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Monday, April 30, 2012

A Tour of the Future

One of my favourite experiences in Barcelona was the Museum of Ideas and Inventions.

Filled with quirky things, ideas and innovative (but sometimes useless) items, it was a fun way to spend an afternoon.
One must weigh herself after 2 weeks of pigging.

A relief to know i'm Kate Moss's weight! There's also the weight of Yoda and Frodo.
Silly inventions can be bought at the gift shop too, i was tempted but knew it is actually quite useless! They had a bubble wrap calender for 17 Euros, where you can pop a bubble a day, hard for the bubble wrap maniac!

You need to experience winter to know almost everyone tucks their hands in their pockets to keep warm if they aren't wearing gloves.

So here comes the invention...
Not for sale are also inventions like a TV remote control that is shaped like a wand! It looks like magic as you channel surf with a flick of the wrist.
 I think the best ideas and inventions are created to serve a need.
Imagined by Pep Torres who wrote (i adapted his copy) and created every item (not photographed here) by hand, the relatively small museum featured a resident exhibition that shows normal day-to-day life over the next 300 years through a series of inventions that stimulate reflection about our present.

The below are some of my favourites but not the entire exhibition.

A Tour of the Future by Pep Torres

With both men and women being more promiscuous, relationships are short lived. Instead of feeling the the empty spot where she/he used to occupy, by 2158 onwards, nobody who had any sense would buy a double mattress that could not be split into two. Therefore, Puzzle Bed would be the future. The bed can be split into two to become singles so no worries if your jilted lover decides to scoot with her/his half.
As if driven by the force of gravity, fashion, which had progressively lowered trouser waists during the 21st century, uncovering navels and underwear reached its height of expression with the Japanese-born Barcelona designer, Nokito Mas (i love how Pep's fictional character is a Japanese particularly for this fashion trend of the future).
21st century's fashion, low waist jeans with no visible panty line.
Pep imagined the future fashion concept will be called Tube Fashion, where that cloth is removed from the crotch area leaving just two legs and giving a total view of the wearer's underwear.

Pep must have not seen the below image already circulating over the Internet 5 years ago.
Not surprisingly, the photo source claimed its the fashion trend in Japan.

However, wittingly, Pep predicts that by 2095, the legs will join up to the waist again and fashion came back to the traditional high waisted trousers.

If he wasn't an inventor, i'd say he can be a fashion designer!

At the end of 2150, the growing number of people living alone will spring up fried eggs pre-packaged and ready to eat. With houses ridiculously expensive and the hectic pace of life, everyone will eat precooked dishes to save time and the extra space needed for a kitchen can be dispensed with.
As society evolves to one that is only concerned about themselves, Pep imagined Plant 'O' Metic, an ingenious flowerpot that is able to move around by itself in search of the precious sun rays whenever the owner goes on holiday.
In 2230, data storage capacity had reached its limit on all the materials tried to date. The growing demand for memory and processing power for the new holographic and material transmission devices marked a turning point in technology which enabled a series of advances to be made for which the existing storage media were insufficient.

Brain tissue would be kept stable so that it provided the almost unlimited memory and processing power. Even though existing memory was carefully erased from the tissue (provided by anonymous donors), cases arose in which the tissue attained a certain degree of self-awareness and asked itself not 'who am i' but 'what am i'. This will trigger an ethical debate.

This was my favourite "imagination of Pep" and the only photograph i took of the entire Future exhibition.
With the terrible eating habits of millions of people, there'll be the Happy Mirror as a way of increasing self-acceptance and self-esteem before leaving home. The invention consisted of a slightly convex mirror that stylised the reflected image to the desired degree, using a control that adjusted the mirror's curvature.

No one will buy mirrors that can't be manipulated in the future. Already in the 21st century, men are putting on make-up, girls can't do without make-up and there's a new addiction. Photoshop.
And because of the Happy Mirror becoming a standard item that was present in all homes, the difference became even starker between those who devoted their lives to staying extremely thin and those who were simply a little plumper.

In 2278, there'll be the Weight Ticket system for public transport where people paid by their weight since the amount of energy required to carry 50 kg was not the same as that required to carry 100 kg.

From then on, the people who used public transport bought 1000kg tickets. Before inserting the ticket in the machine, a platform weighed the passenger and subtracted the weight from the card. The less you weighed, the more trips you had for your ticket.

During this period, it is common for politicians to promise reductions in the price per person kilogramme during election campaigns.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Cave Adventure in Cheddar Gorge

When you are a fan of horror movies like The Descent

or absolutely adore movies like Sanctum

A real caving expedition is a must do when you visit Cheddar Gorge in Somerset, Great Britain. For 21 pounds, I crawled, climbed and slided like in the movies.

