China Trip Day 1: Clouds Casting Shadows

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On 9th December 2012, we set off for a cultural immersion program in China for 25 days. It was somewhat awkward to sit in the midst of strangers and make small talk about the weather and packing lists.

After breakfast, I wandered towards the washroom and, as with all things in life, discovered something unexpected: a butterfly garden. Within it, there were feeding stations – stalks of blood-red flowers and pieces of pineapples. The flying bugs feasted on these supplied food.

It is strange, the intensity of attention that people lavish on butterflies. Why do people love them so much? They’re just bugs with coloured wings.

I must admit that I like butterflies though, as much as the next person. These frail insects that beat silken wings are bugs with wings, yes, but they’re also quietly beautiful bugs with wings.


Greedy butterflies feasting on pineapples. I tried, with little
luck, to get some of them to rest on my fingers.


There was a glass case with cocoons and
butterflies which are hatching or have just hatched.


On the plane, I was assigned to a seat by the windows. It was strange, to be peering from a squarish peephole and to watch the world grows smaller. The Changi airport became increasingly small until it was a dot, then no more.

There were clouds casting shadows on the sea. Thick clumps of clouds casting shifting shadows on the gentle sea. I’ve often been happy whenever the clouds block the sun back in Singapore. Up till now, it has never struck me that I was actually living in the shadows of clouds. Thank you, dear clouds, for being there even when I weren’t aware of your presence and sorry, mister clouds, sorry for forgetting to express my gratitude all these years.

Butterflies, clouds and shadows. The three omens of a beginning.

It's strange to realise that I've been hiding under the
shadows of clouds all these years. 

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