31 August 2006

Birthday Blog: Six Random Moz Facts

Being nice has its downside. In my case, either my nick is not nearly long enough, or I'm just too nice. Either way, I get tagged like really often.

It's birthday today, so I'll humor angeliuna joliu by doing the simple meme ... just simply stating 6 random Moz facts ...

Random Fact #1: I am sometimes called the perpetual optimist for my ability to just simply believe that everything will always turn out ok.

Random Fact #2: I actually know where every last cent of my money is spent every month. Even I can't believe I'm THAT calculative.

Random Fact #3: I always wear out my shoes before buying another pair. As a result, I never have more than 3 pairs of footwear at any time - my casuals, my sports shoes and my working shoes.

Random Fact #4: I like ties and cufflinks. I love 'em. I don't think I buy enough of 'em.

Random Fact #5: If I drink wine without any food to go with it, I only take white wine.

Random Fact #6: I have a huge stamp collection from my younger days. Just to make the collectors jealous, I have a Black Penny. I also have the 2 Pence Blue. That means I have stamps from the first series ever issued.

So ... 6 random facts ... enough?? I'm sure I'll pull out more from time to time, but that's it for the time being.

One more year ...

This must be one of the hardest blog I've had to write ... I lost count of the number of times I've had to scrap and redraft the whole thing all over again ...

I'm turning the decade today. I'm turning 30.

Moz cried out loud 30 years ago in KL, the first child to proud parents. Daddy Moz calmed his nerves by looking out the window at the Merdeka procession. Mummy Moz had to endure a caesarian. I didn't make it easy, my entry to this world.

Today I count my blessings, ask for forgiveness from my parents for the times I've hurt and inconvenienced them, say thanks to all the people who've helped me in major and minor ways, and look forward with brimming optimism to my next year, my next 5 years, my next 10 years and beyond.

My difficult childhood, which in part is due to my family's background and in part due to bad timing, had turned out to be a blessing. It had taught me that adversity is not a permanent condition, and whatever doesn't break you would just make you stronger.

My parents don't speak English, but would you believe it if I told you my mom taught me English? My dad was a chain smoker and an alcoholic, but would you believe it if I told you I don't smoke, and I'm while I can carry my drink, I prefer an orange juice? To my great parents, I would always conduct myself in a way that is worthy of your love and care for me. Your warmth and sacrifices is not wasted on me ... =)

As far as I'm concerned, at 30, I've lived as full a life as I could to this point.

  • I still have the privilege of having the company of my elderly parents.
  • I have a great job that pays decently.
  • I have the chance to travel and experience the world while I work.
  • I am on the way to achieving financial independence.
  • I have friends who are real friends, people who will stand up for my come hell or high water.
Happy Birthday to me ...

26 August 2006

Pantun Merdeka

Tersebut al-kisah Moz Monster, perantau dari negeri yang namanya dipanggil Malaysia.

Sewaktu Moz sibuk merantau mencari nafkah di negeri asing yang dinamakan Australia, Moz menerima cabaran meme daripada Sang Tak Dapat Di Elak yang juga dikenali dengan nama timangannya, inevitable. Nama omputih lah tu. Yang Moz Monster tu pun, nama omputih ...

Cabaran Sang Tak Dapat Di Elak adalah untuk menyempurnakan tugasan untuk menulis satu paparan belog dalam bahasa Malaysia, and supaya diilhamkan pantun Hari Merdeka ... aduhai ... payah nak buat nie ... tapi, Moz Monster ni jantan sejati, kiranya dicabar, pasti akan menyahut cabaran. Dan sudah semestinya akan menyempurnakan cabaran ...

