Category Archives: Places

The Watery Worlds: Kerala’s Backwaters, Ha Long Bay and Venice

The natural progression for the travel journal after Vienna should be Venice but since we did not spend much time in Venice and since we just visited Ha Long Bay, might as well I do a two in one. And then as I started to write, I remembered how the experience in Ha Long Bay reminded me of the experience in the Backwaters of Kerala. We have similarly spent one night on the boat in the Backwaters as we did in Ha Long Bay and we did cruised and enjoyed the same carefreeness, if such a word exists.

Ha Long Bay is picturesque and the sights are pretty amazing. But that place felt very touristy and lacking in some character. The Backwaters, although there are also many tour operators there, the environment did not feel as congested as Ha Long Bay. The atmosphere was more relaxed and there are tons of character. But perhaps I am not comparing apple to apple. In the Backwaters, we had a whole boat to ourselves with our own captain and private cook. And it also costs much less than the Ha Long Bay trip.

Comparatively, I will visit the Backwaters again without having to think but I don’t think I want to return to Ha Long Bay. Picture to picture, the Backwaters does not seems at all comparable to those magnificent limestone hills of Ha Long Bay but there is a natural calm to the Backwaters, and definitely much more authentic.

What about Venice? A completely different animal altogether. It does not have the natural surroundings of the Backwaters nor Ha Long Bay but instead is surrounded by many beautiful buildings with some very nice architecture. Although it is somewhat a tourist city, in itself it has a lot of life. It is a real city where real people live and work and has a life. The way the canals run through those beautiful old buildings makes it one of the most beautiful cities I have visited. We did not spend enough time in Venice but will I return to Venice? Definitely.

The Backwaters is a small town on water. Venice is a city on water. Ha Long Bay is a tourist destination on water.

Pictures say a thousand words, so here they are.

VENICE, ITALY

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BACKWATERS, KERALA, INDIA

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HA LONG BAY, VIETNAM

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halong10So what’s your take?

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Vienna, a Tribute to Gustav Mahler. Movies.

Vienna has always been sort of a teenage dream. At that time, I only knew it was the land of classical music. Only later did I know it has so much more but then again, it was how all the dream to visit Vienna started, i.e. it being a musical dreamland. Then in my twenties, Vienna is a must visit place, sort of like a personal pilgrimage, to pay respects to none other than the great Gustav Mahler.

I cannot remember how I got so deep into Mahler. Something about his music speaks to me. I remember Ted Dorall from the New Straits Times whom I have gotten quite close to at that time (like 13 years ago?) asked me why such a great fascination for Mahler but I cannot remember exactly how I answered him although I remembered then going into a discussion on THE CATCHER IN THE RYE and why he didn’t like Holden and thereafter went into a bit of Hemingway’s A MOVEABLE FEAST. The last time I saw him, he was moving to Penang and gave me a compilation of Hemingway’s short stories as a parting gift.

Continuing from the previous travel journal, we took a train from Prague to Vienna. The first thing we did after checking into the hotel was to go and see the Wiener Staatsoper, the famous Vienna State Opera. Of course it has such great history but for me, all that was in my mind that evening was Gustav Mahler and his time there. It is a dream come true, to be standing at the place where Mahler stood.

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Nothing beats being in the hall itself and having bought the ticket to Mozart’s LA CLEMENZA DI TITO, we indulged in an evening of musical extravaganza. This opera by Mozart is from his later period and is much less well known compared to the likes of THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO or THE MAGIC FLUTE but I felt that opera to be quite deep and engaging. It seems that this opera which was previously believed to be an inferior opera is now beginning to get a revival and was also favorably performed by The Metropolitan Opera in New York.

IMG_0279The little LED panel (blue light) at the back of the seats let’s you choose subtitles for the opera.

IMG_0292The orchestra pit right in front of the stage. I can’t help but imagine Mahler conducting there, although it is now different from Mahler’s time.

staatsbackWe also went for a tour of the opera house and was shown around, including a room named after Mahler. The picture above is the backstage.

