Friday, May 26, 2006

Got a taste of CARS, and love it!

I just got back from the movies.

Yeah, again. I do that quite often. Going to the movies, I mean. Loved it since I was a kid and love it still now with the kids. (And why not, Mave? LOL!)

OVER THE HEDGE was not such a good outing for me. Okay, the kids had a good laugh - they'd laugh at anything that reminds them of those Cartoon Network and Disney Channel stuff they get over ASTRO. And there's so much of those not so brainy jokes in this Dreamworks animated outing. And it's also cheesy, chummy and I'd just say it, those guys overdosed on the sacharrin sweet stuff.

I guess too much "aww ... that's so sweet" moments sours the plot for me.

Never mind. This is one of those hit and miss thing and I got hit with a miss. BUT, the kids had a good time with the popcorns and hotdogs and I'm not about to complain. Thankfully, it's mercifully short. I think it was over in a few seconds past the hour.

What I really want to talk about, or rather get excited about is the trailer of the PIXAR animated movie CARS which was shown before the start of OTH.

Now, THIS ONE is a real genuine teaser!

For those few short teasing minutes, I was dazzled by the amazingly spectacular work of animation by the PIXAR guys.

Now, these guys, who gave us The Incredibles which I so thoroughly enjoyed, has done it again.

Their technique is simply amazing. I would say ground-breaking. You have got to see it to believe it. And I'm SURE AS SURE won't miss this when it comes out next month.

In fact, I almost never miss a PIXAR movie. They are the industry's leader in animation, as far as I am concerned. Always original, they somehow make Disney movies seem so run-of-the-mill.

So, I've got one more movie to look forward to. After the disappointing DVC (I confess I am so into the book that it somehow spoilt the movie for me) I am just waiting for the next one that is going to excite me as much as the Lord of The Rings trilogy did.

So far, it has not happened yet. I wonder if Peter Jackson would ever make The Dragonlance Tales trilogy.

Now, THAT would be a real blast if they could get it right on the big screen. It has all the ingredients of a huge blockbuster. If you have read the book, you'd know what I mean.

Ah well. I'll just dream on.

Good night and a good weekend to all of you!


A letter to Nick

Dear Nick,

I do not know how to respond to your distress in the way that you might want and expect of me.

I know that you want to hear certain words of comfort but I feel that somehow, no matter how much I care about you, which you know I do, it would not be right for me to pass judgment on the situation that you are in now.

You are probably at that age where your youthful stubbornness contributed to your refusal to compromise for the sake of love and compassion. And I don't exactly blame you. Haven't we all been through that in one way or another? Yes, sometimes people do forget what it was like to be young and irresponsibly carefree.

Anyway, have you heard of the song by Mike and the Mechanics called "The Living Years"? It was on the radio airwaves sometime back (not too long ago I think) and anyway, you can search for it on the Net. I would like you to hear it. Just hear it because I think it has a special message for you in it.

I'm putting up the lyrics for you here as well. Keep well - and we shall talk again sometime soon.

Your loving aunt.


Every generation
Blames the one before
And all of their frustrations
Come beating on your door

I know that I'm a prisoner
To all my father held so dear
I know that I'm a hostage
To all his hopes and fears
I just wish I could have told him
In the living years

Crumpled bits of paper
Filled with imperfect thought
Stilted conversations
I'm afraid that's all we've got

You say you just don't see it
He says it's perfect sense
You just can't get agreement
In this present tense
We all talk a different language
Talking in defence

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late when we die
To admit we don't see eye to eye

So we open up a quarrel
Between the present and the past
We only sacrifice the future
It's the bitterness that lasts

So don't yield to the fortunes
You sometimes see as fate
It may have a new perspective
On a different day
And if you don't give up,
And don't give in
You may just be OK

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late when we die
To admit we don't see eye to eye

I wasn't there that morning
When my father passed away
I didn't get to tell him
All the things I had to say.
I think I caught his spirit
Later that same year
I'm sure I heard his echo
In my baby's new born tears
I just wish I could have told him
In the living years

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late when we die
To admit we don't see eye to eye


Man's Measurement

A man's no bigger than the way
He treats his fellow man!

This standard has his measure been
Since time itself began!

