Thursday, August 31, 2006
He has not exactly been the most obedient dog but his behaviour has been quite `ok' lately (besides dashing outside at times and other minor bad habits here and there).
However, I really don't know what's wrong with him tonite!
I had spent time with him while watching TV earlier.. stroking him and removing some hard skin flakes near his neck..
Maybe it was triggered by the fireworks (but it stopped soon). He suddenly ran upstairs into my room and went into the bathroom and started scrambling for things to chew like what he used to do!
From past experience, it was no way that I could coax him out and using force would be worst! I could only `trick' him to come out.
I pretended to want to bring both him and Jelly for a walk. Jelly unsuspectingly became part of my ploy too but even when I tried gently to tie the leash to Jojo's collar, he turned violent and wanted to bite me! His teeth scratched my hand! I was so upset that I almost cried in front of him!
So I took Jelly out of the gate knowing that Jojo would follow. Yep, he did move and went to look for us.. and when he was out in the garden, I asked mom to quickly close both the gate and the door!
I thought that was the end of the drama. But less than an hour later (with no fireworks nor any aggrevating factor) he did it again! When I let Jelly out to pee, he just dashed inside the house, ran upstairs and parked himself in my bathroom under the basin (his territory)
It was even harder to get him out this time and the only trick was the same one. He was a bit slower to respond but he still came out. But then, he ran away into the streets!!
Argh!! I was furious and decided I had to punish him. So when he was waiting to come in the gate, I let him and took the leash into the garden and called him gently. Apprehensive, he came to me. I put the leash on him and he probably thought I was bringing him for a walk again..
Instead, I tied his leash to a water-tap just outside our house, as punishment.
He barked but not for long, probably knowing he did something wrong(?) Sigh, I don't know what I did was right or wrong.. I know hitting him would produce adverse effect. But he needs to be punished.
I will bring him in when I finish this post. Sigh.
Happy Merdeka to me! :D
Yep, tendered the letter this (wed) afternoon to the editor/COO and he just nodded and took it, as if he was already expecting it! The ONLY thing he said was: `who have you cc it to?' No, not even a casual question like `why' or `where will I be going'
Which only made me feel I've no regrets whatsoever in leaving. Although it has been 12 years that I serviced the company.
I then went to the HR department but the person in charge of resignation was on leave.. but another staff told me my days of leave left and from her and my own calculation, my last day would be October 13. Oh, it is a Friday too! ;)
Funny thing is, my immediate superior was actually happy for me to go.. for he himself is going to resign end of next month! But because he has so many days of leave, he can leave immediately and before me!
I know of a few colleagues from the same desk are quite definitely quitting too. Which says a lot about the place huh?
And I almost can't wait till mid October. Soon... I am entering into a new chapter of life.
update (Sept 2): After speaking to the HR personnel, I decided to work the whole two months as the company will be paying me back for my days of leave left! So, my last day of work will be Oct 27. Well, 10 days extra to bear but will be compensated by extra $$$ !!
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
People, I AM RESIGNING from the company which I've worked for in the last 12 years. And it's only the 2nd ever resignation in my whole working life so far.. (14 plus years?)
It's not a decision out of the blue. I've mulled over this for the last two months at least and now I'm certain that I need to move on, before I make myself more miserable by working here.
Well, some may wonder what's wrong with my job - which seems like a dream job to many - you know, rubbing shoulder (not exactly but close proximity) with celebrities, free concerts, shows, movies, flexible working hours etc.. the list can go on. Yes, I don't deny that I do enjoy the job of an ent. journalist, but the woes have now outweighed all those things..
Imagine your articles getting butchered, your writing styles stifled and so much limitation to the subjects you can write on. On top of that, you don't even believe in the product that you're writing in anymore. I know of many co-workers are disgruntled and disillusioned too..
