Cafe Hopper @ 老舍 [茶馆]

The stage craft of this play was simply excellent. When the curtain was drawn, the buzzing and hustle of the teahouse was felt and we could even smell the breathe in the smell of old teahouse in Beijing. Simply loving the stage. Ok, back to what I feel about the play or my reflection after watching it. I always think that if at the core of art is not human, then art is not art at all. To me all forms of art have to be about people. We cannot move away from this anthropological mission. To me, 老舍 Teahouse is all about people, common people to be specific.

The theme that I keep seeing from the play is that of time. The theme move from the late Qing dynasty when people were concern about the coming of the westerners asked the reformation and modernization that were taking place. Then in Act 2, the play move from the late Qing period to the warlords period or 军阀混战的时代 . The post Japanese occupation period sets Act 3. In all of these three acts, we see the movements and sentiments of common people, people like you and,me. We struggle, we fight to meet ends needs, we change and constantly make changes to fit ourselves to this society. More still, we constantly hope for a better world to come.

The same characters, the same teahouse, from one period in history to another, they hope for a better future, a world with less poverty, less turmoil, less suffering. Sadly, it didn’t happen to the main three characters in this play write. In Act 1, there was the hope of a better future when the westerners came in and everyone was talking about reforms and changes. The reforms did not take place, churches were burnt down and huge sum of money meant for reforms ended up in somebody’s pockets. In Act 2, no more Qing emperor, no more corrupted officials but came the warlords. They hurled bombs and bullets all over just to have a greater share of whatever that was left. The people continued to hope, hope to be better. However, the better things didn’t happen and the poor remained poor. In Act 3, the same people and the same teahouse, the people continued to hope. However, this period of China was only left with the internal strife between the KMT and CCP. At the last scene, we saw the three main casts philosophizing about the society they were living in. 

I was struck by one statement that 老掌柜 said in Act 3, “这茶馆是我的。活也在这里,死也在这里.” This is the sentiment of many in today’s society I believe. This coffeeshop, this town center, this public housing, this community… we live and we die here. It’s these places that connect lives together…It’s these places that chain and bind us together. In the show, it’s the teahouse that connects all the characters together…They talked here, they sell their daughter here, they do their dirty things here, they see changes here and etc. 小小的茶馆带出了人的喜怒哀乐,爱恨情仇。它也带初了人生百态,社会的起落!Another statement that struck me was this, “我们这么爱国家,国家有爱我们吗?” This was said by 常四爷 who used to be a rich man but was imprisoned by the Qing government for spreading messages on the fall of the dynasty which eventually did happened.

The story ended with all three main characters, namely, 秦二爷, 老掌柜 and 常四爷, lamenting over the despair and failures of the country’s development all these years. Eventually 老掌柜 decided to end his life and this coincide with the entrance of the Red Liberation Army led by the Chinese Communist Party.

The Gatekeeper

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Cafe Hopper @ Rice (稲禾)by 云门舞集 (Cloud Gate)

I was contemplating whether to use Mandarin for this post or English. Eventually I decided to use English for the post. I set out this year to watch at least one art performance per month for the year 2015. Why? I needed to find inspiration for my poetry writing and hopefully I will be able to publish a poetry collection by the end of the year. Ok, yes, I am working very slowly but I hope I will be able to accomplish this by this year. Let’s keep my finger cross. Rice is my third show for the year and contrary to the general impression of abstractness of this dance group, I find it easier to comprehend than the previous show I watched. The dance piece began with a beautifully crafted and coordinated earth colours from the dancers’ attire. I personally have a soft spot for earth colours. Unlike most dance pieces which has to dance alongside with music, this one began in the absence of musical piece. It began with the rhythm of earth or 大地的心跳. Each thump on the dancers’ feet awakens the heart of our soul…it awakens our senses and invoke our spirit to listen and to feel the life of this earth or 大地的生命. I quietly listened…I silently pondered.

I love the section on Pollen 1 and 2 the most. In these two sections, the dancers wished to express the pollination of crops, birthing forth life in the rice field. The dance portray a couple, from the surface, they seem like they are making love in the paid field…but I seriously think that’s what the choreographer wishes to portray. Making love or having sex is our human way of pollination. Similarly, crops pollinate and birth forth life…birth forth new hope and dreams in the process. However, this life is not complete without the nurturing of the sunlight and the nutrients from the ground or from nature. 生命是要用大自然的灌溉才能萌芽的! So very often, we are caught up with the modern and post-modern crisis of human existence that we forgot that at the most basic, we are mere sons and daughters of nature or 大自然之子女。I love this portrayal of pollination and the birthing of life.

After the great harvest, the land needs renewal. However, often, renewal comes only after a baptism of fire. The farmers would burn down the harvested land and the land will go through a period of purging and cleansing by fire. Thus, don’t despise the fire and don’t shun away from the burning. It is often necessary and essential for the land of our heart or 心田 to be renewed and revived. The dance piece ended with the return of water to the land and once more the cycle of life wheeling and re-wheeling.

I am not a dancer and thus I will not be able to say too much about the technicality of the dance piece but I do feel that the dancers have successfully brought out the essence of what the choreographer wishes to convey to the audience and its easy to know where the dance piece is leading us to.

Oh…just in case you thought that the blog has evolved into an art blog…no…no…no…its still a cafe blog…Art and Coffee are another pair of perfect partners…..

