Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Late night movie thought post: Everest

"There is competition between every person on this mountain. The last word always belongs to the mountain."

Source: Google

I was moved to tears by this movie.

Like every other disaster movie, Everest shows how a supposedly exciting and challenging expedition went terribly wrong. Natural disaster movies portray the helplessness of humans when it comes to force of nature, that even when you have done nothing, you can be struck by tsunami and all you can do is wait and die. It is indeed a tragedy that cannot be avoided. Everest, on the other hand, is not about accidents. It is about mountaineers from all over the world, despite knowing the dangers and deadly consequences of climbing Everest, who still choose to embark on this expedition. It is about mountaineers, who would rather sour familial relationships than to cancel the expedition to Mt. Everest, a mountain that everyone knows that not everyone that goes up will be able to come down. 

Don't tell me that this movie is boring because it does not encompass gut-wrenching movie scenes and dramatise the conflicts between climbers. This is because it is shot based on a true story, and more often than not, real life stories are not as dramatic. I appreciate how the producers try to cut down on incomprehensible conversations and go on to show the realistic thrilling experience that a climber faces during his climb. Although I do expect more visuals on the process of the climb, it's a 2-hour movie after all, not a documentary. 

People climbed Everest for various reasons, but none of them were elaborate. There was this scene where everyone was asked about their reasons to climb Everest. (May not be ad verbatim, but I try to quote them as accurately as possible based on my fading memory)

Doug Hansen said, "I have kids. They see a regular guy can follow impossible dreams maybe they'll do the same." Another said, "because it's there." A Japanese climber added, "I have conquered the tallest mountains in the other six continents, so it is right for me to go for the last one too.”

None of these sound sophisticated. Sometimes, there may not be a reason why we do certain things. Climbing Everest? Some do it for the thrill, some do it for the fun, some do it, for no reason. I reproduced an extract from George Mallory's book, Climbing Everest: The Complete Writings of George Mallory, which accurately depicts this scene because I thought I could not paraphrase it any better:

“People ask me, 'What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?' and my answer must at once be, 'It is of no use.'There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behaviour of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron... If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for.” 

Maybe one day, you will be so good at what you are doing, that nothing ordinary in life can give you the feeling of ecstasy similar to that when you reach the top of the mountain. Climbing Everest requires high physical exertion, a healthy body, near perfect skills in mountaineering, a heart and a soul that fears no death and most importantly, the ability to understand your limits and cease the climb when you are pushing beyond what you can do. 

I guess when we have excellent minds and big dreams, we tend to forget to be humble. We tend to overexert ourselves and blindly convince ourselves that we can do it, even if it is beyond our ability. Because, "nothing is impossible". But, it is the spirit of knowing your own ability and not to overexert that will keep you going, and, alive. Rob Hall knew the mountain well, and he knew that Everest is another beast altogether. This is why, he asked other climbers to cease the climb if they were feeling unwell. This is why, he hesitated to help the climber up to the top when it was time to descent. People say he might not have died if he did not make the judgement call to help Doug Hansen up. But who are we to say that based on the benefit of hindsight. No one knows what happened up there because both of them died, leaving the story untold anyway. 

Everest focuses more on how climbers turned helpless when there were avalanches, how human insisted to continue the climb even though they were not supposed to, how Murphy's Law came into action (no ropes attached along the mountain, the accident while trying to cross in between mountains using ladders, no oxygen tanks available, heavy storm next second after a sunny day etc) and how the climbers died one by one. 

I must say, no one can comprehend the difficulty and ordeal that each climber had been through during their climb. A fortiori, their joy when they reached the peak of Everest. Even the movie does not do the process of climbing justice. It's way more difficult than that -the battle between giving up and continuing (when it is too far to go down or go up), the frostbites that numb your limbs, the prophetic feeling that you are going to die and you know that no one will and is able to help you, the lack of oxygen in thin air...

Many people don't die when they ascend, they die when they descend. 

