Within this blog...

Interests, Pastimes & Hobbies

Monday, March 31, 2008

Ahh...so smooth and soothing

I really salute this Andy Mckee, man! Listen and you'll agree with me. If I'm not mistaken, this is a classical piece being played with an acoustic guitar. It involves lotsa fingerpicking on exact notes to create the melody unlike strumming which involves chords. Timing and coordination of both hands is very important in this style. The left hand has to move adeptly across the frets to search for the notes and be released after the exact length required in the piece. These are just the fundamentals, what you see Andy's doing is due to many years of experience and experiments with techniques and sound effects including tapping, sliding, hammer-ons and pull-offs. I'm listening to it again and again and again and again...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Blog & Make Money

"Dear diary, I've a confession..."

"What a bad day, I had to apologize for a mistake I didn't make! WTF!"

"So, the elections are gone, major changes happened in a few states..."

"The Olympic Games is coming soon and Beijing is making it's final preparations. Stay tuned to my blog for updates of the games"

"Top 50 things to do before you leave the world"

"Tips on preparing a delightful cup of coffee.."

"Latest fashion updates...which celeb stands out..."

Above are among the various subjects in blogs. Due to the increasing popularity of blogs among internet users, a blog has been the target of advertisers to market their products/services. This explains why you see many Google sponsored ads not only in blogs but many other websites. Google Adsense pays according to number of impressions by visitors at your site and eventual successful sales.

On the other hand, Bloggerwave offers jobs related to your blog. What you need to do is submit a post according to the requirement of the job and start making money. It's that simple.

Here's how you begin.
1. Start a blog with Blogger, Wordpress, MySpace or many others.
2. Start posting regularly as advertisers are only attracted to regularly updated blogs which garner many readers.
3. In the meantime, Bloggerwave will evaluate your blog whether it meets their requirements.
4. Once you get the greenlight, jobs start rolling in, you submit your post and get paid!
5. Your blog will be your money making engine, no fees required.

You have nothing to lose. Start right now.

Low Budget Travelling

Often when my wanderlust strikes, I will check out this site and read updates on current travellers around the world. What they see, hear, smell, taste and feel is just as exciting as if I'm physically with them. I really salute their determination and willingness to spend months and some even several years travelling from place to place at a foreign land under tight budget. Thanks to them, I get lotsa tips and inspiration to try it out myself some day.

This kinda travelling is not suitable for those seeking comfortable holidays. It is not a luxurious travel but yet you get the taste of the land where you travel first hand. No arranged tours or nice tasty food waiting for you after your day travel, no air conditioned hotels/buses, no free and easy entrances, no planned destinations, no just beautiful sights/lifestyles, no guides to brief, translate or show you around, no safety assured...etc...etc.

On the bright side, independent travellers can forget about rushing due to tour schedules, factory visits with eventual sales, seeing the same faces of tour members all the time, visiting only tourists infested areas, buying expensive goods from tourist spots, wake up calls, missing out on the excitement of getting lost in a foreign land, missing out on the fun of language differences, missing out on the satisfaction and self discovery gain due to difficult situations.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Pre-Vietnam Discovery


So, I've got myself a flight ticket to Hanoi. What's next? Shouldn't I feel excited? Yeap, but not very. I'm dead nervous! I'm going alone! I'm kicking off as a solo traveller!

"You're looking for trouble," many says.

Trouble whatsoever, I'm not giving the ticket up. I'm definitely going. Below are things to look into right now:-

1. Where to go? - Hanoi, Hoi An, Halong Bay, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC)

2. How to go and get around? - buses, taxis, and what Vietnam's infamous for - the motor rides, plane down south to HCMC from Hanoi

3. Where to stay? - couch surf and at traveller's lodge with the backpackers

4. What to see and do? - crossing the suicide motorbike infested streets, sightseeing and water activities at Halong Bay, visit the local malls and food markets, get a closer look on the ao dai(traditional costume), joining the locals for morning exercise at parks, snapping pictures of course

5. Any particular food to try? - coffee (get thumbs-up from backpackers), rice paper rolls, whatever looks appetizing and proven to be a hit with others.