Ha ... sebelum Moz berpantun nie, peguam bela Moz nie nasihatkan Moz agar kalian pembaca dimaklumkan bahawasanya Moz nie, tak pandai berbahasa, lagi tak pandai nak berpantun. Kalau bahasa Moz nie tak menepati piawaian Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka tu, jangan mimpi pun nak bawak Moz ke makamah ke, atau nak debat kat Parlimen usul untuk mengecam belog Moz nie ... paham tak ni? Yang tak rela nak baca pantun Moz yang tak mematuhi piawaian DBP tu, ha, boleh berambus sekarang nie ...

Ingatkah kamu hari itu,
Sewaktu negaraku lahir merdeka,
Ingatkah kamu hari itu,
Titik permulaan negara kita

Terkenang kembali saat gemilang,
Sahutan 'Merdeka !!' berulang kali,
Impian seluruh rakyat terjulang,
Senyum di muka, Gembira di hati

Berkobar kobar semangat membara,
Membela rakyat, membina negara,
Menjulang impian rakyat jelata,
Membina martabat sebuah bangsa

Kini hampir separuh abad berlalu,
Semarak lagikah semangat merdeka,
Ingatkah kamu hari itu,
Sewaktu negaraku lahir merdeka

Wahai saudaraku dari Malaysia,
Ukirkanlah semangat merdeka dihati,
Jangan persiakan perjuangan merdeka,
Hasil merdeka bersama kita dinikmati

Marilah bersama bersatu dihati,
Bersama membina bangsa Malaysia,
Impian merdeka belum dikecapi,
Bangun rakyat Malaysia, bangun bersama

Masih banyak perjuangan kita,
Ingatlah semangat ketika merdeka,
Satukan hati dan kerahkan usaha,
Agar tercapai jua impian merdeka

Ah ... kan dah kata ... Si Moz nie, tak pandai berpantun pantun nie ... dan yang teg-teg ni, takde lah nak teg tiga rakan belog ... cuma dua ... tu pun kalau dia orang tu rela ... yang satu - Pelf, yang lagi satu tu ... Jemima.

Moz tak sabar menanti dua rakan belog yang kena teg menyahut cabaran pantun merdeka.

23 August 2006

Top 3 whatever ....

2 things I wanna say here ... lately, I've been getting mails from readers, asking questions about me, and I'm really out of pictures to put up and Top 10s to write (it's a Wednesday, ok? Who gets ideas on Wednesdays?) ...

So, I'm doing a little interview thing here ... ask me questions about my Top 3 whatever by leaving a comment, and I'll respond to them. Terms and conditions apply - I reserve the right to not answer any of the questions, and I don't have to tell you why too ...

Go ahead, knock yourself out ...

22 August 2006

Moz does Oz: Flowers

OK - here's the drill - Moz is not a pro photographer. Heck, Moz isn't even an amateur photographer. Moz is just indulging jemima and angel - both had some conversation with me about flowers.

angeliu asked me about Sydney's Botanical Gardens - whether there was actually any flowers in there. Yes, angeliu, have flowers. Even in winter. And more so now when it's nearer to spring, which seemed to have arrived early this year.

jemima wanted Aussie wildlife photos. Can't do that jemima - with my pitiful 3x zoom lens, if I get any closer to animals, I'll probably be blogging from a hospital very soon. I don't want that ;-P. So, as a middle ground, I'm putting up flowers instead.

These are all taken at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney, just a stone's throw away from the Opera House.

I have no idea what most of these flowers are, so only commentaries. Click to get bigger pictures, ok? If you'd like a larger sized photo, drop me a mail.

Spring has come early. Daisies bloom aplenty.

This plant is not native to Australia - it's South African in origin, and it's got a very strong fragrance - much like lemongrass.


Golden flowers beaming in the late winter sun.

Flowers in the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Look familiar? This is taken in the Oriental Gardens, featuring plants from our part of the world.

These chrysanthemums look full of movement. Or are they sunflowers? See, told you I'm bad at flowers.


Fruit bats getting their hours of sun on tree tops in Sydney's Royal Botanical Gardens. It wasn't even close to being creepy, unlike what you might imagine. Heck, they look cute. Really.

