| December 2005 |

Christmas Flashback

The past four years saw me celebrate Christmas in various locations, much due to the fact that I took every opportunity I had to travel and see the world:

2001

I went on an Eastern Canada road trip with Hor Wai and Yiheng. I had my first taste of skiing at Mont Tremblant, and have been hooked to this wonderful sport since. The crowd at the youth hostel was great, and we had a fun time playing games during Christmas Eve.

2002

The highlight of the trip was a four-day stay in Tokyo. We were literally lost in translation, but we had lots of interesting and memorable experiences there. We figured since we have flown halfway around the world to the land of the rising sun, we might as well head back to Taipei. I spent Christmas Eve watching the Taipei countdown on TV at my sister’s apartment.

2003

I met up with Wan and together we went on a road trip that I aptly named Journey to the West. His uncle had graciously offered to put us up at his home during our stay in Vancouver. Thanks to the wonderful hospitality of Uncle Jimmy and Auntie Susan, I had my first real Christmas dinner, completed with a homemade log cake and a sumptuous spread of Christmas favourites.

2004

The original plan was to take a train to Winnipeg and drive all the way to Vancouver before taking a flight back to Toronto. But we realise it was just too much distance to cover by land in two weeks, and we decided to fly to Edmonton instead. Christmas Eve was spent in the touristy town of Banff, located in the Canadian Rockies. We spent the night in the majestic Banff Springs Hotel, with a price tag to match. Steve and I had to dig deep into our reserves just to keep up with the spending power of Howe and Weisiang; I probably ate more steaks during the two-week road trip than I had in my entire life.

27 December 2005 · Travel · Comments (0)

Christmas Party

To be honest, I don’t feel the festive mood this year. I suppose I have outgrown the stage in my life where it was fun and cool to go for Christmas countdown. In retrospect, it’s hard to imagine why it would be fun to be crushed by thousands of people, only to stand miles away from centre stage and realise that countdown was over ten seconds ago — not to mention the mad rush for public transport when the party is over.

Being a pragmatic person, Christmas is nothing more than another public holiday to rest and relax; it is also an excellent time to meet up with old friends. I have celebrated virtually all my Christmas since my secondary school days with my basketball kakis, aka the Locusts, less my four-year exile in Canada. It only seemed fitting that I mark my return to Singapore by celebrating Christmas with them.

Chee Kong managed to get hold of a chalet room at Downtown East through his mother, and words were sent out to everyone to get together for a night of fun, joy and laughter. Things have really changed since I last visited the place. It is like a mini shopping mall inside, complete with a Guardian pharmacy, a Cheers supermarket and a World of Sports retail outlet.

Being born on Christmas has its advantage and disadvantage. People tend to remember your birthday, and assuming that you’re not a loner, you’ll always celebrate your birthday with family and friends; on the flipside, you’ll only receive presents once a year. Shunrong has the good fortune to share the birthday with Jesus Christ, and this year we bought him an ice cream cake from Swensens. To save the hassle — and money — we decided to celebrate the birthdays of Chee Kong and Reynold too, who are born in the months of December and January respectively.

A congregation of the Locusts usually mean one of two things — sometimes both — basketball and gambling. Since Downtown East does not have mahjong tables for rent, we had to settle for card games. Being inexperienced poker players, cash was quickly changing hands with no strategy to speak of; it was not surprising that we later switched to the simpler game of Black Jack. Before you label us as compulsive gamblers, let me explain the benefits of gambling with real money. Now that we are all working adults, we are no longer motivated to gamble so as to earn a quick buck or two. Rather, people tend to be more responsible — which is especially important in sequential games like mahjong and Black Jack — and it is undoubtedly more exciting when money is involved.

To some people, this might not be the killer Christmas party that would be the latest talk in town. But as always, it is not the location nor the food nor the music that makes a party fun; it is the people that make all the difference.

And I am very fortunate to have such great friends.

26 December 2005 · My Life · Comments (1)

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