6. What to be cautious of? - being served dog meat, bull's organs, pig's organs, rat, spider, and such I don't consider edible.

7. Any foreseen hindrances? - language differences when I dine/shop at the street, and when I need directions, safety, food hygiene, overly charged, thefts, loses, bad weather.

6. Communications, funds & safety preparations? - find out the service limitation of my phone, what to do to be able to call back from Vietnam, credit card, Vietnam Dong, learn some basics on self protection, picture book will come in handy when one I approach doesn't understand English.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Jenseits der Stille

"Jenseits der Stille" auf Deutsch oder "Beyond the Silence" auf Englisch habe ich im Februar gesehen. Es ist ein schoenes Deutsches Film mann soll nicht vermissen.

"Jenseits der Stille " in German or "Beyond the Silence" in English have I watched in February. It is a nice German Film one should not miss.

I went to UITM in Shah Alam purposely to check out the German Week held. This film was shown as part of the programme besides game booths, German food testing, German exhibition and slide shows. Somehow, I was in a cultural mood to end up travelling and spending half of my Sunday there.

The film above is about a girl born to hearing and speaking impaired parents. As she grew up, she found her talent in voilin playing. However, her parents did not share her passion. Mainly, it was due to her father being a victim of child favouritism between him and his talented sister. The story is a mixed twist between happiness and sadness when her mother died in an accident which her dad placed the blame on her for introducing mom to cycling when she couldn't even hear danger.

On the other hand, there were some funny scenes when she was younger. Sitting under the tube, she had to interpret tv soaps into sign language to her mom. Whenever her parents were called in for her misbehaviour in school, the mischievious Lara also played interpreter. Imagine her parents smiling when the teacher complained non-stop.

All in all, definitely a thumbs up for both film and soundtracks. Ausgezeichnet! Excellent!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Simple Indulgence

Hmm... coffee...imagine having one beside you when you're at work. The lingering aroma in the office is just simply pleasant and stimulating. The office air conditioner is freezing cold and yet you're pampered an kept warm with your cup of steaming hot coffee.

Imagine outside it's raining heavily. You're sitting by the window with the rain pouring right on the other side of the window pane. You can see people running for shelter, half-wet and cold, some trying to keep hold to their umbrella from the strong wind. But you are where you are, warm and cosy in your bed, underneath layers of sheets, tucked in bed with a good book or some music at the background. The water just done boiling and you went to make your good coffee, u brought in to the room only to find the whole room burst with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. You went back to bed, u hold the coffee mug with both your palms. You feel warmth spreading to the rest of your body from your palm. You listen to the music. You sip and you dream if life would stop and stay like this forever.

Coming back to the present, I'm typing here at home, I neither have an air conditioner nor is it raining outside. I still have my mug of coffee with me which I can sip from time to time. It has been a habit to have a steaming hot drink with me whenever I'm hard doing something. I wake and I often sleep with hot beverage. It's simply an indulgence I can't live without at the moment.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Infectious Energy

*courtesy of australianopentv at www.youtube.com*

Well, I'm neither familiar with tennis rules nor do I play it well. What I admire is the energy portrayed by the players when they play. It takes lots of energy to race to every corner of such a big court and hitting it so hard to another corner of the opponents side. Along with these, the strategies to trick the opponent and body coordination to hit and direct the ball as desired. That's lots of hard work one cannot imagine without trying it.

Can you see how much effort is being put-in for each point? Can you see the energy of the swing? Can you see the eye-body coordination to hit the ball on the sweet spot? Can you see how the player jubilates with each point? Do you feel the excitement just by watching it?

Do you like watching the hunks or the girls better? Well, to me both! They all have infectious energy. As for the built, the ladies are better to look at but not the William sisters, please. They're way too bulky for females.

