Places to Go: China’s Guizhou Province

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What is the first image that forms in your mind when I mention about China? Do you think of Beijing, the bustling city that holds all the gems of China – ranging from the Peking roasted duck, to the historical landmarks such as the Great Wall? Do you think about Shanghai, China’s mark of a technologically-advanced nation? Last November, I had the opportunity to tour five cities in China among which included Beijing and Shanghai. However, I felt that the lesser-known cities also make up an essential part of the country. This city it is not as bustling as Beijing or Shanghai

The essential factor that makes Guizhou stand out among the other cities is the people, as well as the culture and heritage that they have kept alive for so many years. Guizhou is home to one of the 56 minority ethnic groups in China – the Miaos. Once you take the first step into the Miao Village, you will not be able to take your eyes off the colourful skirts the locals wear as well as the crisp tinkling sounds produced by their silver accessories. The intriguing culture of the Miaos do not end there – their singing and dancing performance was the breathtaking highlight of our visit to the village. My favourite part of the performance was watching the older generation of the Miao clan sing a folk tale in their language. Their language is, unfortunately, currently vulnerable to extinction as there is no written record of it. The people can only depend on these folk tales to pass it on. While I could not understand the language, I could feel the meaning in their song as their voices melded together and soared through the silence of the beautiful landscape that surrounded us. It was definitely a one-of-a-kind surreal experience and exposure to the people’s way of life – after all, these sights and sounds are things we cannot watch through YouTube, and even if we could, immersing ourselves in this cultural haven would still give us a different and richer understanding of the place.

Guzhou 2.jpgGuzhou 3.jpg

Apart from unique cultural sights and people of different backgrounds, the best places to visit should have good food to satisfy our ever-hungry stomachs! Guizhou’s food is known for being sour and spicy, but there are sweeter ingredients incorporated in their food too. This ranges from the freshest pumpkin to the sweetest potatoes. Of course, it also does not exclude the bitter yet sweet rice wine, which made our taste buds tingle the first time we tried it. The ten days we spent there was not long enough for us to try all the delicious cultural delicacies but if you ever have an opportunity to visit, I would strongly encourage you to go for, perhaps, a longer period of time and take your time to savour all the good food Guizhou has to offer you.

In a nutshell, if you are having a headache considering where you can go for your next holiday, why not book a plane ticket and head for Guizhou? I assure you that a trip there will take you to a different world that you might never have known existed, and truly see a part of the various vibrant colours that make up China. It would certainly be a place worthy of your money and it will be an eye-opening venture into the country as it was for me.

Renee Ong (4 Unity)

 

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Mother’s embrace

Mother's embrace

A warm hand covers the forehead,

Bare and pale.

A warm smile

Lightens up the room

And speaks more than words can express,

The love for a helpless lamb .

 

The kid learns to walk,

Held afloat by the invisible strings of patience

And the helping hands of anticipation.

But as life takes its turn,

The teenager walks away from the hand that

Fed it.

 

The Mother still awaits,

Anticipating his return though the signs point to

“Maybe not”,

Like his replies every reunion invitation.

“I’ve got my own kids now,”

He said as an excuse (with hope of understanding).

 

And the Mother does understand,

Without a shred of complaint,

She lets her son carry on on his

Journey of life.

For she realised that you don’t learn to walk

Just to stay in the same place.

 

And when the son realised he needed

To feel his Mother’s warm embrace

Once again,

His mother’s arms were already open

Wide,

waiting.

 

Jaime Ng (3 Truth)

http ://meganneforbes.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Mothers-Embrace-L1.jpg

5 Hacks for the day before an exam

It is the day before your exams and too much is at risk. The possibility of being held back or having to return during the holidays to retake your failed subjects have you on edge and you find yourself desperately trying to cram whatever you can. Here are 5 revision hacks that will hopefully help you in your last minute revision.