I must have seen this in Malaysia - not sure what it's called, but I don't mind having one of these at home.


Another peculiar native Australian plant.

20 August 2006

Top Ten Sings Signs Your Laptop Will Be Recalled Soon

It's been a while since I've done any Top Ten lists, it doesn't even feel like it's the What Talk You? blog. So, I held back the other posts that I wanted to put out and waited till I could put this one out.

I don't know if it's even on the radar in Malaysia, but did you all know that Dell is recalling many of its laptops because of a faulty Sony-manufactured batteries that could burst out in flames. But no panic, please. If you're affected, Dell is going to call you. At least that's what's happening in most of the world anyways. I know because I have contacts with 2 big companies that are using Dell laptops.

Anyways ... if you're worried and want to know if your laptop will be recalled soon ... here are some other signs to look for.

  1. It only runs a program when you say "Pleeeeeeease" and blinks adorably at it.
  2. Bursts into flames whenever you watch some 'hot' videos, if you get what I mean.
  3. Will only work on when you put it on you lap.
  4. Your laptop insists it should be running on Windows 1972.
  5. Thanks to a manufacturing defect, it only runs on car battery.
  6. You need to fly a kite during a thunderstorm to charge the batteries.
  7. According to the manual, it needs to be fed 3 times daily. And it prefers organic food.
  8. It has that shiny sticker that says "Viruses Inside"
  9. You've always been suspicious about the need to change the oil every 3 months.
  10. The mouse just ate your mousepad.
And of course, that's all made up. Jokes. Things to laught about. Except the Dell battery recall. Please hop over to the Dell website to learn more if you believe you may be affected.

Update: There is a dedicated website http://www.dellbatteryprogram.com where you can check if your battery - but not the entire laptop is affected by the recall. Do check it out if you're wondering if you're affected.

15 August 2006

Won the deal !!!

Some of you would have fleeting bits of memory about this little post I put up some months back.

Hehehe ... I just wanna say that the signature was finally put down on the dotted line ... we got the deal. Now the real work begins.

I told myself I'll reward myself if I got this deal, so I'm wondering if I should get a new DSLR camera (current camera already takes pretty decent photos) or if I should get a new PDA Phone ... ??

Hmmm .... decisions, decisions ..... =)

14 August 2006

Take the Road Less Travelled ...

Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" ....

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I first came across this poem when I was around 8 years old, and I've since lived such a life - taking roads less travelled, and loving every moment of it.

And that's exactly the way I approached the last part of my Blue Mountains journey. After lunch in Katoomba, while my legs are sore, there's more to see. And here are photos from the rest of that trip, down in Evans Lookout, Grose Valley Lookout and coming back to Sydney by the Bell Lines of Road.

And as usual, the photos will do that talking, and you can click on the photos to get the actual sized image.

The historic Hydro Majestic Hotel has a famous tea house with famous views of the Megalong Valley.

On the other side of the Blue Mountains, you get the Grose Valley, another series of valleys, triassic sandstone mountains, majestic in every sense, and in some sense, more spectacular than the Katoomba views because the mountains are closer to you, and they frame your view better.

And there's more walking tracks. I wanted to do the Grand Canyon Walking Track, but was advised against it. I was tired from the morning walk, it takes around 3-4 hours again, and it's supposed to be even more challenging, and in exactly 4 hours, the sun would set. So, the Grand Canyon walk will just have to wait for a next go.

This is Govett's Leap, a 600 meters drop of a pretty tame river, actually. The picture is taken from the Govett's Leap lookout, and I actually took the 40 minute track from the lookout to the Waterfall. In case you haven't read the previous post, Leap is the Scottish word for waterfall.

The Grose Valley is carved by a zig zagging river, which is fed off water from Govett's Leap and a few smaller waterfalls. It's amazing how water, over millions of years, could carve out such beautiful works.

