31 December 2010

Are you man enough?

As the year draws it last curtain, I am feeling excited and contented at the same time. This however has nothing to do with the recent success of our courageous Harimau Malaya smack-downed the Garuda or the prospect of having another year with loads of meaningless meeting.

This is partly about my relentless urge. In January 2009, I had a resolution. For a man who used to play golf at least three times a week and almost alternate day spending time on the golf range, a two years hiatus was among my biggest achievement. Now I have to agree with some of my earlier critics, G.O.L.F -Golongan Orang Lupa Family. Not that I am discouraging this wonderful sport. Everything is good if done in moderation, golf included. But with many "kaki hantu" around you, it is not that difficult to be possessed.

As the clock is ticking and the new Christian calendar is approaching I am feeling a bit worried and my anxiety running high as well. This mixed feeling has something to do with the yearly mass pilgrimage of our younger generation to the many hot spots around our city in Bolehland for a celebration. Of course there is nothing wrong with congregating among friends and watching dazzling firecrackers on display, but usually some chemistry will spark and chain reaction will follow. If the randy pubescent hormone is not balanced properly we are going to witness another catastrophic consequences in the next eight or nine month later, in fact in the next thousand years. The result from the same phenomenon we had already experienced this year. Some even believe that this is a fertile breeding season for our own species. I really hope not.

This is just a reminder. A reminder is also a fardhu kifayah (unlike fardhu ain, fardhu kifayah is always misunderstood as fardu-tak-payah by many).

Anyway, with positive attitude I am really looking forward to the new exciting year. I hope this new year will bring many more happiness, self-improvement and success to us, the nasilemakeating nation.

Inflation, fuel price hike, no bonus, everything naik....who cares anyway. We the nasilemak nation are man enough to face all those small hurdles in life. We are the ONE maaaa...

p/s: ...too excited rambling about my re-solution and the breeding season I forgot to write something about the photo. Next time kot...

27 December 2010

A usual suspect with an unusual request

If a man wants to live an easy life, then it is sensible to steer clear of certain issues or particular behaviors. Getting involved and bogged down with many demanding 'cawangan' for example is obviously not a very stylish lifestyle these days. Your bill will be mostly spent on Paracetamol I suppose.

But the greatest taboo of all is having to fulfill a promise you do not wish to promise in the first place. It is a landmine only politicians having gut and talent to navigate through safely.

The question is. Is a man judged by his deed or by his words?

As I was having my leisurely cuppa one afternoon my luvly-jubly significant half secretly approached me from behind and whispered romantically to my ears. Was it a primal hint? It was still quite early I thought...or was it Friday already?

"Dua-dua anak kita dah tunaikan janji dia darling...bila nak tunaikan janji kita pula?"

I smiled and not to be accused of trying to give lame excuses, I tried to compose suitable options. Actually, I didn't remember giving any promise in the first place.

"Ada ke kita janji" - now it sounded a bit stupid. If anything a man always tend to forget, promises top the number one in their easy-to-forget list. So under no circumstances, I don't want to argue on this.

"ye le... Dulu masa bagi motivasi dan semangat yang berkobar-kobar sebelum exam, macam-macam janji..." my luvly-jubly significant half tried to invoke back my faded memory. The blissful marble cake almost choked me.

I am a scientist and not a politician ...and never want to be one.

"... Tengok lah. Insyaallah kalau gomen bagi bonus 12 bulan". As far as I could remember, that was the most creative answer I've ever come up with.

But no worry my dear sons... Deeds, not words shall speak to me.

21 December 2010

I found the cure for mouth ulcer

To be honest, during my entire adulthood budu has never become the main menu in my daily staple diet. That was until a few months ago, out of a sudden I found this ancient fish chowder started to get intimate with my tasteful palate for no obvious reason. I am getting hooked. That in a way is quite worrying because my food consumption almost double than normal which obviously shows around my belly.

My recent love affair with budu has nothing to do with global warming or endemic political turmoil that has no end. I am dedicating this special entry to this special product from the sea because recently I discovered after intensively consuming budu without fail for weeks, my mouth ulcer cured faster than ever. That was possibly a coincidence but it worth some further scientific exploration. If I could I would educate myself further in this unique kampung culinary and would love to delve deeper into the secret lives of this fermented anchovy to reveal the secret.