1. Times New Roman is the easiest font to read

School hacks 1
That’s right! If you are in a rush to go through all the notes you have on your computer, it is a good time to change fonts to Times New Roman before you start!

Multiple studies have proven that Times New Roman is the best font for speed reading due to its simple letters. The font is also both easy on the eyes and familiar to the mind. This is also the reason why nearly all prints use Times New Roman. It’s popularly accepted that, in print, fonts like Times New Romans are easier to read, the idea being that the font actually make the letters flow together and consequently easier on the eyes. If you’re aiming for efficiency during your last minute cramming session, this simple but useful hack might be the key to acing your exams!

2. Study for 50 minutes, rest for 10.
School hacks 2
It might sound like a complete waste of time but trust me, occasional breaks are incredibly important. It may be the day before an exam but taking care of your body and mind is much more important than that extra 10 minutes.

Taking breaks not only refreshes your mind for the next 50 minutes but also helps you to fully digest what you have revised in the previous 50 minutes, allowing a more productive study session. Organising your schedule this way will also force you to study harder for the 50 minutes, instead of half-heartedly studying all the time, in order to truly enjoy your 10 minutes break without guilt.

3. Be confident and study out loud.
School hacks 3
When reading notes or studying materials out loud, we form auditory links in our memory pathways which helps us to memorise or remember the facts and information better. It will also help us to remember the contents we had revised during the actual exam as we can remember ourselves reading those content out loud.

Reading out loud is definitely no easy task, not just because it would take you a longer time to read a text, but also because it is an extremely awkward thing to do if you are studying in a public area or have your family members looking at you. Nevertheless, desperate times calls for desperate measures. This is a very effective strategy for last minute cramming and the results it promises is worth the risk of ruining your image?

4. Be in control of your devices
School hacks 4
Face it, you probably have less than 24 hours until you have to sit for the dreaded exam and the last thing you should do is spend the remaining time you have on social media. Scrolling through the pages of your favourite idols and close friends may be a good way to relieve stress but the risk of getting distracted and wasting too much time on your phone is too high.

That is precisely the reason why applications like Self Control (for MacBook) Cold Turkey (for PC) and Freedom on the App Store exists. These applications helps you to block certain sites from your browsers or phones for a certain period of time, helping you get rid of the distractions. Most of the software available are difficult to unlock once the timer has started and thus would help reduce the temptation of wasting your time on social media.

5. Sleeping
School hacks 5
Your teachers have reminded you, so have your parents and now I shall remind you once again.

Sufficient sleep is important!
Different studies have repeatedly come to the conclusion that having sufficient sleep the night before will benefit one’s exam results more than spending the extra hours with a cup of coffee, staring at notes that will never sink in.

Along the way sleep had became something students could do without for the sake of the extra hours but sleeping is a crucial process for the brain works to heal the body by producing hormones beneficial for repair and growth. Sleeping also provides the brain with an opportunity to consolidate memories of what was studied and learnt that day.

Hopefully, the revision hacks above have been of help, and all the best for your examinations!

Ang Yen Chi

3 Unity

https://mind-hacks.wonderhowto.com/how-to/speed-read-your-way-through-anything-with-right-font-0158480/
http://www.awaionline.com/2011/10/the-best-fonts-to-use-in-print-online-and-email/
http://www.gearfire.net/10-ways-cram-successfully/
https://www.brainscape.com/blog/2011/10/reading-out-loud-remember/
https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/1501263

Nifty Things You Could Use for Home

Make life your easier with these 8 things you didn’t think you needed – but surprise, you do!

1) You can roll up your clothes into bundles when packing for travel.

Rolling up your outfits, as compared to folding them up into neat (or not) rectangles saves space and leaves more room for the truly important things to pack. That is to say, highly unhealthy, highly delicious snacks.

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2) Improve your Wi-Fi signal with a soda can.

Hack an old, rinsed soda can and slide it over the little rod that sticks over everyone’s modems – and that no one ever knows the name of. Do it like so:

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3) Crack open a… soda bottle with your iPhone, iPad, or MacBook’s power brick.

