Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Morbid hangover

Living has turned into a quest for survival. And surviving is a terrible way to live. Yet millions do it everyday.

How wearisome.

Personally I am convinced that we are entering the Dark Ages again although not in terms of technological advancement as even the blind knows that we are indeed catapulting forward.
But we are growing progressively deprived of development in the area of humanity.

When we would readily make exorbitant payments to our manicurists than to the coffers of a charity, I begin to wonder the point of progress. Truly, we extol entertainers more than we award humanitarians.

And despite the education, technology and various resources, we still have not been able to root out fascism, hunger and disease.

Oh, I miss learning about inventors and the great achievements of our time. We get healthier through the breakthrough drugs from GlazoSmithKline and jive to Apple's Nano but the only faces we see are that of beaming CEOs with skyrocketing charts and lifestyle models pouting their way into our wallets.

I do wonder who will the kids of the 22 century learn about in our age? The future history e-books will have so little to celebrate about The Man as oppose to The Company.

But hope comes in surprising little packages. When despite the bleakness, faith is renewed and I see acts of love and unselfishness from the most unlikely of places. By the very same people who get by, just surviving. I suppose that is all that can be expected. Forget the government. Forget corporate social responsibility. In the end it is just you and me, helping each other making our lives a little brighter.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Terror of the skies

This time next week, I will be officially unemployed. Shifting out of comfort zones have always entailed a certain chilling anxiety that is akin to visits to the neurosurgeon.

I think women receive a more severe dose of this anxiety as we tend to become more emotionally involved in our responsibilities, relationships and work environment. A lot of the time we strive so hard to fit into our roles that more often than not, we succeed so well that it becomes difficult to extricate ourselves when its crunch time.

Anyway, back to the subject,I am shit terrified. I will be leaving my safe, predictable and not too stressful job for a stint as a pupil reading in a lawyer's chambers with the ultimate aim of qualifying as a lawyer in 9 months time. I will only be given a pathetic stipend from my new boss who has forewarned that I will be scolded often by the lawyers and magistrates, that I will have too much to do, that stress levels will cause my relationships to suffer and I will need to buy myself a car to travel across the state to attend court. (and I DESPISE driving) Plus quite a few of the local lawyers I have had the misfortune to meet are stuck up prats who think too highly of themselves.

Am I a sucker for punishment or what?

And my new boss, she likes to push people to their maximum potential which predictably includes evicting people from their comfort zones when it starts to look a little too cozy.
Oh joy.

But anyway, I am trying to keep a positive attitude although I am starting to feel like a prisoner whistling to the gallows.

But this IS crunch time and I need to disetangle my heavy roots and heavy heart and fly free again, albeit up to a stormy sky.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Wholesome Gibberish

The blog has been unusually quiet. The stress of modern living and having parents from planet psyco have given more than my dose of despair this past week which in turn hastened to mature into a room-spinning, venom spewing migraine.
Hence The Monster was miserably out of commission with an ice pack for company.

To be honest, Numb is good.
Numb = Not thinking = Not giving a toss
But what an irresponsible attitude.

One can always depend on ailment to bring to fore awareness of one's own mortality.
Would we do things differently if we knew we were to die in say, a month's time? Stupid question.
Of course we would.
There would be no question about it.

In between acquainting the jackass boss with one’s left hook, to shagging the shy grocery store clerk, I would imagine the pandemonium would reveal much more about us than all history books and psychology courses combine. A cataclysmic upheaval spawned by a thousand innate desires released from a lifetime of self denial and responsible rationalization. The forbidden is always so delicious. Isn’t being civilized a matter of keeping all our primal impulses in check or at least very well hidden.
(But I am all for the comforts of civilization. I am forever thankful for indoor plumbing.)

But I do know one thing for sure. If the world would end, Ben and Jerry’s and I would become inseparable. And oh, I would get a dog too.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


We work for money and weekends. I can stay couped up within the four walls of the room for days in my pajamas in blissfully contentment. Besides calls from my mother who rings to see if I am still alive, I enjoy peaceful weekends of not doing anything productive. I wonder how long this will last.