The Gatekeeper

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Cafe Hopper at Chinatown, Singapore

I decided to take a walk down the old lanes and corners of Chinatown in Singapore yesterday. I love walking through the stalls and shophouses along all the avenues, Smith Street, Pagoda Street, Kreta Ayer Street and more! Took lots of photos as I walked through the many people and the braving the hot sun. But I think it’s worth the effort as I captured some interesting angles and corners of the area. Here are some of my works from yesterday….of course I didn’t forget to hop into some cafes along the way. I have written about The Lokal…next on line will be Roosevelt Diner and Bar.

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Cafe Hopper Review: Vanilla Bakeshop @ Ekkamai Soi 12, Bangkok

This was an arduous walk! I dragged my travel mate along with me early in the morning for breakfast. I have always wanted to visit the Bakeshop but didn’t really figure out its exact location. Eventually I found out that it’s along the same Tanon (main road in Thai) but much further down the road. Yes… Really much much further down the road! I knew that my travel mate was getting a little bit tired but my wanting to look for this cafe was stronger! Eventually we found and I was all so excited to see the signature wall mural that so many have taken photo with…. We quickly settled down with a seat and got my travel mate to take a cool pic of me with the mural on the wall….

The Bakeshop serves mainly western bakery and pastries. They were awesome both in terms of their presentation and taste! We both enjoyed our breakfast there and we’ll certainly it was a good rest after all the walking and searching. Oh yah… I felt a little bad about this so decided to buy him breakfast for that morning! Yup, the Bakeshop can be a little pricy…. So bring a bit more baht to pay for more good stuff!

I will certainly take the long walk again to visit this place… Or perhaps I will take a cab. There is also another cafe just next to it … More of a Japanese style kind! So certainly will be worth the trip cos one trip two cafes Huh!

Yes, and Merry Christmas to all my readers and a blessed New Year!

The Gatekeeper

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Cafe Hopper Review: Ink and Lion Cafe @ Ekkamai Soi 2, Bangkok

Wow…it’s been a while since I posted on my blog! Well, was busy with many other stuff and finally squeeze out some time during my recent work trip to Korat and Bangkok! I felt so at home when I was in Thailand and really planning for my next cafe-cation or food stood this coming March. When I told my sister that I am planning to go back to Bangkok again…she was like “huh!” Hahahaha….

Okay, this time round is a cafe with an interesting name, Ink and Lion Cafe! Not too sure why that name but it certain has the feel of Chronicles of Narnia. Perhaps it has to do with the lion, Aslan? Nah, that’s just my wild guesses! I went there with a friend and we wanted to grab a slow breakfast there but unfortunately they don’t really serve breakfast there! I decided to order a piece of coconut cheese cake and my usual latte! I love the coconut cheese cake and I love the size of it even more! It’s probably about 1/3 of the size of a normal slice of cake and thus, it’s really a good mini bite for a morning! The coffee was good and most importantly, the cafe give customer a very cosy and comfy feeling! My friend and I actually sat there for almost the whole morning…he was doing his work and I was just chilling out!

The best part of it is that ye of us… Or perhaps just me had a load of fun role playing and posing emo in the cafe! I simply love my experience here. The cafe is tucked in Ekkamai Soi 2… Not exactly far from the BTS Ekkamai! If you happen to be shopping in Bangkok…go visit Ink and Lion and it’s certainly a good place to just rest your legs before heading for more shopping spree!

The Gatekeeper

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Cafe Hopper Review: Pacamara Boutique Coffee Roastry @ Upper Thomson

This is a new cafe on the block. They took over a corner unit near the former Long House Hawker Center! It was previously Liquid Kitchen and now turned into a boutique cafe! Interior decor is simple but impressive! It’s white in general and even the coffee machine is white in colour. I love the spaciousness of the cafe and cafe goers have enough space to chat with their friends or even sitting alone looking out to the traffic along Upper Thomson road.

I ordered the shrimp and asparagus ragout roll from the menu and was pretty impressed by the creativeness of the breakfast set! The taste was alright and of course you can’t compare them with big western cuisine restaurant! I also ordered the 7oz latte and turned out that the latte is smooth and doesn’t leave behind a after taste. And I was enjoying all of these with a jazzy groove in the background as music!

The overall experience is great and considering that it is only their soft opening! They have not officially open yet and will be soon! You don’t see any cakes in their display shelves for now! A new cafe with lots of potential for growth and development! Just hope that the rent doesn’t kill off creativity and the means to survive!

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Cafe Hopper Review: The Coffee Daily @ Brighton Crescent

Sometimes a planned trip maybe not necessarily turn out well and a random appointment sometimes turn out to be better! This was what happened today when a good friend asked to have lunch! Was rather random but still we decided to go to this cafe at Brighton Crescent. I was really clueless about the place and I discovered that it’s pretty near Chom Chom food center at Serangoon!

When I arrived at the cafe I was totally captured by the retro outlook and knew that this was going to be great! The cafe has a homely team… No uniformed furnishing… All the chairs and tables are randomly mixed and matched! But in their randomness there is a certain retro flair! I love the furnishing and I love the rainbow cake even more. I thought as first it was an ordinary sponge cake kind of rainbow cake. When I took the first bite I knew that the texture of the cake is firm and chewy to the mouth! I love the overall texture! However, it’s a little pricy at $10 per piece. Oh and the way they presented their cake to me was truly a pleasant surprise! Well… My picture tells it all!

I ordered the latte as well! They have different flavor of latte and I think the toffee latte was good! I ordered that because of my dog which has the same name! I love this cafe and I if not because of its inaccessibility, I would make this my regular haunt!

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