Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Touristy KL

Kuala Lumpur may or maybe not be nicely touristy depending on the kind of tourist we're talking about. Let's talk about me - I find it so non-tour-worthy that it actually takes a couple of lost boys from Europe to get me to get to know KL as a tourist. As a tourist, yes. An always getting lost one. My lack of knowledge of the capital city of my country, and almost non-existent sense of direction are simply amazing. I nearly made a few pairs of eyes pop right out of their sockets when I said I don't know where Jalan Alor is, nor how to get there. However, having a for-tourists guidebook on places of interes in KL, the willingness to ask for assistance and a good sense of humour all-throughout, we managed to get to a few places and see a few things.

It would be absolutely unforgivable if I gave the Petronas Twin Towers a miss. I didn't know why I should be so obsessed with taking pictures of these towers, but I was a tourist, so I should. Ah, magnificent, aren't they? So were the sun's rays - superbly scorching.

What's a visit to the famed Twin Towers without getting into (one of) them and getting onto the Skybridge? It is an experience money cannot buy - yes, you can't buy tickets; they're given out free of charge - we just had to brave a terrifying number of eager tourists in a 2.5-hr queue to get ours.

We didn't get to cross over to the other tower - that end of the bridge was closed. So we walked about, looked about, took a few photos, and discussed if it was worth our time spent in the queue.

The Skybridge experience was worth the waiting in the queue - I wouldn't deny that. It was definitely once in a lifetime. As in, once per lifetime is enough. Perhaps it's got something to do with my dislike for crowds and fear of heights. I was light-headed and wobbly up there - either I could actually sense the towers swaying (how absurd) or I was trembling the whole time. I did get to see a part of KL from an angle I'd never before:

What else now? We went to Central Market:

We went to Petaling Street:

We went to The Actors Studio @ Lot 10:

Wait, you say, this is not a standard tourist site! No, it isn't of course, that's why you'd only get to know about and visit it when you have a non-standard, non-pro tour guide. We had drinks at the Lot 10 rooftop restaurant/club, then caught a show: FUSED - Strumming to a Different Tune, by Ian Chow and his guests. The photo I took shows no faces; you can view a photo with faces in it if you click on the links here. The lost boys from Europe, who were probably not really as lost as I was, enjoyed the performances. They only wished it wasn't so terribly cold inside the theatre.

But, I asked, isn't it colder back home? They mentioned it was -5 degrees C when they left.

"We have a lot more clothing on back home."

Right. =P

My friends and I enjoyed KL, mostly. I guess it is a pretty nice city, if you choose not to look too closely at its not-so-nice aspects. Take for instance this young lady at the road-side restaurant we stopped by for dinner on the first day - she graciously lent me her own mobile phone to make a call because my phone's battery ran out. I don't know where to start if I were to tell just how important that call was. The girl's kindness was simply awesome - someting I totally did not expect to get from the streets of KL. I didn't get her name, but this is where she works:

The food they served were good and reasonably priced, too.

On one of the days, we went out of KL - all the way to Kuala Selangor, to take the boatride to see fireflies:

And we did see lots of them:

Well, flash photography was strictly not allowed (anyway, if you think about it, you won't see anything in the photos if you took them with flash).

We indeed had a lovely few days in and around KL. I know I had a great time - great company accounted for most of that, of course. Do come again! The next time, we'll go to... erm, Melaka?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Little Angel

Sweet, lovely, and precious! Nice to meet you :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Flame Went Out

There it flickered, in the midst of glistening melted wax. It had been burning bright and steadily most of the early morn, and the once-brimming little aluminium cup was a little more than three-quarters filled. As I watched it burn, it occurred to me if I just added into the warm liquid chunks of unused wax broken off another half-burnt candle, I could prolong its lifetime. I got hold of the pieces and carefully dropped them in, one after another. I watched as the level rose. At the precise moment the cup was full, the beautiful flame went out. It was snuffed out, ironically, by the its life-sustaining wax having, perhaps, risen too suddenly, too drastically. I took a closer look - the top end of the wick was bent and submerged. It was no wonder the flame could not be. I reached for a paper clip, straightened a section of it, and using it thus, attempted to draw the immersed wick out of its watery nook. At first, I managed - the blackened end of the little cotton string rose erect above the still-liquid wax. The moment I removed the metal clip from supporting it, though, it bent right back into its flame-drowning position. Must I then, maintain my hold on the fickle wick and be still till the wax is cool and hardened? Regardless, I needed to try again. I prodded hastily at the increasingly thickening bluish fluid to recover the evasive strand. Alas, it slid off my improvised tool and sank out of sight. In vain, I dug and scooped - it was lost to me.