House Hopping

I've not been sleeping well. My mind seems to be very active even when I sleep. As a result, I wake up as exhausted as I the previous night. Partially due to unsatisfaction at work, the other since informing that I'm moving out from the current house. Well, the main issue is cleanliness of others which I no longer can stand. I'm just tired of notifying others to get their thrash out of the house, wash their 3 days old dishes and keep the washroom clean. I'm not sure if they're fed up with me but I'm beginning to get tired of them as well. It's been their way of life all the while and I understand that it's difficult to change.
Now, the simple things I look into for my next home are

1) First and foremost, the cleanliness of the house as an endeavour of the mates, obeyed duty rosters is a welcome. Don't tell me we clean only when it's dirty as different people has different ideas of dirtiness. To some, it's ok to leave the toilet bowl stained after use + wearing shoes in the house. To another, it's ok to cook and stain the floor with oil , leaving food waste to rot in the kitchen and the fluid stain the floor.

2) rental alone somewhere not more than rm 300.

3) availability of a fridge, stove and washing machine

4) condo perhaps which comes with sports facilities . Check out why a pool is a must besides a tennis/ squash court.

5) as in most cases for additional cars to a condo unit, availability of carparks by the road without getting summons is another plus.

6) preferably located within a 3 km radius from my workplace. Can't afford to be stucked in the jam daily.
The rest are still manageable. Notice that I have not mentioned anything bout food. As long as I get easy access to hypermarts especially Tesco/ Carrefour, then it's fine. Wish me luck in searching.

Monday, March 10, 2008

For The Sake of Satisfaction

12.53 pm = lunch hour. Office's quiet, with a colleague engaged on the phone at another corner. Project engineer nearby I call "uncle" is here skipping his lunch. Is he adopting my style or something? Trying to be on a so called meal skipping diet.

Well, right here typing, I have my favourite Snekku ShoyueMi. I love the spicy one. It's salty, spicy and crunchy. Tagline says, "Cholestrol FREE, Crunchy & Crispy!" Afterall, a snack should be cholestrol free as it's non-meat based and vege oil fried.

I just love snacking these days, as long as the food I put in my mouth is crunchy and salty. I will also go for crunchy fruits like guavas but the thing is too much of these do no good for my peristalsis as I'm not a water drinking fan.

As much as I love snacking unhealthily, these thoughts never failed to make me feel guilty.

"Aren't you on a diet?"
- smile.... "Can't keep my hands off them"

"Lucky for you, you're not ballooning"
- "Well, that's if you know how to balance up your calories needs, and try omitting some meals"

"You still like fruits right?"
- "Yeap, I'm still a fruit fan"

"How often do you take these snacks?"
- "Very.. and stock them whenever I go grocery shopping"

"You're not going to stop?"
- "Not for the time being, I haven't gotten sick of them"

"Are they doing you any good?"
- "Nope, just empty calories and satisfaction. I start agreeing that my thin crown is not just due merely to gene but to it and my less balanced meal"

"I thought you were the food consultant at home"
- ..."Yea, no rice, no high GI food, no dairy based, no oily stir-fries, they turn the vege into evil food, no surface 0il-blanketted soups, no sweet overly riped papayas, no bananas, go for sour oranges, sour pineapples, no meat, no sweetened drinks/beverages. Anything worse including deep-fried, animal organs, sweet starchy food and the likes is totally out of the question."
"YET AGAIN, i still can't get my hands off salty + crunchy snacks"

"What's the future like with your eating habit?"
- ............

Sunday, March 9, 2008

I'm not a Pervert

*courtesy of flickr.com*

Are you aware that every athlete has a different body shape due to the nature of the sport? Compare the two above...Phelps and Federer. Besides the composition of hair (which is not the case here), what else do you notice?

