Friday, January 29, 2010

Movie Marathon : January 2010

Last weekend I decided to treat myself to a DVD/movie marathon and watched these:

Post Grad, starring Alexis Bledel. Cute lightweight rom-com.

Up In The Air, starring George Clooney. My favourite in this batch. I like movies with background narratives.

The Men Who Stare At Goats, starring George Clooney, Ewan Mc Gregor, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey. Clooney playing a loony character.

The Invention of Lying, starring Ricky Gervais and Jennifer Garner. This was silly funny with some genuinely funny moments.

The Blind Side, starring Sandra Bullock, Tim Mc Graw (yes, the country singer). Their son in the movie, SJ is soooo cute and funny! A close favourite.

Brothers, starring Toby McGuire, Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal. Very strong performances from these three young accomplished actors, a bit on heavy on the drama, plods slowly but surely.

All were thoroughly enjoyable, especially Up In The Air and The Blind Side. George Clooney is smooth as usual, and it was very refreshing to see Sandra Bullock in a strong, no-nonsense role.

Next, I am looking for/waiting for : Adam, Crazy Heart, Fantastic Mr Fox, Notes On A Scandal, Julie & Julia.

I'll try to watch a movie in the cineplex this week; nope, sorry no Avatar 3D for me, I'm not persuaded at all. Not yet maybe, as I try to keep an open mind. Tried to connect with the trailer sadly I cannot myself imagine sitting down and watching it for almost 3 hours.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Be Spontaneous!

Some days this is how I feel.

Pic Credit : tumblr.

Did exactly that once last year - just get the ticket, pack and go - and it was fun!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The World Through LOMO

I still am not convinced I should get myself an SLR a.k.a. fancy camera.

'Cos I'm (still) so untalented when it comes to using gadgety things like that. I only want one because I want good quality pictures, longer battery life and, well, something else to maybe complement my current p&s while on my travels.

In the meantime, as I remain indecisive, I actually moved along the opposite end of the spectrum and got myself these some time back:

A blue UWS (Ultra Wide Slim) from Superheadz.

An authentic used Russian-made Lomo Smena 8M. It even smells like Russia, kind of. I nicknamed this 'Gorby' :P.

These use 35mm films; remember those days of yore? (No? You can't be that young!) They're fully mechanical/manually-operated. No batteries needed. Just your thumbs and fingers. It's quite fiddly having to load and unload the film, haven't got the hang of it. And that you can't view the pic after you've snapped it was a major getting-used-to.

So far I have only used one roll of film, and now I need to get it burned on to a CD.

Wonder how the pics will turn out.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

India, Anyone?

Air Asia : The secret is out! AirAsia announces FIVE (5) new city additions to our India route - New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Bangalore!!! Gear up as India is going to rawk red this year with us opening the doors to the mystique of sights and sounds. The adventure of a lifetime in 2010 begins tomorrow. India, here we come!

விரைவில் जल्द ही आ रहा coming soon. What's Your India?

* * * * * * * * *
Air Asia's facebook page mentioned that they will officially launch five new India destinations tomorrow!

New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore will definitely see a surge in visitors once these routes take effect. I'm guessing the flights are going to fly from LCCT-KLIA, and maybe Penang.

Last time I checked we need to get a visa in advance at RM152, excluding other handling fees, and it takes 2-3 working days. My last 'homework' on India consisted of planning imagining some travel itinerary that can be covered in a 12-14 days period.

Anyway, let's see the travel dates/period offered by Air Asia.

In the meantime, yes, I shall think of an answer to : What's Your India?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cambodia : What I Ate (and Did Not)

Overall I found Cambodia not very exciting in terms of its culinary offerings.

Unlike Bangkok or Penang where you're spoilt for choice.

Nevertheless, there were items that I enjoyed very much. Price-wise, on average local food cost anything from 5000 riels to around USD4-5 per item. Street food is of course cheaper than those in restaurants; fancier places charge more. A good cup of fancy coffee costs around USD2. And I think there is an unwritten 'local and foreigner price' policy in place; I may be wrong.

Breakfast at Le Tigre de Papier, Siem Reap.

Grilled fish with mango salad. Mild and light.

Amok Chicken, a Khmer specialty. Very similar to Ayam Masak Lemak I thought. Lots of ... basil?

The Soup Dragon in Siem Reap, where I had my breakfast twice, it opens early and serves good hot Pho Bo, Vietnamese beef soup.

The Soup Dragon's menu.

Pho Bo and its accompaniments.

My last breakfast at Siem Reap - after having pho bo (again); strong coffee, morning paper.

Chocolate fudge with vanilla ice cream at The Blue Pumpkin, Siem Reap. Really yummy! I was here three times for dessert :)

The Blue Pumpkin serves its own premium ice-cream and sorbets. Above average prices, lots of bakery choices, cool settings upstairs, service is efficient - cold towel even! Open for breakfast as early as 6 am. One of the fancier outlets here. Gets crowded with after-dinner crowd and with people buying discounted bakery items after 8 pm.

