Trip to La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires [YQrtw Day 62 Jun 8]

la recoleta

Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know that I like creepy things, such as places where skeletons are artfully arranged and cemeteries.

When I learned about La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, I knew that I must visit the place. I didn’t have an exact visit schedule so I slotted it in for today.

Since Google Maps does not have public transport directions for Buenos Aires, I did the safest thing and walked all the way from my hostel.

Good thing Buenos Aires has a grid system. I just needed to walk straight and turn when there is a bend and continue walking.

On my way, I stopped by a GIGANTIC Carrefour for a pack of biscuit (in case I get hungry from the terrible hostel breakfast) and a cup of coffee at the Carrefour Cafe.

I found out that raw steak is sold at as cheap as A$22, making me determined to make my own steak instead of spending A$80 outside for a restaurant steak.

Back to the cemetery… I found it easily since the crosses and angels peeped over the high walls surrounding the resting place.

The place was amazing. Larger than life statues were littered everywhere looking mournful.

La Recoleta Cemetery

Many of the mausoleums were exquisite. My sister mistook the crosses for churches when I sent her and mom photos of the cemetery.

La Recoleta CemeteryLa Recoleta Cemetery

I walked for so long that I decided to take a rest at one of the partly sunny benches. I read through several chapters of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban during the wait.

At last, it was time for me to leave. Before that, I visited Evita’s grave. It looked more like a small black marble box, not as glamourous as many of the “houses” in the neighborhood.

After seeing the cemetery, it got me wondering what people nowadays prefer to be placed after they die.

Swindled by a restaurant

As I walked back from the cemetery, I peeped at the different menus. Alas, everything in proper restaurants cost about A$80 (S$20). I was in my miserly mode of mine so I didn’t go into any of them.

In the end, I found a dingy place near my hostel that offered set meals for A$45. I was tempted by the photo of the steak.

When I went into the restaurant, there were 3 men sitting side by side with their backs to the counter. They stared at me when I walked in. Oh well, I guess none of them wanted to handle the foreigner so I grabbed a menu and read the dish, adding a “Si?”

They said, “Si.” I mimed sitting down and one of the man nodded.

He asked, “Frites?” I replied, “Si.”

The dish took a while to cook. When it came, it was decent but not spectacular. If I wanted spectacular, I should have just gone to the A$80 shops.

When it was time to pay the bills, one of the man asked another man something. The other man said what clearly sounded like “30 pesos” in Spanish because the “t” was audible.

But the change I got back from the first man was change for A$45. I stared at the bill, turning it over to see it taped down the middle.

I could have asked the guy who gave me change, “30 pesos or 40 pesos?” I could do these numbers but it didn’t seem worth it making a scene for what is only S$2.50 of change.

I took leave, vowing to have enough guts to confront that swindler in the future.

#Bilingualsummer achievements

O Google Tranlated “Can I buy a SUBE here?”, memorizing the translation and using a broken version of it to ask for a SUBE. Extra points for understanding the lady’s question of how much I want to load into my card.

X Not asking for the correct change during lunch.

Singapore’s most WTF: Haw Par Villa

haw par dance class

[This blog post contains some photos not suitable for children as they include violent torture scenes. However, nipples of merpeople have been censored. You are welcomed]

I visited Haw Par Villa some Sundays ago with D and M. It was my third visit to the “historical theme park”.  I left with the same feeling I had the two other times I went: “What on earth did I just see?”

What is Haw Par Villa? Travel site Your Singapore has a nice description:

Haw Par Villa is like no other place in the world, with over 1,000 statues and 150 dioramas that dramatise Chinese legends and folklore. Founded on Chinese legends and values, this historical theme park has large, imposing statues from famous legends of old – featuring characters like Fu Lu Shou, Confucius and the Laughing Buddha.

If you have been to Singapore multiple times and have seen almost all of the tourist attractions, you should visit Haw Par Villa.

Haw Par Villa gate

Previously, Haw Par Villa was in the middle of nowhere. Now has its own MRT stop, aptly named Haw Par Villa Station, so it’s very easy to get there.