Coincidentally, Budu is high in protein and uric acid content so naturally it is not recommended for people with gout problem.

To the keropok lekor nation's perspective, this fermented fish broth is not just a condiment to amplify one's taste bud or a complimentary accessories to an elaborate traditional dishes to impress the moody mother-in-law. It is a civilization. Probably the evolution of mankind started with this simple dish but yet so satisfying. This blissful side dish is part of collective history that bring friends and families together.

Budu comes in many different visual and taste forms to suit one's creative mind. My father's favorite would be a combination of budu with tempoyak durian of which never had short of supply in my mother's kitchen. I am not a culinary expert or a food connoisseur but this budu has it owns kick. My personal ideal budu version would be more meaningful if enjoyed with ikang singgang (Ganu fish soup) or just deep simple friend fish. Blissful!

For some, budu is simply part of their life. For them having nasi without budu is just like having a blind date with a blind. It's another fine art to appreciate life.

09 December 2010

Pimp up your ride

With four superb superheroes actively seeking for adventures at home during their school holiday, I have to crack my brain and probably my wallet too in coming with some ingenious plans to satisfy their holiday craving. I know the idea of going for a picnic, having a BBQ that ended up with charred chicken or a family-friend get together having a cuppa and lamenting about the recent fuel hike won't appeal to them. The plan has to be sophisticated, exciting and bullet proof.

So I thought the Kuala Lumpur International Motorshow (KLIM 2010) might be the answer to their quest for an adventure and pacify their boredom. We went there last Tuesday and as expected there were loads of automobiles with advance technology and huge horsepower on display. In fact the display was quite diverse. I think the visitors were a bit distracted with unholy sighting of the other natural beauties and it seemed they were cemented to the automobiles as body kit or their optional accessories. The more that natural accessories attached to or hung around the automobiles the more visitors aka photographers attracted to the automobiles and appreciated the technological wonder - it was a huge magnet.

Frankly speaking, there was nothing much to be mesmerized with despite all the hype and huge display that occupied 4 halls in PWTC. There were few hybrid cars from our locals but they looked more like a half cooked steak - quite raw. International big boys hadn't much muscle to show off either. There were some exotic Italian power-trains exhibited but they were not new and already in the market for quite some time.

I expected to see at least some futuristic innovation in motoring industries such as a car that can also wash and dry clean my dirty curtain, or an MPV that allow me to chuck in all my scientific data into their OBC (on-board-computer) and fulfill my KPIs with some good scientific papers, or better still a supervan that can swallow all whistle-blowers and backstabbers in my office and make them disappear into oblivion.

The crowd was huge. At least I can easily say it was more than the crowd watching our boring Piala Merdeka tournament. Probably the prospect of winning one of the hybrid cars in lucky draw contests was one of the reasons for the big turn up. Most came with some sort of camera and some with a full fledged camera kits in a big bag that can bend you shoulder.

I think going to this event was not the kind of activity that suit for the whole family. With pole dancers showing off their impressive bumpers and skimpy dressed young lasses pimped up the cars, this automobile showcase should be labeled as 18sx! Our friends who have just come back from performing haj are strongly advised not to come either.

This is the closest photo that resembles a car I can safely and confidently share with you without being labeled as a pervert paparazzi. Most of the cars on display were either fit with an artificial body kit or equipped with supercharged engines.

This was actually the main reason why my family went to the show. A full-size Bumblebee that I thought could replace my foreign maid and do many daily chores at home. If you want to get a picture with this Autobot, you have to pay RM15. This cybertronian knows well how to live in our Bolehland. There is no free lunch and everything here doesn't comes that cheap anymore.

This Batmobile was another star attraction to the show. Luckily this Batmobile didn't has any body kit or supercharged engine attached to it, thus I can happily share with you the whole photo.

LED is another good invention by humankind. It safes a lot of energy and looks cool too. But an invention is meaningless if it cost a bomb.

This prototype looks more like an oven to me than a van. I thought it will fit and sit nicely on my kitchen cabinet. You can dump the whole lamb parts after the Qurban into this cute prototype and 20 minutes later you will get a nicely cooked lamb kuzi for the whole family. Cool isn't it?

