Monday, November 24, 2008

First Time On A Plane

Last week I went to Bangkok and it was actually my first time on a plane. I was so excited. When I sat down and was asked to wear the seatbelt, this was how I wore it.
First time on a plane

The stewardess stopped at my seat and told me that it was the wrong way and promptly showed me the normal and correct way. I learn new things everyday.

A Trip Back To Kota Bharu, Tanah Tumpah Darahku

Serambi Mekah - The Icon of Kota Bharu

Before leaving for Kota Bharu, I was in Perhentian Island for a few days. Here
are some pictures captured on that island.
I'm so fascinated by the Casino Royale scene that I have to emulate it

This snake just perched itself on a branch out of nowhere. How National Geographic is that !!

I was lounging under the tree by the beach and was munching my usual snacks. I noticed a few squirrels running about and offered the buggers some Pringles. One critter gladly accepted

Anyway, the moment I got home, mom and dad just fed me until I burst. Mom took me to the morning market because she knows I miss the Kelantanese dialect and listening to the makciks trading is like Vivaldi listening to the Ninth Symphony.
Siti Khadijah market
Mom buying durians

Later, Papa took me to eat gearbox soup - his all time favourite and mine too.
Papa's daily diet and source of happiness

Coming back from lunch, I noticed something odd in front of my house.
What's that lump in the middle of the road

I went for a closer look and by golly, it was a PYTHON (pronounced as Piten). How cool is that to have a wild piten right in front of my house!
Beautiful piten close up

This was my time to shine as a wildlife specialist ala Steve Irwin or Jeff Corwin. The difference between me and these guys were, their mothers weren't in the background nagging at me to leave the snake alone. There's a video and I'm uploading it on YouTube soon.
After taking videos of the snake, Papa brutally killed the snake and it became dinner for the night.
Yummy piten

Just kidding. The snake slithered off into the bushes after I molested it. That night, Papa brought me to his favourite restaurant, Victoria Station. We had
Fried larvae and insects

Terrapin or labi labi with chilli
Giant prawns from God knows where

The next day, mom and papa took me to one of the largest sitting Buddhas in South East Asia. This amazing structure is located in Wakaf Baru, 15km from Kota Bharu. It's fasicnating that the PAS govt is so open about other religion and just recently, our government banned Yoga. How's that for a thought?

Later, it's off to the Beach Of Passionate Love where I used to have BBQs with my friends. The beach is still unbelievably beautiful and warm.
Beach Of Passionate Love - Pantai Cinta Berahi

Literally flying a kite

Before I left, Mom made her kiam chai bui, omellete eggs with prawns and fried pomfret.Heaven.
Papa advocating me to be shirtless as often as I can

I love my parents and I love Kota Bharu. Full Stop.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Monthly Movie Review Column : Mission Impossible Marathon

I decided to have a movie marathon and lock myself in my apartment. After 6 days in turmoil and trigger finger bombing Bangkok, that's all I wanna do - STAY HOME.
The trilogy

The Mission Impossible franchise will kickstart my monthly movie reviews in this blog. I rented MI1 and MI2 from Video Ezy[I have MI3 DVD] and started the marathon with my 2 friends, Lay and Miguel.
Say hola Miguel
Miguel, Lay and I enjoying the movie marathon

Mission Impossible 1
Directed by Brian De Palma. This movie was made in 1996. So, what I noticed most was the equipment circa 1996. Huge CRT monitors, magnetic strip access cards and Ethan Hunt using a floppy disk to retrieve data. Funny. Anyway, the movie plot is hard to follow unless you have English subtitles. The scene where Ethan is in the vault stealing data using a floppy disk made me grip my bedsheets.

Mission Impossible 2
The opening rock climbing scene is one of the most spectacular scene ever. It shows Ethan perform solo climbing without the aid of ropes and caribiners. One word to describe "COOL". Since it's directed by John Woo, it's action packed with some stylo slomo freeze frame thrown into it. Not to mention a couple of doves to symbolize purity or whatever that's in the Hongkee's mind. The action is good but the plot is as empty as Avenue K. Overall, Ethan Hunt looks cool in a black leather jacket, shades and riding a black superbike.