Cameras were not encouraged for the expedition because we're warned that we'll get REAL dirty!
Are you going to find out what's behind that URL?
Spotted it at The Central, Clarke Quay.
 Plus we'll be crawling on our bellies or backs and plenty of tight squeezes that scrape your sides, a camera will be a burden. But i'm a cam whore blogger!
Before, look how clean our overalls are.

After, a collection of dust and mud.

Cheddar Gorge was one of my favourite activities. It was quite a workout and i got blue-blacks all over my knees after. Turning off the torches, it was pitch darkness. For a moment, i allowed my imagination run wild. Thinking of The Descent was NOT a good idea.

The last few scenes of the above video was not part of the caving expedition. They are lit up areas of other caves with walking paths you can visit as part of an all-access ticket (18 pounds). Most of the time  the instructor made us go the claustrophobic way while he just got up and walked round the rocks to meet us on the other side. While we huffed and puffed our way, he took the "secret passage". That's the caving experience for tourists.

Cave explorers however leave no markings, they rely on memory to find their way out (exactly the same way in). Marry a cave explorer, he'll never forget your birthday or anniversary.

Skincare without Make-Up: Correct, not Conceal


The idea of a week without makeup is enough to make waterproof mascara streak down many a rouged cheek. But according to one makeup expert, the challenge is worthwhile one for women to consider. It’s good to give your skin a breather from wearing make-up. As much fun as it is to play with makeup, it can be as confidence-boosting, if not more so, to go without it.
“The modern aesthetic is not a face with makeup. It’s not chic anymore. We try to narrow down their skin products, their hair products and their makeup products,” said a magazine beauty editor.
When women aren’t worrying about goopy mascara or cakey foundation, they can concentrate on living life instead of looking pretty.

How to Go without Make-up
  • Concentrate on your skin care. The best way to go without makeup is if you’ve been taking great care of your skin, so you can show it off. If you’re feeling confident about your skin you’re going to feel good about going without makeup as well.
  • Get a cleanser, a gentle exfoliant and a sunscreen. Most of the anti-aging creams out there are too rich for a woman under the age 35. If you still feel like you need anti-aging products, incorporate it; but, just like with makeup, less is more.
  • Have your lip balm handy. If your lips look healthy and moisturized, you won’t look scraggly.
  • If you must have something on your face, try a tinted sunscreen with SPF. They a small amount of coverage and sunscreen — makeup or no makeup, you should wear sunscreen everyday.

How to go with Less Make-up
  • Swipe on some mascara.
  • Apply a bit of a multi-tasking color product — a palette or stick you can use on your cheeks, lips, even your eyes for a touch of color. A quick application will give you a slight amount of polish and a little glow.
  • Dump the dozens of products you’re toting around and replace them with two essentials: a sunscreen and a lip balm to keep your lips looking sexy all day long.

Get more skin tips from Porcelain Face Spa's blog!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I'm a Calender girl!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Titanic Exhibition

Because i have a short attention span, i am not a fan of museums due to the large amount of text waiting to be read.

Unless, its Museum of the Strange in Taipei. Even in London, city of museums, i didn't do a single one, instead i went for unconventional experiences like eating blind.

I didn't particularly remember bawling my eyes out at Titanic, the movie, so i wasn't particularly interested in anything associated.

However, one lonely night in my hotel room in London, i chanced upon a channel where they pulled together live footage of the Costa Concordia accident. Kudos to the brave victims who stayed calm stranded on deck as the ship slowly sunk. They were the ones who used their phones and cameras to record footage with commentary. Talk about holiday videos.

I was kind of excited visiting the Art Science Museum at Marina Bay Sands. It was a sophisticated place so i dressed elegantly for a visit to the museum, The Titanic Artifact Exhibition.

Herve Leger knock-offs are a plenty in Far East Plaza, costing a fraction of the original. They are very figure hugging so either work out or suck in! I do both, but here're flat tummy secrets.

Matching my dress, i accessorize simply with just a Casio Sheen watch and pearl dangling earrings. With a pattern like that on a dress, less is more!
It's Titanic's 100th anniversary when tragedy struck in 1912. Photography is not allowed in the exhibition but nothing stops a blogger!
These are real quotes of passengers. They survived.
To be honest, i almost sped through the exhibition due to cold, hunger and fatigue. Plus there was too much to read! However, thankfully i did read the first artifact and i got hooked!

There're so much story telling behind the tragedy. Lost at 2.20am on April 15, 1912 and discovered on September 1, 1985. For 73 years, she lay deep down in freezing waters of the North Atlantic.

