29 March 2009

My Winter Sonata Experience

The final choice was between a trip full of adventure, searching for the Lost Horizon - The Shangri La or the romantic breakaway of Winter Sonata. The trip was actually planned almost a year in advance and I was so keen to go for the more adventurous one, with breathtaking landscapes, ancient towns and kingdoms, silk road and colorful tribes for my photography escapade. But due to my back problem which is still in the healing process, we finally decided to go for a relax and leisure kimchi experience. And it turned out to be one of the coolest (and coldest) experience ever.

To start with, the itinerary was so packed with sightseeing and stopovers, I felt as if we were one of the participants in the popular TV program - Explorace. Daily wake-up call was at 6.30 a.m local time (GMT +09:00) and the program finished at 9.00 to 10 p.m at night before we retired to our bed. Since there were so many places and so much interesting stories to share withing that span of time, it is quite impossible for me to put everything down in this limited space, thus only the highlights of the visit will be featured here for your viewing pleasure.

The 8 days and 6 nights trip started with a very pleasant Spring weather in Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. Upon departing from the flight, our tour guide straight away brought us to the first itinerary of the day (Chandeokgung Palace and Namsangol Hanok Village) before we boarded our next domestic flight to the scenic island of Jeju-do.

I was told that Jeju Island is a paradise for newly married couples and a very popular destination for honeymooners. With so many natural beauties, magnificent landscapes and local attraction surrounding the island, no wonder the place is a real magnet to locals and foreign tourists. Since Jeju is actually a volcanic island, the shore lines are made up from vast area of lava. Lava tubes and special formation of lava called tephra making the place a World Natural Heritage site by UNESCO. Hallasan (Halla Mountain- 1,950 m) in Jeju is the highest mountain in South Korea. Locals got their water supply from this area and also honey from special flowers that is endemic to this region.

We spent 3 wonderful days getting around this spectacular island and headed back to the mainland for another interesting experience.

The next three days were spent travelling north to the mountainous and magnificent place of Nami Island (the original place where the popular TV drama Winter Sonata were shot), breathtaking beauty of Seoraksan National park (it was snowing when we arrived at this park!), visiting museums and orchards and back to Seoul for the final leg of shopping spree in the many street markets lining the urban street.

In short, Korea has presented us with many nice and remarkable experiences. The people is very nice and polite. The place is super clean. There is no beggar at all. A very safe place to travel even at night. The local food however is a little bit out of our league and kimchi (fermented vegetables) is a must in almost all meals, even though quite tasteful but has really upset my tummy.

Korea - a wonderful honeymoon escapade and one amazing trip to be remembered for years to come.

Gamsa Hamnida!

One of the hanoks (tradional Korean house) resemble houses during Joseon Dynasty in Namsangol Hanok Village. White is a very popular color in Korea as depicted in this house (so as the car).

The Throne Hall is one of the villas in Chandeokgung Palace. Built in 1405 during the Jeosan Dynasty. Changdeokgung was the principal palace for many of the Joseon Kings, and is the best preserved among the five remaining royal Joseon Palaces. The Palace was added to the UNESCO world heritage list in 1997.

Behind this majestic palace wall was 78 acres of Huwon (rear garden) which was constructed originally for the use of the royal families and palace women. The Secret garden was also in the vicinity. The garden is now open for the public. As it was early spring, there was not much colorful vegetation can be seen in the garden.

A calm river along the landscape trail toward the Cheonjieon waterfall in Jeju Island.

My significant half laughed at me when I took this pop yeh-yeh pose in front of Cheonjiyeon Waterfall. Cheonjiyeon, meaning "God's pond", derives its name from the legend that the seven fairies serving the King of Heaven came down to the pond on stairs of cloud and bathed in its clean water. The waterfall is 22 m high. The pond is renowned as a habitat of Mutae eels or Marbled eels.

Magnolia is among the few flowers that can be seen during this time as it was only too early in the Spring.

It may looks like a cherry blossom, but this one is the flowers of an apple tree. We were a bit early by only few weeks to witness the spectacular view of cherry blossom that is abundant in this island.

Black lava rock surrounding the coastal lines of the Jeju Island.