A Mahlerite’s visit to Vienna cannot be complete without paying respects to Mahler at Grinzing where he was buried. I sat there by his grave and listened to the whole of his 5th Symphony. It was a wonderful day. The sky was clear and there was light breeze. The weather was slightly cool but not too cold. The place was quite empty and sitting there with his music, I cannot help but shed a few tears.

Woody Allen in his film MANHATTAN asked what makes life worth living.

For me, what makes life worth living comprises of moments like this. Sitting there, I try to figure out what life is all about. I still don’t know but at the moment, and many other moments, I felt it. What makes life worth living is the immense depth of the human spirit and the immense possibility to experience and enjoy them, be part of that human movement. What makes life worth living is the people that makes it worth living. Family and friends. Together appreciating these wonderful human creation and spirit, be it the making and/or appreciation of music, films, art, literature, food, poetry, playing GO….. and hopefully be part of this spirit, contributing whatever little we can to this human world.

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Besides the many sightings of Mahler, e.g. a bronze plate here and there, a street named after him, he also has his own section in the House of Music (Haus der Musik). There are many memorabilia there, including his favorite cap and some letters in his own handwriting. Although it is not a very large exhibition, there is enough Mahler there for me to spend some time.

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All in all, we had a great time with Mahler in Vienna.

Besides Mahler, we also indulged in some movie experience and the best was to go down the Viennese sewers just like Carol Reed’s movie THE THIRD MAN. It is truly an out of the world experience! It has to be a once in a lifetime experience and a must-do if you are a movie fan. Uber-cool.

3rd1Going down into the sewers.

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The guide who knows the movie inside out.

3rd2A picture inside the sewers in black and white.

Besides THE THIRD MAN experience, we were lucky that the Vienna International Film Festival is being held there. And there is a retrospective on Fritz Lang. We immediately bought tickets to his DR. MABUSE THE GAMBLER. It was a 4 hour show in Black and White. Not to mention a silent movie! The pianist did a magnificent job, accompanying the show for 4 hours without rest. It was a new experience for me doing that, and at some point in time, it was also hard for me although Fritz Lang is not a stranger to me having watched METROPOLIS and M, two of his most famous works.

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IMG_3551Waiting to go into the screening hall.

There is so much to Vienna that such a short time cannot do justice to it. There are still many things to explore. I am not talking about buildings and monuments and such. Those things are what many tourists do. They visit a place and takes as many pictures of buildings and monuments as they can.

What I am saying is to have more time to explore the place a bit. Stay there and work there for a while if possible. To know the people and what they really do. Then to dig deeper into the culture and food. But as tourists, it is very hard to do that. But any touring cannot just be visiting buildings and monuments but with whatever little time, one needs to explore the arts and culture, not to mention exploring local food.

If not, why not just stay at home and watch Discovery Channel and if there is a need, use Photoshop and paste your own picture on those buildings and monuments? That way, it saves a lot of money.

(some photo credit many thanks to Kit Liew!)

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Prague….. not so Kafkaesque after all.

Having been lazy and following on from Taipei, I thought I would add a post on the travel journal slot for the trip to Prague last autumn. Vienna, Venice and Rome will have to wait a bit. Memories are very peculiar in a way not dissimilar to what Tagore said, something to this effect:

“I do not know who has painted the pictures of my life imprinted on my memory. But whoever he is, he is an artist. He does not take up his brush simply to copy everything that happens; he retains or omits things just as he fancies; he makes many a big thing small and small thing big; he does not hesitate to exchange things in the foreground with things in the background. In short, his task is to paint pictures, not to write history. The flow of events forms our external life, while within us a series of pictures is painted. The two correspond, but are not identical.”

I feel the same way too. What I desire in my memory is not an exact blow by blow, second by second “true” account of what exactly happened. That will be too sterile and unromantic.