He's measured not by titles or creed
High-sounding though they be;
Nor by the gold that's put aside;
Nor by his sanctity!

He's measured not by social rank,
When character's the test;
Nor by his earthly pomp or show,
Displaying wealth possessed!

He's measured by his justice right,
His fairness at his play.

His squareness in all his dealings made,
His honest, upright way.

These are his measures, ever near
To serve him when they can;

For man's no bigger than the way
He treats his fellow man.

- Anon


Thursday, May 25, 2006

American Idol 2006 Results

Taylor Hicks is the new American Idol!!


The finale show was a blast, especially watching it live on ASTRO Star World Channel.

The one strange blip is when the screen turned blank for about 3 minutes when Ryan Seacrest introduced movie clippings from Brokeback Mountain.

For a horrible moment, I thought my TV conked out!

I don't want to speculate on why it happened. I'm just glad the show continued and we get a 30 second treat of three cowboys belting out whatever's left of the song on stage (presumably from the offensive movie??)

Anyway ...

HE won! And I'm uh ... so happy for him.

When he took over the stage to sing his new debut single "Do I Make You Proud" once again, I had goosebumps.

My eyes start to water.

Yeah, sentimental and emotional me. I share his joy and I cried.

Couldn't help myself there.

Oh man. What a great show and what a great ending.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Boh Sg. Palas Tea Plantation

This is the last of the series I am posting on my recent trip to Cameron Highlands. I thought I might as well get it all out at once, hence all these pictures that I want to share with you in one go.

I really like the tea plantations which should be obvious to you by now! You might think that one tea plantation could not be any different from another in Cameron Highlands.

Well, I think each is unique in their own way. Take the terrain that dotted the Boh Sg. Palas Tea Plantation. It certainly looks different from the view seen at the Bharat Valley Plantation.

No less charming, the undulating hills and valleys were dotted with tea bushes, in some parts rather flat and in others the slopes looked frighteningly steep.

The very narrow road leading to the viewing point was chocked with traffic on the May day I was there. Which is most unfortunate because it also happened to be a Saturday following the Wesak Day public holiday and the whole highland was crawling with busloads of tourists.

Seeing that it was a deadlock after idling for 20 minutes, we were lucky to be able to reverse our vehicle and turn back down the road. Still, I got to take some lovely pictures of the rolling hills and valleys and it is still an amazing sight. The weather was perfect, the skies were blue and the scenery was stunning.

One Mat Salleh visitor clearly enjoyed it as much as I did.

I really had fun doing these stuff and am actually quite pleased with the way some of the pictures turned out. Posting it here is like writing a diary of sorts for me.

I shall be taking another break soon. Like HJ, I'm feeling like I'm heading no where with this blog. What next? I'm running out of ideas. Anyone wants to give me some feedback?


Boh Tea Shop & Factory

Apart from the Boh Sg. Palas Tea Plantation situated in Brinchang, there is another Boh Plantation where the teashop and factory is located further downhill near Ringlet in Cameron Highlands.

While having tea there that afternoon, I saw two lorries laden with dried tea leaves heading past the teashop towards the back where I suppose the factory is located. And a little down the hill in front, I also saw some workers loading up sacks of freshly picked tea-leaves onto a lorry parked by the roadside.


Vegetable farms in Cameron Highlands

Cameron Highlands is synonymous with tea plantations, vegetables, flowers, strawberries and of course, tourism.

The tea plantations, begun in the 1920s, are on the steeper slopes and are a mainstay of the Malaysian tea industry.

Vegetable farming is carried out by ethnic Chinese farmers mainly in the valleys nearer to the main road leading to the highlands. Per year, intensive farming yields three to four crops, which are exported to Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, and Singapore. Some slash-and-burn cultivation is also carried out by the Orang Asli, the indigenous minority peoples of peninsular Malaysia.

There are many vegetable farms located throughout Cameron Highlands. The most interesting ones to view can be found along the Boh Tea Estate road at Habu and in the area surrounding the Equatorial Hotel after Brinchang.

With its cooler temperatures (18°–22°C) and a reduced seasonal effect from the monsoons, Cameron Highlands was used as a "change-of-air" station for British officers during the colonial period. Later, it developed into a significant tourism center, with economic activities centered around three townships: Ringlet, Tanah Rata, and Brinchang.