Mission Impossible 3 :
MI3 was directed by JJ Abrams. The guy behind Lost and Cloverfield. One helluva TV series and one helluva movie. This time, we get to see Ethan's vulnerability. You see, his wife was captured and he has to fight for his life. The action scenes were good as well but this 3rd installment showed the human side of Ethan Hunt. On another totally unrelated note, there is a scene where Ethan was waiting for the bad guys in an abandoned land and if you watch closely,a Malaysian Airlines billboard is seen right behind him. Maybe it was Miguel's beady little eyes but do check it out.

Summary :
All three movies were directed by three different directors and the best thing is, you need not have to watch the Mission Impossible trilogy in ascending order unlike Indiana Jones !,2,3 / Star Wars 1,2,3,4,5,6 / LOTR 1,2,3 / Casino Royale-QoS. If I were you, I'd watch it in this combination

a) MI3
b) MI1
c) MI2

I hear they will be filming a 4th installment of the Mission Impossible franchise and it'll be directed by our Malaysian director. the guy who brought us the classic XX Ray - goofy nerdy looking bugger - Aziz M Osman.
Aziz M Osman

It'll be called Mission Impossibler. Pun intended.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Genting Trailblazers 2008

2 weeks after Perhentian Island Challenge, I participated in Genting Trailblazers 2008. This was my first participation for this event and allow me to describe this race :

I partnered my loyal partner, Miss Natalie Ng Poh Fang. By the way, she works in MATRADE and is currently learning French and very single.
Natalie Ng Poh Fang

She picked me up at Leisure Mall, Cheras around 6am and we took a nice drive to Genting Highlands along the Karak Highway. It's nice to know that after exiting Ampang, you'd be greeted by the awesomeness of nature - the Titiwangsa Range.
Titiwangsa Range
And in this range, you have the oldest rainforest in the world, abundance of waterfalls and species of flora and faunas. Anyway, I think it's pretty cool if compared to Singapore. If you're in Singapore and after driving for 45 minutes, you'll probably see Bishan MRT.
Bishan MRT

A group had already converge on the starting line when we arrived. I met some people from PIC 2008 and exchanged our pleasantaries.
Start of the race

It was 830am when we were flagged off. Natalie and I took our time to enjoy
the view. Might I say, Genting Highlands has quite a view.
Start of the race
View along the race

After 40 minutes of running, my calf and ankles (cankles) felt heavy and rigid. I don't know why. In an impulsive moment, I decided to take off my shorts behind a shed and ran with my Speedos ala PIC. Suddenly, the heaviness of my cankles just dissapeared and I ran non stop until we reached the entrance into the jungle.
Speedos resurrected

Left Natalie behind after my new found semangat

Because it rained slightly earlier, going downhill was hazardous. It was made worse by the groups in front of us which made the soil flat and our shoes had no traction with the ground.I slipped and fell on my butt a couple of times but there was one particular slip where upon landing on my buttocks, I continued sliding down all the way a tree stump which slightly crushed my balls. The scream "Ohhh my balls" pierced through the rainforest and to the amusement of others who were trying to balance themselves.

By that time, everybody was muddy and I was glad to be in my Speedos. Ahead was a 1km uphill-55 degrees trek. Being PIC veterans, it was easy peasy. Others were huffing and puffing during that ascend.
Glad to be in my Speedos
Natalie sliding down a mini hill

Partners in the jungle

By 1130am, we were already near the end. We had to go through some Mickey Mouse obstacle course like the one below :
Getting ready to jump into the mud water from the Mickey Mouse obstacle


Anyway, after the obstacles was the FINISH line. We obtained 45th placing.
45th Placing and Muddy

Later, we had a bit of lunch catered by Awana and left. I also saw my arch nemesis' partner, Cydney. Her cankles are now healed after she sprained it in PIC.
Arch nemesis' partner in the middle

Fellow scantily clad runner.It's catching on

Overall, it was good to see familiar faces and it felt great to terrorize new participants with my red Speedos. Will I join next year? OF COURSE.....

Monday, November 10, 2008

Camping Alone In My Shangri-La

After watching the entire Season 1 of Man Vs Wild and a few episodes of
Survivorman, I suddenly have this urge to emulate these guys. Nah, it was more to having a quarter life crisis and it doesn't help that I'm a glutton for punishment and the most important thing, I get to be naked in the wilderness. No worries, there won't be nude pictures in this entry. I was all geared up and might I say, I look pretty damn good with clothes on.You know when you go to an adventure shop and you see advertisments of models wearing clothes, apparels and gears in the wilderness for either Coleman, The North Face, Timberland, etc -yeah, I looked like that.

