Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"You Are The One Who Is Falling"

This from the BP spill in the Gulf Coast.

Maybe because we are not affected, we don't care much, or at all.

But imagine this in our backyard. That'll surely make us sit up and and take action. To a 'lesser' extent, we are facing our own 'spill' - that proposed coal plant in Lahad Datu. The EIA consultants can go audition for Keystone Kops or something.

No Coal Sabah's actual tweets from the EIA Panel meeting yesterday:

It has been pointed out that animal & bird species that do not exist in Sabah are in the EIA report! Consultant said, "I have to check".

"There is no risk on health of the communities" - calculated over 70 years. Actual statement from EIA experts slide!!

"Kg Sinakut, is d community which will have d most affect, IF ANY" says EIA Consultant Pararunding UKM. IF ANY, wake up so called experts!!

"Fish will not be significantly affected becoz they can swim away" says EIA EXPERT!! Wow!

Credit : mmccllcc. Song : "Falling" by Von Tilley.

"When hands are joined, no one can point fingers"
- Jason Mraz, xoxo.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Movie : Inception

No Spoiler Ahead.

Quote : 'Watching Inception is like striking a match and setting your brain on fire.'

I must say that this is a thoroughly enjoyable movie and actually made me go and read up on its own inception (heh). Written, directed and produced by Christopher Nolan ('Dark Knight'), development started ten years ago and he waited until he was ready for a big-scale movie and spent much time refining the whole project.

Yupp, you get superb quality when you don't do rushed-jobs :)

I was never a Leo Di Caprio fan, although I know his acting chops are excellent. I may just change my mind. The cast was perfectly cast (duh sentence), editing was superb I thought and there's none of those typical excesses in the script nor in the visual feasts.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Arthur 'The Point Man', my favourite character. He also has some of the coolest scenes. I have a soft heart for geeks like that :) Nice to see him in a sci-fi adventure movie.

These scenes were wayyyy toooo coooool! Smoothly executed.

Anyway, don't take anyone's word for it - go watch!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monk (Not The TV Show)

This is one of my favourite pictures. As in the ones I took myself.

At a glance, the monk looks like he's floating above ground. The phrase that came to my mind was 'the Lightness of Being'.

This one too. A monk in contemplation.

Just like the rest of us, sometimes :)

Location : Phou Si, Luang Prabang. May 2010.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Kuching Whirlwind Weekend : RWMF 2010

Last weekend I made a quick trip to Kuching to attend my 2nd Rainforest World Music Festival. I was lucky (very lucky) as I got invited to share a room at Four Points by Sheraton :) Thanks Thakhida and Debs!

View of the runway from the 10th floor lift lobby.

We took the shuttle bus from the city to SCV for RM20 return and forked out another RM110 (an increase of RM10 from last year) for the one-day pass.

Shuttle bus ticket. We boarded the one at Grand Margherita at 12 noon.

Entrance ticket - better than last year's.

This year's glossy wristband. I prefer last year's.

Even before entering I could sense that the mood was not as merry as last year. It was quite subdued. Well, the smaller the crowd the better chance you get to attend the workshops!

We got to attend three workshops that afternoon - 'Electro Groove : Stuff You Plug In' at Dewan Lagenda, followed by 'Nice Frame : Frame Drums, Kanjiras, and Tambourines' and lastly 'It's In The Bag : Bagpipes the World Over', both at the Theatre. Of these, I found the Bagpipes the most enjoyable. The South Indian group, Lathayaranga was the outstanding one in Nice Frame. Amazing sounds from their 'kanjira' - small hand drums.

Sponsorship from the red star, green bottle.

See? No crowd at all. Last year it was already packed at this hour.

The Heinekabana - exclusive for invited guests only. Pahhh.

Hmmm. I didn't notice any recycling bins for aluminium cans?

With Thakhida. After so long we finally meet, not in KK but in Kuching!

Debs and Thakida on the Bidayuh bamboo bridge. This year we had the bridge all to ourselves.

Live 'sape' music at the Melanau House, by ...oh I forgot his name. He has his own CD album too of sape music.

The tattoo lady from last year was again doing brisk business this year.

The uncle posed for this pic - but I didn't buy my water from him :)

The main stage. Look at the mud from the downpour the night before.

Mud mud mud. If I were a buffalo I'd feel at home.

Waiting for the workshop to start at Dewan Lagenda.

T and D.

Electro Groove Workshop : Stuff You Plug In - comprising of musicians from the various performing groups.

From Nice Frame : The Italian "tambourine" - what a lovely sound it makes.

The infectious hypnotic beats of the 'kanjira' performed by Layatharanga, from South India.

The workshop leader for Bagpipes. He's from Belgium and plays with the group Minuit Guibolles.

The Iranian and his beautiful bagpipe. This bagpipe is different cos it has 'dynamics'. It can actually 'wail and lament'! The guy outshone the workshop leader and looked like he was going to take over from him. Haha. It was so obvious.