I was like 95 per cent sure about this last Friday, after another problem that occured in my Twins' story. I thought and prayed long and hard over the weekend. Then as if it was a sign from the Almighty, I had my last straw today (but I didn't resign because this incident since yesterday I've contacted some other publications already).
As usual the story was cut short and even the angle altered, but worst of all, the `smart ass' ed who cleared my story took the liberty to CHANGE something to make it factually wrong, and that unfortunately reflected poorly on my interviewee, who called and cried foul, but thankfully he knew I didn't misquote him. Yes, of course I brought this up to the deputy editor who admitted it was a mistake and (to my slight surprise) asked me to do a correction to be published tomorrow..
This is not an isolated incident as blunders kept happening from time to time to others' work too.
I just couldn't take such crap anymore. I know I need to leave as soon as I can as I have to give two months notice.
So, just now I typed my resignation letter to be handed it tomorrow. Now, it was quite a challenge as I had not done this like ages! I asked some friends just now and even resorted to research on the Net.
The wording was tricky too. I don't want to be too curt neither do I want to write chummy stuff which would make me feel like a hypocrite. For whatever problems I have encountered, afterall, this is a place I've worked 12 years and there were good memories too.. maybe not so with this `new, revamped paper'.
This is what I wrote.
It's short and `sweet'. But took me almost an hour to do it as I was trying to find the right wording for the timing of resignation. Yours sincerely
So how do I feel? Well, to be honest, it is very much mixed feelings.. this is like the only company I have worked with (my first magazine also belonged to this company then) It's almost like a 2nd home with its relaxed, informal environment. Basically, I've built up my journalism career here - I've gotten the chance to meet many people, go places, covered some exciting and memorable assignments, learned a lot about all kinds of things and made many friends and acquaintances.
Sentimental feelings aside, I also feel relief, yet apprehensive and excited at the same time. It's what an editor (not my paper) told me. There are doors open and opportunities else where. Because I've been `stuck' in that place so long, I have not really looked. And she already assured me that she wants me to contribute to her paper.
Yeah, I haven't found a new job.. I will be looking around and I pray for directions and opportunities. There are various options.. I might even do some freelance first and take a break before starting in a full-time job again.
Of course, I won't give up writing. Being a journalist is still something I definitely want to do and probably something I know I can do.. :p
I will find out when my last day will be but that would be in October.. and after that, I'll be entering another chapter of my career life.. which I am placing it in the hands of the Lord.
p.s. In this post, I've not mentioned the name of my company but those know me and my regualr readers will know anyway.. whatever written here are my personal feelings and opinions.
Monday, August 28, 2006
I crashed my car at my house front entrance!!
I still didn't know how I manage to do that.. This afternoon as I returned home, I stopped my car infront of the gate as usual to wait for the automatic gate to open.. As it opened, I was looking out for Jojo who should be in his doghouse.. but I could not see him so I was wondering where he was.. and then, when the gate fully opened, I just swerved the car like normal to enter and then the car crashed into the side of the concrete wall!
Argh!! The sound was so loud I knew the damage was bad.
It was pretty bad.. even the left door couldn't open anymore., and there was a gap at the bonnet opening too. My car also knocked a big piece of concrete off at the wall.
My poor car.. :((( and this would set my wallet back quite a lot!
I still couldn't believe I did that! Considering this is my 2nd stupid accident recently (but thank God I had not had any road accidents in ages.. the last was 8 years ago when someone knocked into me beating a read light from the other side)
End of last year, my mind was `off' when I crashed into the metal poles at the guard house. I forgot totally about them being there and just drove into them before they went down..
Wonder where my mind had gone..? :((
Friday, August 25, 2006
This was taken at dinner just now
With Tan Soo Suan, the resident soprano of Dama Orchestra and my (occasional) vocal teacher! This lady has an amazing voice! Just finished an interview on their upcoming production `Butterfly Lovers'.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
It was a stressful evening. The eds wanted me to find some particular photos on the Net to go with my story. Argh, I have brought this all upon myself.. :( If I have kept my mouth shut about the (kinda big) news on some HK popstar, they probably won't know about it and I won't need to write the story. Well, guess I am living up as a entertainment journalist and somemore working for a tabloid paper that likes sensational stories!!