First, the flame went out; then, the wick was lost.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Dove

I had a dove, and the sweet dove died;
And I have thought it died of grieving;
O, what could it grieve for? its feet were tied
With a silken thread of my own hand's weaving;

Sweet little red feet, why should you die?
Why should you leave me, sweet bird, why?
You lived alone in the forest tree,
Why pretty thing! would you not live with me?
I kissed you oft and gave you white peas;
Why not live sweetly, as in the green trees?

-John Keats (1795 - 1821)

Train of Thoughts

So we crossed paths today. We may cross paths again on the morrow, the following week, or in the distant future; or perhaps, never again. We may, one near or far day, be on the friendliest terms, or the closest of friends. Right now, though, we're just new acquaintances at the same table for lunch, and it would suit me just as well if we all simply ate in silence. I see that you, like any well-brought-up people, consider it appropriate and well-mannered to be amiable and social, so you feel compelled to say something to me. Did you just ask something of me? Oh, you asked me something...

Yes - I am from this faculty. Are we going in that direction? You have not yet told me your name, nor have you asked for mine. I don't mean to slight your kind effort to get to know me, but I am busy now - see my downcast eyes and fierce look of concentration as I struggle with this tiny piece of dry, tough chicken. Ah, I see you are now talking to each other and you're doing real fine. Go on. What is this? You're bent on asking and answering questions of such personal nature? Well, I suppose it's fine that I now know where you're from, where you currently live, where you did your undergraduate and graduate studies, how many years you were in which country, what you worked on, what you want to work on, and your marital status. Please don't, just don't say anything about trying for babies - I really don't need to know that at all - oh, you're not saying it... what a relief!

What about me? Sorry, I wasn't paying total attention to the on-going conversation. Has the focus now shifted to me? Wait, let me first swallow this mouthful I'm chewing - there. So, now you want to know where I live? Gosh, do we have to go that way again, with me? Think! Right - that's right, from where I live, the traffic doesn't usually get very much congested on the way to and back from work. How about for you, my new friends? How about we discuss rush hours traffic conditions for a bit? From there we can move on to Malaysian road conditions, the horrible, grossly unjust things that tolls are, and even the weather, if it pleases you... and let us just finish our lunch in this light-hearted, pleasant manner.

What's that talk about home, parents and family I hear? Are we moving in that direction again? How many times can one change the topic of interest without appearing odd? Will this obstinate piece of chicken give way to my fork and spoon already? Hurry, finish the last morsel! There! Take polite leave of everyone, wipe that absurd glee off your face and don't appear so desperate to escape... now, walk away at a reasonably normal pace, don't run!

It's not that I object to a heart-to-heart, tell-all-out conversation - just not... right now. I have behaved very badly. I apologise.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Wrap Your Books

Have I ever mentioned that I believe that all books should be neatly wrapped in thick, clear plastic covers before they are read or used or carried around? I am rather particular when I comes to book-wrapping: the plastic must stretch absolutely flat and taut over the book's covers, and each corner must be folded precisely so they're sharp. Yes, I make sure all my books have four sharp corners... so sharp, I had hurt myself scraping against them before.

Have I ever wrote about all those annoying, obnoxious people on KTM commuter trains? Well, sure I have, I have a whole category for such posts. Being not able to get a seat in the train is the norm, and most journeys would still be pleasant if not for the existence of the very discourteous, always! The really bad, though probably not the worst, are them selfish space-hoggers who sometimes lean their entire sweaty, smelly, disgusting bodies onto the poles so others standing around them have nothing to hold on to while the train sped on, occasionally jerking from side to side.

Have I ever told that I always bring a book with me when I take public tranport? The trains don't always come on time, and the rides aren't usually short either. So, it's great to have something to read while waiting for the train, and while being in the train.

It's also really great that with so many unpleasant, unwelcome presence everywhere in those trains, I have with me a book with very sharp plastic-wrapped corners...

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Manly Hanky

Well, not that I ever thought a man carrying a handkerchief is so manly - regardless that the hanky usually isn't lacy, embroidered or of a sickly sweet shade. Although, of course, if you really think about it, it's convenient and pro-conservation. It is to disposable paper napkins much like a reusable shopping bag is to plastic bags... well, almost. Still, men, being men, make you wonder how often, if at all, they wash that plain, masculine, often chequered piece of cloth. Every time I see a man wipe his mouth or face with his handkerchief, I can't help thinking about the things it might contain - remnants of yesterday's lunch collected from the corners of the mouth, streaks of gravy halted in their dribbling down the chin last week, dried miscroscopic skin cells in dried perspiration, layer upon layer...

Once, I had the misfortune of witnessing someone gravely ill with flu blow his nose into the same handkerchief for a full two hours. By the end of it, the poor hanky was visibly soaked. Then, he gathered the soggy mess his hand and stuffed it back into the same pocket it was pulled out of earlier...

Distasteful! Pardon me.