31 January 2008

Jumping from one place to another !

It's just been a busy period for me, jumping from one place to another.

All that's been happening is a blur - I wake up, get to work, come home, chat with Girlfriend a bit, then work a bit more, and then go to sleep and repeat the process all over again. It's quite monotonous, and I'm hoping to break it a little bit.

I'll be back at the gym next week, hopefully, to break into some sweat and work myself back into a more streamlined shape. Right now, I'm so out of shape, those airport security scanning devices identify me as 'Unknown'. It's embarrassing.

On the work front, I've been nominated to join a year long project that will double my work load, and increase the amount of time I spend staring into blank spaces and computer screens. I guess it'll be good for me if I'm selected, although I'm pretty sure most people will see less of me. But it's a great program where only a few people get selected into, so I hope I'll get it.

No travels so far, but after Chinese New Year, I expect myself to help MAS achieve it's RM1 billion profit targets. Of course, those bloody lunch boxes they're giving us helps them loads. I hate the lunch boxes - cold sandwich and chocolate filled cereals isn't my idea of lunch. Or dinner. Or whatever. Gimme back my hot meals anytime !

And funnily enough, it sounds like Chinese New Year, it looks like Chinese New Year, but I'm not sure if it's Chinese New Year ! This year, the atmosphere isn't there, for some funny reason. Probably because I've been immersed with so much work that it's just impossible to feel festive. Anyways, I'm planning to get some new clothes - hopefully that will jump start my Chinese New Year festive moods. If that doesn't work, I'll start eating Kuaci-s (melon seeds) and blast Chinese New Year songs at home. Those are fail proof, but it does very little to foster neighbourly love.

And this year, there is no plan to go anywhere ! I'm not even taking a lot of leave, just a day. I'm planning on saving up my holiday for a longer vacation.

Gee, I seem to write rubbish when I don't blog too often ... ok ... no more rants. I'm done. Happy Chinese New Year !

20 January 2008

Trip Report: Zhouzhuang

I've been putting this entry off for a few weeks now, but unless I do it now, I'll probably never be doing it.

To refresh our collective memories, I was in China for a few weeks in 2007, and so far, I've blogged about being in Beijing's Forbidden City and Beihai Park, my travels to Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China, and my marvelling of Shanghai.

This report is about my visit to the water village of Zhouzhuang in Suzhou. Shanghai is located on the lower reaches of the Yangtze Delta, also called the Jiangnan (江南) in Chinese. This area is peppered with canals and waterways, and is where the province of Jiangsu is located. Jiangsu's most famous area is Suzhou (苏州).

Anyways, cutting the geography lesson short, Suzhou is where you'll find a lot of water villages. And to cut the story even shorter (I can see some readers tearing their hair our with impatience now) ... I visited one of them, Zhouzuang (
周庄) while I was in Shanghai.

It's a half day trip from Shanghai, but I'd really recommend you to break from the normal touristy itinerary, and go early in the morning before the tourists spoil your experience. Even better is going during the winter, when the place is half deserted (according to my tour guide).

Ok, no more babbles ... I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking now.

Zhouzhuang is a small village now fully commercialized - there are shops everywhere. But what's really cool is you can take a boat ride around the place, and you can pay the boatmen to sing the native songs to serenade you while you are taken on your boat ride. However, we didn't make the boat ride, although it was actually included in the price for the tour I took. Why ? Just look at the next picture ...

The place was actually over run by tourists. The newly rich Chinese are taking vacations now .. this is a photo of the famous Twin Bridges. These bridges were subjects of a famous painting called "Memory of Hometown" by the late Chen Yifei, an American based Chinese artist, which made Zhouzhuang famous. As you can see, it's impossible to photograph without getting any humans in the picture. Sigh ...

It got so crowded some of the Americans in my tour group asked our guide to take us away from the main streets where the Chinese tourists were, so he took us into some really small lane by a minor waterway. And that's when I really started enjoying the place. It's really nice to find unobstructed waterways, and be able to see the locals doing what they do, you know, locals doing their laundry, or going about their card games.

The water's actually quite clean, you can see the bottom of the canal (which isn't very deep to start with). And being on the small street means we could take our time and wander around, peeking into the living rooms of the locals, hoping to glimpse into their lives.

Unfortunately, this being a half day trip, the day was over way too soon. Next time I come, I'll make sure I spend at least a day and will definately NOT be in a tour group. I want to be able to spend as much time as I want in spots that I like here.

Suzhou is a place full of mulberry trees. Mulberry trees are important because the silkworms feed on their leafs. Silkworms are important because without them there is no silk.

Suzhou has been a central city in China's silk industry through the ages, so you know what it means, don't you? It means that eventhough we're really late, the tour bus still had to make a totally gratuitous stop at the local silk factory, where we were shown the way to make and process silk into the finished product.

And guess what? My mum will not be proud of me. I'm the only one in the tour group who left the shop empty handed. =P

18 January 2008

Penang !

Just got back from the pearl of the orient, Penang. Work carried me there for a few days, but the passion for food sustained me !

Had lots of good food, met up with Chev, took some really cool photos, and can't wait to go back. Thanks, Chev - you've been the perfect host !

Over a nice cuppa green tea latte, and some funky frappe, we had a really nice conversation. And of course, Chev can't resist showing me her new toy, the ASUS EE PC. Ee ... I so jealous !

And yeah, I saw a rainbow for the first time this year ! And on a sunny day too, how about that?

Wait for the photos on the photoblog ! Should be out within a day or two at most. I don't know if its me, but crumbling facade and wildly uncoordinated color schemes make good photos !

11 January 2008

Feedback - my photoblog

After relooking at my photoblog, Moz Takes Pictures (http://mozphotos.blogspot.com), I've found the hits to be quite low, so I'm not quite sure what I should do. It's a personal hobby I like a lot, photography, and I am keen to keep the blog up, and not have to close it.

On the one hand, I really like the concept, and want to see it continue, but on the other hand, I am not happy with the outcome so far.

I guess if I were to be honest, I guess I'm not getting hits because I haven't been putting up photos very frequently, and I haven't been very prolific in sounding out about the blog too. I guess as little time as I have, I'd really have to pull up my socks and do better in terms of putting photos out there.

But I'd like to hear from anyone who has some ideas on how I can spruce things up. I mean, I'd like to hear what you like, what you don't like, and how I can make your experience better when you visit my photo blog. I'd appreciate greatly any feedback.

07 January 2008

What the heck ...

Gee, 2008 seemed to start with a bang ! - literally. There's enough material for a whole year's worth of poking fun at the politicians who run Bolehland.

I think this pantun would be something a certain former minister might be penning this very moment ...

Oh my love, Angelina,

Mari kita ke Hotel Katerina,
Disana kita boleh bersuka ria,
Gembira bersama boleh berzina ...

Oh my love, Angelina,
Jumpa nanti di Hotel Katerina,
Kita bersua dibilik yang sama,
Dan jangan lupa bawa kamera !

Dedicated to a certain former minister ... =P