Expeditions started in 1987 and since then, there're endless treasures waiting to be discovered. The most recent dive to the Titanic was in 2000, each dive (by remote operated vehicles) lasts between 12-15 hours. Takes 2.5 hours to reach the wreck site and another 2.5 hours to return. The submersibles take on extra water in order to be heavy enough to dive. The submersibles also descend with their engines off to converse battery power. That's how deep the Titanic is! The sea is black.

These perfectly preserved au gratin dishes were discovered from the sand where they were found lined up like dominoes. The cabinet in which they were kept protected them from the sinking. Over time, the cabinet's wood rotted away, leaving the dishes stacked neatly together in the sand.

I suppose photography is not allowed due to the fact that these artifacts are all real objects, one and only, I'm guessing they are light sensitive as all artifacts are. I spotted thermometers in these glass cabinets. So if you are going to sneak pictures, please, do it without flash.

It's chilling when you see pieces of the ship wreck. The glass cracks, the twisted metal, goosebumps arose as i put myself in the victim's shoes.
I did lose a friend to the sea. He and his wife were on a work trip and went on board a cruise. The cruise was overloaded and it sunk. The newly weds were trapped at the lower deck and there was no way up or out. The wife couldn't swim.

When their bodies were hauled from the sea, the couple was locked in embrace. They died in each other's arms.

The exhibition was amazing, it had realistic and extensive re-creations of the First and Third class cabins, the Grand Staircase where you can dress up and take a picture for a fee, the Verandah Cafe, the Promenade Deck and Boiler Room.
In the foreground is the exact angel statue that was extracted from Titanic,
in the background is the re-creation of the Grand Staircase where the angel used to be.
Stepping into the re-created areas, it reminds me of my adventure on Royal Carribean, my first cruise.
Re-creation of Titanic's first class cabins. It felt really grand.

This is Royal Carribean.
These days, cruises no longer have the disparity of classes. The difference is only the size of the rooms (with a balcony or not/ with a small or big window) but facilities, amenities and food is the same regardless if you paid $300 or $600.

However in the Titanic, it was meant to be THE inaugural journey across the Atlantic for the who's who. 
We would look like the who's whos if we were on board the Titanic.
However, the cruise recognizes that they will not be able to cover the cost if they only cater to the rich. So they sold tickets to third class passengers who were mostly European immigrants looking for a better life in America.

A third-class ticket on Titanic to New York cost $40 ($900 today) which was a far cry from the $4,500 price of a first-class luxury suite (around $103, 000 today). A third-class cabin would likely be occupied by up to four strangers who spoke different languages.

Ain't i glad that today's cruises have no disparity of classes.
Royal Carribean's double suite.
Cabins were cramped and very plain in design. The ceilings were covered with a tangle of pipes and support beams, and the noise and vibration of the engines could always be heard and felt. Despite these conditions, many third-class passengers found their accommodations to be more than adequate. Unlike other liners, which used straw, Titanic's bunks had real mattresses. The Ship also featured open-air deck space on the Poop Deck, which many rival liners lacked. Poop deck, is that where they go to poop? It wasn't explained.

The bathrooms were also an improvement for many who had never used indoor plumbing. Titanic's two bathtubs for its 700 third-class passengers would not suffice today, but were manageable in the time of the once-a-week bath. No wonder if you can remember the opening scene of the Titanic movie, it wasn't just the rich who were excited, even the third-class passengers were over the moon.
 All first-class cabins were exceptionally large, offering fine materials and craftsmanship that rivaled that of the world's finest hotels. Abundant closet space, private baths with full bathtubs, and hot and cold running water were standard. Although Titanic's first-class passengers were granted access to all of the Ship's facilities, certain extras were not free of charge. Imagine paying $103,00 and still the gym, the sauna, the squash court all required an additional fee. Food was also not free.
Unlike the Royal Carribean where we ate and ate and ate because its all inclusive.
Activities were also inclusive on the Royal Carribean.
Except spa is payable.
The most breath-taking re-creation was the Promenade Deck. The photo i took doesn't do it justice, you've have to see it for yourself.

This deck is only accessible to first class passengers while third class was kept out. Thankfully on board the Royal Caribbean, everyone could get some sun.
Even the cutlery and toilet sink/ soap dish etc between the first, second and third class had much difference. First class used mainly crystals and porcelain while the second class used ceramic and glass. Third class's cutlery looked horrible.
Third class artifacts on the left, second class on the right.

This is first class.

