Thursday, 25 September 2008

Chinese are Like Cockroaches

One of my friends commented that the Chinese are like cockroaches - you can find us in almost every country in the world.

When I first heard that I was rather offended. Who would want to be associated with roaches, right?

But after much ruminating, I thought that that was a clever piece of thought; and I'll tell you why ...

This is what Wikipedia wrote about cockroaches:

"Cockroaches are among the hardiest insects on the planet, some species capable of remaining active for months without food, or being able to survive on limited resources like the glue from the back of postage stamps. Some can go without air for 45 minutes or slow down their heart rate. It is popularly suggested that cockroaches will 'inherit the earth' if humanity destroys itself in a nuclear war."

Now let me bring the Chinese into comparison with the roaches.

Ever since the beginning of time (I'm exaggerating here), many Chinese left the shores of China in search of a better life in foreign lands. They worked hard to build a new life for themselves and their families. Along the way they met many challenges and hurdles but they persevered.

In other words, put a Chinaman anywhere and he can survive.

If you go to most major cities in the world today, you can find a Chinatown there where the Chinese have made their homes and built businesses. And many of them are leading successful lives blending into the local community but yet maintaining their own identity and culture.

So you see ... the Chinese are like cockroaches - both are hardy and resilient!

Slow Read ...

I started reading the book above many weeks ago till I can't remember when I started. Today I’m only at page 251; that’s 262 pages more to go. I wonder why I’m dragging my feet to read this book.

Usually I can finish a book in about a week, because I read everywhere - while waiting for the bus, in queues, while waiting for a friend, at home in my free time, etc. There is always a book in my bag wherever I go.

I remember reading The Da Vinci Code and Thorn Birds. Could not put ‘em down. Finished each book in 3 days. This time it’s different.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Mamma Mia! - Don't Miss It

After my entry on The Other Boleyn Girl, this is another movie entry and I hope I won’t bore you to death.

My sister won tickets to the preview screening of Mamma Mia! courtesy of Her World magazine. So she dragged me along with two of her colleagues to GSC 1 Utama for the screening last week.

I watched the movie with no expectations at all. I didn’t read any reviews prior to the screening because reviews can screw up your mind with preconceived expectations. And you know what … I loved Mamma Mia!

It was a feel good movie with awesome scenery of that lovely Greek island, hot guys with hot bods and lots of singing and dancing. If you’re an Abba fan, I bet you’ll love the movie as much as I did.

When Voulez-Vous came on, I almost stood up and danced in the cinema. I bet the guy beside me must have been annoyed with me tapping my feet and grooving in the seat :-)

I know the audience felt the same way as I did because they clapped at the end of the movie.

Monday, 22 September 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl: Recognising George Boleyn

I watched The Other Boleyn Girl twice – once at the cinema with a friend and another time with my mum on DVD.

Both times my movie partners couldn’t understand the most crucial and dark twist in the movie. Don’t read on if you don’t want a spoiler, and don’t say I didn’t warn you …

The scene I’m talking about is the scene where Anne had a miscarriage and asked her brother George to sleep with her in the hope that she’ll conceive and that the king will not know that his wife had miscarried.

Now both ladies whom I watched the movie with didn’t understand that part. My friend asked me why I was making the tsk tsk sound. When I explained to her, she said “Sei lor … how come like that one …?”

When that scene came on while I watched with my mum, I saw a blank expression on her face and I knew she didn’t understand what was going on either.

I asked my mum what she didn’t understand and she said she couldn’t recognise the guy whom Anne was asking to sleep with. I wondered how that could have happened when poor George was quite a prominent character in the movie, with a considerable number of scenes. In other words, you couldn’t have overlooked him.

Only then did I realize that they cannot tell one Mat Salleh apart from the other. You see, the movie had quite a number of male Mat Sallehs apart from George. And to the Asian eyes, all Mat Sallehs look alike. Could it be because all the men in the movie looked alike in their costumes? :-) Thank God one Boleyn sister was black haired and the other blond!

To me, the dialogue was brilliant. I loved the choice and flow of words as well as the development of the story, not to mention the rich and elegant costumes of that era.

But sadly my movie partners missed out on the development of the story because they couldn't tell one Mat Salleh apart from the other.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

My Blog's URL

I use the name Winter Swallow in my blog's URL. Now, where did I get the name from? What is the significance of the name?