The memories of Prague is one of a giant Disneyland. This is perhaps due to the nature of my visit, i.e. we are merely tourists. But that city is one magical place. The buildings silently speak untold stories it witnessed through its turbulent history. I was impressed with how dog friendly that city is, how bicycle friendly, and what a good transportation system it has. All the hallmarks of an advanced and civic conscious city, which took me a bit by surprise. It makes me reflect on my own city and what a substandard job our city management has done comparatively.

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The beautiful subway station. Well maintained and clean.

But of course, mentioning Prague will inevitably trigger my admiration first and foremost for Franz Kafka and also, but to a lesser extent, Dvořák and Smetana. Surely, Prague has been the host to many others. Mozart once said that the people of Prague understands him. Einstein found Prague to be a great place conducive for him to immerse himself in thoughts and further crystalize his theories on relativity.

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Franz Kafka Museum. Not a big place but the atmosphere inside and the music is unmistakably Kafkaesque!

But no one that ever comes to Prague can miss the vein that runs through this city, the Vltava River. One of my best memories of Prague, besides the morning walk on the Petrin Hill where I have foolishly caught a cold, was to walk by the bank of the Vltava River and listening to Smetana’s MA VLAST (My Country) where the river’s name was featured as one of the six symphonic poems. It is a wonderful piece of music and listening to that piece by the bank of the river, watching the swans swimming in the most carefree manner is one of the high points of the trip.

It is one of those memories what I pray will not fade from my feelings and my mind. And this is one of the reasons to be alive, to be happy, a reason to celebrate life! Memories like this makes life worth living.

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By the bank of the Vltava River

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A Kafka statue. Guess which story this is from.

There is music everywhere. Truly a city of arts and culture.

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Street musicians abound. 

We went for a performance of SWAN LAKE which was so-so. On our final night, we had a sublime performance in the Smetana Hall playing Ravel and Gershwin.

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Some more pictures of Prague:

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Autumn on Petrin Hill

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Street artists on the Charles Bridge

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Municipal House, home to the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.

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Tram lines. Great transportation system in Prague.

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Night scene from the Old Town area. 

Prague is a magical city.

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Lin Yutang

“If a man be sensible and one fine morning, while he is lying in bed, counts at the tips of his fingers how many things in life truly will give him enjoyment, invariably he will find food is the first one.” – The Importance of Living

Lin Yutang (1895 – 1976) is one of the very first Chinese writers that I admire through reading his book THE IMPORTANCE OF LIVING. The charm of the book is in its simplicity, the enjoyment of the small things in life. I have since bought many copies of the book and have given them all away to my friends.

Very often, we live our busy life, going through the hustles of the day, be it spending it on meeting after meeting or busy creating stuffs, we forget how to live and what are the important things in life. Of course, one needs to work but not at the expense of living. Articles like the enjoyment of lying in bed, on food, on culture and even on how to choose a good son in law are such a good read, it always refreshes the mind.

He has written many books, and translated many as well. For example, here is one very nice paragraph about library from his book WITH LOVE & IRONY:

“Books should never be classified. To classify them is a science, but not to classify them is an art. Your five-foot book shelf should be a little universe in itself. This effect is achieved by letting a book of poems incline on a scientific paper, and allowing a detective story to keep company with a volume of Guyau. So arranged, the five-foot shelf becomes a rich shelf, intriguing your fancy. On the other hand, if the shelf is occupied by a set of Ssema Kuang’s Mirror of History, then in moments when you do not feel inclined to look into the Mirror of History, the shelf can have no meaning for you, and it becomes a poor shelf, bare to the bones. Every one knows that women’s charm lies in their mystery and elusiveness, and old cities like Paris and Vienna are so interesting because after staying there for ten years, you never quite know what may turn up in the narrow alley. That same thing is true of a library. There should be that mystery and elusiveness which comes from the fact that you are never quite sure what you have hidden on that particular shelf some months or years ago.”

