I don't even know if anyone even drops by here anymore. I know I hardly do. But heck, nostalgia has a calming effect on me sometimes.
08 March 2012
03 January 2011
This might just be the final blog entry here. Might. You just can't tell for sure.
19 February 2010
For today’s blog, I’m really going to switch gears and start documenting stories from my travels instead.
I’ve realised in my conversations that I do have a lot of stories to tell – some lighthearted, others serious, and some, even hard to believe. So I think it’s a great deal of material I have to work with, and it’s not hard to produce something out for the neglected, suffering blog.
My recent trip to Colombo, Sri Lanka is my 2nd ever there. The first time I went to Sri Lanka, it was still at the height of the insurgency – the Tamil Tigers have only acquired DIY planes and actually bombed the Colombo Airport the morning I was first supposed to leave for Colombo.
This time around, the hardest part about going to Sri Lanka was that it happened just prior to the Chinese New Year break, so the flights had to be timed properly unless I had a desire to spend Chinese New Year away from my family !
Anyways … one of Colombo’s main thoroughfare is Galle Road, which runs along the waterfront. Galle Road extends from one end near the Presidential Secretariat, through the main financial and commercial districts in the capital.
Along much of Galle Road is a promenade romantically called Galle Face Green. One day, having a little time to knock off after my speaking engagement was over, I decided to take a walk along Galle Face Green.
I was staying at the Hilton, but I decided to put my bag down at the Galle Face Hotel, the oldest hotel east of the Suez Canal, and start my walk from there. From the Galle Face Hotel, it was a short walk, Galle Face Green practically starts where the Galle Face Hotel ends !
The first 10 minutes of my walk was peaceful, and unobstructed … but halfway through my walk, this man came right up to me, looked at my expensive looking D90, and tried to strike a conversation with me.
“Sir, I know you. You are from the hotel, no?”
Nope, I’m not. But I decided to play along, just to see what’s it all about. “Yup, Galle Face … great hotel”
“I am barman at the hotel, sir … I remember you.”
Wow … must be really drunk last night. I don’t remember drinking, and I don’t remember being inside the Galle Face Hotel until about 20 minutes ago when I put my bag inside one of my colleagues’ room.
He went on telling me about this amazing festival with 40 elephants that is happening just in about 15 minutes’ time, and coincidentally was just around the corner. And then how lucky I would be to be able to photograph the festival, and how fantastically lucky it is for me that he’s on his way there too.
Would I mind sharing a tuk-tuk with him? He can be my guide …
Man … this must be one of the oldest tricks in the books. I was hit with this the first time I went overseas on a work assignment in Bangkok, and got big time scammed then. Whatever made this guy think I’m THAT stupid.
He actually stopped a tuk-tuk, told the driver to go to the Elephant Festival, and really tried to get me in. I made up some story about meeting someone at the Hilton, on the other end of the walk, and saw him off.
I thought … well … that’s the end of that. But seriously, I underestimated the rampancy of the problem.
Within 30 seconds, someone else came, and tried to strike another conversation of the same nature, this time, he even spoke Malay with me when he learnt I’m from Malaysia. Another time? No way …
So, this time, he asked me which hotel I stayed at, and I just made an answer up – The Taj. And, oh, what a coincidence, he was a cook there – I was the guy at the buffet last night, right ?
This is sounding familiar …
Temple Festival, 40 Elephants, once a year, lucky day in Buddhist Calendar …
This time, I decided to get inquisitive – where’s the festival? Which temple? Why 40 elephants? How come my Sri Lankan friends told me the festival is tomorrow? You know, red herrings to throw him off …
It worked … this guys understood that I got the conversation before. And wisely, he just walked away without answering my last question …
I got approached another 2 times by people trying to scam me in a similar fashion … and both times, getting tired of being harassed, I told them both that just moments ago, another two of their friends came and tried to make me part with my money in the same way, and both times, I found out they were lying and that there is no such Elephant Festival, so please stop trying to trick me, and please tell the other scammers in the area to stop bothering me.
If I had been foolish enough to board any of those tuk tuks, apparently, they would drive me to some temple somewhere, where nothing would be happening, and I’d be then promised another place where there would be some great things to photograph and see, and be taken on a merry-go-round around Colombo, while expected to pay the tuk-tuk fare. Sometimes, they would even drive people to gemstone shops or other shops in hope of earning some commission should their victim decide to purchase some overpriced goods.
It happened to me once in Bangkok, in the year 1999, when I was still a naive traveler, on my first overseas trip for work. Once bitten, forever suspicious !
I love Colombo, Sri Lanka. The people who hosted me were absolutely great, gracious hosts who showed us the world famous Sri Lankan hospitality, the spicy, but interesting food. I’ll remember Sri Lanka for that, but remember, if you go to Galle Face Green, remember to avoid the elephants !
24 January 2010
Losing things feel sucky. It really feels bad to lose a prized possession, because we all develop attachments to things we like. In some ways, I hate myself for losing my Nikon D80. But in some other ways, I can’t help but to tell myself that it wasn’t my own fault.
Earlier this week, on Monday, I lost my beloved Nikon D80 camera. You wouldn’t believe it if I told you, but I lost it in Kuala Lumpur International Airport, while using the men’s room.
I hung it on the door (inside the cubicle, mind you), turned away from the door for around 30 seconds or so, no more than a minute, and it’s gone. The whole camera and its bag.
Well, I hope the new owner will rot in hell and see some spectacular calamity befall himself (or herself). No point here being nice or diplomatic and hide my true feelings.
The really sucky thing about losing a camera in a airport is that it casts a dark cloud over your entire trip, and since you have a flight to catch, there isn’t too much you can do. I’m sure the person (or persons) responsible for this have been doing this for a very long time, and I’m not the first, nor last person to have this fate befall me. That’s why I hope for some spectacular calamity to befall this person (or persons). That’s probably the only way to stop them from ever striking again.
Anyways, today, I reluctantly bought a new camera. A Nikon D90. I didn’t want to buy a D300s because I didn’t need all the extra features, and I also like the D90 because of its familiarity. In some ways, it’s like getting a straight replacement for my camera.
I hope it’ll be a long, loving relationship, and this time, despite my own reservations about the safety of KLIA, I’m determined to still bring it on trips. The bad guys shouldn’t scare me from traveling with my camera again – if that happens, they win big time. I’ll be more careful, and even in the privacy of my own toilet cubicle, it seems that a camera can never leave my reach !