Anyway, shall not dwell into this.. I left office at 7:45pm or so and normally it would take less than 15 minutes to reach the destination but today the traffic was just horrendous! thanks to the crazy downpour in the late afternoon.. But thank goodness I managed to remember to go from the backway and made it for dinner with parents at Cafe Cafe.
Had read and heard quite a bit about this place.. surprisingly it's quite happening even on a week night. It's smaller than i expected. What makes it nice is its classic European interior decor and with dim lighting, it's pretty cosy and romantic!
The food was of good standard, and we were all very happy with the set dinner we ordered - consisted of starters, soup, main course and dessert. For mains, dad ordered lamb shank, he ordered the more expensive (and delicious) Wayu beef for mom and I had grilled salmon.. we also had a bottle of red wine - Cabernet-Melot from Australia!
Oh, the dinner was a treat for dad from mom and me.. hehe, at least got someone to share the hefty bill! ;)
When we finished, we went for a `tour' upstairs - which was closed as it was to cater for private functions . It's feels like an European home, complete with sofas and a mock fire place.
Happy 66th Birthday Dad! You don't look your age! ;)
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Last year, I met the animal-loving Sherrina K, who spearheaded the dog and cat calendar project. So I promptly sent in a photo of the two Js to be featured in this year's first Dog Calendar. And yes, I blogged about it. A few months later, I wrote about it again when the calendar was out! And finally I even posted the the photo of their page in the calendar!
I have almost forgotten about next year's calendar until the topic was brought up with a pet shop owner on Sat. Funny this year's calendar is in front of me all the time and yet I could overlook it... :p
This time, I decided to give Jojo and Jelly their own page. :) While I knew which one of Jelly to submit, it was not so easy for Jojo as he doesn't like to pose for pictures! I thought of posting the two photos here but then I thought let the photos be a `surprise' to all.. :p
Those of you who would like to have your doggie featured in the calendar, I think it's still not too late! But you have to act fast. Drop an email to email@example.com and include your dog's photo and name, your name and a short caption of not more than 15 words. Yep, it's that simple! btw, she mentioned before she would like more non-pedigree dogs!
Hurry, so your dog can be a calendar star too! ;)
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Felt like I have wasted my Sunday away..! Thanks to some uncontrollable biological circumstance. If you're a woman, you would know what I mean..
Ok, I did go to sleep pretty late but would have gotten up for 11am service at church.. However, the stomach cramps were so bad - even my back ached. Though I already got ready and changed and even had breakfast, I really felt unwell.. I needed to crawl back into bed, and so I did after popping two pain killers.
I missed church again :( (as last week I was in JB)
So I dozed off.. and when I got up at looked at my clock, it was 3pm.
Oh, yesterday after coming back from Genting, I went straight to my hair salon and ended up spending FOUR hours plus there! Initially just wanted to colour the front bits to cover up all the greys (Yes, i have lots of silver hair now!) but was suggested that I could do part rebonding to make my hair at the back less frizzy and big.
I spent SOOOO LONG at the salon - I went through more than half a dozen of Hello and Hot magazines - yeah, mindless gossips.
Anyway.. when I look more presentable -I look quite sickly right now - may post a pix of my new hair-do. ;)
p.s. Yeah I know this is such an uninteresting and uninspired post. But it's a break for me from writing an uninspired and unintresting concert review... :p
p.p.s. Will play with the two Js in the garden in a while..!
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Tomorrow I'll be covering yet another concert! No, it's not INXS - that my colleague is more qualified to cover than me.. and no one else on my desk would be able to make head or tales over a Canto-pop concert than yours truly.
