27 September 2007


This trip's been all about contrasts.

Staying in upscale hotels, presenting in world class office facilities, dining in the finest restaurants, getting trapped in traffic on some of the widest boulevards in this region.

And then, you look out the window of the upscale hotel to see signs of poverty in the dirt covered ramshackle homes.

And taking a break from the presentation, you see from the pantry, kids not even old enough to attend pre-school begging for money on the roads below.

On my way out from one of my dinners, we took a shortcut which passed through some of the narrowest streets, lined with the same ramshackle homes I saw earlier.

This city, like many other I've been to, is all a big paradox. World class office towers stands towering over poverty stricken neighbourhoods, where houses look like they'll barely stand when the wind picks up.

Whenever we had to duck out of the wide boulevards, we inevitably end up in dirt roads where 2 cars are not supposed to be on it at the same time.

Oh, and yes. While I've been working my arse off the past couple of days, how can you explain I actually put on weight ?

23 September 2007

Collecting more frequent flyer points ...

I'll be in the land of gado gado, where people address me as Pak or Bapak next week.

Interesting to see how it'll be like when it's Ramadhan. Would I be getting dates for dinner starters ?

Last time I was there, I lost my phone cover. Maybe it's still outside the departure hall? Or maybe it'll be in the taxi. Hopefully get the same taxi again.

I still think nasi padang is over-rated. But can't resist trying.

I'm hoping they'll let me drink some water as I talk next week. Because for 3 days, my job will be to talk and talk and talk and talk.

I'll promise to blog at least once there.

18 September 2007

Would you do it ... ?

I was seated alone at my lunch table, finishing my food when I was approached by this old woman.

Her face betrayed the tough times she' been through, wrinkled and tanned. Her hair frayed, yet not really unkempt. She gave me a toothy grin, and stretched out her hand, holding an empty plastic cup with some loose change in there.

She rattled it a little, and asked me for a donation.

I politely refuse, as I do always.

And she walked off to the next table, where she repeated her routine. It must be a very monotonous job, with a very high probability of rejection.

It set me off thinking ... one day, if I ever lose it all, would I ever be able to beg for a living?

Would I have to change my mindset? Would I have to accept the blow to my personal ego? I seriously can't see myself begging, but you never say never, do you?

What sort of disaster would make me beg instead of work? What sort of personal disaster would make you beg for a living? I'd much rather be a sweeper in McDonald's than be a beggar, but that's me.

See, in my psyche, there's never been an alternative to working. Need money? Work. Want better life? Work. Want to get better in life? Work.

I'm sure all beggars would choose to work if they can get work. Or would they? I'm pretty sure there's something to do here in Malaysia if you want to do it. Or am I wrong? Am I naive to think that you'll always be able to find a job?

I can't help but wonder, what's her life like when she's not begging? What was it like before she started to beg? What made her do this? Does she not have an alternative?

17 September 2007

Retro: Mum in Bangkok !

I'll be posting some of my own favorite (or important) entries (and there aren't many of them), from my previous blog to this one. Most of that blog is about my life abroad, mostly in Singapore in 2004, and then Bangkok in 2005 - that blog predates this current blog.

As a start, this is my favorite memory from Bangkok - taking my mum for a short holiday during Chinese New Year !

Some editing has been done to the original entry, mostly grammatical ones.

Originally posted on Tuesday, 15 February 2005

Mum posing with a mural depicting Hanuman (Monkey King) transforming his mouth into a cave for Rama to sleep, all this while they were being shot with sleeping darts by the evil army. It's her favorite mural in Wat Phra Keow.

I brought my mum out here to wild wild Bangkok over the Chinese New Year holidays because i think she really deserved a break. this is a woman who doesn't have holidays, really.

Here, she went to all the usual suspects - Siam Square area, Chit Lom shopping areas, MBK, Chatuchak, Grand Palace, Temple of Emerald Buddha, Wat Po, Wat Arun, Royal Barge Musuem and Suam Lum night market. How did I cram all these iteneries into just 2.5 days?

Mum has amazing physical fitness for a person her age. She outwalked a particular Mr Taylor - mum actually walked the entire Grand Palace, Temple of Emerald Buddha and then walked over to Wat Po, where she again, walked the entire place. And all this on a single bottle of mineral water. Go mum!

She also tried plenty of Thai food as well, ranging from Thai vegetarian food to Tom Yum noodles. She liked the mango with sticky rice as well as Pad Thai. Great - I'm happy she had a good time.

Posing with the famous reclining Buddha in Wat Po.

We spent considerable amount of shopping times looking for a particular shopping bag I had bought my sister in an earlier trip. However, we couldn't find that. Of course, we did get her some t shirts instead from Chatuchak. And mom got herself 3 very nice shirts.

And of course, we have some little souvenirs. I am really hoping she will like it. And that she enjoyed the trip.

08 September 2007

Little bit of update ...

These are busy times for me. Both at work and in my own personal time, there are just so many things happening, it's both fulfilling and dizzying at the same time. It's a bit like juggling with really sharp things ... it demands concentration, if you do it well, the audience will applaud and appreciate your skills. If you do it badly, you could end up with some very ugly scars.

Some of you may know I have another blog (other than the photo blog, that is). Well, most of you won't. Anyways, that blog is shutting down soon - it's turning into a pay-only site, and I don't like pay only sites - as if there's not enough ad revenue to go around !

So, I'm now in the process of moving posts that mean a lot to me from that blog into this one. I've done the backup, but there's more to it than just copy and paste. It's not a Ctrl+c and Ctrl+v thing, moving sites.

One thing about reading that other blog all over again is that somewhere in those blog entries, is the history of my digital photography journey ! There are so many great memories ! You will soon see some of those blog entries moved over here, as soon as I make them ready, I'll point it out to all of you, so that you can see what I was like before I was here, before I became the Mozilla Monster you all know (or don't know).

It was also about a time when I was grappling my way through work life, so it's been doubly satisfactory for me to read up on my own journey through those formative career years !

It'll take time to get those posts over here, so keep coming back to check on what's up. In the meantime, I've posted some photos from that other blog over at my photo blog. The first series is called Bali Sunset. Do hop over to have a look !

03 September 2007

Hanoi, Hanoi ..

Recently, I visited Vietnam again, and while I didn't have any time to take in the sights in Ho Chi Minh City, I did rekindle my liking for Hanoi ... I've visited Hanoi previously in December 2006 on holiday, and a few times since on business.

I really didn't have any time to do any touristy thing, this being a business trip, but I did find a couple of hours of time to stretch the legs a little bit, walking around the spiritual heart of Hanoi, Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarters.

As usual, I'm letting the photos do the talking ...

The beautiful Turtle Tower is situated on a small island in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake. In the mornings and the evenings, you'll see masses of Hanoi residents congregating around the lake, either relaxing, or doing workouts.

When in Hanoi, you must Hang Gai (Jalan Jalan in Cantonese). In the Old Quarters, streets are named after the merchandise sold on that street in the past. Hang Gai now is the main touristy thoroughfare selling silk and souvenirs, and home to many a tailors, but in the past, it sold Hemp (Gai). So, Hang Gai means Hemp Goods.

Relaxing at Hoan Kiem after work ...

The hauntingly beautiful Opera House, conveniently situated next to my hotel =)

My verdict for Hanoi is clear ... =) ... if you sit near the front of the plane, look out the window before takeoff ... the ground crew has to remove some pin from the aircraft, and give the all clear signal ... which is what I've photographed ..