This is not applicable to me, an avid Samsung user, but hey, so iPhones are useful for something after all! This handy hack will probably come in more useful when you’re older and actually legal. In the meantime, share this with your parents. They’ll never struggle with opening beer bottles again.

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4) Catch those stray USB cords before they slither away and get lost behind your desks using binder clips.

Gone are the days of struggle, losing stray wires below the murky depths of your desk, finding wires after what seems like eons – dust laden and sneeze-inducing. Now, fret not! Find that lost (Samsung) phone charger with ease.

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5) Perfectly separate an egg yolk from the white without splattering egg everywhere.

You only need a plastic bottle to make this work, and its simple too. Just point to the egg and squeeze, and your naked yellow yolk will get swooped up into the bottle.

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6) Dirty sponge? Clean it in 30 seconds.

Sponges can pick up a lot of bacteria, especially if they’re left in the sink. And they have such small pores, any dirt which lodges inside and stays for seemingly forever. But wait — surprise! Cleaning sponges are easy. Popping it in the microwave for 30 seconds removes any bacteria.

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7) Burnt your pan while cooking eggs? Get those stains off with vinegar, water and baking soda.

Fill the pan with water and then add a cup of white vinegar. Bring it to a boil, take it off the stove and then add 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Let it sit for a few seconds so it can cool and then wipe the mixture out of the pan!

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8) Do you have sadly stinky feet? Un-stinking sneakers is now easier than ever before.

Being blessedly adolescent, body odour is a thing now. The dreaded stinky-foot has never been worse. Sprinkle some baking soda in the shoes to keep them smelling fresh, and then when you’re ready to wear them again, just tap it out outside. Wow, how amazing.

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Sources:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/mikespohr/genius-household-hacks-youll-wish-youd-thoug?utm_term=.grBZGzey2#.lpGnBGDW0

https://homesthetics.net/58-new-smart-and-creative-hacks-for-household-items/

Done by:

Chloe Wong 4P

Jokes and Puns

ZT jokes and punsJokes and Puns:

Here are some jokes and puns that are bound to help you relax and let loose after this tense week.

Puns:

  1. I saw an ad for burial plots, and thought to myself this is the last thing I need.
  2. I wasn’t originally going to get a brain transplant, but then I changed my mind.
  3. Did you hear about the guy who got hit in the head with a can of soda? He was lucky it was a soft drink.
  4. I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. It’s impossible to put down.

 

Jokes:

 

  1. When my wife starts to sing I always go out and do some garden work so our neighbours can see that there’s no domestic violence going on.

 

  1. Two Police officers crashed their car into a tree. After a minute of silence, one of them said: “Wow, that was the fastest we ever got to the accident site.

 

  1. Question: What’s bears without ears?

Answer: B

  1. 8 p.m.: I get an SMS from my girlfriend: Me or football?!

11 p.m.: I SMS my girlfriend: You of course.

  1. A fat guy and a thin guy meet:

Fat guy: “When I see you, I’d think a famine broke out!”

Thin guy: “And when I see you, I’d think you’re the one responsible for that!”

  1. Husband brings the child home from kindergarten and asks his wife, “He’s been crying the whole way home. Isn’t he sick or something?”

“No,” replies the wife, “he was just trying to tell you he isn’t our Frankie.”

References:

Chow Zi Tian

3 Wisdom

The Joy Luck Club

Joy Luck Club.jpg

The Joy Luck Club, written by Amy Tan, was published in 1989. Unlike typical novels, The Joy Luck Club is broken down into four distinct sections with four chapters each, taking after the structure of a mah-jong game.

Set in San Francisco, the novel focuses on the mothers and daughters of four different Chinese immigrant families, who started the Joy Luck Club. The novel showcases 2 main themes of mother-daughter relationships and cultural differences,offering a variety of point-of-views from both mothers and daughters.  These two themes/issues are intertwined and are usually the root of conflict and tension throughout the novel.