Lin Yutang’s many writings exudes this kind of romanticism and nonchalant way to life. Rigidity, bureaucracy is thrown out of the window. This is one person that can write a book and call it THE PLEASURE OF A NON-CONFORMIST. His romantic and sensitive being makes his translation of SIX CHAPTERS OF A FLOATING LIFE such a great pleasure to read.

On the trip to Taiwan, we went to pay respects to him at his old home in Yangmingshan. It is a modest place but overlooking a great scenery. The architectural style is predominantly Chinese but given that Dr. Lin is such a cross cultural person, there are hints of western architecture and design here and there, especially hints of Spanish designs.

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The above is the shot of the house from the gate entrance. Simple house with a nice garden, Dr. Lin is walking his talk.

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This is a shot of one of his bookcases. The books collected is a melting pot of east and west philosophy, literature, travel, all sorts of books. Confucius and Lao Tzu lives there peacefully with Nietzsche and Plato while Shakespeare and Goethe aren’t lonely in the company of their eastern counterparts.

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One of Dr. Lin’s big project in his life, besides writing and translating books and dictionaries, is to build a typewriter that can type Chinese characters. He went into serious financial difficulties trying to do so. This typewriter in his house is on his writing desk overlooking the garden.

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This picture of Dr. Lin and his dear wife decorates one wall of the cafe at the back of the house which serves really good tea. It is very relaxing, just like a chapter from his book The Importance of Living.

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Dr. Lin’s final resting place, overlooking the beautiful scenery below.

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Some Photos

Following the trip to Bali, here are some photos from the trip. It is a very beautiful place. All photos taken by my wife with her Nikon camera.

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Some Photos From Cambodia

Here are some photos from our Cambodia trip, taken by my wife


Beautiful Angkor Wat at sunset.


An apsara at sunset in Angkor Wat


The wonderful Ta Phrom


Some of the carvings on the walls of Angkor Wat


Many headless Buddhas stolen by art thieves. One reason I cannot stand seeing the Buddha head being displayed at some places, even if those are just replicas.


Cambodian children very happy with sweets we gave them. Bring lots of sweets and pens to give to them.


Children playing with the water on the Tonle Sap lake.


Entrance to Angkor Thom


Some of the huge carvings at the Bayon


The Happy Herb restaurant at Siem Reap

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Back from Cambodia and All

Well, not exactly to Cambodia as in exploring Cambodia but just to Siem Reap mostly for the Angkor temple visits. Would love to spend more time to explore Cambodia but maybe this will happen only the next time. Have been reading a lot about stuffs to do, eg. in Phnom Penh to shoot a real AK47 and to witness for myself the absolute evilness that the human heart is capable in the Killing Fields. Also to explore Cambodia’s seaside towns and enjoy the great seafood promised by our tour guide.

One of the highlights of the trip is the eating of the “Happy Herb” pizza at the happy herb pizza restaurant. You have to specifically ask for happy herb and after eating that, we were very happy indeed :)

Next up, I am now a citizen of Facebook and this is taking up quite a lot of my time but is quite fun sometimes.

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Cinema Paradiso

I think I was really foolish not to check this place out until now. The place is called “Cinema Paradiso” located near the popular shopping mall called Hyderabad Central. Aptly named, the place is a very respectable DVD rental shop. The selection is not bad at all and covers not only the popular Hollywood and Indian movies but also quite a good selection of international movies. There is quite a good selection from the Criterion Collection series as well. While European cinema, both classics and contemporary, are well covered, Asian movies are not that well represented. But well, one cannot have everything unless we bring in something as massive as Netflix.

I am now a member of “Cinema Paradiso” and I am salivating just simply by looking at their collection of Satyajit Ray’s works. Plus they have some Fellinis, Bressons, Truffauts, Bergmans, Bunuels, Kiarostamis, Tarkovskies etc. that I wanted to watch.