The last remaining Haenyo (female divers) in Jeju Island. I think meeting these women was one of the highlight in our trip. It was during our visit to Seongsang Ilchubong peak (the volcanic peak) that we found this unbeaten path that lead us to this discovery. We had our first delectable encounter with mouth-watering turban shells and ascidians here.

Mystery road in Jeju Island. Experience climbing the hill in a vehicle that has been switched-offed the engine.

Nami Island - original site where the popular TV drama Winter Sonata was shot.

Having a Winter Sonata moment with my significant half.

Snow bestowed on us with this beautiful sight when we arrived at the peak of Seorak Mountain with a cable car. We considered ourselves lucky as we actually got a 2 in 1 package - spring and winter package at the same time. It turned out the Siberian wind was knocking on the door and the temperature dropped drastically close to the frostbiting coldness.

A gigantic sandhour near Jeongdongjin Train Station (the train station closest to the sea - in Guinness book of world record). The wheel will turn upside down when it complete its one year cycle.

19 March 2009

Gimme a break!

It has been a very hectic week for me, full of very interesting activities. Visitors from various places and of different standings come and go. The amount of foreign people (foreign people can be my colleagues who have never set his foot into my office throughout their umpteen years of services) visiting my place, turning my office into a really happening spot and possibly a future popular tourist destination, worth a mention in Visit Malaysia Year calendar.

Deadlines (possible definition = you are either dead or living in the safe haven of 'cold storage' or exotic paradise, if you ignore these auspicious dates) and datelines (somehow we try to avoid having a date with our bosses) kept breathing down my neck. There were also our periodic reports that has to be submitted this week. The reports nowadays has to be written in two versions - English and Bahasa. I think the whole elastic community has got infected with the lingua fever of which almost becoming an epidemic in our country recently.

And you know what. I've almost forgotten that now is a school holiday. I need to get some rest. Some breakaway. A getaway with the loved ones. At the same time my accumulated annual leave over the past years has almost reached its maximum number that I can bring forward (our maximum accumulated annual leave is 90 days). I think it is timely that I reduce the number a little bit. The Golden Hand Shake benefit recently has been revised and is looking good too.

Tonight, I am leaving the Boleh-land for my honeymoon and I will be missing nasi lemak and roti canai for the next one week.

Until then, Ciao!

This currency and denominations has nothing to do with my great escape. There are however some interesting stories behind this notes . Probably if I got mood and time permit, I will share this story with you my friends.

15 March 2009

Bloggers' day out - Close to the nature.

The place was so beautiful
The people was so wonderful
The food was brilliant and plentiful
The atmosphere was full of joy and laughter
It was a memorable and unforgettable event - friendship to last forever!
Thank you everybody!

My three green-bloggers, having preempted a supper after a dip in the cool stream nearby.

tcherSally (lady in red - in the middle) looking at Mr Ismail (her hubby) trying that tasteful cake specially baked by Farah. Seriously the cake is delicious! tchersally, a very dedicated teacher came all the way from Kota Bharu for this picnic. She promised if any of us, the hardcore bloggers were to visit Kota Bharu, she will personally become the official tour guide! Tabik kawe...

Plenty of delectable food, enough to cater the whole community of FRIM. In fact all food brought that day was freshly made by our skillful chefs. The neatly packed colorful tupperwares were kari laksa by Masterchef CAHAYA.

Farah, Nadia, camera-shy TuNTeJa (hiding behind the pole) and CAHAYA preparing the food.

Food, food and lots of food...

The cheerful Farah looking at TunTeja (still trying to elude the camera :) and Nadia helping themselves with the food, while CAHAYA at the background was trying to fish out something from her Doraemon's magic pouch. Once I saw her pulling out a big black bin bag from that pouch!

Everybody was talking joyfully when suddenly, we saw bloodstain on Mr. Ismail's foot (not in this photo). A memento from a creepy crawler. That was kind of deja vu for MeEN (in green) as he works in National Blood Bank. MeEN is a very handsome and polite guy. Still available, mind you. Seen here flanked by his long-lost-but-newly-found classmate, November , a keen photographer. Sitting beside November is her sibling.

