Thursday, September 28, 2006

Farewell Lavi

It’s going to be a somewhat gloomy weekend. A dear friend is going away, far, far away. She’s leaving for Norway for work.

Parting is never easy. It takes enormous courage to pick up yourself, leave all things near and dear to you behind and head on to face the uncertainties ahead, alone. As a clean break is impossible, you carefully rummage through your life, searching for that something, small enough to fit in your suitcase but big enough to hold the love from home. Perhaps a picture, a book or even a song. It will hopefully give you a sense of familiarity in the foreign land.

At the same time, the anticipation and excitement are just as overwhelming. Imagine after about 12 hours or so of shut eye onboard the flight (and I hope you are one of those who could sleep on the plane), you wake up to a new time zone, new weather, new people, new environment, literally a whole new world! Isn’t that exciting? Limitless wonderful possibilities await you at the other side of the world. Isn’t that something to look forward to?

Farewell stirs up a lot of emotions and even more extreme spectrums of emotions. So I hope you do leave with tears welling up in your eyes, a big fat grin slapping over your face, a strong resolution resting in your heart, calmness surrounding your head and tingling excitement tickling all over your skin.

If you don’t, a couple of glasses of the in flight Champagne will do the trick!

All the best, Lavi.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Joy of Baking

Ever since my college days, I had enjoyed cooking, especially baking. I particularly enjoy baking in the middle of the night, when it's quiet. Then, it normally ends up waking the whole house with the whisking and beating and blending in the kitchen. But as soon as the mates saw me baking, their rage turned into joy, knowing that there would be banana bread for breakfast or chocolate chips cookies for snacks the next day.

I like the step-by-step approach of baking; it’s very systematic and organized. Just follow the recipe of mixing and blending the ingredients and then baking them in an oven. Voila! Minutes later the house will be filled with the wonderful aroma of the freshly baked cake or cookies. There’s something reassuring about the whole process, for the fact that if you work on it properly and diligently, delightful result is guaranteed. That’s certainly a spirit picker-upper when I feel I’m stuck at stuff I’m working on, be it writing, dealing with people, studying or slaving at work.

Baking is very fun as you are allowed to experiment with different ingredients and portions. You can triple the chocolate chips (always a good thing) or replace the nuts with raisin or use brandy instead of juice for the extra kick. Hence I find baking therapeutic, as you can express yourself according to your desire and mood at that instant. Do whatever you feel like, be creative, let your imagination run wild, and push the envelope.

I just bought “The Joy of Cooking” a couple of weeks ago and so far had been churning out a banana bread and a batch of chocolate cookies. Yummy! At the end of the day, I like baking simply because I like to eat!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fun with the Perhentian Gang

About 10 years ago I went to Thailand with a couple of my college mates. They were my security blanket as that was my very first time traveling out of country on my own. We explored Bangkok and the surrounding area together for a week and had a blast visiting new places, meeting different people, drinking and partying. However, living 24/7 with each other on the road means seeing a lot of their antics, characters and demeanors which were hilarious in small dosages, suddenly became annoying and unbearable to me. I believed I had my fair share of shit driving them up the wall as well. Our differences in mindsets and approaches, which normally were complementary, were magnified like 246 times and appeared so very conflicting. No doubt we had a great time, but thereafter I prefer travel solo.

Now, 10 years later, I signed on for a long weekend getaway on Perhentian Island along the east coast with 8 of my buddies. Being older (and hopefully wiser), I ignored the previous experience; basically jumped on the boat with a simple mission to have a fantastic weekend with the people I love.

LaviYa…Ya… the Orgy-nizer of the year. How could we ever thank you enough for taking up the enormous challenge of organizing this island escapade? It was impossible to fit everyone’s schedule and budget and preference and demand but you simply took them all in and waltzed through gracefully sorting out bus ticket and boat fare and booking the chalet. On top of that, kudos for successfully fending off the constant antics and pranks from the 3 dick-heads. Anyway, we still strongly believe that you have got lesbian tendency. It’s ok, I love you no less for that.

Aulalalalala, the second target of the practical jokes from the 3 dick-heads. I was worried as you were kind of moody and quiet throughout the trip, probably due to our endless comical assaults towards you. We were trying to have a ball with you on the island. It was great finally seeing you laughed and yakked and yakked and yakked. Thank you for getting back the old you and joining in the fun. Seeing you ripping up the dance floor is such a reassurance. You go girl! Check out her website at or

Arip a.k.a. Dick-head #1. Aside from his major contribution towards dick-headness, he was the activity director. “Today we go snorkeling.” “C’mon let’s play Frisbee.” “Who’s in for kayaking?” I must say I was trying to wiggle my way out of kayaking but it turned out to be a great 3 hours. We got 2 weeks worth of workout logged in. We found a lovely stretch of white soft sandy beach with crystal clear water. Most important of all we saved the leatherback turtles by continuing digging the nest on the beach (after a group of tourist stopped), bringing out a few more recently hatched baby leatherbacks. It was an incredible experience and that made all the sore arms and arching back worthwhile.