Phelps seems to have a more triangular figure. As you can see, he has a very small waist and hip. Not surprising as the butterfly uses lots of hip strength.The abs with a six-packed is so damn flat , as flat as a piece of paper. Shoulders and chest are wide and well toned. Look at the curve of the buldging biceps. The arms flinging at a relax mode and yet the buldge is so obvious.Take a look at his lower body, they're just so tiny. Needless to say, nice one!

As for Federer, more of squarish and straight down from the chest to the abs. Abs is bulky but not flabby. Arms are not as toned as I expected them to be considering the power needed in every stroke. It's a ball he's hitting and not the oh so light shuttlecock. The racquet itself is already much heavier than badminton's. Lower body, the hips is as broad as the abs. The legs(not shown) are expected to be muscular due to the constant speed and stabilizing needed.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

日本語で - Nihongo de

Of course this blog will cover some Japanese. To start things off, maybe I shall start with some basics yet essential phrases particularly for independent travellers. I would not say I'm good in Jap but I'm confident to find my way about if I were to travel there. Having a blog on the language doesn't mean I'm a pro in it. In fact, I've got lots to learn on Kanji (chinese characs but in Jap pronounciation. Learning it would be very helpful since it's widely used in writings all over Japan considering my poor Chinese reading skill.

Introducing Yourself


はじめまして ー Hajimemashite : Hello, nice to meet you....

あきらです。- Akira desu : I'm Akira

いいえ、 インドからきません。マレーシャです。ー Iie, Indo karakimasen, Mareshia desu
: Nope, (I'm) not from India. From Malaysia.
(Why India of all country? This is dedicated to an Indian friend. Thinking this phrase will come handy to her when she there.)

OK, I'm getting lazy now. I shall omit the hiragana & katakana to speed up things.

Greeting Others


Ohayou gozaimasu : Good morning
Konnichiwa    : Good afternoon
Meari-san, Konnichiwa : Good afternoon, Miss Mary
Preetha-san, konnichiwa : Good afternoon, Miss ...

Locating A Place


Sumimasen, toire wa doko desuka : Excuse me, where's the toilet?
Kochira or kocchi : Here
Achira or acchi : Over there
Soudesuka, arigatou : IC, thanks.

Asking About Time


Ima nanjidesuka : What's the time now?
Hachi ji : 8 o'clock
Hachiji hang : 8.30
Asa hachi ji : Morning 8 o'clock
Gogo sanji jiugofun : Afternoon 3.15
Ichi, ni, san, yon(shi), go, roku : 1,2,3,4,5,6
Nana(shichi), hachi, kiu, jyu, jyuichi, jyuni
: 7,8,9,10,11,12

While Shopping


Kore..ikuradesuka : This..how much?
Chotto takaidesuyo : It's a lil expensive, you know?
Mou yasukutte iidesuka : Can it be cheaper?
Ja, koreni shimasu : Ok, I'll go for this.

When you are a guest, it's IMPORTANT to say


HMMM...OISHII : hmmm... DELICIOUUUUSSS ( LoL..in general...every host loves to hear this)

Common Expression


Hai : Yes
Iie : No
Soudesuka : OIC (new info)
Soudesune : IC and I agree
Ee.. sugoii : Wow...amazing ( or great, fantastic)
Ja mata : Till then, bye!
Mata ashita : See you tmr
Mata atode : See you later

Fuh.......at last...mission accomplised... Do I get any credit for my effort?
Last but not least, remember to imitate my tone and pronounciation as close as possible. You won't know what they understand if u pronounced wrongly.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Lets scrutinize...

See his butt? It's jutting out the moment he goes underwater. This follows with a kick from the lower body. The hip action is very important to maintain the undulation of the stroke.

What does the picture look to you? Butterfly spreading it's wings, no..more like a bird or a bat. Nevertheless, it's an amazing pic of Phelps in action. What you see here is, he's about to come out of the water as he's looking ahead and upwards. He's also exhaling to prepare for fresh air intake.

