Total Pageviews

Jan 29, 2008

Travelogue - Bangkok in pics

Its a bit late, but here goes.

I'm posting some pictures from the week in Bangkok, Thailand. A picture speaks a thousand words (...and i'm presently running short of time and words) so "i hope... u.. will.. co-operate..." (chummified look) ;)

The jackfruit seller! I luv jackfruit aka chakka... and it was a while since I had chakka and karikku... That week was probably the most I've eaten of chakka and karikku.. Paradise it was.

Karikku deshelled and ready to consume... Aaaahhh!!

The sign outside the airport...

The statue of the angry warrior (or war God) inside the airport. The expressions of the God was quite... expressive. I was hoping to get a t-shirt with the face, but fellow tourists beat me to it. Che!

The streets of the Chatuchang (not spelt correctly) market - one of the biggest flea markets in the Far East. This market is MASSIVE! We spent a whole morning and bit of the afternoon there. Good fun this place - the bargaining, the stuff to buy, the she-men...

The tuk-tuk. The prime mode of transport in Bangkok (apart from the pink taxis)... The coolest part of the trip to Bangkok was the wheelie our driver did on the way back to the hotel... Most awesome experience ever.

These shop boats are out there to tout tourists. The stuff they are selling is quite expensive by Bangkok standards and its a pre-arrangement between the shop owner and the tour boat operator.
The canal boats that take tourists into the river that runs through Bangkok. From the cruise we could take in sights of the various temples that line the banks of the river.

The view from atop of Watt Po temple. Over the river (from where we came from) is the roofs of the Temple Palace. We had to take the ferry across the river for a small fee.

The Watt Po temple in the night. Pity the picture doesn't really convey the beauty of this majestic temple in the evening.

One of the gold plated idols at the Palace.

The beautiful Palace where the King & Queen reside. It also includes artifacts and weapons museum.

The famous Thai massages. I had 2 sessions of this, a half hr and an hr session. Its not possible to sleep through this (well I can't, but one of my colleagues did) as they keep moving you around and pressing on tension points on the body. The result is a supple and rejuvenated body.

The golden temple area near the Wat Arun temple. Large garden / temple type area with paintings, statues, idols, tourists etc. A great feast for the eyes - esp the different architecture.

The golden temple area again... I did mention its quite big.

Another section of the golden temple area. The gold plated corridors with two dimensional paintings depicting life during the times. The paintings showed activities such as harvests, wars between fellow tribes, prayers to the Gods.

Soo... do pictures say a thousand words...? Debatable.

Jan 15, 2008

Movie review - Vettaiyadu Vilayadu

Vetta-wot!? :)

My first reaction when coming across the DVD lying on top of my uncle's computer desk. Never heard of the movie before. But it had Kamal Haasan on it, and one of Kollywood's top music directors. And the director - Gautham Menon - impressed earlier in Madhavan's Minnale & the cop film, Kaaka Kaaka. And, he's an engineer... :)

Kaaka Kaaka especially stood out for its technical aspects like its slick editing, cinematography and its fast pace and characterisations. I was really impressed with the style of the movie. Its was refreshingly different to the movies churning out of the Indian sub-continent. It was one of my favourite Tamil movies before Anniyan came out. I had reviewed Anniyan in a previous post ages ago.

Take the time to go through Gautham Menon's biography. Its quite impressive, and is a real role model for those aspiring to check out the film making industry. His interviews portray a very down-to-earth sort of person who picked the opportunity to enter the industry and succeeded through getting a smart team (editor, music direcor, artists) to work with him (remnants of Rich Dad, Poor Dad coming out there...)

Soo.. the movie. Rather than rehash earlier reviews of 'stand out' movies, I decided to take a different approach in this blog. A Gautham Menon perspective. How the director would get the movie to look the way it is. I've absolutely no experience in the film industry, so please bear with me.

The best way to make the film you want will probably be to script the story and dialogues the way you would want. As is the case here. Script is ready - probably made in 'super' style to match the main actor's star status. Due to the success of the previous venture, the pressure's on to stick to a story with a winning formula (a bit of a let down, i have to add). The opening fight sequence bears no relevance to the film's theme or hints at any aspect of our hero's character. He is supposed to battle brawn with brain in the rest of the movie. I guess, these are the sacrifices one has to make to cash in on star power and keep a masala movie financially viable.

Ok so now we are into the movie. Some realistic and graphic scenes in the beginning to get the shock factor going. At the same time, an introduction to the hero and a few slick edits to keep the story as racy as possible. Some creative camera-work to complement the editing.

The shock factor gets spread thickly throughout the film to keep the tension going. A love angle to get the audience to feel the hero's trauma when the villain strikes. Excellent music by the master director, Harris Jayaraj, especially the theme song. Harris Jayaraj is the tamil movie industry's answer to Malluwood's Deepak Dev (I believe).