I'm going to Genting (yes, again) to watch Twins' concert! The ever so popular HK girl group who appeals mainly to teenyboppers.
They have a reputation for singing out of tune live! Well, I will listen intently and will have no mercy if they really fall short of it.. (evil laughter). Anyway, no denying that they're pretty hot and as a paper dedicated to the young people, my boss thinks we should write about their first concert in Malaysia.
Will be going with the coach for a change and stay over night..
Went for Starlight Cinema with friends at Sentul Park just now. watched the silly comedy `Just My Luck'. The screen was quite big and clear but the sound system was not good enough for such a huge space. Most of the time I read the Chinese subtitles! We had food and drinks, and sat on the straw mat I bought from a street vendor some years back! ;)
Weekend is looming but more work is also looming..
Speaking of concerts, there's one concert this month I really look forward to - Eason Chan next Sat! And thank goodness it's in KL!
Anyway, my two beloved canines are fine. Only thing is Jojo is still recovering from wounds on his front and back legs. It seems that those wounds, which even Vet can't explain the cause, has become a `seasonal recurrence'. They would heal gradually after Jojo takes the medication, orally as well applying on the wounds. Then after completely healed for a month or two, the wounds would suddenly come back again.. normally at the same places.
Sigh.. but at least it doesn't look like Jojo is suffering from pain. He's still behaving as normal - active and has good appetite.
Jelly is still my `little shadow' but can be quite naughty at time.. gosh, her appetite and greediness for food is amazing! But recently, her ears have some earmites, which Jojo had in the past too. Have to apply ear drops and clean them often and she doesn't like it..
I bathed both of them before going to work today.. they are looking clean and fluffy and smell quite good too..;) So, here are photos fresh from the oven! (taken just before posting!)
Jelly striking a lazy pose in my room
Jojo just woken up from his sleep.. notice his wounds? :(
Jelly looking expectantly at me to feed her snack
Jojo lazing on the floor and wearing his melancholic expression..
I have to place Jelly next to Jojo for a `group shot' but then they just decided to lie down together!
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
You can call it the Mother of Chinese pop concerts. 8TV’s Summer Live Concert last Saturday at Danga Bay, Johor Baru was quite an event and attracted a huge turn out of more than 100,000!
Firstly it was free. Secondly, how often do you get a gathering of 15 of some of the hottest individual/group artistes from
We arrived JB about 3-something and checked in at Zon Regency, which was also the official hotel where the artistes stayed at and where the post-concert Wrap Party was held
Then we were off to Danga Bay! But got quite cheesed off having to wait an hour for some of the local press. We had high tea there before being transported on a tram to the concert venue and passed by carnival-like stalls, eateries, shops etc.. It looked like quite a happening place!
It was only 7pm (the concert was due to start at 8:30pm) and already the place was packed! The media of course were ushered in like V.I.P (ahem) using a special entrance and I was seated three rows from the front. Only the VIP area had chairs. All the fans had to squeeze themselves in some fenced up area - divided into `Superduper Rock Zone' right in the front but at the side, `Super Rock Zone' and `Rock Zone' which was right at the back! Gosh, they really looked uncomfortable but it didn't seem to dampen their spirit!
The emcees said some die-hard fans had even camped overnight since Friday to secure a good place in the various free-standing rock zones!
8TV hosts Dylan Leong and Gary Yap started mingling with the crowd and then at ,
Since it's an 8TV event, its Project SuperStar winner John and finalists Desiree, Winson and Mei Sim also got to perform and did pretty well as novice. Of course you can't leave out Malaysia Idol Daniel who seemed to be more confidence in handling the stage and huge audience.
Not that I'm bias but the talented Gary Chaw brought the show to a new high with his superb performance. With his shirt buttons undone, he belted out his own version`Superwoman’ with such panache especially when singing falsetto.
