Monday, October 25


Ever so frequently, I feel the intense urge to throw away everything in my wardrobe and start afresh. Which is right about now. But being extremely impoverished, I've decided instead to take stock of what I have.

According Brit Vogue five years ago, these are the basics I need. (Those with a * indicate what's going on top of my shopping wish list. This is a completely self-indulgent post for me to justify shopping, but may I suggest you join me, too, in "taking stock".)

1. The nearest I have to a cashmere cardi is a threadbare pashimina which I no longer use.
2. See above. Pashminas are passe, no?
3. Slips I have, but they're all polyester.
4. I have one leather belt, circa 1995, which is still going strong.
5. Way too many totes, yet I keep buying more.
*6. This is clearly a sign that I need to buy a wrap cardi. One can never have too many cardis, especially in this freezer office.
7. I own only one pair of trousers and that is more than enough.
8. I'm so over jeans. Jeggings are the way to go.
9. Yes! I have striped scarves (non-striped ones too).
10. I bought my fave tee in three colours (I've become that sort of person who shops in multiples.)
11. I covet the gray slim ladies' Converse, even though I already have two pairs.

12. Not sure why I have a trench in Singapore, but I do.
13. Not a fan of polo tees, so I'll pass.
14. Long-sleeved stuff gets stuffed to the back of the wardrobe, but I know it's there.
15. Don't get me started on the nubuck leather bag -- the most expensive bag I've ever bought -- which is irreparably stained by a cheap pair of jeggings.
16. Cashmere socks? Really?
17. I'd rather wear a nice pair of tailored shorts than a casual skirt.
*18. Still on the quest for that perfect pair of flat boots. Oh, Frye, why are you so expensive?
19. I don't wear PJs; I wear boxers and tanks.
20. I knew that keeping that stone-washed denim jacket from 2005 was a good call.
21. Nobody wants to see me in a bikini, least of all myself.
22. Bought my first pair of loafers this year, not from Tod's though. I must say they are amazingly versatile.
*23. Yay, I don't have a shirtdress, which means another excuse to go shopping.

24. I'm afraid of ruining silk, so no silk tops for me. I'm too cheap to pay for silk anyway. What's wrong with polyester?
25. Jersey dresses are fine, except when I'm retaining water like a bathtub, which is 25 days in a month.
26. Silk clutches, lucite clutches, leather clutches, metal clutches. I have way too many.
27. See 24.
28. I look terribly dowdy in lace, so this is a no.
*29. I've toyed with the idea of sewing sequins onto a top, because all those I see in the shops are unsatisfactory. I would also like a sequinned mini skirt while I'm at it.
30. Who still calls them court shoes? Oh, right, the Brits. I own one pair of sensible black pumps (and several insensible pairs in other colours).
31. The missed opportunities for layering here. I would love to have an evening coat, except I'd probably be mistaken for a flasher at night.
32. Who doesn't own a bra or 10?
33. Diamante means fake diamonds, right? Real ones, I no have, but fake ones, I have in all sizes.
34. I have black capris, not pants, do they count?
35. I have one extremely unflattering vintage jersey skirt languishing at the back of my wardrobe, which I can't bear to throw away because it reminds of my first trip to Barcelona.
36. I have that exact same pair of Muji flip flops. Havaianas have nothing on them.

37. My precious black pair of ballet flats are dying and I'm inconsolable.
38. What do people without wallets do, throw their money into the bag? Wear clothes with pockets all the time?
39. Silk camisole: why must everything be in silk?
40. The last time I needed a "work" jacket to interview some CEO, I borrowed one. He turned up in jeans.
41. LBD? Check.
42. As a matter of fact, I do have a necklace from Tiffany -- I made my friends buy it for me for my birthday -- lurking somewhere.
43. Brown boots take priority over black ones (but a black bag takes priority over a brown one. There is no logic to my madness).
44. I have a whole bunch of opaque tights in all sorts of colours, but they cut off blood circulation to my lower body and cause my toes to curl upwards, so I stopped wearing them.
*45. Gold ballet flats are the Holy Grail.
46. My phone is my watch.
47. A vest is a singlet? Tank top? Wifebeater?
48. Denim skirt a.k.a. jean skirt. That's so early 1990s. I have a pair of denim cut-offs, which is also from the same era.
49. I love a crisp white shirt, but ironing is a bitch, so I hardly wear it.
50. I have a mamasan cardigan just like that. I go, "shi li li, sha la la" whenever I wear it.

Not bad, I only "need" five items to complete this checklist. Let's go shopping!

Saturday, October 2

holy crap! shit happens!

For unfathomable reasons, I seem to always be flying off with severe lack of sleep. Oh, right, it's because I take four hours to pack every time.

In preparation for the detox [detox being a euphemism for colonic irrigation], I had been avoiding carbs and proteins as much as possible for two days. But I succumbed to the shrimp omelette on the plane. What can I say, I cannot resist food in compartmentalised trays. Also, the thought of not being able to eat for the next seven days was a strong motivation.

On arrival in Chiang Mai, I was whisked off to the resort, from which I would not step foot out for the next week or so. This was the view from the balcony of my "deluxe pool side room", also known as "the cheapest room in the house".

I'm not sure why housekeeping decided to welcome me with these honeymoon suite swans. To crack me up, probably.

The rest of the day was like an orientation: meeting with the health director [an absent-minded old man of some sort of Nordic origin who did not once ask me about my health], watching a welcome video by the founder in a Hawaiian shirt, which I'm sure was cheesy even when the film was shot in the early 1990s, and being instructed, while fully clothed, on, how do I put this delicately, sticking it up your ass. One last supper of raw zucchini "pasta" with marinara sauce -- Tasty! And I'm not being sarcastic! -- as I braced myself for deprivation, starvation and hallucinations of prawn cracker sticks.