I am still presiding over my parent's peace plans and I am happy to report that diplomatic relations have been re-established. There is hope for a fragile peace.Not unlike the situation at the West Bank, drastic relocation of people and personal property will occur and a long term solution has yet to be found. Sigh. I hate it when parents fight.

I was reminded of my responsibilities of being the eldest child, and it freaks me out. Responsibilities entail sacrifice and that does not sound very welcoming. Being an adult with a conscience really sucks. I would make a horrible parent.

Monday, October 10, 2005

A disgrace

The state of public transport in the Klang Valley could indeed be greatly improved. For a developed city like KL, with the exception of the LTR, our public transport system is disgraceful. Until something is done to make public transport more efficient, convenient and actually public friendly, there will still be more vehicles on the road, regardless of the rising cost of petrol, as people will not view it as a reasonable alternative.

Something as simple as ensuring the cleanliness of the busses would go far in convincing more people to use the service. What we have on the roads are dust coated and mud encrusted to the point of embarrassment.

Air conditioning that does not work makes travelling a suffocating experience especially the Metro busses that come with no other ventilation. Imagine being stuck in a packed bus during a heavy downpour and being stuck in traffic after 5pm.

It does not help when the conductors make sure that the buses are packed with far more people than its regulated stated capacity. Having people stand on the steps of the bus hanging on for dear life is not an unusual sight for KL motorists. It is dangerous as it is uncomfortable.

Timing is another issue. The Metro busses are notorious for waiting for passengers to fill up before moving, regardless of time. Even if the bus is half full, the bus will wait, sometimes even for more than 15 minutes so that it can travel to KL with a full load. This happens at the Sunway Pyramid stop all the time. Bad timing is also the bane of Kommuter passengers. With the barrage of “technical difficulties” that continually wrecks havoc with travel time, perhaps it is time KTM actually do something proactive to solve the issue than repeating the standard apology recording played whenever the train is late (again).

The taxis services in the country also leave more to be desired. In appears that taxi drivers in KL have the privilege of choosing their customers and not the other way around. If one is not fortunate enough to have a destination within the cab driver’s interest, passengers often get asked to get out of the cab, even though the cab is within the cab rank. Many others are not willing to charge by meter and would often ask for an exorbitant fee. Once I was at KLCC and for a ride that what would normally cost RM10 I was quoted RM25! Plus I was rudely rebuked when I pointed this out. At LRT stations, in front of shopping malls, it is impossible that the relevant authorities are not aware of this.

Tourists often complain about the blatant overcharging that they have to endure when they travel with Malaysian taxis. What is the point of having amazing tourist destinations and attractions when even merely getting there would cause so much unpleasantness. Do the authorities conduct checks on the drivers? Some of them are not fit to service the public at all.

The plight of those who have no alternative but to take public transport does not get enough attention.
Perhaps our MPs should concentrate on the real pressing issues that affect the everyday lives of their voters than other trivial pursuits such as determining how certain songs should be sung.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Songs in the Night

As you know my Cantonese pronounciation is very bad.
But I think this song captures a lot in so little.

Very old song but still beautiful.



Thursday, October 06, 2005

Negaraku in French? Sacre bleu!

Jo's response prompted me to delve a little deeper into the history of our national anthem.

Did you know that the melody was composed by a Frenchman?

Taken from http://www.national-anthems.org/history.htm#malaysia


It was not until 1956 that anything concrete was done about the choice of a National Anthem for the then Federation of Malaya. Up to that time, each of the eleven States that made up the Federation had their own State Anthems but there was no single National Anthem or patriotic song of any sort for the whole country. In the year, with independence just around the corner, TUNGKU ABDUL RAHMAN (1903-1990), then Chief Minister and Minister for Home Affairs set up a Committee for the purpose of choosing a National Anthem suitable for Malaya. On his suggestion, a worldwide competition was launched and 514 entries from all over the world were received.

After going through the entries, the Committee felt that none of the entries were suitable and it was then decided to invite selected composers of international repute to submit compositions for consideration by the panel. The composers' chosen were Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), Sir William Walton (1902-1983), Carlo Menotti (b.1911) and Zubir Said (1907-1987) (who later composed the National Anthem of Singapore). Although the compositions submitted were of a high standard, they were still not considered suitable as the National Anthem.