Details of some of the sandstone cliffs found near Govett's Leap. Charles Darwin visited this site and recognised that the different layers of rocks exposed in the cliff face correspond to different periods in history when they are being deposited. And much throughout Blue Mountains, the bottom most layer contains coal, which is really compacted carbon and shale, another form of carbon. Blue Mountains was first opened for coal mining.

Having had all the hiking my body can take (my legs were cramping by the end of 6 hours worth of hard trekking), I headed back to Sydney, but I took the alternative route. The normal route to and from Blue Mountains is to use the Great Western Highway. Well, I took a much longer, but more scenic road, the Bell Lines of Road. It routed through some great country, full of farms, horse stables, and most importantly, apple orchards. Bilpin, Granny Smity, Red Lady, Pink Lady ... these are all produced in a town called Bilpin, along the route home.

Spring is still about a month away, but the apple trees are all budding, ready to bloom into life !!! And it gave a pinkish hue to all the apple trees all along the way.

So, what better way to celebrate the coming of spring with a fresh apple from an apple orchard? Here's me having a Pink Lady apple with an apple orchard in the background. It's really crunchy, delicious, and was kinda cheap. I got a bag of 20 apples for 5 dollars. And then a litre of apple juice from $3.50 ... not too bad.

The rest of the way was interesting, passing through the quintessential Aussie country side settings - large farms with horses and cattle, orchards of various sizes and shapes, small towns in the middle of nowhere.

As an outsider, I see more of the Australia the tourism people want me to see - the glamourous Sydney, the expensive places, the neon signs or the magnificent views. But often, the soul of a place, the very heartbeat that made it unique, is not in the touristy places.

I won't be able to describe it over a few posts or blogs. My command of the English language won't sufficiently allow for it. Maybe there isn't a way to describe it.

Australia is absolutely beautiful as a country, with great ocean views, mountains and other natural treasures. However, what defines it as such a great nation is not simply the natural treasures. It's the way the people love the great outdoors and choose to have a lifestyle that promotes and preserves the outdoors and the environment. It's them making a choice to love, preserve and enjoy nature.

11 August 2006

Nice bush you got there ...

*PICTURE HEAVY ... If you don't have a fast Internet connection, blame your karma !!!*

After a cold, cold, night spent in near freezing temperatures in Katoomba, I woke up to a perfect day on Sunday !!! Yays !!! Finally, clear blue skies. Now, that's a Blue Mountains I can explore !!

I checked out, took some high energy breakfast, and off I went to my hikes !!

There are so many pictures to show you, I'm going to let the pictures do most of the talking !!!! Click on the pictures to see a bigger picture.

The plan would be to do a loop - Start at the top of the Furber Steps, do the Prince Henry Cliff Walk to Echo Point, and beyond to Leura, then double back to Echo Point, take the Giant Staircase down to Dardanelles Pass, then to Federal Passs and back on Furber Steps to where I start. Should take around 4 hours or so.
Katoomba Cascades, the first of many little waterfalls, creeks, leaps and cascades.

Cliff View Lookout - has wheelchair access and also braille signs. And for those of us fortunate enough to be born with senses intact and complete - stunning views of the Jamieson Valley.

The Prince Henry Cliff Walk not only routes along the top of the southern cliffs of Blue Mountains - they have by far, the best views among all the other hikes in Blue Mountains.

The 3 Sisters. They're supposedly 3 beautiful sisters - Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo turned into rock. Inevitable reckons they look like brothers. Che-Cheh seconds. Moz thirds.

More 3 Sisters, as seen along the Prince Henry Cliff Walk. It's hard to explain to you the experience from lookouts here - the crisp winter air, the vertical drop just 1 feet in front of you, the 180 degree view of beautiful valleys. You just have to be there ...

Here's the start of the famous Giant Stairway ... 1000+ steps down from the side of the 1st sister all the way down to the valley below.

While taking my first step on the Giant Stairway, here's the view of the 1st Sister. The 2nd and 3rd sisters are blocked out. Notice how clear the sky is ... in comparison to the day before ..

