Monday, 30 March 2009

I Almost Did Not Celebrate Earth Hour

I almost did not celebrate Earth Hour because of my mum. She dismissed Earth Hour as a stupid campaign and that our house will be the only house in the neighbourhood with lights switched off.

I was frustrated but luckily I had the support of my sister. I explained to mum that even if we were the only idiots in the neighbourhood, I'll be glad I'm an idiot who is trying to make a difference. I also explained the importance of making a stand against global warming, the importance of saving Planet Earth ... blah, blah, blah ...

She finally relented because it was two against one, but insisted that the fan and TV be kept on.

Two hours before Earth Hour, mum went to buy dinner. She's terrified of eating in the dark and urged everyone to quickly eat before the lights were switched off. So we had fried rice, kueh teow tah and Cantonese yin yong.

Being a true blue Malaysian, immediatly after dinner I was already planning what to eat for supper during Earth Hour. So I ordered pizza!

I also prepared one of my favourite alcoholic beverages - Bailey's Irish Cream with low fat milk.

When the hour approached, we watched the countdown on television and switched off the lights at 8.30pm sharp. I then took a walk around the neighbourhood to see how many houses were in darkness.

Mum tagged along, adamant to prove her point that we would be the only idiots in the neighbourhood.

Surprisingly there were a considerable number of houses that were in darkness. To this, mum scoffed and said that it must be the kids who were pestering their parents to take part. To houses that were lit, she said, "See, I told you not many would even care."

We then went home and continued watching television in the dark.

I ate my pizza and drank my Bailey's in the candlelight.

Soon the hour passed and it was all over. My sister pointed out that the hour seemed to whizz by and she didn't feel at all like it was one complete hour. I totally agreed.

At the end of the day I asked myself: Why did I persevere to fight off an unsupportive mum? Why did I bother to go through all that? Why did I even bother to switch off the lights?

I guess the answer lies in my belief that I'm doing my little part in making this world a better place. Rome was not built in a day, and so will instilling the impotance of saving Planet Earth, especially amongst the older generation because it involves lifestyle changes, and you know how old people can get when their routine is disturbed. It's going to be a long and arduous journey, but we must start somewhere and that somewhere begins now.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Banana at the Salon

Definition of 'Banana' - A person of Chinese descent who can't speak his/her mother's tongue, i.e. Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka, etc.

I was at the hairdressers on Sunday to trim my fringe. Katy, the hairdresser has known me for donkey years. And knowing that I'm a 'banana', she will speak to me in Bahasa Malaysia whenever I drop by for a trim.

Last Sunday when I dropped by the salon, there were two other Chinese ladies getting their hair permed. Both of them had their hair in curlers and one of them stepped out of the salon to go to her apartment unit which is in the same block. The other one remained in her seat and read a magazine while waiting for her hair to set.

Katy asked me to take a seat and started chatting with me in Bahasa Malaysia, as always.

The Chinese lady who was getting her hair permed immediatly asked Katy in Hokkien why I'm speaking in Bahasa Malaysia, am I a Chinese or not, etc.

All these talk in front of me as if though I'm Invisible Woman got me pissed. I said loudly in Bahasa Malaysia to Katy, "Katy, you beritahu dia, saya paham apa dia cakap." (Translation: "Katy, tell her I understand what she's saying").

The lady was stunned. Katy quickly intervened and told her in Hokkien that I'm a Nyonya and eventhough I can't speak Chinese, I understand what's being said. That shut her up.

After trimming my fringe, the other lady walked in. When she heard Katy and I conversing in Bahasa Malaysia, again she asked Katy in Hokkien why I'm speaking in Bahasa Malaysia, am I a Chinese or not, yadda yadda yadda ... It was like a badly rewound tape recycled from the first lady.

This time I said to Katy loudly and stared at the lady, "Ini lagi satu, fikir saya tak boleh paham." (Translation: "This is another one who thinks I don't understand"). That sentence produced a second stunned lady of the day. I paid Katy and walked out of the salon.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Dr Manhattan and His Glory

Pic from the Internet.

I knew next to nuts about Watchmen before the movie hit our theatres. In my opinion, Watchmen do not enjoy the popularity of other comic superheroes like Superman, Spiderman and Batman, and I wonder why.