The Committee then decided to hear the State Anthems to find out if any of them might be suitable. The final selection was made on August 5 1957 and an adaptation of the Perak State Anthem was selected on account of the traditional flavour of its melody. The lyrics for the National Anthem were written jointly by the Panel of Judges with the Tengku himself playing the leading part.

Up to the time of the choice of this melody as the National Anthem of the country, it was, while still the State Anthem of Perak, also a well-known and popular Malay song under the title, 'Terang Bulan' ('Bright Moon'). The song was very popular on the island of Mahé in the Seychelles where the Sultan of Perak, was living in exile. It was played by a French band, which gave public concerts on the island. It is believed that this melody was composed by a Frenchman, PIERRE JEAN de BERANGER (1780-1857), who was born and died in Paris. The tune was later introduced into an Indonesian Bangsawan (Opera), which was performing in Singapore. In no time at all, the melody became extremely popular and was given the name 'Terang Bulan'. Side by side with its dignity and prestige as the Perak State Anthem, the tune became a Malayan 'evergreen', playing at parties, in cabarets and sung by almost everybody. Many Malaysians who grew up in the 1920's and 1930's have fond memories of this tune. Today, of course, since independence, it is not played as a popular melody.

'Terang Bulan' was a love song. The 'Negara ku' ('My Country') is also a love song - a song of the love of the people for their country, a song depicting the charm and the peacefulness, the gaiety and the tolerance of the people of Malaysia.

In 1993, the Malaysian Government approved the re-arrangement of the tempo of the National Anthem into a "fast march" tempo (from 96 beats per minute to 126). In accordance with the National Anthem Act, 1968, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong gave his consent to the change on August 20 1993 and the new version was played for the first time during the National Day celebrations on August 31 1993.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I can't believe my tax money is paying these fools

I use to excercise my political right by not voting at all. With this new development, I am sure as hell going to support the Opposition at the next polls.

We have downright petty Barisan politicians who draw pay from vigorously polishing apples. I don't know who is worse, this joker or the government official who suggested sending roti canai to space.

To my non-Malaysian readers, Negaraku is our national anthem.

taken from The Star English daily

Tuesday October 4, 2005

Singer’s version of Negaraku slammed

SINGER Hattan, who apparently jazzed up the Negaraku when he sang at the Malaysia Cup final last Saturday, was slammed by an MP who said his version of the national anthem was insulting.

To prove his point, Datuk Mohamed Aziz (BN – Sri Gading) sang aloud the last line of what he claimed to be Hattan's version of the Negaraku and the official version for comparison.

He noted that Hattan’s version, which among other variations ended with ascending notes, was insulting, and had trivialised the national symbol.

The situation was further aggravated by the fact that it was sung in the presence of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, he said.

Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim said action would be taken against Hattan if his version of Negaraku was found to be insulting.

Rais said he would obtain the television footage of the event and determine whether the version sung, which was not according to the official version, was inappropriate.

“If it is found to be insulting, action under the National Anthem Act will be taken,” he said in reply to a supplementary question by Mohamed.

At press time, Hattan could not be reached for comment.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Pangkor - last entry

The next day, taking a cab, (no way were we going to cycle up there. Nope, never, forget it) we explored the town and boy it’s small! But certainly not without character. It plies the tourist trade and naturally the seafood of course.

Dried fish.
Fried fish.
Salted fish.
Satay fish
and that is not discounting the variety of squid, anchovies and almost every other sea creature except for a dugong.

Loud Hawaiian shirts still blinded us from the rows and rows of souvenir shops. And as tradition dictates, we tourists got Pangkor T-shirts. Have to stimulate local economy while were there ma.

Lunch was steamed prawns in rice wine, a vege and more crabs. Shucks, if I actually stayed in Pangkor, my blood vessels would just go pop from the cholesterol. A sleepy town on a weekday, I have a feeling I will be back.

In the afternoon, we took a 5 minute boat ride across from Teluk Nipah to Coral island. A round trip just to the island cost RM20 for the both of us.
And to think the boatman at Pasir Bongak wanted to charge us RM100 for the exact same trip just to drop us on the island!!! I can understand RM100 for island sightseeing but just to drop us off? So be warned!