It is disheartening to always find that Asian movies are so under-represented everywhere. Great Asian movies exist but not enough people are promoting them except for a few passionate people such as those people at the Subway Cinema. This is one feeling that I got after going to the shop but I have always had this feeling after I read some “100 Greatest Movies of All Time” lists that appear everywhere on the web, some of which are from respectable institutions such as the Sight & Sound magazine.

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Some Photos

As mentioned in my earlier post, we were visiting Kerala over the last weekend and visited Munnar and the Backwaters at Alleppey. Here are some photos.

The Backwaters:

Munnar:

All the above photos were taken by my wife.

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Kerala and more Indian Movies

This is my fifth month in India and I have been travelling a bit in these few months, both for business and pleasure. Besides Hyderabad which is where I am staying, I’ve seen Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Agra, Jaipur and just a few days ago, Cochin, Allappuzha (Alleppey) and Munnar in Kerala. Of all these places, I like Kerala the most. Its quiet charm and its Backwaters is a most apt counter to the growth frenzy that is happening in most cities in India. I was supposed to go to Darjeeling but on the advice by the tour agent that it is raining a lot there, we decided to go to Kerala instead. The backwaters is really an experience that is worth every rupee that I have spent and more. India in my mind has now changed and there is still so much to India to experience and explore.

On the movies side, since I cannot take it anymore to wait for the DVD release, I went and watch Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna in the cinema knowing well that it is without subtitles. The great thing about Bollywood movies is that you do not really need to know Hindi to understand the movie due mainly to the explicit acting and storyline but also to the frequent use of English. So it was no trouble at all to watch the movie and I enjoyed it very much. It is a much more matured work compared to Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and definitely more so compared to Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, the director Karan Johar’s previous two movies.

But my greatest recent find after “Lagaan” is a movie called “Matrubhoomi” (A Nation Without Women). My introduction (in a serious way) to Indian movies is through Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy (besides those old Tamil movies that my grandmother loved and which I used to sit near her to watch on Saturday afternoons). Now with the growing popularity of the Bollywood movies, Indian movies seem to have been stereotyped by them. Whenever we talk about Indian movies internationally, the association to Bollywood movies, and therefore long running time and dance and music numbers, is rather automatic. Although my knowledge of Indian movies is like a drop of water in the ocean, I feel that this association is not doing some really good Indian movies that do not fit into the Bollywood model justice. Gone are the Satyajit Ray’s time. Blech! You cannot even find his movies in the store. I was looking high and low for some of his movies and I managed to find some in the old city but those are bad VCD copies with no subtitles.

I remember mentioning about “Chokher Bali” in my earlier post. I do find it a good movie and a rather decent adaptation of Tagore’s original novel. I found and have watched recently another work by the same director called “Raincoat”. It, like in “Choker Bali”, does not fit into the Bollywood model but is a superb, superb movie to watch. A simple story but extremely well made. This same goes to the movie I mentioned above, “Matrubhoomi”. It is a very profound movie and again not in the usual Bollywood model. I wonder how many of these great movies from India that I have missed! The thought that I have been missing these movies is killing me!!

I hope I will have enough time to dig deeper into all these and find more gems. Any help will be greatly appreciated :)

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Lord Ganesha

It is incredible to see the worship of Lord Ganesha everywhere (I just returned from Mumbai and it is all the same, in fact, it was more so happening in Mumbai with many road processions) and this festival will culminate with the immersion of the Lord Ganesha statue on the 6th of September. By right, this festival is for 10 days which should end on Tuesday, 5th September but Tuesdays and Saturdays are considered “bad” days for the Hindus, so the immersion will happen on the next day.

In the spirit of the Ganesha Festival, my tribute to Lord Ganesha on my blog with this picture.