Initially I thought it's just another comic book super hero movie. But after reading a Watchmen movie review in the papers that gave it a high rating, I decided that I’m gonna watch it.

The writer who wrote the review also said that the Watchmen graphic novel is superb and that I won’t be disappointed if I read it. So I hit the stores to look for a copy. Being a comic book virgin, I didn’t even know what a graphic novel was! Unfortunately all the bookstores I went to did not have a copy - all sold out. All the other comic fans must have beat me to it!

My motivation to watch Watchmen (I love the way “watch Watchmen” sounds together) also stemmed from a colleague who told me that one of the characters – Dr Manhattan is naked most of the time in the graphic novel. We’re talking about full frontal nudity here, folks … hmmm …

But in the movie, the great censorship board that is greater than Dr Manhattan himself blurred out his vitals. I guess they felt Malaysian audiences can’t handle a blue dick.

In the 2 hours 40 minute long movie, Dr Manhattan sometimes wore undies and also a suit. What I’m thinking is that if Dr Manhattan could wear proper clothing, why does he need to be naked most of the time? Can’t he wear spandex like most of the other comic book super heroes? Maybe it’s the creator’s strategy to attract female and gay fans ;-) But then again, maybe it’s because of Dr Manhattan’s nudity that makes him different. And it is this difference, apart from how he came to be, his intelligent and deep dialogue as well as his infinite powers that makes him the great Dr Manhattan.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Wrap Your Backpack

When I bought my backpack in December last year, the guy who sold it to me explained the importance of wrapping my backpack with cling wrap before checking it in at the airport.

Reason would be to prevent tear and damage since a backpack is not made of hardy material like a suitcase.

But the most important reason is to prevent bad people from slipping unwanted stuff into your backpack like drugs. There are many syndicates these days where syndicate members slip illegal stuff into your bag when you're not looking, with the hope that you'll be their 'personal courier'.

But if you do get caught, then the you're in deep shit. Excuses like "I don't know where that came from" will fall on deaf ears as the customs and police officers are used to hearing these kind of excuses daily.

So when I used my backpack for the first time during my trip to Laos, I made sure it was wrapped in cling wrap before I checked it in. So from this:

my backpack looked like this after wrapping:

Looks like a little ball.

Cling wrap services costs only RM8.00 per luggage at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT). But not all airports have this service. So if you're travelling and want to clingwrap your luggage, you might want to consider having lots of spare cling wrap film at hand to do it yourself before coming to the airport. Alternately you could also buy cling wrap from most shops, but it might dent your travel budget, especially if you're on a tight one.

Friday, 13 March 2009

As Big as Ramesses the Great

When I was in Egypt in February 2008, I told myself that I had reached an age where I should start collecting some serious stuff from my travels.

I was sick and tired of t-shirts which will whither away after a few washes and small insignificant decorations that will eventually end up at the Cash Convertors store.

I wanted something authentically Egyptian that will stand the test of time like the pyramids; something that I could pass on to my children's children. So I decided on a papyrus painting.

To find a papyrus painting in Egypt is easy, finding an authentic one made of real papyrus and not banana leaves is difficult.

So I made my way to the Khan El-Khalili bazaar in Cairo.

The market is believed to date back to 1382, making it one of the oldest bazaars in the world.

Having visited the Abu Simbel temple in Aswan,

and falling in love with Ramesses II, I decided that I wanted a painting of Ramesses II because Ramesses II is Ramesses the Great!

When I was in Egypt I noticed that amongst the pharaohs, it's always a popularity contest between Ramesses II and Tutankhamun. Most Egyptian paintings and artwork bear the face of either one of these guys.

Many people like Tutankhamun for various reasons. Essentially he was a boy-king made famous because his tomb was one of the best preserved, not to mention the amount of gold and treasure found in it. Other than that, he was just a small fry, reigned for only 9 years and died at 19 years.

So he didn't really achieve much in his short stint as a pharaoh. Can't blame him though, has anyone achieve great wonders between 10 and 19 years? Heck, I was still climbing trees and playing marbles at that age.

Tutankhamun is obviously shadowed by Ramesses II who is often regarded as Egypt's greatest, most celebrated and most powerful pharaoh. He became pharaoh in his early 20s and reigned for 66 years.