The sound system began to show problem when Nicholas Teo came on to croon those tuneful ballads. Then the timing of the commercial time (it was aired live) only caused him having to stand there and waited fortwo minutes! It was funny that considering he sang slow songs, Nicholas was drenched in sweat! Probably due to the blazing lighting, the hot temperature.
Glaring tecnical hitches occured again and the `victim' was poor
Korean teen sensation Jang Na Ra’s appearance was another highlight though I must admit I didn't know her. The cute pint size actress/singer delighted fans by greeting them in both Korean and Mandarin. But her vocal was a little jarring to me.
The audience went wild when
JJ Lin from
The last act was Taiwanese group 5566 who had gifts for the audience in the forms of autographed balls! Causing many to jumped and scrambled for those flying balls! It was a pity though as only three of the original five members were present.
The concert ended with a firework display and then sea of people slowly made their way out of the place.. of course there were both human and traffic jam for the longest time!
Back at the hotel, the media was invited to a `Wrap Party' with the artistes. Some short speeches, champagne pouring, group photography and of course food! And at about 1:30am, we were `made' to interview the artistes whom must be even more tired than us! Anyway, we didn't ask that many questions..
The whole thing ended at 3am. And I slept at 4am..
So how was it? To be honest, compared to most Chinese concerts I've attended, I thought it lacked climaxes and excitement. It was a little draggy when we had to pause and wait for commercial breaks although sometimes the emcees chatted with the artistes to fill the gap. But overall, I'm impressed with the quality and standard of all the artistes - big names or newcomers.
Here are the photos! Scroll down till the end for my personal `highlights' of the trip! :p
Danga Bay - a new tourist and leisure destination by the sea.. the photo was taken from the tram on the way to the concert venue.
When we arrived at Danga Bay - behind is the place we had high tea before the concert.
Pretty 8TV PR ladies striking a pose by the sea
The tram that took us from the restaurant to the concert venue
The VIP and Media entrance
The stage was pretty huge - heard it's 4 storey-high
Just some of the audience packed like sardines at the `Super Rock Zone'
Air-filled `sticks' that make banging sound when you hit them together!
The opening act - boyband Energy sporting pretty ugly costumes!
Up-and-coming M'sian singer Lim Yee Chung has a nice voice
One of my favourites! The sexy Gary Chaw's rendition of Superwoman would give you goose bumps!
Dancing Queen Landy Wen raise temperature with her electrifying booty-shaking dance!
Boy-next-door Nicholas Teo with his ever sweet smile
Poor Justin was tormented by technical errors but nonetheles gave a superb performance.
Rainie Yang is one of the hottest idols from Taiwan currently
Another of my favourites is JJ Lin who is simply talented and awesome
The artistes at the Wrap Party
Daniel, Gary, Landy, Justin and Yee Chung pouring champagne. They took turns in group to pour as there were too many of them!
And finally! The bonus of the trip... I managed to grab a few artistes to take photos with!
The new R&B prince and awesome singer Gary Chaw
Sexy Landy striking a pose next to me
I waited so long for a pix with the brilliant JJ (in red in case you don't know) and also got Yee Chung as well! Am a lucky gal! ;)
Friday, August 11, 2006
I've always been a `gung-ho' entertainment reporter who always speak up at press conferences and many times even approach the subject for photos or autographs!
But why didn't I do anything today? now I'm regretting it...
I went for the press conference of Wilber Pan this afternoon.. Well, he's still relatively new.. an American bred Taiwan artiste who is quite a talent. He has his own characters - singing songs different from the usual fare of ballads, soul or R&B styles that most Chinese singers do. His music is basically rap and hip-hop - pretty good and refreshing I must say!
So, impressed after listening to his latest and also the previous two albums, I decided I should go meet him at his press conference as he is currently in M'sia for a promo tour. Did I mention he is pretty cute? ;) and he was better looking in real than in photos!