Anyway, the waters at Coral island are very calm and very shallow, perfect for non swimmers. Floating is as easy as pie. Water was clean and we could even make out our feet. There are no toilets, food stall, changing rooms on the island. We found out the hard way. And at the shoreline, there are lots of shells, so slippers are advised.

We almost didn’t want to go back but as the sun was setting and we had the jungle survival skills of Singaporeans, so we did go.

But return to the island we did, the next day for a bit of snorkelling. Boat ride to the island with gear cost RM30 each. The snorkelling spot lies on the other side of the island as we were told we can’t get to it from the beach we were at yesterday due to the rocks. Later we found out that it IS possible to walk from one beach to the other. But we were warned that it was slippery and better not attempted with just slippers on.

Water was deep and the current felt stronger than the day before and it was a bit scary. It is always scary when you have no control as to how far the water will drag you into the sea. With orange lifejackets on we braved the waters and fed potato chips to the fishes. (we forgot the bread and it was either Mr Potato or my Oreos. And I liked my Oreos.)
Well it’s not as if the fish would mind the salt.

We were the earliest ones there and while it was cool to have the whole place to ourselves, it did strike us that in case something goes wrong, there was nobody there to help us. Well the boatman just dropped us off and would come collect us at a designated time. There was no safety instructions, no net, no lifesaving equipment and in our case, nobody around at all.

So when another young family was dropped off by their boatman, we were happy.
THEN came another small boat.
Then two boats full of Chinese tourist.
Then three more.
Then a group of students from a teacher’s training college.
Sigh. Our large school of fish who were initially quite contented to swarm us with their company quickly abandoned our affections for bigger chunks of bread. Those ingrates!

After striking up a friendship, one of trainers of the above-mentioned college was kind enough to bring me with her into the deeper parts of the water to see more fish. I stayed for a while before I chickened out and swam back closer to shore. My swimming skills are only fit for a kiddie pool and this was a bit overwhelming for me. As you go deeper the water is not as clear and not as many fish as what I experienced earlier by the beach.

The time was about 11 am only and even then K got really toasted in the sun. His bare arms turned an angry crimson, although he sun did also give him a very rosy flush across the face which made him look like he was perpetually blushing. No such luck for me. I just look like I the “before” model of a skin whitening product. A deep dusky tan. It sounds better than it looks, trust me. Well the other kids had long sleeved shirts on, with long trousers.

We rushed back to the hotel where we quickly checked out before 12 pm. With Hornbill, for every hour you overstay, you get charged Rm10. Anyway, we proceeded to Pangkor Island Resort on the other side of the island. Previously Pan Pacific, we wanted to try this place to see if its beach was really superior. They have this exclusivity rule where visitors can’t even enter their resort even to view it unless they are staying at the hotel or willing to pay RM60 to enter the grounds. So we were expecting a lot.

There was a promotion on. RM338 per night, inclusive of a buffet dinner and breakfast. It would have been cheaper if we stayed 2 days.

Anyway we opted for the garden view. Of course the sea view would have caused even more damage to the purse.

The rooms were quite old but with all the predictable comforts of a typical hotel room. Definitely more TV channels and tastefully decorated. And unfortunately for me,I found an unwelcomed jungle gecko IN my room. Oh I hated it. Whenever the plastic bags rustled, all my hairs stood on ends.

The room was right beside a jungle and everything was very green. We took a lot of photographs here, not so much of the sea or the greenery but of animals!
It was monkeys galore at the back of the resort. They have become so much apart of the place that they have even been labelled as an attraction! We were strictly warned to LOCK the windows and doors and these furry mammals have been known to make themselves quite at home.

The resort even had hornbills. We caught one having a good scratch.

I enjoyed the pool and the walks around the grounds. The stretch of beach looked inviting but the waves were beginning to act up and with K sporting unfashionable sun burn, we did not venture into the sea. Coral island was far calmer.

With plenty of Chinese tourists the buffet dinner was quite good, if you like that sort of thing. I missed my chilli crab to be honest.