Ad material

The items I brought :
1. Coleman Tent
2. Sleeping Bag
3. Lafuma pole
4. 4 eggs
5. 2 Asam Laksa Maggi
6. 1 instant soup
7. 1 can of baked beans
8. 1 pair of boxers, 1 flannel shirt, 1 singlet
9. Firestarters
10.3 lighters
12.John Steinbeck book
13.Mess kit
14.Mini tripod and Olympus camera
15.My brass balls

I started river trekking at 10am after a 2 hour hike on a trail. It was pretty heavy maybe because I was carrying all that on my own. Usually, items would be shared by fellow campers but since I'm an individualistic person, I had to bear the load.

The moment I found the stream I was overjoyed. First thing I did was to take a sip from the freshness of the river. The 2 hour fatigueness went away..poof. This was what I was looking and planned for the entire 2 months. I was at home and saying I wanna do this , I wanna do that and today, it came to fruition. The river stream was my Mecca, my pot of gold, my Shangri-La, my Playboy mansion, the eyes of a Golden Retriever when it's owner comes back, etc.

A lot of people think I went with someone or who else could have taken my pictures and the videos recorded? There's an invention called a tripod. Yes, I go to extra lengths to find an odd branch sticking out or shallow waters and activate the timer and run in front of it.It's tiring with a heavy pack on my bag but it's worth it when the pictures and videos are revealed. It also helps that my camera is waterproof. Notice that the pictures always have rocks and sand on it. That's because it's taken at a lower point.
Camel Ad material

I started taking my own photos using a tripod when someone in Cairo took a useless photo of me in front of the Great Pyramids. It had to be done.
After trekking for almost an hour, I rested to have a cuppa of tea and to take a dip. This was a Camel advertisment moment. A fire, a cuppa tea and a forlorn dramatic gaze. Drama in the jungle. I hung around for 45 minutes and moved on. By that time, it was 130pm and I was just enjoying every minute of it.Stopping to record my videos ala Bear Grylls/Les Stroud.

Pitching a tent

About 3pm, I found my camp site. It was slightly higher than the usual banks but it was sandy. Sandy meant the river flowed over this portion if it rained heavily. The first thing I did was collect firewood. I had to collect dry wood and not the ones nearby the campsite because it's all wet and soggy. Then, I set up my tent. My second time setting up a tent.There was a time where I forgot how to perk it up. I spent at least a minute figuring out how to make it prop up by itself. After figuring it out, I smiled to myself at the situation.
All tented up.Coleman should be proud

My tent is set up and my fire is burning. And I had a nice view to boot.
What a view
Made my Maggi with eggs and took numerous dips by the river. I also explored the surroundings just in case if there was an emergency, where would I run to.
Nightfall came and for a while now, I saw stars, loads of stars. And half a moon peeked out from the clouds to give me a moonlit night. I could see my own shadow that night and it was just heavenly. A moonlit night, a gentle stream flowing and mating sounds of frogs is all I need to make it a perfect day. I made sure I had enough wood to keep the fire going on until the break of dawn. I read a bit of John Steinbeck and went to sleep at about 830pm.

The morning after:630am

The next morning, I woke up at 630am to an amazing view and such pure freshness. I made my breakfast which consist of baked beans and eggs and a hot cuppa Nescafe.
Baked Beans Breakfast

Breakfast before my road to civilization

I repacked my tent and stuff but it was still pretty heavy. I attribute this to the tent and sleeping bag.I needed to find civilization and after trekking for about 3 hours, I got a bit worried. But out from the corner of my eye, I saw a trail from the river bank and I followed it to find a house which ended my journey of my solo trekking and overnight camping.

After being quite hectic at work for the past month i.e meetings, discussions, explanations,exhibitions, trade shows, was good to be finally left to my own devices.
Over all, what I ranted, planned and envisioned came true and nothing beats the feeling of emotional satisfaction.

To see all the videos, go to YouTube and search for "yateoh". The videos include my cooking, my near accident at a rough section of a rapid and my path to civilization.