I personally enjoy this book because it is rather relatable – especially the issue of cultural differences and cultural identity. In my generation, I am more inclined towards the western culture and I converse in English more often than in mandarin so there are inadvertently cultural clashes between my parents or grandparents and I. For example, up to today, I still do not understand some of the Chinese superstitions and beliefs that my parents or grandparents believe in but more often than not, I find myself subconsciously following them.  As mentioned earlier, language is also a problem I face with my grandparents because there are times when I am unable to translate my thoughts from English to Mandarin or dialect, thus causing misunderstandings at times.

Overall, I feel that this book has really taught me the importance of cultural identity and not forgetting one’s roots – like what the daughters in the novel had done.  It also evoked some emotions and sentiments when the mothers and daughters argued and when the child only missed her mother after she passed away. Hence, I really recommend you to read this book because it is especially relatable to us at this age.

Rachael Fong

3T

Once Upon A Time

once upon a time

Once Upon a Time… a classic opening to many stories that continue to capture the hearts of children with exciting fairy tales such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Sleeping Beauty. However, this clever opening quote is also the name of a brilliant television show. Filled with excitement, romance, adventure and more, Once Upon a Time has also captured the hearts of people of all ages, including myself.

Once Upon a Time is a very popular American fantasy show. It was created by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, the creators of another television show called “Lost”. The show premiered on October 23, 2011 and has been showing ever since, with its 7th season returning this October. It starts in the city of Boston, where a bail bondsperson by the name of Emma Swan is visited by her son, Henry, whom she gave up 10 years ago. He brings her back to the town of Storybrooke. He is convinced that everyone in the town are real-life fairy tale characters from his book that have been cursed for 28 years, with no memory of their real identity.

As the story progresses, we find out that Emma is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming and she was abandoned by her parents in hopes that one day she may break the curse. You may be wondering and yes, I mean Snow White and Prince Charming from the classic animated movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Along the way, new characters are revealed, friendships are formed and romance blossoms.
During the release of its first season, the show was generally well received by critics. One review from IGN Movies states:

“It’s undeniable that fairy tales have universal appeal; we never tire of reading or watching them… it’s not easy to strike the right note between the real and the storybook; Once Upon a Time finds it though.                 ~Amy Ratcliffe, IGN

In my opinion, Once Upon a Time is the perfect show for me. Although it may seem long-winded at times, the complex characters and storylines keep me on edge. Sometimes, the fast-paced adventures keep me glued to my television screen.

As I watch more and more of the show, I connect with the characters. I find this show very different than others because not only is it medieval-like, in a way, it is also very modern. Although these are fairy tale characters whose lives are much different than ours, the situations they are in help me to identify with them more and help me understand the show even better.

I also enjoy the use of fairy tale characters. I would have never expected to be watching a show which placed Snow White, The Evil Queen and Captain Hook in one room. However, for some adults, it reminds them of the stories they read when they were young and for children, it continues to show them the magic of fairy tales and bedtime stories.

The main message of the show is hope. One quote that I take away from the show is “…the most important thing anyone can have. Hope. Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing.” It reminds me that I should never give up hope and that no matter how bad things are, I should always hope for a happy ending.
I recommend this show to anyone who is a fan of fantasy books, Disney classics or just anyone who is lost and wants to find that hope in their lives. Although Once Upon a Time is at its 7th season, it is still the show that holds a special place in my still childish, imaginative and hopeful heart.

Link: http://www.ign.com/articles/2011/10/21/once-upon-a-time-pilot-review

Rachel Lie

1 Purity

Prince Cheese Potato (Taipei)

Prince Cheese Potato 1

On my previous trip to Taipei, I had a chance to try one of Taiwan’s must-eat street food and it tasted really good! For a cheese lover like me, it was almost hard to resist this snack as the smell of cheese and potato was lingering around as I passed by people savouring this snack.