The memorable scene in the movie was Jack and Rose clinging on to their dear lives in the waters. At the exhibit, you get to touch the iceberg!
On the night of April 14, 1912, the waters of the North Atlantic were below freezing, registering close to 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Because salt water freezes at a lower temperature than freshwater, the saltwater ocean was colder that night than the freshwater iceberg before us. As a result, most of those lost during Titanic's sinking did not die from drowning. They died from hypothermia- a rapid mental and physical collapse that accompanies the lowering of body temperature.

I'm quite surprised to see letters, paper notes and many personal items recovered from the wreck. I thought paper tears in water!
In total, more than 1500 lives were lost.
The Captain and crew on the Titanic were commendable.
Royal Carribean Ship Captains.
Oh, and surprisingly, Singapore had a part to play in the history of Titanic!
And as the Chinese believed, at least the deceased had a good meal before death (first-class).
A visit to the Art Science Museum is highly recommended for this exhibition. It won't be there for long now, i think it's ending soon. These rescued artifacts serves as a reminder of the legendary liner, life's fragility and the human spirit's enduring strength. I'm going to watch the movie again! The exhibition also showed me how astounding the movie paid to details.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Drink Up

As Singaporeans, we take drinking water for granted. We expect them free in restaurants because our tap and toilet bowl water (for dogs please) can be drunk. We never had to pay for water and when actress Joanne Peh made a racket for being asked to pay for water in Nandos, it reaffirmed our cheapskate way of quenching thirst.

I beg your pardon, some choose water as a choice of beverage not because its free but because its healthier than sugar ladden drinks.

BUT we wouldn't want to pay for water, so it still makes us cheapskate.

As a budget traveller, you will want to drink and take water everywhere. Despite wine being as cheap as water, we still want to save..or so, we thought.

From extensive travelling and drinking (water), i've learnt that not ALL nations give free water.

In Asia out of Singapore, you generally don't drink tap water because being elitist Singaporeans proud of our tap water but not Newater, we don't trust other parts of Asia. So we're happy buying bottled water everyday, not costing more than $1.

In Europe however, its not always for free, which is quite a bummer especially when you later find it on the bill for 3 Euros (SGD 4.70). Unless you know how to ask in an European language before ordering water. Then again somehow in an European country, you don't want to appear cheapskate.

The below is a list which is not exhausive but hopefully gives an indication of free water in Europe. Do note that each restaurant varies too, i make a verdict based on general visits.

If waiters ask sparkling or still, it's usually a hint that they charge for water. You can however ask for drinking tap water, and if they look puzzled, it means they don't have it. The repetition is for confirmation that despite it being tap water, it is drinkable.

When all else fails, count on Macdonald's. They always dispense free water.

Australia: Free
Austria: No
Italy: No
Germany: Free
France: Free
Switzerland: Free
England: Free/ No
Spain: No

Italy was the worst. The waiter in the restaurant despite speaking English didn't bother explaining to us ordering 1 x water means a bottle to be shared among 4. So everyone raised their hands for water and though he looked shocked, he mocked us by bringing 7 litre bottles and charged us Sgd 6 each. Better yet, we can't take the bottles out with us because he refused to give us the caps.

On the topic of water, whilst we pay $3 for a bottle of Evian in Singapore, in the French town Evian, the spring water is absolutely free!
In Evian, where Evian is from, you will find spas offering water treatment with that same water you find bottled in our shores. Up on a slope in the town you'll find a water fountain where it is the direct source of the spring water. It's just one fountain in the entire town.

I took a ferry across lake Geneva for SGD $80 for the entire journey that includes return train, subway and a ferry (board a ferry from Ochy).
In the French town, i found the best fondue melted with 3 cheeses.

I am not a huge fan of cheese but it was by fortune, i decided to randomly into a restaurant that offered cheese fondue. I have a penchant for ordering anything that has a chef's recommendation star next to it anyway.

You're kept busy eating a cheese fondue. The constant stirring, dipping and eating.
I did not expect to finish all but i just could not stop eating!
After a heavy meal (surprisingly i didn't fart alot after. I thought cheese makes you fart.), i went hunting for the Evian fountain. I expected holy water, i expected a grand sight due to the fact of Evian being "branded water" in Singapore..

From afar, i spotted 2 Asian girls filling up their truckload of empty bottles.

They don't let me down. They filled up a good 40 litres worth of Evian, they came from a nearby town.

"Do you bathe in them?" I asked.
"No, no. Just drinking." She replied with a Thai accent.

Alas, the fountain wasn't holy grail as i thought it would be. The floor was wet and dirty with mud prints. I took a 2 hour one way journey to taste Evian.

No wonder Evian spelt backwards is Naive.

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