Every day begins at 7am with a detox drink, made with some sort of gray liquid clay and psyllium husk mixed with watermelon and/or pineapple juices. You take this five times a day, every three hours. There are also herbal supplements in pill form, six of them, also five times a day, every three hours. I did not expect that to be the worst part of the detox, I thought it would be the lack of food, but the pills were truly vile, like regurgitated grass which is then fermented and dehydrated. But the detox drink was refreshing, despite the fact that there was clay in it.

I only made it for two of the meditation sessions. I figured I would just meditate in bed, because I was dozing off anyway while the guru was asking us to close our eyes and "watch the river of your thoughts, and then push it away". He also said: "Meditation is not doing. It is being." In my head, I was going: "It is boring."

I'm proud to say I made it for yoga every morning except one. Give me a break, I was on vacation, surely I was allowed to sleep in one morning. The yoga pavillion was on a hill with breathtaking views. Well, I was out of breath every morning after trekking up there anyway. But I must say I was already one of the fittest students and I felt a (probably unjustified) sense of superiority over the angmohs who couldn't even sit cross-legged and gazed upon my half lotus with awe and jealousy.

On top of the five detox drinks, we were also allowed one coconut [I accidentally on purpose ate the flesh once before reading the fine print of the fasting manual: "No chewing allowed"], one carrot juice [good thing I like carrots, otherwise it'd have been gross] and one vegetable broth [a.k.a. warm dishwater flavoured with three grains of salt]. The coconut was the highlight of my food-deprived day, but actually, I never felt hunger. I missed eating and food, but I didn't feel like how I usually felt at 12pm when I was at work and going, "Chi fan! Chi fan!'

There are two colemas a day -- I'll get to that at the end, so that the squeamish will have time to escape from this post -- but other than that, I was free to do anything and nothing. I chose nothing.

If the weather was nice, I'd go to the pool, do a few lazy laps, frantically apply liberal amounts of SPF 130 sunblock and then read. [Yes, The Art Of Travel is a bit of a cliche, but it's a good book. I also read two of David Sedaris' books, borrowed from my twin, which made me snort out loud most unbecomingly.]

I tried to fulfil my painterly ambitions. Don't laugh at my lopsided cake, this is my first attempt at painting anything other than cupboards and walls.

My package included daily tummy massages, you know, brute force to push the crap out. While my intestines were being squashed and twisted and pummelled, I gazed on a peaceful grove of bamboos and imagined scenes from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. After that, I would go for a sauna or steam bath to purge even more toxins.

Not being much of a nature lover, I didn't go hiking. My commune with nature was limited to this one inexplicable crab that scuttled across my path and the creepy crawlies in my room, including a big black butterfly which flew in and refused to leave.

One of the cats climbed onto my balcony, I know not how, and demanded to take a nap on my bed. There were scruffy dogs running around too, which made me miss my smelly one back home, but they didn't want to play with me.

This is not a pina colada. As if. From Day 4, we were advised to take this Liver Flush drink to rid our liver of toxins. Made of extra virgin olive oil, lemon and orange juices, garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper, it sounded vile but was really yummy, like ginger tea with fruit juice and a peppery aftertaste. This was my last Liver Flush drink, sadly, although I guess I could always make it at home myself.

On Day 8, I broke fast. It took me 45 minutes to finish eating my first meal of a fruit platter, because apparently I had forgotten how to chew. I was expecting the flavours to explode in my mouth, but instead the pineapple was so sour, it made my tongue sting for hours.

We were told to eat only vegetables and fruit for the first two days, but I succumbed to a piece of garlic toast and some wanton soup when I went to town to do some shopping. In the mall I went to, supposedly the biggest in Chiang Mai, there was an entire floor devoted to buffet restaurants. The only thing holding me back was the urban legend circulating in the resort of some dude who ate some fried chicken at the airport after his fast -- and couldn't poop for two weeks after that.

And speaking of poop, that was what I did twice a day for seven days, 20 minutes each time. The first time was the most daunting, but they give you lubricant to make things go smoother. There was no pain, just like a mild tummy ache, and then whoosh, out it comes. Someone who had done it before said it was so shiok, she could have done it four times a day, no problem. I would have to agree. [The above photo from my morning trek to yoga is just there to break up all this shitty text.]

There was a plastic mesh basket colander thingy provided if you were inclined to take a closer look, but I was too put off by the thought of having to wash the actual thing to use it. But from what I could see from the toilet bowl, holy crap! It was amazing how much output there was every single time, despite there being not any input. [Cute kitty pix, in case your imagination starts running wild.]

The final dump was the most satisfying, as I produced what looked exactly like those pictures I'd seen on the internet. I almost felt proud. But not proud enough to take photos, because I didn't want to risk dropping my phone into the bowl. If you are feeling exceptionally brave, click here for pix. You have been warned, so don't blame me if you lose your lunch because you were kaypoh. [Ominous pix of approaching rainstorm, just because.]

When I weighed myself on the last day, I had lost 3kg. Sadly, it was easy go, easy come back, even though I did not eat any fried chicken. I do feel disgustingly healthy and rested and squeaky clean on the inside. I was also warned that during the fast, I might feel nauseated, vomit bile and get headaches -- which the other people I met there also experienced -- but I guess I wasn't as toxic as I thought I was, despite the vast quantities of prawn cracker sticks I had consumed.

Heading home sweet home to my favourite dish in the whole wide world -- mum's chicken soup. But I didn't eat the chicken, just in case.