R & R
Up till today I have no idea what is the right meaning of R & R. Some say “Rest and Relax”. Some say “Rest and Recreation”. Some say “Rest and Recuperate”. So which one is it?
This one will be a relatively short post too. My memory is failing me and this R&R was 20 plus years ago at the moment I am writing this. Luckily I have photos so it kind of reminded me of a number of things. The importance of photos.
22 February 2001
Sleepy morning yet very exciting. We are finally done with training and we are going for our well deserved R&R. If you know me, I personally dislike travelling and being in foreign place even though it is supposed to be fun. I'd rather be at home where I know my administrative matters are safe. Nevertheless, we were all looking forward for R&R and get back to civilisation.
Unlike most batches, we had our R&R in Taipei. Most batches and even people I knew who went to SISPEC had their R&R at Kaohsiung. I felt lucky. It would be a 4 days R&R. 2 days of educational tour and 2 days free and easy. Not bad. It was like a 4 days holiday package.
I also noticed something on the first day of R&R. Remember I told you that it was winter and the skies were always gray? On this day, the sun actually came out. It was the beginning of spring and I could really see sun rays and tiny flowers blooming here and there.
We rode the bus out of Puwei Camp never for me to see it again (even until today via Google Earth) and travelled up north to Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. Interestingly we rode past the same route for our exercises, only this time on buses. We can see the roads clearly now. The bridges, rivers, buildings, the training area and of course the pinang girls. I also noticed that many shops were still closed. A friend told me that in Singapore, Chinese New Year is celebrated for 15 days but here in Taiwan, it is a month long.
I cannot remember where we went after that. I could only remember it was 2 days of tour. It was free and easy after dinner but I cannot remember anything during the free and easy parts for the 2 days.
As for the tours, it was fun. We went to maybe 3 theme parks, a museum, a dam and some sight seeing places. I enjoyed the theme park though I didn't ride many things there. I have never been a fan of thrill rides. But I particularly liked the theme parks because I have never been to theme parks that really had “themes”. Only then I could see the meaning of “Theme Parks”. If only we had digital cameras back then, I would have taken a lot of photos. I only had a film roll of 36 exposures for the R&R.
We were housed in a proper commercial hotel in the city centre. Still I do not know where and I cannot look it up. (These things actually frustrates me). The maps I had then were all in Mandarin. I cannot remember the name of the hotel and where it was located. But it was a proper hotel and I liked it. It was in the city area so after dinner when we had our own time, we could walk around the area.
We were given a card each with the address of our hotel in case we got lost and need to ask for directions back. We were also told to never mention that our hotel had a 7-11 convenient store on the ground floor if we ever wanted to use 7-11 as point of reference just like we do in Singapore. This is because, the number of 7-11 stores there then were a lot! It was like 7-11 everywhere at every turn and at every building.
The 2 days of “Free and Easy” were spent walking around the city.
The public buses there were cool to us then. It was like totally opposite from Singapore's public bus system which we found really cool. Taiwan is a left hand drive system meaning the vehicles move on the right side of the road. The driver is on the left of the vehicle. The bus doors were on the right of the vehicle. The bus stops were in the middle of the road instead of the side. We board the bus from the rear door instead of the front. We paid our fares when we alighted from the front door instead of when we board. Cool right? At that time we joked that we were in a dream and that we entered a mirror and were now on the other side of the mirror where everything was reversed.
The people were nice. The ladies were pretty (to me). The most interesting thing (at that time) was the ladies had a liking to dark skinned males. Which was understandable. They didn't see us much at that time as there were not much internet coverage then or smart phones. It was really fun walking along the roads and paths to have this feeling of the pretty ladies turning their heads and smiling at these dark skinned Malay boys. That was when I had this thought in my head. If I am not to be appreciated in Singapore, I am so going to migrate to Taipei.
There were also a lot of night markets in Taipei. One of the bigger ones was Shihlin Night Market. (Many years later we started seeing stalls named Shihlin Taiwan Snacks in Singapore.) Just a normal night market but it was huge compared to Sungei Road and Bugis Village and pop-up Pasar Malam. It was really fun. There were really a lot of snacks. My friends challenged each other to eat the “Smelly Tofu”. I could not bring myself to try it and also I was not sure if it was prepared in a halal way. There were also a lot of cold tea stalls too. That I tried. Flavoured tea we have never heard before. We all bought different flavours and tried each other's tea. At that time we have never seen anything like that before. It was after a few months later in mid 2001, the first Taiwanese bubble tea fad reached Singapore.
It was pretty enjoyable but I cannot remember much as my mind was already home. Like I said, I prefer to be home. Not because I love home but because I prefer if my administrative matters are routined and safer.
I hope you enjoyed the pictures in this relatively short post.
NEXT WEEK : Passing Out Parade and Vocation Assignment
Web logs of art activities on a regular basis (hope).