MeEN guarding the food from the straying monkeys, while others engaging the usual ritual of doing a 'tawaf' arround the wakaf. If you notice, tchersally and her GBS came with ther red theme :)

We were quite fortunate that day to have this remarkable performance by these young acrobats at the nearby stream. This unexpected show however really put TuNteJa off as she initially planned to have the whole jacuzzi by her ownself.

Time really flies when you are having fun. Time to go home.

Bye, bye. See you again next time!

Pulau Pandan Jauh ke tengah
Gunung Daik bercabang tiga
Hancur badan dikandung tanah
Budi yang baik dikenang jua

13 March 2009

Mind your own language

"Oh blimey!" That was my reaction when a colleague of mine, during one of our usual mengeteh sessions asked me on the issue of PPSMI. My colleague, who considered himself as a 'pejuang bahasa' and a self-confessed freedom-of-speech fighter, not contented with my answer trying to poke me again with the question.

"Seriously bro, what do you think?"

Seriously, I don't want to think. At least on this issue. Because seriously I don't know what the issue is all about or whether there is any issue in the first place. However, if somebody seriously seek my opinion, then these are my two cents (or senses) ...

For a cool and simple guy like me, 'Bahasa' is just a medium. People communicates with each other using some sort of 'bahasa'. Melayu talks with another Melayu in Bahasa Melayu. Chinese talks with another Chinese in Bahasa Cina and Indian talks with another Indian in Bahasa India. If any of those 'bangsa dan kaum' talk with one another in 'bahasa itek' for example and just for the sake of fun, then this world will be full of crazy people.

ساتو دوا تيڬ امڤت
one two three four

wahid isnain salasa arbaah

They all give the same meaning.

According to our 'ilmu tawarikh' , Bahasa Melayu was once used widely in this Archipelago as a lingua franca. Munshi Abdullah, the great Malay scholar wrote to the Kings in the far land in Bahasa Melayu and wrote it in Jawi. Bahasa Melayu was accepted and well respected at that time. That was so long time ago.

"Walauweee.... lansi liao"
"lu Ganu kite, how come you didn't talk like one meh?"

Once upon a time in Malaya, our education system used to have LCE, MCE and HSC. All subjects were taught in English. I am sure in the beginning it was very hard for the student, especially in the rural area to embrace the foreign language, and yet at the same time to master the subjects. But nobody was complaining. Because they knew, what they really want was knowledge. And many went further even to oversea to further their jihad and succeeded.

PPSMI? It has been six years now, and millions has been spent for this project. Millions of taxpayer's money. Teachers were trained and retrained. ABMs (alat bantuan mengajar) were upgraded. Pupils mind has been tuned and realigned. There were surely hiccups here and there, which is normal. If there is any loopholes and venue for improvement, why don't we just improve it? To make it even better. We must start somewhere. Don't you think?

Recently, some of our brothers and sisters who eat nasi lemak and roti canai came out to the street demanding for the system to be abolished. Honestly, I don't blame them. Naturally that is what a 'pejuang' will do. They will fight for whatever on this earth they believe is correct and worth fighting for. Korek? korek...korek...

Pejuang bahasa will fight for their bahasa. Pejuang bangsa will fight for their bangsa. Pejuang kucing will fight for their kucing (PAWS) and the list can goes on and on. Otherwise they don't live up to their name :)

Personally, I don't really care if my kids were to learn many languages in their schools. In fact it is a privilege. You can conquer the world if you master many foreign languages. Let be more realistic and leave all the rhetoric behind. Let look at our current scenario. Do we have sufficient academic books or references written in Bahasa? Would, for example other scientific communities "ambil pot" if our local researchers write their finding in Bahasa?

and something to ponder. Do you think reciting a doa in Arabic is more 'afdal' than chanting the same one in any other languages? Or do you become less Melayu by simply learning few subject in English? And who is Melayu and what is bahasa? (that is another serious topic, of which I don't really keen on cracking my head on at the moment).

Again, bahasa is just a medium. At the same time it can be complicated but funny too. Not trying to be funny or make fun out of it, 'besar malunya' has a totally different meaning from 'besar kemaluannya". And in Arabic if you miss one consonant or a vowel, your habibi will be left in a very embarrassing situation as in "This is Zakaria" and "This is Zakari".