This is ingenious. The only thing worth coming to this show was to see this very practical and clever invention. A green transportation. The body of this car (?) is actually made from jute - a natural strong fiber that is so strong it can harbored a big tanker to the shipyard. The practical part of it, if you live in a rural area and work in a paddy field, you can fill this car with rice and store it safely even during flood as it is so light it will float.

06 December 2010

Ilham tercalar

satu langkah menapak
lesu mudik hanyir kehidupan

remang hidup menggapai suram
berlegar ligat kehadapan tidak
menyonsang zaman menongkah arus
layu waktu
menyapa sekilas bayu
selerak keluh di dinding dahulu

pandang memandang mata tiada terpejam
mengintai di luar jendela
terang hati tersuluh nyata
melihat lukisan di dalam lukisan
biar rasa yang penuh
ada luka berlalu
menopang pilu dilontar waktu

dua langkah menapak
dunia bercabang tiada kesudahan

nota : dinukil kedua kali setelah kelam idea makan 8 course dinner di Crown Mutiara Plaza

01 December 2010

Virgin no more

While I am almost certainly sure by the end of this year our virgin forest which covers 21% (3.78 million hectares) of our Bolehland will still become a safe heaven to many jungle inhabitants, the same thing is less than convincing to a large patch of green area in the disputed but most sought after piece of estate in Sg. Buloh. The recent announcement by the higher authority as part of Greater Kay El plan has caused a considerably concern to me. (This however has nothing to do with the active jungle exploration by our younger 'peneroka' during the New year celebration on their virgin territories, which is also another serious issue at hand).

This expansion plan with its intention to give more breathing space to the urbanites (and to spearhead the local economy) will also translates into some possible environmental issues. As by 2015 which is 5 years from now, it is expected and quite inevitable that 3000 (three thousand) hectares of lush rubber planted area which is also a green lung - a natural engine that is obediently providing free oxygen and continuously absorbing harmful air pollutants will cease it operation and converted into tonnes of lifeless concrete jungle.

This is where the problem lies. When we chop down all the trees (rubber trees) which are also a water catchment area, a filtration system and an important buffer to the ecosystem, we are actually disrupting the natural equilibrium that all this while working very hard to maintain the balance harmony between humankind and nature. I am also almost certainly sure by the time our beloved Bolehland become a fully develop nation or if there is so little green zone left, this country at the end will be inhabited by no more than retarded hare-brains, exposed with so much air-borne pollutants further accelerated by devoid of precious oxygen. The human-wildlife conflict is also expected. Monkeys might someday become our next-door neighbors.

Doing a little bit of homework I found out that Bolehland is actually one bless nation with 62% of its land is still covered by forest, even greener than Brazil (61%), US (32) and UK (12) . Rubber plantation and rubber forest contribute significantly into the greening or our Bolehland and provide good quality air for us to breath in. Recent years we have seen a lot of natural catastrophes with direct or indirect consequences from our environmental degradation. Many more natural disaster are expected in the near future. Some even predicted the D-day. That's actually just nature's way of explaining why we should leave them alone and start to treat them with respect.

Recent months I have also seen and experienced how the rubber trees in my area started to become petulance and grumpy probably after hearing the exciting news. Mind you, plant is also a living thing and has it's own soul. A main road beside the rubber estate (that is my playing ground) leading to my office has started to turn into a small running stream even with a slight drizzle. On a dry day that stretch of road has load of dimples looking as if peppered by meteorites. This has caused a considerably traffic congestion during peak hours. It is quite fun if you are driving a 4WD or into a Camel trophy adventure sort of type, but my old and battered jalopy is not built for that. This is also becomes quite annoying as my punch-card if not monitored closely will be dented with an awful mixed of red and black colors.

Actually I have no problem at all with the ambitious plans to develop our Bolehland as this will surely help our nation to prosper. But it must be done with extra caution (pembangunan lestari). I am sure the authority has by now engaged the nerdy scientist to carry out Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) when they first came out with the idea and make sure my neighborhood won't be submerged under tones of flash mud-flood in the near future.

I believe a place without a tree is a place without a soul. As it is, rubber tree is also part of my soul.

Rubber is a monoculture plantation, plantation of a single - exotic species. Rain or shine, these beautiful trees will stand proudly and anticipate patiently to be exploited. When rubber trees bleed, the secreted latex becomes the lifeline to most of our aging smallholders , but when our rubber industries bleed and the elastic commodity stop to bounce up again, the whole nation will most likely start to weep.