Notice that the elbowe are straight and close to the water surface. The shoulders does not point up but forward. The head remains low,some says as low as your chin touches the water. Considering this, do not take your own sweet time taking in air. Your head has to immediately falls back into the water followed by your arms.

Here's how you should look when you come out. The upper body you see here refers to the T-section. Basically the T-sect and the lower body plays the main role in the undulation with the hip as the pivot.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Picture speaks!

What do you see here in this picture? Does it speak to you? Do you feel what I feel? It's begging me to jump inside and have a splashing good time! It's pleading me to swim lapse after lapse to and fro from this to the other end! In fact, this is not another regular public pool, it's olympic sized which is 50m from here to that end. The deepest end stands at 1.8m with a small area of 3m(if my memory serves me right) for diving.

This is the pool in my uni where I frequented quite regularly. Each time, I came with an objective to test and improve lil by lil on the butterfly stroke. I've been longing to grasp this stroke as long as I started swimming. It always envy me to watch people flying gracefully in the pool and be the centre of attention.

*courtesy of 234snake at http://www.youtube.com/*

Agree with me that the fly is just simply the coolest stroke? And who's better to swim it other than world champ Michael Phelps. He swims it VERY THE SUPERBLY. Especially this video, his energy is simply contagious. I don't know about you but everytime I watch this video, it inspires me to get to the pool and improve my style. His body is so flexible that his lower half from the chest down(yeap, not the hips but chest downwards) is so flexible. The undulation is simply so natural and effortless as if he's a real dolphin.

To swim the fly perfectly, one has to have a flexible body like him. Of course, his perfection is a result of drills and practices. To one who already know the basics, just bear in mind that your elbows must be kept near the surface when they're underwater. Your head must not be lifted too high to maintain the undulation. Head goes into the water before the hands. Lift the hips when the head goes in. Phelps' cute posterior juts out of the water surface at this. Kick from your hips(or some say from the chest) instead of merely from the legs.

Not to say that I'm a pro for now...I still don't get it quite right. Need to improve on my coordination and timing. Hopefully, I can swim as awesome as Phelps someday. If not, I'm happy enough to be close.

Anyone crazy about this stroke as much as I do?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Braving Mount Kinabalu

***backdated to last year, 27 June 2007***

I heard a sms ringtone. OH...that's familiar. It's mine! Checked and read in the dark. It's Sam. He'd awaken and coming over at 3.35am. Before long, the 18 of us were making our way to Kinabalu Park in 2 vans. I slept along the way, not without knocking my head on the window steel.

Arriving early for registration, we snapped a few pics. Mist were around us that morning , 27 June 2007 at 6.30am. I was already trembling with cold. At that point, I started to put on more layers of clothes and wore my winter hat...another trick to lighten my backpack.

A bus took us to the Timpohon gate and we were briefed by our 3 guides. We had a total of 8.5 km to the summit of Mount Kinabalu but first we'd stay a night at Laban Rata at km 6.

"Any ques before we start?" asked Lawrence, the guide. Silence...

And so the journey began....downhill....?????????? but for only a few steps till the waterfall...still fresh and full of energy, we took a few photos here. Moved on...this time uphill..the trail at the beginning were of earth steps...too big steps to carry on for long...eventually, looked for small alternatives.

The sights and sounds at the beginning was of the typical tropical forests'. Along the way, there were signboards of our distance, a rest area, toilet and a tank of untreated drinking water supply.

Apparently, Mount Kinabalu is never lonely. There's ppl ascending and also ppl coming down on a daily basis. Besides participants, there're ppl making a living here.... the porters. This porters may be male/female, young/ old helping to carry participants' extra luggages with a fee. There are also workers who brought contruction materials up i.e metals lengths and sand. "Wah, berapa kg?" the curious me asked. Answers I got ranged from 25 to 45 kgs and it's 7 times a week, 6km distance.