The cheese potato is actually a snack that is in a box containing ingredients such as bacon bits, corn, ham, egg, turkey, together with mashed potato and overflowing nacho cheese on top of everything. At first, I was a little taken aback and curious about how all these ingredients tasted together but seeing how almost everyone had a box in their hands, I decided to try it.

On the first bite, I was overwhelmed by the different tastes clashing together all at once, but on the second try, the taste was much better in the sense that the cheese was not too cheesy for my liking and all the different tastes complemented each other making the snack really delicious. It was a really great feeling eating this warm snack in Taipei’s cold weather and frankly, I am rather missing it.

Overall, I feel that everyone should try this snack when you are in Taipei because it is really hard to come by and savouring the dish in the atmosphere of the night market is really a great experience!

Photo credits: dianajosey.wordpress.com

Rachael Fong

3 Truth

LiHo!! – Lychee Jing Syuan Tea

Way back to the start of June 2017, we were all greeted with the shocking news that Gong Cha,one of Singaporeans’ favourite bubble tea brand, was going to be replaced with new local LiHo brand. This brave move to close down one of the most popular bubble tea chains in Singapore is a strategic business decision made by RTG Holdings who felt “betrayed” by business associates, and decided to build a home-grown brand as Gong Cha’s parent company in Taiwan, Royal Tea Taiwan, was recently sold off to Gong Cha Korea, resulting in changes in contractual terms.

LiHo is a made-in-Singapore creation with a new menu, including cheese tea drinks. It will rely on completely different suppliers for its tea and other raw ingredients, as well as using different methods of making its drinks.

The top picks at Liho include Lychee Jing Syuan Tea ($3.30, $4.30), Fresh Lemon Juice Kanten and Golden Ai Yu ($4.00 and $5.10), Golden Yuzu Juice and Golden Ai Yu ($3.70 and $4.70), and Vitagen ‘n’ Peach ($4.10, $5.40).

My personal favourite from LiHo will be one of their top picks – Lychee Jing Syuan Tea. I like it a lot because it tastes really refreshing, especially during our ‘summer’ period in Singapore. I top it off with white pearls, making it a total of SGD$4 (medium). I personally feel that we are paying for the cup because, unlike Gong Cha, LiHo drinks come in plastic cups of better quality and plastic lids, different from the usual plastic seal on most bubble tea. Although it may be expensive as compared to Gong Cha, the cups can be recycled and used for other purposes after washing which makes it worth the money. Although I have yet to try their cheese milk tea and royal milk tea, I have been hearing both good and bad comments and these drinks have been constantly compared to another known brand – KOI.

I really encourage you to try out the Lychee Jing Syuan Tea from LiHo in this hot weather!

 

Sources:

http://mothership.sg/2017/05/heres-a-look-at-lihos-full-menu-and-some-of-their-drinks/

http://mothership.sg/2017/05/gong-cha-closing-down-in-spore-rebranding-as-liho/

http://danielfooddiary.com/2017/06/01/liho/

Rachael Fong

3T

Short Stories/ Poetry: If time could stop

Germaine Poetry

i.

it will be

with the strange softness

that we set off with 4:27 pm on

our minds, an ever lingering

sensation of your racing car heart

and the tension on my mind.

 

ii.

i dream a dream of a dream,

of people floating into a void

of memories, and

of the quiet, where we venture

into the open space of a world

where worry is a word that

lacks a meaning

 

iii.

but reality is a flash of a photograph

sweeping us off our feet.

and we float (yes, we float)

on storm clouds like water droplets

to rain into the universe of the

hopefully serene reality.

 

iv.

these days we sit in hallways,

legs crossed and heads bent,

craned in the search of sound.

but only the quiet returns.

Sources: https://fineartamerica.com/shop/prints/port+jefferson+harbor

Germaine Ong (3 Purity)