May Lord Ganesha Be With You

The Symbolism of Lord Ganesha

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Paris London

Some photos from the trip:

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Tu A Lang and Hot Hot Days

Without fail, every year during the Chinese New Year, the weather is extremely hot. I was back in Ipoh for the Chinese New Year celebrations for a week and had eaten so much, I can hardly walk now. Besides the superb home cooked food by all the aunties and my mom, we had gotten away from Ipoh itself to savour delicious super duper food in Tanjung Tualang (famous for it’s absolutely tasty fresh water prawns), Taiping (super duper mee soup) and Penang (super duper for everything).

“Tanjung Tualang, Perak is a town well known for its fresh water prawns and its seafood offerings. Order sweet and sour crab, teochew steamed cat fish, oyster omelettes, some fried rice and the most irresistible steamed fresh water prawns this side of town! The best of course, is the steamed fresh water prawns that are locally bred in the Tanjung Tualang area. The prawn is steamed and egg white added to the sauce to give it a creamy taste. The flesh tastes very sweet and the prawn has ‘kou’ (Cantonese) at the head of the prawn. ‘Kou’ is that yellowish and greenish stuff on the head of the prawn. Taste a little bitter but good.” source .

The price is very reasonable as well. For 10 of us, it only cost us merely RM290 (about USD77), for a plate of extra large steamed fresh water prawns, a plate of medium sized prawns fried in soysauce, a generous plate of soft shell crab and a few other dishes. Perhaps the good deal was due to the fact that my brother-in-law’s girlfriend’s uncle owned that place.

Most people know Ipoh for it’s white coffee, it’s “Sar Hor Fun” noodle, it’s Beansprout Chicken but I would also like to strongly recommend the fresh prawn dishes in Tanjung Tualang. It is only about 45 minutes away from Ipoh City. Map.


Some of the dishes that have arrived. Steamed big prawns, soft shell crabs and frog legs (we call them “field chicken” in Chinese).

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Selesa Haruki

A few months ago, my wife’s friends decided to go on a gathering trip to Melaka. I have posted the “adventure” on this blog before. On the last day of the trip, someone very smartly suggested that each couple pays a deposit of RM100 for the next trip to Fraser’s Hill. The logic is that with the deposit money paid, everyone will make it a point to come to these gatherings, and thus renewing the ties of friendship once in a while.

We did not make it to the Fraser’s Hill but setttled with the Selesa Hillhomes instead. It’s quite a nice place to spend a weekend but there isn’t really anything much there except that you get to have time to spend together with each other and secondly, you can take short afternoon trips to either Genting Highland or the Colmar Tropicale. Other than that, you just cook, sit around, chat, play cards, play with the kids, read, etc.

The whole trip is one big noisy adventure, with 7 couples and 4 kids ranging from 2 years old to 5 years old. It was havoc and with the cooking and all, and kids either running or jumping around, or worse, crying and fighting over coloured paper, there is little time to really sit back and enjoy the scenery and the weather. But all said, it is really worth-it and once in a while, spending time like this with friends and their kids is quite fun.

I had by myself some free time and walked around the place, and a nice afternoon reading Murakami while overlooking the mountain top, the feeling is almost like Mahler’s composing house at the Austrian village Steinbach am Attersee minus the lake. Still, the feeling is such and with such a view, I am myself feeling quite moved and inspired to write something or compose a tune or two. I should have bought that Moleskine notebook, I thought to myself.

I have also thought briefly on my last post and while reading Murakami, one passage, from the “1963/1982 Girl from Ipanema”, struck me:

“Someday..I’ll meet myself in a strange place in a far-off world… In that place, I am myself and myself is me. Subject is object and object is subject. All gaps gone. A perfect union. There must be a strange place like this somewhere in the world.”

I often feel and believe that there are two me, each one at times the polar opposite of the other and at times are the best of friends. It sometimes felt like a tug-of-war, like a game of negotiation and compromise. If they do not fight, I am all well but if they do fight, I will be left a very confused person, without any sense of direction and begins to question the essence of my existence. And thus beginning to feel more and more confused about life until my North Pole and my South Pole reconciles.