Language is so beautiful and full of surprises!

On a more serious note, if we want to fight, let fight for what we really believe for. Fight for the ONE, for Addin and fisabilillah. That is what I believe and that is what we must fight for.

That is my 2 cents.

Masterjee, a thousand apologies!

08 March 2009

Bloggers' meeting - it was hillarious!

As planned, my wife and I arrived at the designated place for the most anticipated bloggers' meeting of the year just in the nick of time. That was after some high speed car case in the overcrowded basement car park. Ikea is on sale.

Quickly we hopped into the lift and the moment we stepped out from the lift on the top floor of Ikano Power Center, we straight away stumbled upon Maria and her entourage (her charming hubby Faizal, little Adam and cute Ayesha). Without wasting no more time we rushed to the gazetted meeting point, but to our astonishment, the food court was not there to be seen. Vanished. The place that used to be buzzing with foodlovers was no more there. Zilch! Instead it was now stood proudly an interior house accessories supermarket. No way! I secretly checked the date on my handphone to make sure it was not the 1st. of April.

Did David Copperfield come to Malaysia recently? I almost banged my head onto the wall. To make the matter worst, I didn't have the other bloggers' numbers to inform them of this unexpected discovery and the changing of plan. Undeterred, the cool Maria came to the rescue and straight away got into action. With utmost confident she put up her brave face and started asking strangers these unfamiliar question - "Are you looking for DrSam Sir?". Haa...haa...Go Maria! I am proud of you. I am sure those strangers have a very lasting impression on you that day.

We finally decided to go down to the ground level and settled down in Uncle Lim Kopitiam, hoping that the others would have the same thought as ours. As if on cue, I saw a group of curious youngsters coming down on the escalator. The unmistakable faces of skullsplitter and CAHAYA with the whole gang brought me a big relief. Somehow, they made it to our spot. I would love to read their own version of that day misadventure in their blogspot. A bloggers' meeting almost become a bloopers of the year :) Until now, I am not so sure if there were other bloggers who did actually come, but went straight home and missed all the fun. For my utterly ignorance, if there is any, I humbly apologize. Mistake learned.

All in all it was a good meeting with lot of laughter. Thank you everybody (Maria, Faizal, Skullsplitter, CAHAYA, TuN TeJa, Farah, Nadia, Kamaliah, Juita and not to forget little bloggers Ayesha and Adam) for making the effort to come. and wishing to meet all of you again soon!

Maria (and her supporting hubby, Faizal) became very creative and wrote my name on ballons (her kid's ballons) for the whole world to see.

Nadia (pink shirt with purple tudung) just could not bear all the ticklish feeling in her belly and burst into laughter, while Farah joined the others on having the fun of their life. If you look carefully, the rubbery souvenirs I mentioned earlier were displayed plainly on the table.

Having load of laughter can make a person craze for food become unbearable. Seen here was Juita, oblivious to the surrounding she helped herself with the last potion of curry puff. TuN TeJa, on the other hand, listened religiously to Maria's preaching while Kamaliah (on the far right corner of the photo) posing for the cameraman with her cutest smile ever. TuN TeJa and Kamaliah came all the way from Malacca exclusively for this historic event. Selamat berBTN TuN TeJa!

Skullsplitter an up and coming movie director cum production manager, having a deep thought after listening to Maria's suggestion on having some of us as his castings in his future reality show. If I can read his mind correctly, he is probably saying "Hang biaq betul Maria, boleh berlakon ka depa ni?". Contemplating with managing so many complaints coming from the rakyat, some with marriage problem, family problem and many more problem that you can think of, with her calibre, CAHAYA should start to think of opening her own call center ASAP.

My significant half with her number one fan, the cute Ayesha enjoying a blissful moment together. Our own soldiers didn't make it to this meeting (for the second time) because their cousins kidnapped them.

07 March 2009

A momentary lapse of time

A scene like this was a norm in rubber estates during those yesteryear. I remember watching films on this piece of canvas, courtesy of Jabatan Penerangan during my childhood time. The whole kampung folks would gather in an open paddy field, usually after the harvesting season for this special viewing. The first row in the front was specially reserved for makciks and neneks since they can't help much with their short sighted.