While waiting for the Bagpipes workshop to start we were kind of hungry but did not want to leave the theatre as we might not be able to get back in again. More than half the people already there thought the same as all remain glued to their seats. After deciding we needed something to eat I went outside and bravely sneaked in a Twist Potato each - so yummy! Freshly fried! When we wanted to eat it again later the wait was too long :( so we had to eat something else. My bag smelled of fried potatoes till the next day.

I would've bought a Gunnersaurus burger if I had seen this stall earlier.

I winced when I saw this :( Oh dear. The least they could do was to remove the stumps?

Sparse crowds by the lakeside.

We staked our spot with my orange tarp earlier so we needn't worry about our space for the concert. It started on time at 7 pm with the opening performance by Ensemble Shanbehzadeh from South Iran.

Sun setting.

Great opening performance - it got some excited enough to brave the muddy field.

Taken from the big screen. Saeid Shanbehzadeh (above) and his two brothers form the ensemble. The second performers were a Japanese duo, Kimuro Ono Duo, on the Tree Stage, followed by the French band Minuit Guibolles (very merry happy bunch), and the Czech group Braagas (good but there were some technical glitches with the microphones). No other great pictures of the evening as I'm bad with night shots. Oh we left earlier as we needed to catch the shuttle back to the city. We reached the city at almost 11 pm and were back to the hotel before midnight.

The next morning after breakfast T and I went into the city and walked around the waterfront, Main Bazaar, Chinatown and India Street. Also checked out the Textile Museum. This was a nice building opposite, I think it's the Post Office?

On India Street - this arch marks the India Street Lane; a narrow passageway that serves as a shortcut to the waterfront side.

Time for lunch as we were hungry. Found this new-ish cafe called Magna Carta at the Old Courthouses building. Same owners with Magenta apparently. Nice place but service was poor as they were shorthanded. And limited selections left for lunch as they ran out of stuff.

Our pizzaaaa and iced teas for lunch.

I enjoyed the whirlwind weekend a lot. For me, Kuching is one of those weekend places where I can just walk around and explore and eat; and I'd be content.

Will I be back again for the third time next year for RWMF? I hope so :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Vamos Espana !

(Allow me to indulge again)

Oh yes! Espana reaches the final and will meet the Dutch on the wee hours of Monday!

Some more eye candy. Mine is the one on the left ;). He played for only 10 minutes last night, subbing for Villa.

Pic sourced from this wonderful blog here. Lots and lots of stuff on la Furia Roja.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

M is for Manila.

I ran away to Manila last weekend :)


This time I was joined by my globe-trotting friend TutyFabregas, and in Manila Andrea played host and made sure we were taken care of and well-fed :) I got to know Andrea through Tuty and she had helped me with my plans for the Banaue trip I did last February, it was nice to finally meet her in person.

I did not take many pictures - I don't know why? plus some were dark and blurry - so here's some that I hope will do justice to the weekend.

On arrival at Clark/DMIA, there were dozens of people cramming to watch something. Found out there was a shooting going on for a TV series and the lead actor was someone famous. I asked and was told his name was Mark Hereras or something like that? I replied, oh I only know Jericho Rosales :)

I stayed at Bel-Air Brgy., Makati the first night at Our Melting Pot Backpackers. On the bus I befriended another Sabahan girl, Izzy, who bravely came to Manila without any room bookings! I suggested she follow me first to see if there were any beds available. Thankfully they managed to accommodate her for one night. As it was rather late we only had time to grab some dinner and check out nearby drugstores before returning to the hostel. The Handle Bar across the road was brimming with the football watching crowd who whooped and cheered as Brasil were booted out by Oranje.

On Saturday after Tuty arrived we decided to go to SM Mall of Asia and meet up with Andrea there. We only had to take 2 jeepney rides - very fast, very cheap. At Buendia, our first stop, a kindly guy (sorry I forgot his name) helped to show us where to take the next jeepney to MoA. This is not the picture of the one we boarded though, it's certainly the newest and shiniest of the lot I saw. The driver gave us a thumbs up sign when he realised we took a picture.

This was taken on jeepney we boarded. I feel safe already.

At MoA, while walking around window shopping we spotted this stall selling very cute miniature ice-cream of five flavours! Yummy! Too cute to eat!

Andrea picked us up and we went for a seafood dinner at erm.....what was it called? I can't remember. Anyhow, the area was packed packed packed with people. (Update : It was Trinity Ihaw-Ihaw Restaurant, I think).

I think this was the only food shot I took that night. That was one huge mean crab. We also had oysters, clam soup, steamed prawns, sweet sour fish, and seaweed salad.

The next day we went to Tagaytay with Andrea's family and had lunch at this lovely place that was tucked off the main road.

I mentioned to Tuty when we arrived that it reminded me Tuscany? (as if I've been there. doh). Then later after lunch, the owner Neil came by and told us they were actually featured in a home lifestyle magazine recently - guess what's the title? Tuscany in Tagaytay!