The scars on the rubber tree tell a lot of stories. They bleed the white milky sap and quietly sob but willing to give away and ask for nothing in return - just like a candle. This sap from the humble rubber tree is the one that make sure the whole nation prosper and hedges our economy when the whole world collapse.

The conspicuous and distinctive pattern on each of the rubber seeds is a clonal variation. It is just like our fingerprint .

All three embryos inside each fruit have to be fertilized in order for the seeds to succeed and the fruit become viable. Otherwise the rubber tree will naturally abort the fruit. Nature's way of purifying their future progenies. Science is a divine way to understand God's creation.

Rubber inflorescence deserves more appreciation and seldom becomes the subject of much attention. Probably because they are being overshadowed by the foul latex smell in processing the factory or less glamorous profession of rubber tappers. The scent of these rubber flowers is distinctively pleasant and can rival any upmarket perfume on one hot sunny day, when they bloom beautifully twice a year.

Disclaimer: This is my personal thought based on my personal concern and it doesn't represents any individual or any organization especially the one that provides me with means to make sure my kitchen is continuously smoking.

27 November 2010

Not the usual suspect

At the time of writing, I have lost all the feeling. When I first received the unexpected but jubilant news from my significant half my feeling was beyond description. Time has eroded all my emotion. Almost. I was speechless as zillion of euphoric feeling flooding the inner me. That day I sat quietly at the dimly lit corner of the airport lounge and after so many years, I shed my triumphant tears again. The last time was 11 years ago, after the three mat saleh examiners of my PhD viva shook my hand and uttered that magic words... "Congratulation Dr Razak!"

Whether it was a sheer luck or his brain cell developed exponentially brilliant after consuming too much talk nineteen to the dozen by my significant half, my second progeny finally succeeded to line himself in his school hall of fame, following the footstep of his elderly brother three years ago. In the beginning, he was neither the bookworm stereotype nor the person who was willing to spend 5 minutes munching the numbers. Although in appearance I have to admit there is quite an evidence that he is trying very hard to look very smart. You've finally made it my son!

I have to thank my luvly jubly significant half for her countless sacrifices, sheer determination and until the final hour never loosing her hope. Where there is a will, there is a way. And of course The divine intervention more often than not, always work with the law of nature.

Alhamdulillah. Thank you love. Thank you boy. Both of you are really great. Extraordinaire!

Another important archive of time to mark his life achievement. More reason to celebrate as that was actually his double inaugural experience standing on the podium and having the chance for the glorious moment to be immortalized in this digital form for the whole universe to witness.

If minus too much indulgence getting drawn into the dark side of internet social network, or spending too much time chasing, whacking and kicking zombies on PSP, I am sure these innocent young faces will one day become an important asset to our country.

Congratulation my boy, I am proud of you!

10 November 2010

Life apoptosis

We are made to believe all this while that the whole Indonesian Archipelago is sitting precariously on a long stretch of unstable piece of tectonic plates deep in the ocean. This plates will occasionally shift and react erratically to the unpredictable mother earth mood sway in the same way the full blossom lady does when the moon completes it cycle. The slight change in the mood will cause some seismic activities which in most of the cases we the mortal define it as a natural catastrophe. When the mother earth become moody, everybody will get to feel the tantrum. But what really caused the mother-earth's mood sway? Nobody knows exactly.

Scientifically speaking, the mortals believed that the unlucky neighboring seismic region happen to be on the notorious Pacific ring of fire. That is the impetigo or 'kudis' region of our mother earth so to speak. With that in mind, we also believe that the jutting piece of our Bolehland is spared from that mood sway thus the the nasi-lemak eating nation can take a deep breath and still can enjoy our morning breakfast without the volcanic ashes to flavour our dishes. For how much longer? Again, nobody knows exactly. Life goes on and we hung our life onto assumptions.

Let's drift back and flash our memory back a year earlier. If you still remember, last year's Winter spell in the temperate region had caused a considerably mayhem and an almost freaking Ice age phenomenon was seen in several part of the populated world. London was submerged in thick snow and Londoner for the first time in 60 years was said managed to ice-skate at the Heathrow in order to embark the airplane. The same year, Bedouin in the desert of UAE enjoyed their rare chance to play with snow and desperately learning bob-sledging on the desert when snow fell and coated the desert white for the second time in the whole century. Nobody could have imagine snow would fall on the desert - just like some of our countrymen up north experiencing the big flood for the first time (in 40 years?) .