Roobs a.k.a Dick-head #2 and Orgy-nizer #2. He single-handedly managed the booze department and obviously did an excellent job. When he told me he would bring 2 bottles of stiff ones, I was happy. But when we got to the island, I was ecstatic as he brought along a minibar and a bartender: lemon and salt, shot glasses, cocktail mixer, tomato juice etc. Every occasion was a drinking occasion: he would be doling out shots of tequila to kick off the vacation, mixing bloody Mary to jump start the next morning, getting us beer after dinner, serving then a few more shots for capping the night. Roobs, you are the man!

Azleh the lover-man. A week before the trip he surprised me with a call telling me he’s crashing our island party, rain or shine he’ll be there. That was fantastic! He’s a good lad but we seldom get together due to different work locations. He likes partying and chic-ogling just as much. It’d be a blast. However, he was rather quiet at times and that left me wondering if he’s having a good time. Well, now that I know that he has got a chic thing over his head, that explained it all. I’m sure he’ll be able to patch things up with the hot mamasita of his very soon. Good to have you coming out with us.

JY, the official photographer for the trip a.k.a. Mr. Surprise Surprise! He initially insisted not to go into the ocean. (Surprise counter: 1) I know what you are thinking, why come to the island and not get into the sea? So, by the end of the first day he shot about 450 pictures of us goofing around. But the next day, he went for a short hike with us, sat in the ocean relaxing (Surprise counter: 2), got part of his hair wet (Surprise counter: 3), drank first Tiger and then Carlsberg over dinner (he kindly declined all our previous imbibitions) (Surprise counter: 4), danced up a storm (Surprise counter: 5), and finally the ultimate, took off his shirt and carried on dancing up a hurricane! (Surprise counter exploded!!!)

Skut, the metrosexual intrepid traveler. He just came back from Bali Island and Pangkor Island not too long ago. What better way to maintain an enviable holiday tan than going for another island getaway? Seasoned on the road, he came prepared. He brought along endless tales from Bali (“when I was in Bali…”), 2 beautiful Balinese sarongs (with different ways of tying them), 2 different SPF sun blocks (left over from Bali trip, 1 for body and 1 for the face), packed lunch of tuna and pita bread (totally taking care of his body), mega bucks worth of snacks (in which 35 big bucks worth of them were unfortunately left behind at the bus station).

Kevin the outsider. We met this new friend on the island itself, during our snorkeling trip. This poor guy was forced to take 2 weeks off work. Lucky bastard! He was traveling alone and we were actually staying at the same chalet. He’s a cool dude, out having a good time and meeting new people. We ended up having a lot of our meals together.

Finally yours truly, Boonsky a.k.a. Dick-head #3 and Tan-Doori. Other than occasionally chipped in some dick-headness, I did nothing really. I just showed up. In the end I got a tan (as I’m called Tan-Doori now), contracted the severe laughing overload syndrome, drank myself silly and smoked like tobaccos were tax free. I was just happy to be there hanging out with my mates and had a good laugh. I'm glad I jumped on the boat.

Such is life, sometimes you just need to show up.

Mission accomplished!

P.S.: Next trip we are heading to Cyprus. Road trip anyone?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Result of a couple of evenings of walking along the narrow streets of Melaka (and a couple of nights of photoshop-ing). Do you like them?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Rude Bunch

Hot Sunday afternoon.

The swimming pool was packed with families and kids. I only managed to do a couple of laps. It was absolutely impossible to swim laps without bumping into other swimmers. It was an obstacle course!

As I was taking a breather, I saw a man guiding his daughter doggy-paddling across the pool. From the opposite direction, a guy was doing backstroke kicks. The little girl and the guy were totally on course for a head-on collision.

But fear not, we had got daddy coming to the rescue. The father would steer the girl away from the guy, or so I thought.

Instead, he vigorously splashed water at the approaching backstroke guy! The poor guy must have startled and probably choked till water coming out of his nose. He stood up, regained his composure and had not a clue where was the splashing coming from and why him? The father meanwhile simply rolled by with his girl, as if nothing had happened! He did not even apologize!

That was so rude! No, that was so fucking rude!

I hate to say this but perhaps Reader’s Digest got it right, ranking KL the third rudest city in their survey.

Now, think and please think long and hard. When was the last time you acknowledged the wait staff serving you food? When was the last time you thanked the stranger holding the door or elevator for you? Or when was the last time you hold the door or elevator for the others? When was the last time you greet someone along hallway? When was the last time you talked to your neighbors? Or do you even know them? When was the last time you were punctual for an appointment? When was the last time you apologize when you bumped into someone? When was the last time you stop for the pedestrians at the zebra crossing?

Again, think long and hard. When was the last time you got cut off by another maniac driver on the road? When was the last time you hear a mobile phone ring in middle of a movie? When was the last time you got service with a smile from the sales staff? When was the last time you saw someone ran a stop sign or a red light?

Well, you probably get the idea now. Tell me, honestly, are we not a rude bunch of people or what?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Walking in Bario

I spent a week hiking in Bario. It was late afternoon as I retuned from one of the day hikes. For no particular reason I turned my head and found such picturesque scene.

Next to the trail was a pond where the villagers farm fish, lined with wooden fence and enclosed by the soaring trees. Paddy growing season would start shortly. The stillness of the pond would turn emerald green with paddy plants. Soon there would be no room for the captivating reflection of the blue sky and white fluffy clouds. Life in the Kelabit Highlands is simple and quiet, like the reflection on the pond.

Tired and sore as I was, I had to record this on camera.