For a person like me who's afraid of heights, it was really uncomfortable doing the Giant Stairway. Really. Just look at how steep these stairs are in some places. You had to walk them backwards in some places because it was just sooooOOOOoooo steep !!

If you had to walk up the Giant Stairway, the average person takes around 45 minutes - 1 hour. I highly recommend walking down.

At the bottom of the Giant Stairway, you reach the Dardanelles Pass, a walk in the forests. While the views are not as superlative as the ones along the Prince Henry Cliff Walks', it's well worth the walk - these are some of the oldests forests in the world. Only a few hundred kms from here, the Wollemi pines, trees that are 100 million years old are found, still alive and growing !

And ocassionally, you get some good view too. You'll pass under the 3 Sisters as well - don't forget to look under their skirts. And also see some very interesting plants.

After nearly 1 hour in the forest along the Dardanelles Pass, you reach Federal Pass, the main hiking route in the Jamieson Valley. For tired hikers, they can pay A$8 and take the Scenic Railway up instead of hiking. And further on, you can see remnants of giant boulders and rocks from the 1932 landslide.

The Federal Pass branches at many places, one of them, on the Furber Steps. Taking the Furber Steps does have some vantage points, like this one overlooking the Katoomba Falls.

And if you don't have strong legs and a stronger heart, don't attempt the Furber steps. Although it's nothing like the Giant Stairways, it's still just uphill all the way.

In some places, you walk along sheer cliffs, somewhat similar to Grand Canyon.

Witches Leap, a small waterfall which later joins several more waterways becoming the Katoomba Falls. Leap is the Scottish word meaning waterfall, and witches, well, see the face in the rock ?

Ah ... Orphan's Rock ... at last ... this is the last landmark before my hike ends. Notice how clear the day is compared to the day before?

More waterfalls. Don't sue me. I'm a sucker for waterfalls too. Just like I'm a sucker for girls with good bone structure, sunsets, fast cars, money, ice cream, durian and all things good in life.

And 3 hours after I started my hike, I was back where I started ... well ... either I walked too quickly and forgot to smell the roses, or the hiking guides I read are meant for slower people ..

Completely unnecessary and gratitious picture of my chicken and leek pie lunch. I'm just trying to make angeliu go nuts. And a delicious salad side with home made dressing. Slow Food 1, Fast Food 0.

I took one last look at the 3 Sisters, and moved along the Cliff Drive, heading to Blackheath for my other Blue Mountain hike before heading back to Sydney.

* Next post - Evans Lookout, Govett's Leap and the Bell Lines of Roads *

10 August 2006

Blue Mountains ... Echo Point & Scenic World

*Flashback ... in the previous post, Moz was getting drenched out and heavy fog prevented full viewing of the many Blue Mountains attractions ... but things were about to get a little better as Moz approached the iconic Echo Point, location of the rock formation known as the 3 Sisters*

So, I went driving around Cliff Drive, and reached Echo Point. Echo Point is one stop along the Cliff Drive, and it's really one of my must-go place.

Echo Point is like the Mecca of tourism in Blue Mountains. Busloads of tourists from all over turn up here. Ripped off tourists hop off here, take some photos with the 3 Sisters in the background, then get shepparded to Scenic World to take a few rides. And that's probably Blue Mountains for the folks who have a day or half day trips ...

The 3 Sisters, Blue Mountains' #1 attraction. See all the fog in the background? 30 minutes before this picture was taken, it was a whiteout !!! I had to wait patiently for the fog to lift ... And notice a little bridge connecting into the 1st sister, on the left of the picture?

Anyways, even at Echo Point, the weather wasn't all that good. But the fog had cleared eventually, and there were many clear views of the 3 Sisters.

There's a few versions of the 3 Sisters stories (also known as dreamings) as told by the Aborigines people in Australia. Apparently, the 3 Sisters were turned into stone by some witch doctor to protect them from members of an opposing tribe. Different versions give different reasons for their need for protection. But making a long story short, the witch doctor himself was killed, and thus, the 3 Sisters have remained as stones boulders ever since.