Eventually, after some 'artsy' dialogue delivery and dubbing, the final product is released amidst yellow newspaper gossip and red carpet premieres throughout the world where a high density of South Indians exist like Malaysia or South Africa.

Aaaaahhh.... the life cycle of a movie. Each one must have a different story to tell.

One question... who plays the abducted daughter in the film? She's quite pretty n has a good screen presence.

Dec 14, 2007

Malaysian cuisine

The big plate of crab, masala fried for rm20 at Port Klang, malaysia. Yum! :)

Dec 13, 2007

Death of a blogger?

Its been a while now since the old grey cells pushed toward putting something creative on the www. While there have been a number of solid reasons such like time, impatience, other interests, work etc etc sorta taking precedence over a right-brain work out, its also perhaps another example of how easily a Virgo gets bored with the same automation over a continuous period of time.

So is it another example of an online loss of health? Another loss of a blogger? Is continuity and regularity really a good reason to close down?

Granted, it was with great enthusiasm that this blogger decided to spread some creative flair across the Internet. Perhaps expectations were high, like a Priyadarshan bollywood movie. Maybe reporting in a travelogue format can become tedious, especially since a couple of paragraphs don't really relay the essence of an exciting trip.

So maybe its time to mark down travelogues and move on to other interesting topics. Perhaps this will reawaken the Phoenix (so to speak). Soo... topics... Hmmm...

1. Moments of the week? Hmmm... I've such a bad memory. Its just the interesting parts that reside somewhere behind the cranium, and wield their heads once in a blue moon. No... I'll get stuck. Its a great right-side exercise - but its not meaty enough.

2. Movie reviews? The blog started off in this manner, but it turned out like the travelogue story. A few paragraphs don't convey the complete experience. And more than often, I was tempeted to re-edit a post because it didn't depict an emotion well. Ok, so thats out too...

3. "Sticks & Stones..."? Naa.. negativity get you nowhere. Its distressing reading it over again. So, no.

4. Travelogue? Ok i'll give it a try. Its fun, and the pics help a lot. But how often will travel happen?

5. Humour? :) Its a mood thing. I'm not in the mood.

6. Geek stuff? Interesting, but i'd be conveying other people's comments. And its not like we in ZA are a privileged bunch of people when it comes to the latest in gadgets. Perhaps.



(writer's block)

Ok.. maybe the upcoming holidays will rejuvenate something.

I'll prepare the casket just in case. Ugghhhh!! I mean - coffin.

Nov 22, 2007

Nov 9, 2007

A week in Israel - the melting pot of faiths for centuries

I was lucky enough to get a week's trip to the holy land of Israel. The client was looking to move into a resource-rich part of the western coast of Africa, and were in the process of deploying a competing telecommunications network to complement the need for technology.

Jaffa port - the view of Tel Aviv

From the tedious interrogation at the Johannesburg airport till the rigorous check during departure from Ben Gurion Tel Aviv international airport, it was very apparent that the Arab skin colour is not the best possible one to have in order to guarantee a hassle free trip. On the one hand, it ensured my safety in the region (for which I'm thoroughly glad for), but its also sad that 'random' checks are necessary in order to keep the civil life in motion.

The view of the beach from outside our hotel

The first couple of days were spent between the client and the hotel. We were based in Tel Aviv throughout our stay. The first night was spent exploring the old port of Jaffa near Tel Aviv. The food there is amazing. Very healthy, yet tasty - a rare combination! I fell head-over-heels over the hummus and tahini - great combos with the amazing breads and pitas. They also love their cheese. Meat in Tel Aviv is a no no.

From outside old Jerusalem. The Messiah of the Jews will walk through the sealed gates during the coming.

By the way, Jewish traditions are followed very strictly in Tel Aviv. Amusing, yet interesting traditions they follow include: the black coat, top hats and sideburns worn by Jewish men even in the hot & humid weather, the following of the Sabbath - no work which also includes not pressing the floor buttons on the lifts.

Inside Jerusalem.

We were treated to sushi and hamburger lunches by the client. Very kind of them. Perhaps its just my lack of experience, but I noticed that even if it takes a while to become close to an Isreali, once you've got their attention, they will truly honour your presence with their friendly atmosphere and the down-to-earth attitude. I was really taken aback at how quickly they warmed up to us.

The view from Jerusalem into the region of Massada. Olive leaves in the foreground.

The highlight of the trip has to be the day tour of the holy city of Jerusalem - the melting pot of the 3 major religions in the world - Islam, Judaism & Christianity. Its quite interesting to follow the history of the city (kingdom of heaven) where the faiths positioned their traditions upon. Its also quite heart-breaking that the people in the region have almost been pawns in the power plays of the great conquests and crusades in our history. One faith overpowering another based on teachings passed down through religious leaders. You'll probably figure out by now where I stand regarding this issue...