You will definitely know if you’ve arrived at Haw Par Villa if you see concrete statues around. Yes, get yourself in there. Entrance is free!

After passing the gates, you will be guided by a bearded old man who points with two fingers. Further inside, a dancing Thai/Burmese person teaches a stance of Taichi.

Welcome to Haw Par Villa

Ten Courts of Hell

If you only have 10 minutes at Haw Par Villa, you must check out the Ten Courts of Hell so you know which court your worst enemy will go. (I now know which courts are reserved for me.)

It’s kind of funny how the crimes get repetitive but the torture scenes are always…fresh and creative.

Ten Courts of Hell

Ten Courts of Hell

Myths and legend

Besides the courts of hell, there are a lot of the statues in the villa is about Chinese folklore.

There is the usual Journey to the West (lower right) statues and also Legend of the White Snake (not in photo).

Haw Par Villa

The place has a few signs around explaining the scenes so don’t worry about not understanding them. Heck, even I don’t understand much of it.

For example, I have no idea where these topless mermaids, clammaids and crabmaids come from.

Considering how conservative we are, it’s surprising how these sea creatures have nipples. I mean, male manga characters do not have nipples but these merfolks do? That is just crazy weird. Oh, I’ve censored the nipples in case anyone gets offended by bare-breasted women sculptures with weird grins.

Modern family

Besides folklore, there are also strange statues of good-and-evil. Here are a few photos of sins and what happens to bad people (or something like that).

Haw Par Villa Modern family

(Click to enlarge)

The park/villa is quite big so be sure to have at least 45 minutes to look at everything. It’s also best to bring a few friends who can help you take photos.

Haw Par Villa

PS You are not supposed to do what I did. Hat tip to J for the giraffe pose.

To end the post, I should like to teach you the dance of my people and a bonus video!

Haw Par Villa dance class

Photo credit: Mel

[Video music credit: Also Sprach Zarathustra by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0]

Things to know about Haw Par Villa

Nitty gritty: Haw Par Villa
How to get there: Haw Par Villa MRT station
Opening time: 9 am to 7 pm (Ten courts of hell officially closes at 6 pm but caretaker wanted to be off at 5.40 pm)
Who to go with: Friends, family.
Free entrance!!!

Don’t date a girl who travels

I know kungfu

To celebrate the upcoming Valentine’s Day, I bring you this post about why you should not date a girl who travels.

This post was inspired by Date A Girl Who Travels but is an antithesis of the original post.

This is a girl who travels, waving goodbye to her love life
This is a girl who travels, waving goodbye to her love life

Don’t date a girl who travels. Travel is her current love. Perhaps you will share the number 1 position with travel but most likely you will be her second.

Don’t date a girl who travels. Weekends and holidays are best spent on the road for her. If you want to stay at home with the Xbox, then this girl is not for you.

Don’t date a girl who travels. Long distance relationships are not easy. Not even with Skype and Whatsapp.

Don’t date a girl who travels. Her money will be spent on trips but hopefully she has some savings for her emergency fund.

Don’t date a girl who travels. Makeup might not be among her prized possessions so don’t expect her to come out looking like an airbrushed model. Oh, you like women without makeup?

Don’t date a girl who travels. She will be fiercely independent. She might want to settle down eventually but for now she wants to freedom to roam the earth.

Don’t date a girl who travels. The pseudo-motivational quote “Experience is the only thing worth paying for” was made up by people who don’t own a lot of things. (Read point 5 of this article.)

Don’t date a girl who travels. When you both are lost, she will either ask for directions herself or set off on her own to find the right path.

I know kungfu!
I know kungfu!

Don’t date a girl who travels. You’ll think her sense of adventure can get her into trouble overseas and doubt that her wits and common sense will keep herself safe.

Don’t date a girl who travels. Authentic food served in the town’s “ethnic” restaurant might not taste as good as the food she ate by the road side.

Don’t date a girl who travels. She will leave town the next day with one of you left with a broken heart.