And yes, mountaineers are left to die on Everest even if they could have been alive if they were sent to the hospital. This is because it is almost impossible for a mountaineer to carry another down unless he is willing to risk both lives and no helicopter can be sent to such a high altitude. They are as good as being pronounced dead. 

It's nerve-wrecking to see the climbers being helpless and dying in pain.

Everest, is a mountain known to be fatal.

Yet, every year, there will be expeditions to Everest and climbers who are willing to take on the challenge to conquer it.

Maybe, to a climber like Rob Hall, the joy of being able to plant your feet on the top of Everest  is worth the immense risk and danger. 

Perhaps it's for the short sense of joy?
Perhaps it's for your loved ones?
Perhaps it's to inspire?
Perhaps it's for it, just it?

I don't know. But I know I will never be able to comprehend why they chose to do so and what they had been through during the climb. Standing on the top of the highest mountain on Earth, everything seems so insignificant, even lives.

8848m above sea level, seems unattainable. That sort of despair a climber experiences when he knows that he will either die of exhaustion regardless if he gives up or continue the climb (because the distance to the summit or base camp is too far), or that sort of desperation for survival when his life is hanging by a thread, either scenario is saddening to hear, to feel.

Maybe that's the cost that you have to pay to get the priceless feeling on the top of the world.

But is it worth the risk?

You decide.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Food Hunting at [Oh My Bacon! a.k.a. OMB!]

Here's another food hunting blog post! Recently, I came across this bacon-themed cafe online and found it pretty interesting. The thing about themed cafes is that more often than not people will not visit them twice, not just because cafes are generally pricey, but who would want to eat appetizers, main course and dessert made of the same main ingredient over and over again? Unless you have some inexplicable fondness towards it, if not, it's more of a one-time off thing.

My sister, Bii and I decided to pay this rather new bacon-inspired cafe -Oh My Bacon! (a.k.a. OMB!) at Dunlop Street a visit and try their bacons out! If you are a bacon-lover like Bii, be sure to visit them at least once!

How to get there

The nearest MRT station from OMB! is Bugis MRT station. Once you get out of the MRT station, you will have to walk for 7-10 minutes via Rochor Road and Jalan Besar to arrive at the rows of shop houses along Dunlop Street. The entrance of OMB! is not fancy, so you will have to sharpen your eyes and spot it among the shops. 

For taxi-takers, here you go:
7 Dunlop Street,
Singapore 209337.

To avoid disappointment, their opening hours are as follows:
Tue-Fri: 12pm-10pm
Sat-Sun: 10am-10pm
(closed on Mondays)

OMB!'s counter with its signature Tiffany blue and dark pink themed backdrop
Bacon lover? Fred not, bacon-inspired merchandises are sold here too!
This cafe has a minimalistic interior - clean white walls with positive quotes everywhere! The cafe is pretty spacious as compared to others, perfect for group gatherings! The creative fonts on the walls and hanging canvas painting inject a strong vibrant and happy vibe to the atmosphere!

Positive quotes around the cafe!
Be sure to bring your camera along too! There is a picture corner at OMB! :)
OMB!'s Picture Spot 

What did we eat

Table top
First of all, skim through the menu, pick your favourites (do not hesitate to approach the staff for recommendations) and proceed to the counter to order! They have a pay-before-you-eat policy, so you queue and pay at the counter before your food comes!

Now, onto the food!

Based on recommendations, we ordered:

The NPH Platter 
Bacon and Egg Cup
The Bacon Bomb
English breakfast with waffles
How is that a complete meal without dessert?

Bacon brownie and bacon ice-cream
That was our first time eating such a bacon-heavy meal! I would say it's worth the try because their bacon sets were really splendid! Never thought bacon could be eaten in so many ways (can be pretty salty if you are not used to salty food)! We would highly recommend the NPH Platter and Bacon Bomb. The Bacon brownie and ice-cream sounded ridiculous but hey it tasted not bad (I feel the brownie was a bit too cakey but the ice-cream was good). 

Overall verdict: 6.5/10

A picture of us to end this post!