I am posting some pictures taken earlier this month for those who may be curious to see the terraced slopes where farmers grow their vegetables here. Watercress or "sai yong choi", one of my favourite vegetable, are grown in the ponds of green you see at the bottom right hand corner.


Cute but oh so prickly

I am not exactly a cactus fan, but Alice is.

She insisted that I take pictures of those myriad pots of cactuses while we were at The Cactus Point in Cameron Highlands recently since I refused to buy them all for her. I did however compromised and allowed her to choose non-spiky ones in the bargain corner where you get six mini-pots for RM10. That way, she get to leave the place happy and I don't have to worry she got poked by the needles in the car.

I do find them quite lovely especially those that have colourful blooms sitting pretty like a little cap on top of the cacti. I'm just not very comfortable with the sharp needles, maybe because I was painfully poked by one such plant in my younger days.

But here they are. I hope readers who love them will enjoy these pictures!


Monday, May 22, 2006

Peace be with you, even if you disagree

"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish that they are after!"

- Henry David Thoreau

We cannot expect to find peace and harmony in our lives if we are only looking for people who agree with us.

The world consists of all types of individuals, each with their own perspective, each with their own individual opinions.

If we find happiness only when someone agrees with us, our moments of peace and joy will be very rare indeed.

We must learn to accept disagreement. We must learn to respect other points of view, other perspectives. We can find mutual harmony and peace if we can learn to agree to disagree.

As we begin to learn this on a personal individual level, agreeing to disagree without a fight, without an argument, we can then begin to pass this lesson along to our friends and our neighbours, our family and our co-workers.

As we begin to accomplish this on a daily, individual basis, then we are contributing towards peace for all humanity.

(from TIME FOR JOY, Daily Affirmations by Ruth Fishel)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Bagfuls of freshly picked tea

I believe the building at the top of the little hill is where they processed tea leaves at the Bharat Cameron Plantations. From a distance, I can see white smoke billowing up from the chimney. Clearly, some activity is going on there, although I could hardly see any workers outside the building. And since it was late afternoon, there was also no sign of anyone picking tea-leaves or for that matter, any single soul out there in the fields.

I took a walk down the winding road leading towards the direction of the above-mentioned building. I wanted to feel what it's like walking among the rolling bushes of tea, to feel the glossy leaves and to smell the fragrance up close.

Strangely, the heady fragrance of tea leaves that greeted me uphill where the Tea Shop is located is not so obvious down in the valley itself. Could it be that my senses have already been dulled by the onslaught which overwhelmed me in the first instance?

Nevertheless, it is wonderful to walk along the gravel path and admire the neat rows upon rows of tea bushes, its dark precious leaves gleaming in the afternoon sun amidst lighter shades of young shoots pushing up from the dark green mass.

As I came towards the bottom of the pathway, there lying beside the road are bagfuls of freshly picked leaves waiting to be taken away for processing. The white gunny sacks are tightly packed and tied up, in all probability the fruits of the day's labour.

No one seems to be around. At a distance away stood the building, smoke still billowing out from its chimney. A deserted lorry was parked nearby. It was amazingly quiet, and standing there surrounded by all those tea bushes evoked a very surreal feeling - almost zen like. All I felt was peace, and wonder at the beauty of nature blessed by God's loving touch.


14 years to deter snatch thieves

I don't know if threatening to put snatch thieves behind bars for 14 years will actually deter these scums from prowling our streets. If I am not mistaken, the death sentence imposed on kidnappers and gunrunners has not deterred some from carrying on such despicable acts.

Anyway, today's news in the NST carried the following message:-

Stiffer Sentences
V. Anbalagan

KUALA LUMPUR: Under a significant tightening of the criminal laws, snatch thieves could face 14 years in jail, and husbands could spend five years behind bars for even threatening to hurt their wives in order to have sex with them.

These are among amendments to the Penal Code proposed by a parliamentary select committee. These changes and other amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code are scheduled to be debated during the next sitting of the Dewan Rakyat next month.

The move by the committee to push for stiffer sentences for snatch theft will be welcomed by many Malaysians alarmed by the sharp increase in this crime in recent years.