I still have not made up my mind whether I would stay there again. Comfortable yes, but being a resort all on its own, it lacks the earthy simplicity that is Pangkor. It is a taste that permeates the soul. At the resort, well, it’s a resort with all you can want. Hmm

We left the next day. The resort even has its own ferry service to Lumut. Imagine that. At Rm8 it was cheaper than travelling to town to catch the ferry.

It was a very enjoyable holiday. While the fish/corals/attractions are not as impressive at the other islands it has its own charm to which I think I have fallen for.
It was a good break.

Pangkor - more of day one

As you can tell by now, Pangkor is an island. The sun was shining bright and the turquoise sea so inviting. We had lunch at a hut overlooking the sea.
By comparison, what a dump KL is.

Simplicity at its finest, even plain old mee rebus (blanched noodles to the uninitiated) tasted like ambrosia. Of course seasoned with the salty breeze and set against a gorgeous backdrop of sea and sky, what’s not to love?

Teluk Nipah has a lot of budget hotels. Upon returning I was told that another great place to stay is the Nipah Bay Resort. But that’s for next time.

The main road is a narrow strip flanked by souvenir shops selling garish Hawaiian shirts, humble food stalls and boat operators who will take you anywhere and everywhere for a fee. The road is narrowed to a lane with the pink mini vans hogging both sides the road. Good if you wanted to catch a ride around the island.

As the evening approached we caught a cab to Pasir Bongak, another popular beach. Since it was too early for dinner we decided to go on a boat ride. Ouch it was expensive. After a little bargaining, RM90 bought us an hour’s ride. To our defence we didn’t really know any better, having just arrived.

We had to charter the entire motorboat. Fine, it was large and had a roof but we could have gotten it cheaper at Teluk Nipah. It would have been more worth it if we had a large group with us.

I have not experienced taking a motor boat ride before and it was thrilling! Wind racing through our hair, face rosy with spray, and with the sea expanding all around us, wow, that sure put things in perspective. For all that the planet offers, our personal troubles are so insignificant, it make one rethink the meaning of life.

Anyway back to our ride, the boatman took us across to Pangkor Laut to view the sea lodgings of rich and famous. A small island on its own, it is home to one of the Malaysia’s and perhaps the world’s most exclusive and luxurious resorts. Patrons include Pavaroti among others. The chalets are on water, supported by stilts. There is even a helicopter pad for the Tan Sris and Marquises who are not inclined to travel by boat.

While our dinky little boats were allowed go close enough to view the island, naturally we could not land. Yet if I had the cash to splurge in a USD1000 chalet, the last thing I want to experience is plebeian tourists gawking at me through my windows. Tsk Tsk.. Remind me to never make bookings there. Ha!

Sam, our boatman then took us around the islands, past the familiar beaches to Turtle Bay. We did not spot any leatherbacks but according to Sam, during the egg laying season, turtles lay their eggs on the shore and anyone who finds a nest can do what he will with them eggs. I was about to rebuke this practice but seeing that he is local, I am a tourist, he is manning the boat and I can’t swim to shore, I wisely kept my mouth shut.

There is a rock formation that does look like a turtle’s head too. We were to be introduced to many other rock formations in the shape of other creatures, some that stretches the imagination so far that it borders on the ridiculous. A rock is a rock for god’s sake. I see no elephant/mermaid/whale.. sheesh.

We traveled on and watched monkeys, visited Coral island and even fed some fish. Coral Island is opposite Teluk Nipah. It is a very small island with just a tiny stretch of beach but it remains a favourite destination as it is shallow with calm waters. On the other side of the island, water runs pretty deep but a good place for snorkelling as there are plenty of fish.

When we got back to Pasir Bogak we had dinner at this restaurant which was pointed out to us by our taxi driver who assured us that it catered to mostly locals and that sounded good to us. Sam, out boatman, touted his “friend’s shop” but we gave it a miss. Bet he gets a cut. He is hardly the independent gourmet.

Anyway for dinner we had crab curry, assam prawns and white snapper. Bill came to RM55.00. It was a very enjoyable meal indeed.
I had a good feeling about this vacation.