attention.
An email from the Operation Smile (known from now on as OS) co-coordinator reads: “Ulumqi is safe. However, travel outside of Ulumqi for sightseeing is not advisable due to the security concerns.” So, I don’t know how much I’ll be able to see other than the hotel and the hospital.
Actually, though, my main concern was that my wife didn’t read the papers and put two and two together. Until yesterday she hadn’t appeared to have done so, but unfortunately someone mentioned it to her yesterday and now the cat is out of the bag. I really don’t want her to worry, so I’ll have to spend some time on Skype and SMS to reassure her.
(Just a note about names in the rest of this journal: Jesta is, of course, a pseudonym, and other people who feature will be referred to by their initials. This is not for reasons of secrecy, but simply because it is better to be more private than less).
Oh, gosh. It takes freaking forever to make videos.
But here’s a video of me explaining the gameplay in Braid.
I love this game. I’ll talk a little about it in case you don’t like to watch videos.
So, Braid is an Xbox LIVE Arcade game which you can download for a small fee.
It looks like a 2D platformer, but it’s actually a puzzle game. You can die but you won’t die. That is, when you get eaten by monsters, you can rewind to when you haven’t gotten eaten, and then continue from there and try not to get eaten again.
Running around the world and not dying, you collect jigsaw puzzle pieces to make nice pictures. The pieces are scattered around the world and they just annoy the heck out of you because you can see them but you can’t get at them.
You have to really crack your brain in this game. And then crack it somemore. Until your brain hates you.
But I like the music, the graphics and the gameplay. It’s unique and refreshing. If you like abusing your brain and stomping on monsters’ heads, get it.
Ask me any gaming-related questions! Post them in the comments or e-mail me, I don’t really care. I will try to answer all questions (unless I get like 500 questions a day).
James Millbower asks a Wii question:
I have a modified Japanese Wii set that appears to be fully-bricked. Can it be fixed like a semi-brick Wii set by inserting a Japanese game with a firmware update that is higher than my Wii version? If it can be corrected, where can I buy a Japanese game in the US?
I’m afraid I have bad news for you. There is currently no fix for a fully bricked Wii. Well, that’s actually why they called it a “brick” in the first place. Sorry, pal.
Chak asks an Xbox joystick question:
Do you have any idea where to download drivers for Xbox joysticks to use on the PC?
I didn’t actually answer this question for Chak because he answered it himself before I could do it, lol. But I’m posting it here anyway in case anyone ever wants to ask the same question. You can download the driver here.
Lambert asks an Xbox LIVE question:
What’s your Gamerscore?
Er… please don’t ask. If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you. No, actually, ask me in a year’s time. That will give me time to, uh, actually have a number to tell you.
She now has the support she needs and has decided to keep her baby.
It warms my heart that there are organisations in Singapore actively reaching out to help parents and patients in need.
Next week, Operation Smile Singapore will be undertaking its first major Asian mission to reach out to patients in more needy parts of the world.
On Aug 20, a mission group will be going to Urumqi, Xin Jiang, China, to operate on 75 children to repair their cleft lip and palates. The surgical part of the mission is expected to last a week — three days of surgery and four days of post-operative care and training.
Here’s an example of how Operation Smile (Global) has helped kids from all over the world. (Click on image for more stories.)
For the coming mission to Urumqi, Jesta has been accepted as a volunteer photographer with the mission and will be using the pictures he takes for Operation Smile Singapore’s stock library and a photography exhibition for the Singapore Biennale.
I’m also very pleased to announce that Jesta will be guest blogging on Sheylara.com about his trip, internet connection permitting.
Do watch out for his posts, which will be marked by this banner:
These mission trips to help children are made possible by public donations. If you wish to help, you can donate directly to Operation Smile Singapore.
Thank you for reading.
And I wish the mission team to Urumqi safety and success.
I think it’s not too bad. There are 12 lotuses, not 7 lotuses, not 6 lotuses. 12 is a great number for lotus.
At first, I thought it was a movie about 12 ah lians forming a gang. You know how secret societies and gangs like to play with numbers? So it’s like 12 ah lians. But it turned out to be a song with 12 chapters, and each chapter of the song represents a part of the character’s life.
What kind of movie would you say 12 LOTUS is?
It’s a drama. Maybe almost like a docudrama because it gives you an insight into a getai singer’s life. It shows you how people live their lives based on their different circumstances. And it’s interesting because those are lives I’ve never been through before.
So you liked the movie?
The songs were great. The filming was good, compared to Money No Enough 2, which looks like it was filmed by some cheap handycam running around the streets. But 12 LOTUS was a bit grainy for my liking cos I’m a high definition guy.
I think grainy movies look better. I hate high def. It looks fake and plastic.
Nooooo. Everyone should switch to HD. That’s the only way to go.
Never mind. Did you like the musical format of 12 LOTUS?
It’s something unique which I didn’t expect from a locally produced movie.
So, does that mean you like it or not?
Yes, Mindee Ong is very cute.
What has that got to do with what we were talking about??
What were we talking about?
Okay, okay. 12 LOTUS is a Singapore movie like never before.
How do you mean?
It’s a Singapore musical. And it’s like Greased Lightning meets Taiwanese drama. It’s a Singapore produced Hokkien musical, so it’s very saat, okay?
What about other aspects of the movie?
The staging is nice. The costumes were hilarious, especially the feather guy.
Did you like that it was dominated by Hokkien speech?
I had trouble with the Hokkien. I was struggling to read the subtitles because the only words I’m fluent in Hokkien are words like *CENSORED*…
HEY! I CAN’T PUT THAT IN MY BLOG!!
Okay, okay. My favourite part of the movie was that they managed to get a few packets of Kaka as props.
It’s damn cool okay! I’m impressed with the director!
Oh, but they were not able to get the bird series $50. They were using the Yusof Ishak $50 in the movie.
What would you say to someone if you’re trying to convince him to watch the movie?
Watch the show. If not I dowan to talk to you.
Haha, no. I would say 12 LOTUS is better than The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.
That’s a totally different genre lah! You can’t compare apples with oranges.
Yah, but I’m saying it’s a better movie than a supposed Hollywood blockbuster. Don’t waste your money watching The Mummy. Watch 12 LOTUS instead. More worth it.
Can you compare with something more relevant or not?
Okay, it’s better than High School Musical and Hairspray. Those are musicals. Can right?
Why is it better than those two movies?
High School Musical because I slept through it.
Hairspray because it’s not realistic, it’s a fairytale. 12 LOTUS is a realistic insight into the lives of very real people.