My editor said I could write more on a personality piece emphasising on his music rather than a news of the p.c. So just two hours before the p.c. i called up the organiser and requested for short one-on-one but was told they couldn't allocate it. Fine. Thought I would just get as much as I could during the group Q&A session.
But when he was sitting right in front of me and we were to shoot the questions to him, I only asked ONE question! And then my mind sorta went blank. No, I'm too old to be swooned over a young guy like him but somehow I wasn't really concentrating. So after a few round of questions, some of which are not that interesting, the emcee asked: `anymore questions?' The floor was silence. (I wanted to ask but don't know what to ask!?) Then seconds later, it was the end of the short p.c.!
Unlike previously with other artistes, I didn't seize the opportunity to have a photo taken with him. The truth was, it slipped my mind at that time. I also didn't ask him to autograph the album (we each got one copy)
And then it was too late..
Argh! Could it be I was feeling a bit more shy and self-conscious? But wait a minute, that doesn't sound like me!
Is the new paper and work situation to blame for my lack of enthusiasm? Has the disgruntlement and woefulness at work affected me?
I don't know..
Anyway, it looks like not just a concert month for Chinese artistes but also a month for album promotional tour! After Wil, there is Sam Lee and Jolin Tsai pc on Monday.. and the night before I would have just returned from JB for the Summer Live Concert!
Gosh.. a busy time ahead again.
p.s. Here's a pix with a `star' - thanks to my bold friend whom I took with me to Jim Brickman's concert last Saturday! :p
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
I went for my third ever GroupX spinning (cycling) class tonite and I almost died!
Ok, so maybe that's an exaggeration.. :p
Imagine, one hour of M (multi-level) workout and I managed to follow the instructor more than 90 per cent. Honestly, I really felt like dying at certain parts.. my heart was pumping like crazy and I thought I might collapse. Remember, I'm not a fit person.
But mind you, ther was even an aunty and uncle who are at least 20 years ago than me in the class!
I felt good (though pretty tired) after class. Indeed, this is a great way to burn fat and get fit. I will go it again!
Saturday, August 05, 2006
The Malaysia entertainment calendar is packed to the brim. Every weekend there are surely some concerts being staged either in Kuala Lumpur or other parts of Malaysia; and Genting Highland is hosting the bulk of it.
Since most of the artistes are from the Chinese music scenes, that means I'll be covering them.. and I could more or less choose the ones I prefer to go unless it's ordered by my editor.
Here is how it looks:
August 5 - Jim Brickman in Genting - going (did a cover story and contest)
August 6 - Gary Cao Ge's showcase in KL - going (he's up-and-coming)
August 12 - 8TV's Summer Live concert (featuring Taiwan, HK and local artistes) in JB - going (quite big and 8TV is under Media Prima)
August 12 - Harlem Yu in Genting - not going
August 18 - INXS in KL - colleague going
August 18-19 - Twins in Genting - going only if boss insists
August 25-26 - Paula Tsui in Genting - too old for our readers ;p
August 26 - Eason Chan in KL - going!
Quite a lot right? And not to mention the performing arts fraternity are also having musicals and plays such as PGLtM, Refugee Images, The Two of Us, Broken Bridges etc...(on the first day of the month, mom and I caught Grandissimo - featuring local and Taiwanese soprano and a talented youth orchestra from Taiwan). I hope to catch some of these show but not PGLtM since I've already watched it earlier in the year. Will recommend those who haven't gone to go though.. it is good!
Oh, I also got two comp tix for Starlight Cinema. But looking at my schedule.. don't think will have time for that and have already watched most of the movies anyway..
So it looks like another of those `entertainment overload' periods.. It might sound like fun but I guess I treat it as half-half (ie. half work, half leisure) compared to some of my colleagues who think of it as just work!
Will see how I survive, as there are also other work to be done, as well as church commitment which can't take a back seat. And not to forget my exercise regime!!