During the trip as well, the question of whether human beings are innately evil or good comes to my mind again. I have had investigated this to a large extent many years ago and although my heart would love to agree with Mencius, some parts of me wanted to agree with Hsun Tzu, or in this case, to a certain extent, also Hobbes (North Pole – South Pole thing again). This thought came to my mind again while observing the kids. I cannot but see that these kids are all innately selfish!

According to Hsun Tzu, “… the nature of man is evil; his goodness is acquired training”. He followed by saying this, “… Man is born with inherent desire for profit and sensual pleasure. But, despite these beginnings of evilness, Man at the same time possesses intelligence, and this intelligence makes it possible for him to become good.”

hmmm….

Haruki Murakami was at the MIT just last month and you can read about his visit there as well as download some video of him from this blog.

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Of Movies and Hong Kong

Ah, just returned from the Hong Kong trip and found a little time to update the blog. Of course it was a great trip. There were only two setbacks, the first being the typhoon that resulted in us not being able to go on a tour on Hong Kong’s last junk and bringing much rain to the island resulting in us getting wet many times and the second being me not rich enough to grab all the DVDs that I wanted.

I ended up buying over 20 DVDs, 2 books and watched 2 movies. This is beside the fact that thanks to my geeky friend’s thorough knowledge of Hong Kong and its movies, I get to visit many movie locations, for example in Lan Kwai Fong where Wong Kar Wai filmed “Chungking Express” only too bad that the Midnight Express food stall is no longer there, drank at the herbal tea shop where they filmed “Herbal Tea”, ate at the Goldfinch Restaurant where Tony and Maggie ate in “In the Mood for Love”, travelled on the Travelator, walk the streets of “PTU”, had a night in Mongkok, etc. etc. I only wish to get hold of a police uniform and walk around the Hong Kong streets pretending at times being Simon Yam, at times being Tony Leung and at times being Andy Lau in “Days of Being Wild”. That will be really cool.

The DVDs that I have bought include a superb box set of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s films from 1983 to 1986 and this comes together with a beautiful picture book plus some notes on the movies. I have also bought *ahem* (*in vain mood*) a limited edition box set of Yon Fan’s trilogy, “Bugis Street”, “Bishonen”, and “Poeny Pavilion”. Not to mention also a copy of Tsai Ming Liang’s latest “The Wayward Cloud”. Have watched “The Wayward Cloud” since I returned and it’s a crazy film, typical of Tsai. It will never pass the censors here. The visuals are really powerful. I like that film.

The DVDs there are really cheap, some for only about RM9.00 each. These are original DVDs! Unfortunately most of them are Hong Kong movies but if you are a great fan of Hong Kong movies, this is the place to go. We went to the Original Video store in Mongkok. This is the cheapest place to buy DVDs. We also went to UFO near Causeway Bay. The selection there is great as well although the price is slightly higher than that of Original Video. However, for great selection of non-Hong Kong movies, please go to the store at the Broadway Cinematheque. The selection of foreign movies there is just as great although the price can be 10 times or more of local Hong Kong DVDs. Well, given that, it is still cheaper than you order through Amazon or via Fox Home Video. Here’s a guide to buying DVDs in Hong Kong if you are interested. I met the author of the guide, Tim Young, there since my geeky friend is meeting him and he is a superbly nice guy.

For a tour of Hong Kong’s movie past, we visited the Hong Kong Film Archive as well. The exhibition there was very well done and I bought a book on Tsui Hark and another on “A Century of Chinese Cinema”.

Well, that’s about all of some of the movie related stuffs that we did. The other touristsy things were also great. I really look forward to going to Hong Kong again and I hope to be able to make it to the film festival next year.

Oh, by the way, “Swing Girls” was really nice. Too bad they are not showing it in Malaysia and I don’t recall Uncle Ho releasing that title as well ;-)

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