The road to Jerusalem

Ok, so Jerusalem's Christian, Jewish & Muslim symbols of faith stand powerfully throughout the divided regions in the area. The people in the city don't seem to care about the fuss around them; it was pleasing listening to our Jewish guide and the Arab traders engaged in chit-chat about the day. For me, the people and the lifes they follow made my trip worthwhile.

Sooo, what did we get upto in Jerusalem? Here goes...

  • We stopped at a point outside the city infront of a large number of graves (Jews believe dying in the holy land is the closest possible route to God). It also faced the old stone walls surrounding Old Jerusalem and views to the Western Wall.
The view of Old Jerusalem with Temple mount's golden dome.

  • The Garden of Gethsemane with a Church next to the olive tree filled garden. The sealed gate from which the Messiah according to Jewish faith will come through is just a few yards away.
The garden of Gethsamene

  • The Arab side of Jerusalem. The most vibrant part of Jerusalem. Great buys, excellent food, lots of beautiful people :) Did I mention how pretty Israeli women are? Tanned skin, beautiful black hair, engrossing eyes, aah..
The vibey, Arab side of Jerusalem.
  • The Western wall. Huge wall housing the ark of the covenant, and the holiest structure in Jewish faith.
The side streets inside old Jerusalem.

  • The many temples, churches and mosques in this little area. The church of Golgotha was very uplifting. It housed the rock of Golgotha and the stone on which Jesus was placed after his crucifixion.
Inside the church of St. Mary
  • The following of the steps of Jesus to the crucifixion.
The entrance into the church of Golgotha.

  • Last but definitely not least, the Holocaust museum. An engrossing look into our dirty past, and the impact that people have on their fellow human beings. Its a beautifully designed and informative museum - probably the best one I've been to. Starts off showing the lifes of Jews before the times of the Holocaust, goes through timeline through the the persecution, and eventually opens into a beautiful view of the city from a high vantage point. Almost like the creators were telling us to look at the world around us before shaping our future. Very enchanting, depressing yet uplifting. The picture of the Jewish mother shielding her daughter from the German soldier's shotgun just inches away still remains with me.
So thats Jerusalem, and Israel. Very spiritual, vibrant yet solidly founded on faiths that have shaped the history of this tiny portion of the world. Many have tried to make the region a part of their faith. Perhaps, its better if we rather tried to make the region a part of our hearts...

Cape Town - a weekend with the folks

Eventually got down and dirty, and decided to treat the folks to a weekend in Cape Town - the southern most tip of the greatest continent on Earth. Cape Town's generally the 'red pill' of any visit to South Africa. No trip is complete without taking into the beaches, food, wine, weather and sights of the quaint, yet charming town based under the valley of the beautiful Table Mountain.

A list of activities we indulged in:

  • The V&A Waterfront - an impressive waterfront based on the busiest part of Cape Town. We decided to explore this area first. There were some great views of the ocean and the mountain, as well as various little shops and flea markets displaying different items of souvenirs.
A view of Table mountain from the waterfront

  • Table Mountain - What strikes the discerning traveler the most has to be the flatness of the mountain, and the views that the top of the mountain offers of the Cape Town harbours and the various beaches lining the coast. The cable car ride was a great experience. Come with student cards and/or pensioners cards and you will save big. :)
King of the world... On top of smoky Table mountain

  • Camps Bay - This beachfront offers the some of the tastiest seafood I've eaten (then again, any seafood in SA is good - the quality of fish available on the inner regions in SA tend to be a little unappetizing. There's also an excellent 360 degree view of the beach and ocean on one side, and the mighty Table mountain on the opposite side.

The Table mountain side of Camps bay... Pity the clouds, it would have been a splendid view otherwise.

  • The Aquarium - Went, saw a lot of fish, came out. Nothin' too special to mention.
  • Kirstenbosch Botanical gardens - a well-developed valley that has a wide range of flora. Learnt quite a bit about the various herbal plants... Interesting and informative, its a must for any botanist. My parents loved this one.
An orchid from the Kirstenbosch gardens

  • The Vineyards - no trip to Cape Town is complete without a visit to some of the vineyards in the Cape Town and Stellenbosch area. We hit the Spier winery, and did some wine-tasting. It helps put one in a silly mood throughout the rest of the trip... :)

  • Cape Point & the Cape of Good Hope - Two ecological points on the southernmost tip of Africa. These points offer tourists the opportunity to convince themselves that they are as far south as they could possibly get. Great touristy spots. Saw a lot of water, and the joining point of the 2 mighty oceans of the world.
The family - on the Cape of Good Hope

  • The Gatsby - got a recommendation to try out this typical Cape malay traditional food. Its basically a very large hotdog shaped roll with all kinds of meat, veggies and sauces. It was definitely unhealthy...but very tasty!

Cape Town... Try it... Wish I had more time to explore more of this place. I'll definitely do CT again. Perhaps, with a different itinerary.

Lekker bly.

Nov 2, 2007

Malaysia's eye-candy

The petronas. Really awesome esp as one gets closer and closer to the base.