Climbers were of different nationalities. We exchanged pleasantries and greetings along the way with "hello, congrats, good luck, ni hao, jia you, etc.." Some descending Taiwanese reminded us to move on fast before it gets slippery when it rains and that the next stop is just around the corner. We moved on....

Tired...my leg muscles started to sore. I stopped every few steps. Ppl passed me by, mostly the stronger westerners, I must admit. Tried alternating my sling backpack from shoulder to shoulder, back to carrying it in front. Refusing to sit, I shaked my legs as I paused, taking in the views around me.

The trail was partial stones and rocks with earth. Proper steps no longer available. The air was getting thin. Mist surrounded us. Trees were of short, crooked types with small leaves. Plants were getting scarce along the way. It gave me a feeling of being in wonderland, normally portrayed in tv when one's lost in dreams.

Inhale through nose, exhale through mouth... my couz's tips kept ringing in my ear. I did not want to risk a faint here. From time to time, applied some ointment, took some sweets and energy supply from choc.

Finally at 2 pm after approx 5 hrs or hiking, we finally reached the guesthouse at Laban Rata at km 6. Many has arrived and it was cold. At 8pm, the temperature fell to 9.7 degree celcius outside. The westerners were still in shorts and a layer while I was in 3. Some were seen smoking outside. Inside, food were prepared.....but at a price. Rm 14 for a big plate of rice. "Come on.. they carried the cooking gas up, you know," I was reminded.

At 2.30 am and 9 degrees celcius, the ascent continued. With torchlightw and a rope to cling to, we managed the remaining 2.5km uphill. It was rocky cliffs this time. Every once a while, I looked behind me. The sleepy neighbourhood far underneath still had their lights on while closer behind and below, there were glimmering torchlichts and whispers and sounds of deep breathing. Before me were more torchlights. I could see the end now...I'm coming closer. Those assembly of torchlights marked the summit. Above me, the sky remained dark. There were stars..and the moon.

Here I came...yeap...my feet hurts. My muscles giving way. Every steps seemed a torture. I couldn't go on anymore. Ppl took over me. I fell on my palms a few times - wrong steps.some water seeped into my socks. I paused, moved..paused moved. The summit I thought it was.. wasn't the summit afterall, there were longer way to go. I just didn't see it from those locations just now. I shone my torch to my side..wow...i was standing at the edge of the cliff. One wrong step and I risked falling and rolling down to God knows where... I kept asking myself why I paid for such torture in the first place. And this will be the first and only at the same time pushing myself to let this end perfectly.

My leg was aching immensely. The muscles..calf and hamstring...that I hardly use were crying out in pain. They're doing hard work gripping and supporting my body weight on the steep rocky ground.

5.45am of 28 June 2007 marked my accomplishment reaching the summit. The sun started to rise from it's slumber. "Magnificent, marvellous" I heard a voice nearby said. I sat within rocks and ppl as wind barrier, looking at the sun. "I'm on top. I've made it!" my inner voice screamed. My fingers were getting numb. I took out my hotpack and kneaded it but of no use. It turned immediately to solid instead. I took out my remaining choc bar and enjoyed quietly.

I must have looked silly up there. I don't know. I didn' t look into any mirrors then but I could imagine I looked silly. Imagine someone with a swimming goggle on, and a winter mask overlapping another winter hat inside. I estimated I spent at most half an hour at the summit of Mount Kinabalu (4.0952 km height but 8.5km trail). I walked down, slowly, this time,,..digesting the scenery. Now that the sun has risen, the green pastures beneath was clearly visible. Distant but same level was the floating clouds. Nearer, the various shapes of the other peaks.

After breakfast at Laban Rata , we packed our things and started descending the same trail we took just the day before. Descending was not an easy task as percepted. The large steps resulted in large impacts on our knees as we landed on them. I descended just like an old folk... having both feet on the same step before braving another. With such serious sore, descending too seemed like eternity and this time I only said hello and good luck to ascenders.
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