Don’t date a girl who travels. Falling in love on the road is too easy. Jealousy will drive you mad.

Don’t date a girl who travels. You never know when her next stop will be. If you need to track her every single step, you will not be dating her any longer.

Don’t date a girl who travels. You might not win her heart by impressing her with geographical knowledge. There is no point in reciting to her the population or GDP of a country if she already had mingled with the locals.

Don’t date a girl who travels. Settle for a girl who wants stability in her life: a house, two cars and 2.5 children. It’s much easier to satisfy those needs.

When you do find a girl who travels, ask yourself if you are ready to let her spread her wings. Will you be able to wait for her to come back? Or are you willing to travel with her (if she agrees to)?

Epilogue

This post will brand me as Miss Forever Alone. Yeah, I don’t get a lot of dates.

I don’t remember when I read the original Date A Girl Who Travels by Aleah Phils. It might have been on Facebook or shared by a friend. I think I commented that I need to find a guy who appreciates a girl who travels.

I’m sure there’s one out there who’s not already taken by other lady travelers. Until we meet.

Would you date a girl who travels?

My visit to the Empire of Death

Warning.

This post contains some disturbing images. If you are not comfortable with looking at bones (and one rather creepy photo of a photo of skeletal remains), please stop here.

Thank you

Today is October the 31st Halloween so I thought it would be appropriate to have a spooky post to mark the occasion.

In case you’ve missed it, we in the Chinese world have a Ghost Month which does not involve dressing up in costume.

The Empire of Death in my blog post title refers to the inscription before the real entrance to the Catacombs of Paris.

Stop! This is the Empire of Death
Stop! This is the Empire of Death

When I was planning my May 2011 trip to Paris, the Catacombs was on the top of my list, right below the Lourve and the Eiffel Tower.

I first knew about the underground ossuary [Definition: A container or room into which the bones of dead people are placed.] from TV.

The Catacombs was shown on the rather unscary Scariest Places on Earth, hosted by Linda Blair who played the kid in The Exorcist. I was fascinated by the number of beautifully arranged human skulls.

By the way, I don’t think I’ve shared this, but I am a lover of anything spooky. New Orleans, I will visit you one day for your creepy plantations.

I started queuing up before 10 a.m. so I could finish the walk through the Catacombs early and visit the rest of Paris. There was a short queue when I reached.

Entrance to the Catacombs
Entrance to the Catacombs

It took a while before I was admitted into the tiny room selling tickets. With more body language than my broken French, I asked for a ticket and an audio guide.

I recommend getting the audio guide, or else you will be left with walking past graffiti and skulls without knowing what on earth is happening. (Not much is happening, by the way.)

The audio guides also make the visit seem more like a video game. Looking for the next audio point is like trying to find the treasure chest in old Chinese RPG games.

Ticket room to the Catacombs of Paris
Ticket room to the Catacombs of Paris

There are a few exhibition areas in the tunnel, telling the history of the Catacombs. One of it featured this rather scary photo of skeletal remains.

OK, this is rather creepy
OK, this is rather creepy

Be prepared to walk, a lot

Before going to the Catacombs, you should know that there is a lot of walking involved.

Walking up the stairs,

Catacombs of Paris
Light at the end of the tunnel

Walking down the stairs,

Well well well...
Well well well…

Walking in puddles.

Catacombs when it's wet
Catacombs when it’s wet

Walking in low roof areas.

Watch your head
Watch your head

Walking in the semi dark and so on.

There are no toilets in the passage so do your business before heading in.

As the tunnels are built underground, there are signs showing which part of the streets you are at.

Underneath Rue Hallé
Underneath Rue Hallé

The catacombs was not built in one day and neither is Rome, so I heard. But the tunnels were not built to keep human bones and was partly an old mine.

On parts of the walls, you can find carvings of years when that particular part was built.