Absent-mindedly speaking this is good as looking at what is happening around the world nowadays and the way the climate mood sway unpredictably and erratically more often than ever, this has also raised the probability of our Bolehland one day and somehow will be covered with snow and the nasi lemak eating nation don't have to drive to Bkt Cherakah anymore and pay the entrance fee to get into the four seasons glass house just to enjoy the fake snow experience.

In fact when I learned and heard about all the chaotic weather rampaging the whole planet or Ice age made a come back or big wave of Tsunamis swallowed everything on its path and creating havoc leaving behind a trail of destruction or the most recent Merapi that started to vomit its fiery gut out onto the planet inhabitants not far from our Bolehland, I almost certainly believe that our mother earth is really in critical condition. Aging is catching up fast.

I believe all those 'unpredictables' happen partly because we don't treat and respect our mother earth accordingly. Surely our mother earth returns the favour in 'kind' thus we should now start to realize that nature doesn't always plays by the rule. Naturally speaking, nature's going into equilibrium.

Spiritually speaking...do we all see?

19 October 2010

The garden of love

Before I close the French chapter I think this particular place worth a special mention somewhere in this virtual realm of Blogosphere. For its sheer beauty and tranquility this God-gift is a natural pleasure of life I personally wanted to immortalize in a small corner of my memory. This place deserved an elaborate appraisal, but narration alone wouldn't do much justice if not accompanying by splendid illustrations.

Luxembourg garden. The garden of love.

To discover the soul of this Baroque-styled garden, it doesn't require much shoe sole. The obedient foot that I let to wander and explore almost every nooks and crannies of Paris iconic landmarks finally find its resting place to temporarily recharge. A home away from home. I then surrendered myself on an empty bench under the brightly colored Autumn shade and let the serene surrounding embraced me. To fully appreciate the place I closed my eyes and unclogged my heart. So different but yet at the same time so right. It was a full frontal assault of brilliant colors with intoxicating beauty that extend far beyond my coherent vision. Yet time and time again I have to remind myself that the journey had finally come into a conclusion.

Life is beautiful.

Then I realized that I was alone and my journey to that singular beauty and riveting moment would have been more meaningful if my love one was there.

This is however not a desperate attempt to resurrect the sweet memories that will gradually erode and dilute in time. This is not the kind of memories that will becloud my soul with sadness. This intoxicating memories, I am sure will occasionally reincarnate and come knocking on the door of my Utopian dream. Harder it may seem, this unspeakable colorful chapter of my life has come to an end (at least for the time being)...

16 October 2010

The French connection

The best way to explore any new places is by foot. You will see more and get to feel some sense of intimacy with the surrounding. The smell, the taste and the sight are all there for real. That is also, in my opinion the best way of becoming a traveler and not a tourist. That was what exactly I did in Paris. The only caution here is that you need a good pair of walking shoes and your sense of direction, if not GPS-perfect, well... at least the head is well tuned and not to forget also your common sense (for safety reasons).

In my entire life, I think I've never walked so extensively and enthusiastically as in Paris. I've walked and walked until I didn't realize that it was close to midnight and the temperature started to drop bitterly cold. But it did pay off in the end. Apart from my aching feet, I felt satisfied and almost get charmed by this city.

Another wonderful experience while in Paris was a chance to join free tours around the city and the unique thing about this tour was that you get the local - Parisians as your personal guide. You can find their information here, in their website. This slow paced tour was so enjoyable, informative and extraordinaire. I felt as if the guide was my own friend taking me for a joyride around their own backyard and many hidden jewels of Paris. I highly recommend this tour to everybody visiting Paris.

Not visiting Eiffel tower while in Paris is just like having a plate of roti canai without teh tarik. Incomplete. This iconic architecture is really a beauty. When I arrived at the foot of this gigantic structure, there were already a huge crowd and the queue for ticket to the top floor was already very long. Beware of the many 'mat hitam' from Africa that kept pestering visitors for their counterfeit wares. As stated by 3yearshousewife in the previous entry, one has to be very cautious as pickpocket was also notorious in this area. And the 'mat hitam' were quite photo unfriendly. I saw a tourist who unassumingly took a photo of one of those vermins, who was later asked to delete the photo from his camera by one of the mat hitam.