In 2004, there were 11,536 snatch thefts. Latest figures show that in the first eight months of 2005, there were 8,000 cases. From feedback received during their meet-the-people sessions, the select committee concluded that the public felt that snatch thieves were getting away lightly. “The committee believes that this is a very serious offence and is in full sympathy with victims and their family members. As such, we propose that snatch thefts be classified as robbery and not theft,” it said in a report to Parliament.

The committee believes that the maximum 14 years in jail would be an effective deterrent. Currently, snatch thieves face up to seven years in prison.



Although I welcome whatever positive moves on this subject matter which is close to my heart, I still believe prevention is always better than the cure. It may be better for all concerned if our police officers could step up enforcement in this area of concern.

For a start, let's see the return of our friendly neighbourhood mata-mata who used to offer their comforting presence and were very much a part of the local community. Back then, our parents regarded these officers in rather high esteem instead of the ridicule they are facing from the public these days.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Stopover in Bidor, Perak

Bidor is a small town in Perak, situated off the North-South highway that most travellers heading north stop by before journeying onwards towards Teluk Intan, Ipoh or Penang.

Perak at one time was the world's largest producer of tin ore but these days, tin mining has ceased to be a major industrial activity. Instead, Perak is now well known for its produce - groundnuts, the famous Tambun pomeloes, taugeh (beansprouts) and guava fruits, which is commercially cultivated mostly on former mining land in Bidor.

Bidor is located about 45 minutes away from Ipoh and is famous for its Bidor chicken biscuits and herbal duck noodles served in the Pun Chun Restaurant located along the main road. You certainly will not miss this place which is jam-packed with diners on most weekends and public holidays.

What fascinates me most about this town is how quaint and slow-paced it remains despite the hordes of tourists who descend upon this town to savour the famous noodles and buying bagfuls of its equally famous Pun Chun Restaurant chicken biscuits and local fruits like seedless guava, jambu air, soursop, dragonfruit to take back home. You can even get unusual stuff like lotus-seed pods and seasonal petai sold along the five-foot way here.

And I love the way time seems to have stood still in Bidor compared to major cities like KL. The sundry shops remind me so much of how it used to be when as a child, I would spend many delightful afternoons in shops like these, choosing my favourite biscuits and sweets from the small allowance given to me by my grandma whenever I visited her in Malacca. Even the bicycle leaning against the wall seemed oh so familiar. I felt transported back in time, so long ago, the childlike feeling returning unconsciously at the sight of the ubiquitous biscuits displayed tantalisingly in glass containers along the narrow kaki-lima.

I was glad I stopped by Bidor town. It has a charm of its own and even the magazine vendor by the roadside felt like an old friend. And I did not leave Bidor until I had filled my tummy with the must-have meal - yes, the duck drumstick in herbal soup accompanied by a plateful of springy noodles and fresh prawn wanton, all washed down with cups of Chinese tea. And this time, I remembered to take a picture of it before I dig in. So, here is what I had that day. It was satisfying, to say the least!


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Volume of (mob) garbage terrifying

This is the headline screaming from The Star, 17 May 2006 (N10, Nation):

Volume of garbage terrifying

KUALA LUMPUR: Scary. That is how Natural Resources and Environment Ministry secretary-general Datuk Suboh Mohd Yassin described the volume of garbage generated every day in the country.

If it continues, the public may have to pay for the rubbish they make, he said.


It was recently reported that the some 7 million tonnes of waste generated last year would fill a building the size of the Petronas Twin Towers.

"The impact on the environment is very scare," Suboh said.


Rubbish, refuse and the Petronas Twin Towers. Hmm ... interesting link.

We have also been innundated with tonnes of rubbish generated by local politicians lately.

Does it send shivers down your spine too?

Heck, even though we might not find ourselves buried in the tonnes of refuse generated by Malaysian households anytime soon, the real danger lies in the kind of rubbish we have been fed by the media and certain befuddled leaders in and out of the Dewan recently.

And if you think we are also not in any danger of being drowned by the kind of politics being practised and encouraged under the current administration, think again. Those are typically the kind that can insidiously creep up on you and bury you alive without so much as a "by your leave".

You might just wake up one fine day and wonder exactly how, when and where we lost the plot between the euphoria of GE2004 and the next one.