Guess who I will be watching tonight? Yep, the talented pianist who unabashedly celebrates romance...
Thursday, August 03, 2006
I just had to. I feel so unfit, and the weighing scale and measuring tape are showing alarming figures.. yes, due to over-eating and lack of exercise, I have piled on the weight to an all time high!! It's really distressing - I can't even fit into half of my clothes!
The last two months had been pretty chaotic. Various factors - work schedule, World Cup, other commitments and travelling - had prevented me from going to gym. Of course I could have made extra effort but I just didn't.. felt too tired.
But I remember that I am paying a substantial monthly fee for my gym membership so I better make use of it again!
It was packed as usual during the peak hours but I managed to find a machine for cardio - not sure what it's called but it's like pedalling standing up. Quite good to start off after not exercising for so long. It wasn't too strenuos. But I couldn't get hold of a treadmill anyway..
As I was pedalling and puffing away, I was thinking this. It's soooo easy to pile on the calories on some yummy food but it takes time and real effort just to burn them away! Why, it took me more than 30 minutes to work off the same amount of calories I would easily consume in a nice meal.
Anyway, here is the brief summary of my workout:
Cardio: 32 minutes / 300 calories
Weight training on five machines
70 sit-up on the apparatus
After I showered, I felt so refreshed and good! Exercising is definitely essential..
I have to do this more often. I can't be too ambitious so I target to go gym a minimum of twice a week. If time permits, I would go three times..
And of course, at the same time, I HAVE to cut down on what I eat.. :/
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Unlike my travel companion and fellow blogger who painstakingly took notes along the journey.. (yeah, she's more like the reporter instead of me! hehe), i just absorbed whatever came along with this forgetful brain of mind. Aiya, its my holiday afterall and not an assignment. So Lynn, let me know if you spotted any factual mistakes. :p
I thought instead of giving a chronological account of the journey, which will take a lot of blogging space and not mentioning the time! I should jot down the more memorable bits of the trip.
1. Snail-like Immigration Counter. Landing at Siem Reap airport, I was acquainted with the slowest ever Immigration queue I have come across in my life! The immigration officers took ages, and I mean ages, to just clear one person. And it didn't help that some of the computers were not functioning properly. We were standing in a queue that didn't move at all for 15 minutes and I think for that little number of passengers there, it took way too long to get a chop into their country!
2. Open-air Travelling Experience on a `Tutuk'. We went round Siem Reap and its outskirt on a `tutut' or `tutuk' for three days - exposing ourselves to the dusty wind along the way. But we agreed it's the best way to go about as it gives a real leisurely and tourisy feel to it. Of course, it would be cheaper than taking a cab!
3. Communication Barrier. As most of the locals don't speak English, we were trying to converse in broken English and sign language to most of the people we came across - including hotel and restaurant staff! The worst part was trying to speak to our tutuk driver's elder brother who stood in one day for him, and we really had difficulties telling him things. It makes me realise the importance of language!
4. Getting Soaked in Angkor Wat! We were drenched by rain on the first day of our visit at Angkor Wat! It was monsoon season and we were told it would rain daily without fail around 4 in the afternoon. After spending an hour or so at Angkor Wat, as we were buying drinks, the sky opened and poured! We bought two disposable raincoat and sought solace at the terrace of a Buddhist temple nearby for close to half and hour.. Yeah, we looked so funny and pathetic that neither of us wanted to take a photo :p It also rained the next day but thankfully it didnt disrupt our plans too much and the last day we were blessed with clear sunny weather!
5. Being `Ambushed' by Hawking Children Everywhere. The street children who were selling souvenirs of all kinds would flog to you at all the tourist destination. In their rather polished and simple English, they tried to outwit one another for business. Because there were just so many of them and the things they sold didn't interest us, we didn't give them busines. Some of them would sulk. Then there were also quite a lot of beggers, usually young women carrying young children begging for money.