One of the coziest looking corner I've seen. I can pretend I am in Tuscany. The only thing that's missing is the vineyard :)

Andrea discussing the menu while Tuty checks out the place.

Next we headed on to the Tagaytay Highlands - which seemed like a very exclusive club from the way security and access were handled. Our plans to board the cable car were dashed as thunder rolled and it was deemed unsafe for cable car operations. A little while after we left, it started to drizzle.

We then headed to its Country Club to wait out the rain, unfortunately it got heavier. A visit to its zoo was also aborted. We ended up having pizzas for an early dinner.

The calm before the rain.

The next day we went to Intramuros. Survived the morning rush on the LRT - they were packed like anchovies!

Andrea explaining the history of Intramuros and the Spanish colonisation that was over 300 years (1565-1898); with Tuty looking on.

Fancy a ride on a kalesa (horse carriage)?

Fort Santiago entrance. St James, slayer of the moors, is probably the one on horseback (?). He's the patron saint of Spain.

These brass plates indicate Jose Rizal's last steps within the fort before he was taken away to Luneta Park to be executed. Remember Jose Rizal? His book was Noli Me Tangere, which we learnt in Form 1 or Form 2 Sejarah lessons.

A statue of Jose Rizal, the nation's hero.

This cross marks the final resting place of 600 Filipinos and Americans who died in the atrocities of WWII.

Some visitors went into the dungeons. Reminded me of Cu Chi.

Finally a picture with my face! This was with the fort guard. I was lugging my backpack around as I had to head on to the Philtranco bus terminal before noon.

Jose Rizal's 'Mi Ultimo Adios' (My Last Farewell) engraved on the marble wall. Outside, many other translated versions have been made; Chinese, Korean, French, Czech, Japanese etc.

The 'original' Mi Ultimo Adios, in Rizal's handwriting, immortalised in brass.

I was fascinated by this : a letter written by Asuncion Lopez Bantug, Rizal's grand-niece, 'engraved' on the wooden floor.

View of Pasig River, that runs through Manila but not used for transport or anything, according to Andrea. I never imagined a river within Manila. Perhaps it's 'overshadowed' by the islands.

The Royal Warehouses - 'Almacanes Reales' - used for storage of goods brought in through the port before distribution.

The Manila Cathedral - booking for weddings and events need to be made 6 to 12 months in advance.

Inscription at the main entrance. I intend to find out what it means.

A replica of La Pieta - not sure if this one is made from the same mould as the original La Pieta, and from the same Carrara marble from the same quarry.

The Angel's scarf is the vessel for the holy water.

San Agustin - the oldest stone church (completed 1607); a UN World Heritage site. One of the four Baroque Churches of the Philippines. Unfortunately the church was closed at that time. It doesn't look old as it has been repatched.

The UN World Heritage Site inscription for San Agustin, 1993.

The main doors of San Agustin.

Door to Museum and convent.

Chinese influence in form of two pairs of Foo dogs / lions next to the main doors.

Outside the old Spanish house? It was closed on Mondays so we didn't get to go inside.

Outside Barbara's.

Streets of cobblestones. You don't want to wear heels here.

Guard in uniform and unique hat - don't know what it is called.

Finally a picture with faces :) After that we cabbed it to Quiapo.

'Basilika Ng Nazarene' - Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, or Church of Quiapo.

This church is crowded because it is where you go to make special wishes. There was an ongoing service the time we passed through.

Lady selling 'Wishing Candles' at the Quiapo market. We burnt a bundle of colours.

Each coloured candle has its own meaning. I think we went for the Rainbow.

And for fun I got my fortune told via cards (tarots?). Ha, now, if only they come true!!

We walked through the wet street market, and just after I snapped this pic a lady tapped me on the shoulder and said something while pointing at my necklace. I heard she said 'snatch thief" then I understood, so Andrea helped me to remove my necklace. Better to be safe than sorry. So yes, do be careful and remove or hide any jewellery when going to crowded places. I was also told earlier that some times in jeepneys it is also not safe either.

The archway to Muslim town, where the Quiapo mosque is located, and halal food can be obtained. We had some local chicken rice at one of the shops there.

Tuty looking at some souvenirs. Almost all their souvenirs are similar to what we can find in the Filipino market in KK so I did not buy any.

I foresee a return trip sometime in the future, this time purely with the intention of getting good retail therapy. I hope. I only managed a bit of Glorietta 4 this time.

Erm, I think for the first half of the year I've been such a regular face at the airport that the one of the airport security asked me "Eh, jalan lagi?" I don't know if being recognised by the security is a good thing?

I have two more coming trips soon and after that I'm done with my travels, at least for the next few months. Need to take a breather, focus on work, consider pursuing non-travel related interests, and give a rest to my brown selipar and backpack as well as (especially!) the wallet.

Happy second half of the year, friends!