The magnificent view from the second floor of the Eiffel tower was breathtaking and worth the 40 minutes queue. If you look carefully to the horizon, there was hardly any skyscrapers in the city. The third floor (the top of the tower) was closed at the time of the visit.

I waited 4 hours to get this night shot of Eiffel tower. Taking a night shot without the camera best companion- a tripod (plus a cold drizzle and shivering hands), was quite a challenge. This was a view from Palais de Chaillot near Trocadéro .

Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre with its 21 meters high glass pyramid in the courtyard. You don't need the Da Vinci code to enter this building but a few euros will do. The security was quite an issue here and very obvious with the present of armed personnel in the vicinity.

La Colonne Vendôme at Place Vendôme to commemorate the battle of Austerlitz by Napoleon I. The column was made up of 1000 bronze cannon balls (the oxidation was quite clear), shot by the enemy in the battle.

Opposite La Colonne Vendôme and next to the Ministry of Justice is the famous Hôtel Ritz. With the price of a one night stay reaching to up 10,000 euros, this hotel is considered the most expensive hotel in Paris.

Not far from Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre is Opera Garnier (the right building). It is regarded as one of the architectural masterpieces of its time. I was told the front of building (the road) was originally a big swamp. There is an underground lake in the basement . Le Fantôme de l'Opéra probably lurking somewhere in the basement too .

On my way strolling leisurely on the Avenue des Champs Elysees toward Arc de Triomphe, I came across this interesting sight. People queued to enter one of the many high end boutiques as entry is only limited to a certain number at one time.

Engraved on the interior walls of the two lesser arches, on both sides of the main arch, are the 558 names of Napoleon's generals. The ones that are underlined are those who died in battle. There is an admission fee if you want to get to the top of Arc de Triomphe - for another cool view of Paris.

If you feet is getting tired and started to become wibbly wobbly, then a day pass ticket by Paris Metro and RER is another good alternative to explore Paris. With only 8.70 euros, you can hop on and hop off at any place of your interest, for the entire day.

If you like cycling, then the velo or city bike is a good way to get around Paris. You can find this bike stationed on many streets ready for rent.

...or this freaking colorful taxi...you will get romantic musics on board for free...

This college near La Sorbonne (formerly know as Université de Paris) offers free education. You can register here for free provided your permanent address is in that area and you are taking courses that is not offered in any other universities. I am still wondering what courses are that?

My first 2 hours free-walking tour was with Augustine (pink vest). He covered the left bank area. He didn't give us a history lesson, but introduced us to their home city of Paris. This really made my trip to this place so much interesting because of his knowledge and insider's tips. The walks were informative, relaxed, full of humour. Highly commendable.

Regardless of the weather, the free-walking tour local guide will be there for you. That was what happened on this second tour with the charming Pauline (red vest sitting in the middle) on the right bank for a 'landmarks tour'. Even though it was drizzling intermittently that afternoon, I found her waiting on the stair of Opera Garnier patiently for us. I am not sure what got into us with those interesting pose to end the tour, but the acid rain probably has some effect on those peculiar behavior. Great tour. Merci for both of you, Augustine and Pauline.

14 October 2010

le tour de France

When I flew back almost 20,000 km flight distance from Rio de Janeiro to our Bolehland, out of my curiosity and sheer luck, I purposely broke the journey and stopped over in Paris for 4 days just to taste the original french fries (please do not confuse french fry with french fly). And you know what? They didn't taste any much better than the one we bought from any junk food outlets in our Bolehland. To simply describe it in a single word - edible.

Well actually I have to confess. That was not the original reason and intention why I set my foot on the land of prolific poets, writers, impressionist and... gargoyles. It was actually the quarantine protocol I have to adhere to because it seemed while visiting Brazil I was assumed to get contaminated with a deadly plant pathogen known as Microcyclus ulei. This endemic pathogen, ipso facto if brought over to our Bolehland can wipe out the entire rubber industry and put our rubber tappers in a dire plight for survival. Seriously, I am not joking this time.