Last Tuesday after almost 4 months hibernating in my den, I finally went out into the civilized world and dragged my feet to our headquarter in Jalan Ampang for a meeting. To be honest, if I were given the choice I really don't fancy to travel to Kay El. Especially flash flood is more rampant these days. Nevertheless, I have no choice as it was a command coming from the upstairs. As usual, yours truly will make a point to arrive way to early so that I have plenty of time to visit (read "pester") my friends who are stationed over there.

Even though Sg. Buloh and Jln. Ampang in a normal traffic condition will take less than one hour to travel to, we actually seldom meet with each other. Meetings and internal colloquium are the best venue for us to catch up and get to know each other better. Normally gossips spread like wildfire and travel faster than the speed of light at these two special occasions too.

To make the matter worst, I just found out this morning during our morning tea break, Pn. N from another unit, has no idea whatsoever, who Mr. B is (Mr. B is my regular 'mengeteh' buddy). He thought Mr. B was some kind of a salesman trying to sell some fancy equipments to me. Luckily I brought Mr. B along (who has worked in the same organization for the past 9 years) and introduced him to Pn. N. If you happen to read this entry Mr. B or Pn. N, you should thank me and join my 'mengeteh' session in a more frequent manner. You'll never know, tea at Kedai Mak Uda probably tastes better than the tea served at Pak Li Kopitiam :)

Back to my business at our headquarter. While waiting for the meeting, on many occasions I will take the opportunity to visit my colleagues at the graphic unit. I like to spend my time there because they have huge collection of vintage documents and photos relating to our business - rubber. The whole history of Malaysian rubber industry is probably confined in those small rooms. I don't mind spending hours looking through those collections. I feel like traveling in a time capsule, reading those manuscripts and looking at those vintage photos. With some assistance from En. Suhaimi (thank you), our graphic designer, I managed to get some copies for my own collection.

It was in 1877, and thanks to the English Botanist , H.N. Ridley who brought over and introduced rubber trees to Malaya (nine seedling to be precised). One has the privilege to flourish until now in Kuala Kangsar (In my opinion, that historic gathering will have more oomph in our history if they gather under this historical artifact).

Yes, rubber has a very long history in Malaysia. In the US, if somebody especially the one on the street who says rubber (or offer you one), you have to be very careful because that usually means condom. In the UK however, they pronounce it ru be (like we pronounce rusa). In Malaysia you will get into trouble if you raba-raba :) So be careful and don't play-play.

04 March 2009

You need good anecdotes to spice up your life

I am trying my best not to write much on politics. Especially in this blog, as that is not the reason why this blog comes to be in the first place. Politics is not my piece of cake. I have been reminded from time to time by my respectful sifu, and I still remember his wisdom clearly. If you don't know much on the subject - it is best that you shut up. Period.

But as much as I am refraining myself not to, the more the ticklish feeling erupting in my belly. As if there are many butterflies entrapped inside my ever-growing belly, the feeling translates into an earth-shattering giggle I almost spilled out my drink on the table. It was not politics, it was a joke.

"What's wrong with these people?" asked my darling over a cup of his favorite jasmine tea
" Ala.... apa nak diherankan, nama pun politik dan politikus" my reply to her very serious question.

"Tak habis-habis...gaduh sana...gaduh sini. kalau gaduh pasal macamana nak bagi elaun pekerja lebih ke...naikkan gaji ke...turunkan harga barang runcit ke tak pe lah juga..." her blabbering echoing in my ears.

I giggled as I remember my sifu's wisdom. Somehow, my drink by then has a very peculiar taste. Bitter. Ahhh...no wonder, it was made by my new maid. Black coffee. The last time I had black coffee was during my jihad in the far land, because everybody drinks black coffee over there. Sugar was a forbidden luxury in our laboratory.

"Nak muntah pun ada" She lamented again. The last time I heard she talked like that was during her first four month of pregnancy. That was three years ago. Her jasmine tea has now becoming very cold. For that split second, I had cold sweat running down my cheek.
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