6. The Steep Steps Challenge. I managed to climbing up and down the steepest and largest steps I have ever seen at a few of the temples. The first and the `scariest' is at the grand tower of Angkor Wat. Normally I am rather afraid of heights but was motivated to go all the way up to the tower for a panaromic view. And it was quite an adventure really but coming down really took a toll on my thigh muscles. Since I've not exercised for 2 months, the thigh felt crampy and I was almost limping.. yes, the muscles ached throughout the journey!
7. Feasting with Local Khmer cuisine to Western meals. One thing we didn't stinge on was food. And with the energy we used up daily walking the temples, refueling ourselves with good nutrition was rather important. :p With some recommendation from our tutut driver and also from guide books, we sampled an array of pretty good food and enjoyed the ambience and atmosphere at the tourisy outlets..
8. Getting a Bargain from Shopping and Haggling. We went shopping at this old market with many stalls selling anything from clothings to accessories to decorative items and household stuff and of course all sorts of Cambodian souvenirs. The trick was to slash an item's price to half and slowly bargain from there.. and if you walk away, you will normally get the price you wished! So i think we each spent around USD20 and managed to buy a whole lot of stuff!
9. Vistas for Photography. The Angkor temples are the perfect setting for beautiful photography. Armed with my digital camera, I had fun searching for interesting angles to capture the memories of the ancient relics. Good thing I wasn't alone so we alone could take photos of each other with the scenes!
10. Visiting the Great Angkor Temples. The real highlight was of course visiting about six or seven of the Angkor Temples and marvelling at these magnificent ancient architecture and structures built about 1,000 years back. And there were so much to see as in them were the many different beautiful carvings and sculptures. Being in these ruins were like being in another world and civilization, and was quite an experience in itself. We visited the site of `Tomb Raiders' where there were some old trees with really huge roots. Then there were the huge face sculptures at Bayon and other temples of amazing structural designs..
One question that kept wondering in my head was how much of manpower and time and resources were being used to build these structures. And on top of that, someone actually thought of such intricate and amazing designs! And all those were done without any technology that we have today that we use to builld our sky scrapers..
and SOME OBSERVATIONS
1. The Stark Disparity between Modernity and Poverty. This is very apparently in Siem Reap and was something rather curious to me. We were greeted with a ultra modern and tastefully designed airport and parts of the town were definitely developed for tourists. There was even a Pub Street (is that the name?) where Westernised eateries and pubs were located. The road going to the Angkor temples were beautifully paved and adorned with rows of trees for shades. But when we travelled at other parts of the town and the outskirt, it was a totally different picture.
2. Hotel Overload! For a small town that has a population of only 90,000, Siem Reap has LOTS AND LOTS of hotels! I have never seen such density of hotels in one small area - from many existing and up-and-coming 5-star hotels to all forms of lower cost and budget hotels. Even many of the pubs and restaurants also run small accommodation. Just try google siem reap and accommodation and you know what I mean..
3. Quite Roads. At the same time, it was rather strange that most of the roads around Siem Reap were almost free of traffic! The only time there were a mini `jam' was at 5pm in this certain main street. Other than that, where ever our tutut went, it felt we were the `queens' of the roads!
4. Roaming Naked Children. The children were free to roam about and had fun playing in the outdoors on their own. Many of them were stark naked even! Their favourite pastime seemed to be swimming in the muddy river and lakes. And yes, swimming was second nature to walking to them.. All of them were so at home in the water!
5. Absence of Other Religions. Cambodia is a Buddhist country although the ancient culture was influenced by Hinduism. There were many Buddist temples and monastry everywhere but we didn't notice even one church or mosque. But fianlly we did spot two churches - one is a Catholic church on the floating village which we visited on the 3rd day.
6. A Laid-back Lifestyle. The people do live their life at a very s-l-o-w pace. People could just sit at one place and did nothing, idling time away. They also do things quite slowly, including in their work.