Ramesses II was a warrior and a builder. He lead many expeditions and battles to victory and died at around age 90, leaving behind many temples that has stood the test of time as a testament to his glory.

Ramesses II was also a sifu in fathering capabilities - he fathered approximately 44-56 sons and 40-44 daughters. That's a stud in my books!

So give me a man anytime!

Now back to my papyrus buying story ... At the papyrus shop in Khan Al-Khalili, I told the man to show me all his paintings on Ramesses II. After looking and thinking and choosing, I finally decided on a big painting. You see, size matters with Ramesses II, just look at the temples he built - Abu Simbel in Aswan

and Karnak Temple in Luxor.

Size does matter to Ramesses II so my papyrus had to be big also.

I brought the papyrus back to my family house and my mum helped bring it to the shop for framing. After that it was sitting in my room for the past one year because I didn't have a vehicle big enough to ferry the painting to my apartment.

Finally after 1 year, I asked my uncle who has a Toyota Avanza to bring the painting to my apartment and he did. God bless him!

So here is my 'Ramesses II' now hanging proudly on my living room wall:

Sorry for the poor quality photo. Because of the glass that reflected light and made an ugly white patch in the pic, I had to snap the pic at an angle, hence the ugly pic.

Essentally the painting is made up of 3 main events in Ramesses II's life. The picture on the extreme left is Ramesses II offering gifts to the goddess Isis. The middle pic is Ramesses II in action on his chariot with bow and arrow at the Battle at Kadesh and the last pic is Ramesses II's coronation.

No wonder Ramesses II is also known as Ramesses the Great.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

California Fitness Bids Farewell to Menara Standard Chartered

Today is the last day of operations for the California Fitness club in Menara Standard Chartered. The club will be moving to its new home in Lot 10. Opening is scheduled for 25 March.

In the 2 years that I've become a member at Menara Standard Chartered, I've enjoyed the luxury of having a gym just beside my office building. After work I just grab my knapsack, take the lift down to the lobby, step out of my office building, cross the road, and voila, the gym is there! You know how convenient is that? It's bloody convenient!

Now I'll have to trudge my way with knapsack and all to get to Lot 10, which is about 10 minutes walk from my office. By the time I get there I think I won't have the mood or energy to workout anymore!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Earth Hour 2009 - Every Vote Counts!

Earth Hour is on.

On 28 March 2009 from 8.30pm - 9.30pm, thousands of people and hundreds of cities around the world will be switching off their lights to make a stand against global warming.

Because all of us are in different time zones, we won't be switching off our lights at the same time, so to speak. When Asia starts switching their lights off, the rest of the world will be lighted. And when Asia switches back on, it's time for Europe to switch off, followed the Americas and so forth. I wonder how it'll look like from outer space. Must look like some well coordinated, domino effect light show.

I'll be in my family house on 28 March and I'm going to propose to my mum, sis, bro and dog about Earth Hour.

I think my sister's Australian Silky Terrier will freak out cause she's afraid of the dark. Even when there's a blackout she'll run around restlessly.

But I think my brother will complain the most. You see, he loves watching the news and the prime time 8.00pm news is his fav. So imagine asking him not to watch for 30 min - he'll freak out. Maybe he can watch in the dark. Earth Hour is about switching off lights and not the television, right? Hahaha.

When we switch off the lights at 8.30pm, the neighbours will be wondering why are we sitting in the dark when the entire neighbourhood is lighted. They would be thinking we didn't pay our electricity bills, hahaha. But what the heck, we'll be joining billions of people around the world. We are going to make a difference, make a stand against global warming, because our earth is worth saving.

Care to make a difference?

Monday, 2 March 2009

Where To After Laos?

After my trip to Laos at the end of last year, my bags are already packed for my next destination.

Let me give you a clue ... it's a tropical island somewhere in Indonesia; somewhere where AirAsia flies to.

If your answer is Bali, guess again ...

This May, I'll be going to Manado in North Sulawesi to snorkel with the colourful fishes of Bunaken Island. Climbing an active volcano is also part of the trip.

I bought the return flight tickets in September last year for only RM412. Since it includes return bus from KL Sentral to the LCCT (low-cost carrier terminal), I felt it was freaking cheap! So off will I go for a island holiday in May.

Stay tuned ...
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