Established since 1781
Established since 1781

Entering the Empire of Death

Show some R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Show some R-E-S-P-E-C-T

The real part of the ossuary comes after the long walk. You’re not supposed to take flash pictures inside but so many tourists were happily flash snapping away. Grits teeth.
Not to do list
Not to do list

Behind the walls of skulls are piled up bones which reminds me of the bones song: “The thigh bones connected to the hip bone.”
Interesting patterns, who thinks them up?
Interesting pattern, who thinks them up?

Catacombs of Paris
Skulls and thigh bones
Curved wall with skulls
Curved wall with skulls
Great interior design
Great interior design

Poetic Death

There were a lot of poetic inscriptions.

My favorite was this:

Where is Death?
Where is Death?

“Where is Death? Always in the future or the past.
And when she is present, she is no longer here.”
(The “she” being Death.)

My second favorite:

At the banquet of life
At the banquet of life

“At the banquet of life, unlucky guest,
I appeared one day, and I die:
I die, and on my grave, where I come slowly,
No one will shed tears!”

 Blessed is he who
Blessed is he who

“Blessed is he who keeps the hour of death in sight,
and who spends his days ready to die.”

O death
O death

“O death that your judgment is filled with fairness” (Help with translating this, please.)

Not quite poetic
Not quite poetic

Great walk

YQ at Catacombs of Paris
Happy camper!

I like the Catacombs a lot. The tunnels did not feel creepy since the bones are arranged beautifully.

It makes Death seem less scary.

But I am sort of disappointed that I didn’t feel any paranormal vibes. Maybe next time!

Visiting information
Catacombs of Paris (Catacombes de Paris)
Web site: http://www.catacombes-de-paris.fr/english.htm
Nearest subway and RER: Denfert-Rochereau
Open from 10a.m. to 5p.m. (Closed on Mondays)

Interesting sites nearby: Montparnasse Cemetery

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See a larger than life Nyan Cat in Singapore

nyan nyan nyan

The guys in our office have put up a post-it version of the rainbow pooping, space flying nyan cat. You can see it if you are in Singapore.

From CNET Asia’s Facebook page:

Meet our new art installation. We spent last evening putting this up. If you’re in Singapore, you should be able to see it from Orchard Central. Take the second outdoor long lift from the fourth floor and look to your right. :)

Funny poster: Bill Gates, a murderer

That’s according to this funny poster I found while in the Big Market (central market) of Seremban, Negeri Sembilan.

A poster with a charming photo of Bill Gates along with Chinese and Malay headline claiming “MURDERER”.

The poster says:

[Someone] used technology to insert virus into human bodies and to experiment, killed my father and my uncle on my mother’s side, used technology to torment people, used sound to kill people and terrorize people. Roused gods and devils [which Google Translate said was “God get sharper”] and killed people [whose] body would hurt and killed my mom and experimented (SARS H1N1) fatty4133@yahoo.hk has the evidence as well as proof of the web of government officials and manager being theives. And also proof of Bill Gates and Najib [Malaysia’s current prime minister] threatening party members. At fatty4133@yahoo.hk

For the record, I respect Mr and Mrs Gates and their foundation very much. This poster is just full of fail. I wonder who the person was.

Attacks of the deers

P113

I was sitting under my umbrella in front of Todaiji Temple when a deer (one of the hundreds there) decided to come around and see if I had food.
With its large doe eyes, it looked at me and poked its nose into my bag.
Of course, being the Gen Y that I am, my first reaction was to take a photo of it with my phone.
Unfortunately, by the time I dug out my Lady Madonna, the deer was attacking my magazine. I had to wrestle to pull the book back.
I changed my seat and the deer left me alone.
But this is not the end of the story! There’s part 2.
My mom bought me a postcard of Todaiji and I wrote the card I promised M. The mail described the deer attack. After writing, mom and I sat around eating persimmons.
The deers (another 2) probably smelled the juicy plump fruit and wanted some of them too. One even chomped onto my postcard and refused to let it go and I did a tug-of-war with it.
A guy standing near us gave the postcard-eating deer a pat on the behind and it let the card go.
But it went around for a bite of the magazine as well. :(