Bharat Tea Valley in Cameron Highlands

From inside the car, I was mesmerized by the beauty of the rolling hills and valleys dotted with rows upon rows of tea bushes. Coming downhill from Brinchang towards the Cameron Bharat Plantations, I caught sight of the awesome landscape.

And the weather that morning was perfect! Blue skies and white puffy clouds welcomed me to the lush mountaineous expanse of various hues of green. Every now and then, I am greeted with splashes of colour in the form of blooming flowers by the roadside, some of them part of the planned landscape while others clearly grew wild and free.

I stare and stare at the wonder of God's creation.

As I stepped out of the car upon reaching the Cameron Valley Tea Shop, I am greeted with the refreshing burst of fragrance carried from the tea bushes in the valley below by a gentle breeze. I find it very uplifting and stood a moment, inhaling deeply and allowing the soothing scene to fill my senses and clear away the cobwebs in my mind.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Hindu celebration in Cameron Highlands

The drive along the North-South highway was very pleasant, with a short stop at the Tapah North R&R and Bidor before heading to Cameron Highlands via the Pos Slim route.

The weather on the way up was dull and cloudy. The highlands has seen constant rainy weather in recent months which must have been rather depressing for the farmers. And there were signs of landslides along the route and work being done to address the problem and make the journey safer for travellers.

I finally arrived in Cameron Highlands to overcast skies and rain which added a certain gloominess to the atmosphere. Since I only intended to stay one night, I resigned myself to the possibility of missing out on some of places I intend to visit if the rain persists 'til the next day.

After checking in the bags and driving around for a while, I chanced upon an organic vege steamboat restaurant situated in one of the shops facing the Rosa Pasadena Hotel. At RM18.00 per person, it was certainly good value with a very generous supply of 5 different types of organic greens plus fresh large prawns, sliced chicken meat, bouncy fishballs, tofu triangles, fried beancurds, meatballs, crabsticks, seaweed, thick slices of fresh fishmeat, sotong rolls, rice noodles and an egg per person. It was all cooked at the table in an old-fashioned charcoal steamboat pot.

It was a wonderful way to unwind and enjoy the night after hours of driving. And because it is a very communal way of dining, you really get to appreciate sharing sumptious food and good company in an unhurried way. Unfortunately for you guys, I forgot to take out my digital camera to take a snapshot of the table laden with the delicacies so that you can drool over it here. Guess I was too busy soaking up the atmosphere, glad to be rid of my recent depressing blogposts while on my mini break ... hehe!

There's not much to do after dinner, since it was still raining lightly. Surprisingly, it was not at all cold outdoors in the highlands that night, about 18-20 deg.C and without even a hint of a breeze. But still, the town is jam-packed with tourists taking advantage of the 3-day weekend break. We were actually lucky to decide on an early dinner because not long after we were seated in the restaurant, all the tables were soon filled and many diners had to be turned away. And later, when we took a leisurely drive around Tanah Rata, we saw that most of the restaurants were doing roaring business.

I will blog more about other stuff concerning this trip later, but for now I want to talk about an interesting sight which greeted me the following morning.

I was surprised to see that there is a celebration of sorts among the Hindu community in Cameron Highlands that Saturday, 14 May 2006, the day after Buddhists celebrated Wesak Day on the 13th. If I am not mistaken, it must be the same "mini Taipusam" celebrated by Penangites as reported in the New Straits Times.

All along the road from Tanah Rata to Brinchang, Hindu families came out dressed in their colourful best and some of them were walking towards their destination without any shoes on. Even the ladies in their fine saris were walking barefoot on the tarmac. I supposed they were walking from one temple to another.

And I guessed it was a religious celebration because some of the men carried kavadi and the whole atmosphere was really joyous with happy smiling faces and accompanying music from the drum beaters. Although it created a traffic jam because most cars and tour buses slowed down to have a look and also at the same time, to be mindful of the many people and kids walking along the narrow roads, nobody really minded. And the best part is that some local policemen were around to lend a helping hand so that the devotees can proceed with their celebrations without too much difficulty in the congested roads.

All in, the sight of the Hindu devotees going about their religious rituals peacefully and joyfully amidst their fellow Malaysians warms my heart no end. It reminds me once again of how delightful this country truly is by virtue of its multi-racial citizens and I hope and pray that I will continue to find much to love about this country and its people despite many other things which tears me up inside.


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