And so...by exposing myself to the French temperate weather for a minimum period of three days, this tropical pathogen will either become sterilized or pulverized into thin air or get demoralized by knowing that there is no rubber tree in France to stick their hyphae to.

Unlike Rio de Janeiro, I found Paris and and its inhabitant the Parisians were quite welcoming, romantic and stylish. Even though I don't speak or read French it was quite easy to move around and find my ways around the city without feeling intimidated. I managed to get myself flawlessly blended in with the hustle and bustle of this lovely city.

As that was, as the matter of fact, my first visit to this wonderful city, I planned in advance my syok-sendiri Paris excursion to cover at least the iconic landmarks of Paris and see for myself if the reality matches the stereotype. Apparently I could not cover it all. It turned out three days and four nights simply were not enough to tame this majestic and lively city of Paris.

Paris managed to impress me with it's aesthetic architectural masterpieces, rich cultural diversity and ideas, well preserved beautiful heritage and well illustrated history. I simply love Paris and all its grandeur. I am sure I will be back for more.

Paris welcomed me with a cloudy sky. As it was too early to check in the hotel, I walked slowly toward Île de la Cité , crossed the Seine river from the left bank and waited for the cloud to drift away watching the world go by before proceeding to the Notre Dame.

Once the cloud broke away Notre Dame revealed its architectural glory under the sparkling sunshine. For a moment, I thought I saw beautiful Esmeralda peeking through one of the windows. Entrance to this Gothic cathedral is free, but to climb the top part of the building for a close encounter with the Gargoyles (and a magnificent view of Paris) is not free. I didn't see Quasimodo either.

Situated on Île de la Cité, Hôtel-Dieu de Paris is the first and oldest hospital in Paris. Notre Dame is just a few steps away from this hotel and the only hotel you can find in that small islet ( Île de la Cité) on the Seine River. At first I thought the name itself was quite misleading, but later i was told it is actually a hotel. Suddenly I have goosebumps all over my body. Yes it was getting chiller by then.

Cruising on a boat along the Seine River was very tempting. But I will reserve this particular romantic endeavor with my significant half in the near future. It is a promise.

On both side of The Seine River, rows of antique and collectible shops like this one were a pleasant pit stop whenever my feet become tired of a very long stroll. Interesting Books, magazines, posters and other rare memorabilia of the yesteryear were on sale. I thought the price was quite reasonable too.

Shakespeare and Co. is a bookstore that sell, obviously, books (current and classic) and antique prints. It is situated on the left bank on the Latin Quarter just across the road from the Notre Dame. Very interesting to note that you can actually stay in the premise for free if you are willing to help with the up-keeping of the store AND read one book every day. Another interesting thing about this bookstore is that they will publish any publication that is banned in its original country.

If my memory served me right, there are approximately 200 drinkable fountains in Paris similar to the one in front of Shakespeare and Co bookstore (the green vertical pole). Just fill in an empty bottle and you will never feel thirsty while in Peighes...

This particular tree is however not considered as one of the icons of Paris but i found it very interesting as that tree has stood there for more than 1000 years. I suspected Les Trois Mousquetaires must have passed this tree when chased by the Cardinal guards.

On my way to search for halal restaurante to stuff my grumbling tummy, I passed through this place again and managed to snap a night photo of Notre Dame. The moon was already high and the feet was already aching from extensive walking by this time.

Avoiding deserted alleys or quite dark places, I felt save strolling along the Seine river at night. Police is everywhere. Errr...if you ask me what building is that, coupled with the urge to find the nearest toilet and an empty stomach, i was quite in a dire state to notice anything interesting that moment. Sorry I have no idea. Even my HTC Android Google Goggles didn't offer me much help that night :)

Voila! Finally a savior to end my quest for halal food in Paris. The only small restaurant that displayed the halal logo that boosted my courage to go in and satisfied my hungry palate. This particular shops is a block away from the main street off the Seine River on the left bank (Latin Quarter), along the busy small lane occupied by other lively eateries.

For 9 Euro, this brochette de poulet become my dinner menu for the duration of my stay in Paris. Was it because I was in Paris or the after effect of longing and craving for a plate of nasi lemak while in Rio de Janeiro?....this dish never taste soooo good.

I saw this sign in one of the small alleys. Anybody can share their wisdom with the translation please?

more stories to come...
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