Let me explain ...

My full name is Julie Lim Seet Yin, and yes, Julie is the name in my identity card, birth certificate, passport, baptism certificate, etc. Julie is not a glamour name that many Chinese people like to put in front of their Chinese name. It is my 'real' name. I get asked that a lot, you know.

If you translate my Chinese name into English, you'll need to break it up into two parts: (Lim) and (Seet Yin). So ...

  • (Lim) means Wood or Tree or Forest; and
  • (Seet Yin) means Winter Swallow
So now you know ...

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

My Next Travel Adventure

I'll be backpacking to Laos for one week during the Christmas holidays this year. Just typing it out is already giving me the thrill!

The focus of this trip will be on Luang Prabang, a UNESCO Heritage City which is acclaimed to be a photographer's haven with its picturesque villages, unique architecture and friendly people.

I've booked my ticket (AirAsia, of course!) and drawn up an itinerary. Vientaine will be my point of entry into Laos. From there I'll take the night bus to Luang Prabang which is an 11-hour journey! I read that the buses are prone to breaking down, but these are experiences that makes travel memorable and fun.

Now I've got to get a new backpack and a pair of durable walking sandals and read, read read about Laos to understand and appreciate the country and its people when I get there.

Stay tuned for my travel adventures in Laos. The best is yet to come!

Monday, 15 September 2008

Mooncake Festival - Lovely Boxes & Yummy Contents

Mooncake boxes are getting prettier and more creative by the year. Gone were the days when a mooncake box is just a box to hold mooncakes. It has become creative works of art that are too lovely to throw away.

Let me show you two boxes I received this year:

This box is from Amway.

The box opens to reveal hidden goodies within. Note: I've eaten the goodies when I took this photo :-)

I received the box below from my insurance agent at ING. The cover reminded me of my mortar board on graduation day sans tassels.

Open the cover and you'll find:

  • Chocolate Cream Cheese
  • Green Tea & Milk
  • Pure Lotus 1 Yolk
  • Golden Floss

Not only a lovely box ... but also yummy contents ...

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Have you noticed that certain mirrors make you look fat?

I was at Parkson Pavilion yesterday trying on an Editor Pants (first time I've heard of such a pants). Like all natural woman trying on a pair of pants, turning to see if that piece of clothing will make my butt look fat is a must. It's a deciding factor whether I'll purchase it or not.

So I turned by butt to the mirror for that deciding factor moment. To my horror, my entire butt looked like it oozed fat and celulite, like I didn't go to the gym since days of yonder. Most pants usually don't make my butt look big, but this time it's not. Help me ... I'm becoming a pear !!!

Then I took a good look at my whole body in the mirror. This time my entire body looked fatter than usual. So it's not the pants after all ... Did my weight increase dramatically lately? Did I neglect exercise and diet till I've reached the point of no return? What happened to my hourglass figure that I worked so hard to maintain?

Right there and then I swore to go on a drastic diet and to increase my gym visits.

That evening in my office washroom, I took another look at my butt to see the horrible sight. This time my butt didn't look that fat anymore. I wonder why ...

At home I stood in all my glory before the mirror. This time I looked not too bad ...

So will the real slim mirror please stand up?

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Ramadan and Food

During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims all over the world fast for 30 days and observe various forms of penance.

For me, this is the month where food reigns supreme.

Ramadan is the time when I will make it a point to visit, during lunch, all the eateries which would otherwise be crowded. No jostling and waiting in long queues. And during buka puasa time I refrain from visiting these eateries to make way for those who had been fasting the whole day.

Visiting the Pasar Ramadan for buka puasa delicacies is also a must to satisfy tea time hunger pangs. When I'm back in my hometown during the weekends, my mum would buy lots of kuih muih for tea and even some lauk pauk for dinner.

During the first few days of Ramadan, my colleague was rushing home to buy his buka puasa juadah at the Pasar Ramadan. I asked him why the rush since it was only 5.30pm. He said the food finishes fast because the non-Muslims clear the spread fast.

Yesterday I blew my diet by having nasi briyani for lunch. The seller gave me a larger-than-usual portion because half of his customers are fasting and he needs to clear the food. Another good Ramadan experience ...