The cool, all-white 'upstairs' at The Blue Pumpkin, where you can literally kick off your shoes and stretch your legs on the 'sofa beds'.

Duck eggs, like balut? Nope, did not try this one.

I call this the Baguette sandwich. Very simple and tasty. 2000 riels I think it was.

Fried rice at the night market, Siem Reap.

Condiment : chilli, pounded with garlic and sugar, with fish sauce. Sweetish and not hot enough, I had to ask for chopped chillies and soya sauce.

Vegetarian fried rice for lunch at one of the stalls outside Ta Prohm. The big drama for the day was that the daughter of the stall owner got into a hair-pulling, kicking fight with a girl from another rival stall. They were at it for minutes and I think they would've escalated to biting each other if the police hadn't arrived. I was so hungry the incident didn't dent my appetite.

This was supposed to be Pad Thai, it certainly did not look like one however it was still quite good, a little bit on the mild side. Dinner at Temple Bar Balcony, Siem Reap.

Freshly baked loaves of baguette, soft and chewy, yummy on its own; Kampung Thom. In Phnom Penh, they also sell freshly fried char kui and chempiang.

Jiminy Cricket.

Are these tarantulas? They sure look like 'em.

Grasshoppers galore.

Meatball noodles soup. Smelled rather funky. An acquired taste. Phnom Penh coffeeshop.

Standard coffeeshop condiments : Fish sauce, pickled chilli padi, soya sauce, sugar, pepper, lime wedges.

Smoked/BBQ bananas, Phnom Penh.

Come to think of it, I didn't eat three meals every day. Some days I just snacked cos I was not that hungry, and as usual I was chugging so much water it filled up my stomach. Drinking/RO water was provided free in most of the places I stayed in, otherwise you can buy them from around 35 cents onwards for a local brand.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cambodia : The Temple Circuit Part 2

I have a confession to make.

Maybe it's because I have left this a little bit too long and I didn't make any notes whatsoever and I don't have my guidebook with me at the moment - so I may have misidentified some of the temples here.

(Oh okay, those are just petty excuses for my short-term memory)

Nevertheless, here's the other half of the temple circuit. Let me know if I need to correct anything, ya?

Can't recall which gate - Ta Prohm.

Ruins, intentionally left unrestored.

Massive fig and silk-cotton trees growing on the temple complex differentiate Ta Prohm from others. This temple was made famous by Ms Croft. The downside of coming here during peak season is that people are everywhere snapping pictures. The polite ones give way, the rest, well, they just don't care and give a WTH look. Especially those in groups.

Huge slabs of stones form the ruins at Ta Prohm. I think the most appropriate description is 'bongkah-bongkah batu', what's that in English?

Restoration works at Ta Prohm. I noticed that the funding for the restoration at the various temples came from India, Italy, Japan and Germany. By the looks of it, these works will be undertaken throughout 2010 so if you visit this year, you'll see plenty of scaffoldings and barriers and cordoned-off areas at most of the temples.

Waiting for lunch at a stall, facing West Entrance of Ta Prohm.

Terrace of the Leper King. It has a double terrace wall and you walk between the walls/corridor. A persistent little girl stalked me here to ask for one dollar. She said (in halting English) that she was an orphan and was taken care of by monks and needed money to eat. I asked her if the monks fed her, she said 'not enough'.

From the west side facing the bright afternoon sun.

Its beautiful deep carvings, very detailed and in good condition. I wish I could spend longer time here examining them.

The Leper King himself. Whether he actually suffered from leprosy or it was just the appearance of his statue remains a debate.

The Terrace of the Elephants, a wall 300 metres long adorned with carved elephants and garudas.

These most likely represent elephant trunks.


Urm, ...I cannot remember if this was Ta Keo or Pre Rup. I think Pre Rup. I also missed pictures of Thommanom and Chau Say Thevoda, pretty little temples that sit across the road from each other.

Raised stone walkway all the way to Baphuon.

Baphuon, undergoing very extensive restoration works. It's closed to the public at the moment.

I think this was Phimeanakas.

A giant Buddha statue - Preah Ngoc - near the Bayon complex.

Steps entering Bayon.

At Bayon, the last temple I visited before calling it a day (actually later after having some ice cream, I went back to Angkor Wat for sunset).

Picture taken by a French lady, Marianne, who surprised me by speaking in fluent and beautifully accented Malay when I told her where I was from. She used to work with an NGO for some years ago in Rawang and misses the Malaysian food!

Pay to get your picture taken with them. I just sat to rest, as with many other people who I think are also ending the day at Bayon.

Late afternoon, back at Angkor Wat.

One of the guides for a Japanese group was explaining the significance of this carving on the floor of the walkway leading to Angkor Wat. I still don't know what it is. I tried looking around if there were other floor carvings, but it seems this is the only one around.

Very very tired feet finally gets to rest as I enjoyed the sunset.