This picture shows the steep cliffs on which Prince Henry Clifftop walk is routed on. It's 1000 meters of vertical drop in some places ....

But for nature lovers, Echo Point is more than just the 3 Sisters. It's a place full of lookouts and bushwalking trails. And some of these lookouts are spectacular vantage points, a piece of rock jutting out of a vertical cliff. And there's probably 300 meters of air between some of the lookouts and the hard ground below.

Just a short walk from Echo Point, you join part of the Prince Henry Clifftop Walk. This is a series of hikes that goes around the top of the cliff stretching from Katoomba cascades all the way to Leura, passing Scenic World, Echo Point and on to Leura.

The view from the 3 Sisters. It's a little depression in the rock on the 1st sister which you can visit. The staircase is part of the Giant Staircase ... 1000 steps taking you from the cliff top to the bottom of the valley.

However, with my growling stomach protesting, and the rain falling again, I just took a short hike from Echo Point down to the 3 Sisters. You can actually walk right up to the 1st Sister, not at the top, but into a small depression in the rock face.

Once back in the car, my mind drifted to lunch ... which was at a nice little cafe in Katoomba. Here's to salivate angeliu.

Chicken braised in a base of organic herbs and spices. Blue Mountain is a place which is a hot-pot of the slow food movement. Slow Food is really what it is - the opposite of Fast Food - food for the enjoyment and health of people. This dish I had is all organic ... and washed down in wine and spring water ... it was good fuel for the rest of the day.

After lunch, I checked into the hotel. And admired the rented car ... at AUD120 for 3 days, inclusive of all the insurance, it was a good bargain, eh? Visitors to Australia might want to look up this site if they want to get a good deal with rentals. Anyways, after unpacking my bags in the room, I took off again to Katoomba, just 5 minutes by car.

Toyota Corolla 1.8 Hatchback Auto ... quite a nice car, and new as well ... for A$120, it's a damn good bargain, I think. I got to keep the car for 3 days.

After that, it was to Scenic World. Scenic World is another tourist magnet. Here, on the tops of the cliffs, visitors gets to take 3 rides - the scenic railway, which goes over 400 meters down the cliff in less than 2 minute, the Scenic Cableway and Skyway.

I absolutely had to do the Railway, the drop was scary the first 10 seconds, but after that, you're really descending into a tunnel in the cliff, and there's just darkness almost the entire way down. A bit of a letdown, but still, a good experience nevertheless.

The scenic railway from the bottom. It's steep alright, but unless you sit right at the front, half the fun is gone .... you really just see other people's head ... or the roof.

Once down on the valley, I took the forest boardwalk, a well laid out, maintained and informative hike along boardwalks in the forest to the Skyway, which took me back up to the cliff top.

I was sort of disappointed ... but then again, the whole day had rained out and the fog was lifting, yes, but it was still freezing cold ... I couldn't feel my fingers half the time.

I drove a short way to Katoomba Falls lookout, where I went out to Reid's Plateau and got a view of the little relative of the 3 Sisters, the Orphan Rock, and Katoomba Falls.

A really cold, hard, look at Orphan's Rock from Reid's Plateau, one of the lookouts near Katoomba Falls. My butt was frozen and all I could think of was to take a few more pictures, in case the bad light made some pics turn out bad.

I was really game to go on and explore more, but the cold, and the winds were really wearing me down ... with signs that fog was going to descend again, I decided to call it a day ... before I get frostbite. And there's a frozen nose to thaw out as well ....

Katoomba Falls, one of the numerous waterfalls dotting the Blue Mountains hikes. Apparently, in summer and spring, after really heavy rain, this would be one of the heaviest waterfalls around.

* Next post ... Prince Henry Clifftop Walk, The Giant Staircase, Federal Pass - and good weather, at last !!! *