My female Muslim friends who are pregnant, sick or having their menses would also seek my help to buy food during lunch. I once bought food for a pregnant colleague and another friend jokingly commented, "Ah ha ... bersubahat ..." (Translation: "Ah ha ... accomplice")

The buka puasa buffet at hotels and even fast food joints are getting more expensive by the year. My favourite is the buka puasa buffet at McDonalds which was a damn good bargain. I don't know if it's on this year because they have it alternate years previously.

There was one year my colleagues and I were invited to a buka puasa buffet at The Marriot Kuala Lumpur. We sat around the table waiting for Azan Maghrib. And when the beduk started, I watched my Muslim friends say their prayer and sipped the sirap water - their first drop of liquid after an entire day of fasting.

After we have tucked into the spread, one of them commented, "What is beautiful about this experience is that all of you non-Muslims waited for Azan Maghrib like the rest of us instead of starting to eat first. And I am touched by it." That was my favourite Ramadan memory.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Chiling Falls - Crossing Rivers

Angie and I were supposed to go to Tioman during the long Merdeka weekend but all bus tickets to Mersing were sold out. This is what happens when you plan long weekends trips at the last minute.

So instead we went for a hike to Chiling Falls with another friend, Sharon. Chiling Falls is located in Kuala Kubu Bahru, a small town in the north of Selangor.

The hike to Chiling Falls is an easy 3 km journey - that is when hiking on terra firma. The difficult part is the 6 rivers we had to cross to get to the falls.

Here is a recap on what we experienced and learned, and hopefully these tips will be useful to hikers who are planning to go to Chiling Falls.

Finding the Trail

Chiling Falls suffers the lack of proper signboards. We lost our way twice because there were no signboards at confusing bends, junctions and forks in the trail. Luckily Angie bumped into one of her friends who was returning from the hike and he gave us directions.

After crossing the first bridge (which is a suspension bridge at the rangers office), you'll reach a clearing in the forest. Immediatly turn left and follow the trail there. Do not go straight, or you'll end up at the suspension bridge again, or worst, end up somewhere else.

When you reach a small river that looks like the picture on the right,
immediatly cross it. Don't let the appearance of a no-trail deceive you. The trail is there, you'll just have to look hard enough.

Hiking Gear

1) You'll DEFINITELY get wet (ahem) while hiking. So remember to bring along extra clothing.

2) Use durable sandals instead of sneakers or trainers. Since you'll be immersed in water most of the time, sandals are the best. I used sneakers which filled with sand and soaked water easily, making it heavy and difficult to move in.

3) Bring a waterproof knapsack or wrap your valuables in waterproof materials. Best is to leave your electronic gadgets - cellphone, camera, non water proof watch, etc in the car.

Crossing Rivers

Don't let the rivers scare you. It is actually quite simple to cross if you have the necessary experience and knowledge. Initially we wanted to turn back cause we have never crossed rivers with such strong currents before. Moreover certain parts were waist deep; and if you're not careful, chest deep! But we braced ourselves and made it in the end. The return journey was easier since we were not 'virgin river crossers' anymore.

1) The best way to cross is to swim cum wade. But we could not do that since we had our cumbersome knapsacks which we had to hold above our heads to keep dry. Next time I'll bring only a bottle of water.

2) Look for the best possible path to cross instead of jumping straight in. The best is to look for areas where the current doesn't look strong and where you can see the rocks under the water. This means the water is not so deep.

3) Keep your footwear on when crossing the rivers. It would help protect your feet from the rocks and sharp stones on the riverbed. Oh yeah, when you step on sand when crossing the river, you might sink a bit cause the sand is very soft. Make sure your footing is firm before you take the next step.

At Chiling Falls

When we reached the falls we noticed a very clean area compared to other falls and nature reserve parks in Selangor like Sungai Kanching, Templer’s Park and Sungai Gabai, which looks like a rubbish dump.

There was also a considerable lack of hikers leaving us lots of room to swim and laze around. Maybe because it was the long Merdeka weekend and most folks had gone outstation.

After a brief swim, we gobbled down nasi lemak, tuna & egg sandwiches and Cheezels (what an unhealthy snack for hiking!).

Being the photoholic that she is, Angie than started fiddling with her camera. Here are some fun shots to end the hike:

Note: Credit to Angie for taking all the photos in this entry, except the first photo.

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