Monday, December 31, 2007

Garuda Wishnu Kencana

C'mon, say it with me. "GARUDA WISHNU KENCANA!!!" Really, it's cool saying it. Like some badass cuss. You walk up to some Rempit trying to rob a little old lady and you say "Garuda Wishnu KENCANA MOTHERFUKER!!!" and watch the sonuvabitch scamper for his life. But I digress...

The Gardua Wishnu Kencana was supposed to be the tallest statue in South East Asia. It's suppose to depict the Hindu God Vishnu atop his faithful mount Garuda. It's another example of how wasteful governments can be. This was the pet project of Indonesian ex-president Suharto's boy Tommy. It was supposed to have cost USD$120million. Started in the middle of the Asian Economic crisis in 1998 the project has stalled with only Vishnu's torso, Garuda's head and Vishnu's two hands completed. Basically the project has run out of funds and is waiting for a saviour. I must admit after seeing the giant monolithic pieces and a scaled down model of what would have been, this 146 meter monument would have been an awe inspiring and breath taking sight to behold. But honestly I don't see it happening. Its made of copper and was supposed to be gold plated. Why would anyone spend so much money on another monument? Once you pay your 20,000Rps entry fee (bout RM8) the first sight that greets you is the unused shopping arcade on your right and if you look carefully further down the road you see the pair of disembodied arms floating between giant limestone outcrops. Testaments of one man's overly ambitious ego.

Its located at the Culture Park at the Bukit Peninsula south of Bali. Its quite close to the Uluwatu temple so you can take in both sites if you're there.

A model of the structural make up of the statue.

What would have been the final magnificent result if all had gone to plan.

Do this! - Take the people in this picture and replace it to scale in the picture of the model above this image to truly appreciate how awe inspiring this statue would have been.
UPDATE - 1.28AM, 1st January 2008 - Nex did a photoshop comparison. Mosey on over HERE to be awed.

Still makes for great photo op.

The surrounding is nicely manicured gardens and you actually get a great view of the sea, Kuta, Jimbaran and the airport in the distance. Good view for sunsets too.

The main courtyard that has been used for concerts. Think the Red Hot Chilli Peppers have played here. The Garuda head overlooks this area and thus makes a great backdrop for events.

Some local wildlife loitering around for food and scraps.

The main restaurant. Not bad for a tourist joint. The fried rice was decent at about RM18 and of course the beers were ice cold. Coupled with the view of Bali peninsula with the sea on both sides made this not a bad experience which I shared with my cab driver Made (meaning second child. Sorry, trying to sound NatGeo)

I would recommend this if you go here without any high expectations. If you love taking pictures than go for it. The 3 main pieces of the statue on display are awesome, take some time wondering around the huge limestone outcrops that was carved up to make way for this park. Take the time to even take some pics of the giant arms and finally top it off with a meal or a drink at the restaurant overlooking the countryside and the sea. This would nicely fit in after you've just visited the Uluwatu temple (and your camera and wallet hasn't been stolen by those professional monkeys there!).

*Pictures property of Chindiana Trails

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Allmighty Ringgit

You gotta love our Ringgit, the eternal symbol of cheap, good delicious 24-hour stall food, of great quality and pirated DVDs and of fantastical Mega Projects That Will Further Thrust Us Into International Prominence.

Sometime back I was off to Europe for some meetings. For the first time in a long while I had to travel between countries paying my way as the meetings schedule was unpredictable and ever changing. I call a friend “Dude I’m off to Europe, I need to know how much hard cash I need to bring with me. I’ve a couple of days in UK and then off to Paris for a day or two. My schedule is not fixed this time."

“ Safely bring about a 500 pounds la. You’re not a shopper right?” says my buddy, Mr Jet Setter.

“ What the f….! Dude I’ve ONLY changed like 2 thousand ringgit with me man!”

“Nice one cockhead. That’s like slightly less than one train ride if you need to pop down to Manchester for meetings and your meals for a week if you manage to stay out of the clubs.”

I normally stick to one city per visit. And transportation and accommodation is prearranged. I could take a train from Heaththrow into the city, I wasn't sure about the train from London to Paris and then there was my meals which I hoped to cap off at some pub for about 5 pounds per meal. I had my credit card but that was reserved for the hotel bills. Definitely not something to ease my mind in case I had to extend my stay. I was nervously pissed as I sat in the cab on the way to the airport.

I remember once when I was in New York and had to pay for 4 rooms in Manhattan for about 5 days. My credit card couldn’t support it and ended up paying half the bill with travellers checks and the other half with my credit card who was by now was suffering from a huge insecurity complex.

It’s ridiculous how once we head West the Ringgit literary incarnates into nothing more than toilet paper.

I get to UK and POW! Its 70 pounds for a train ride from Manchester to London. That’s Happy Hour for a month and in Kuala Lumpur or Petaling Jaya we could actually get by having dinners for a month. A long while back I walked up to a beach front vendor by the sea in Cannes and asked for a Coke. WHAM! RM10! That’s one refillable banana leaf lunch with one meat and a teh tarik. In Japan I was trying to stretch my allowance and ordered what looked like Wan Tan Mee – KAZAAM! Rm30! And they didn’t even throw in the Wan Tan! That's 9 Wan Tan Mee plates in KL.

The story of the cost of living for a 'ringgified' (Malaysian abroad comparing every costs to the malaysian Ringgit. Wow, I've created a new word. It must the be the celebrity in me!) Malaysian traveller:

"This pizza good? How much?"

"Si, itsa only 5 million Ringgit."

"Boss, how much for this dingo meat burger?"

"For you mate, fresh of the barbie? Only RM20 million Ringgit."

"Hi Store Keeper San, can i have those Gundam condoms?"

"Hai! That will be 5 billion Ringgit prease."

We used to stand proud. RM1.17 to the Singapore Dollar. Now the Dollar from down South has doubled while we chill out in limbo, the Ringgit and us sharing the same fate of not really knowing where we're headed as a country and as a currency. One pegged to an uncertain partner and the other to an uncertain future.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto Assasinated

She came back. Probably thought that last bomb was a fluke, some renegade clown with just a welcoming present or to make a statement at her arrival.

About an hour ago I shared a beer with a friend and talked about our plans for the next year. Also today 2 of my friends wanted to know how good a lover I am on Facebook while I had my first duck rice of the year somewhere in PJ.

Somewhere between the duck rice and beers the former Pakistani prime minister was shot twice and died in the hospital.

I had to read the headline 3 times before clicking on the link for more details. You don't believe it when things finally screw up on a large scale. We read with disinterest when a couple of recruits for the Iraqi security forces get blasted to bits but a former PM gets the headlines.

Where the fuck are we heading?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Bali Statues

The Balinese statues fascinate me. They share the same organic presence as the architecture around the island. Do you notice how all the stone, rocks and even volcanic rock make even the newest buildings look as if they've been standing for ages?

Since this was a solo trip and I was bored of Kuta, I decided to get it out of my system and started collecting some pictures.

First off, not ALL the statues you see around your hotels or streets in Bali are inspired by a god or mythical creature. After speaking to the staff and cab drivers it seems most of these characters are strictly decorational.

Most religious statues are normally only found around places of worship.

Although it does make we wonder how does one think up this hybrid Buddha/overfed Tweety Bird combo seen above.

Yeah, i thought there was some story behind one of the few human looking figures around but it seems he's just a regular flute blowing dude.

You're going to find fishes aplenty at your hotels especially if the sea near your hotel has lots of catch for fishermen.

The Monster Mash

Wonder what pissed him off? Anyway there are some statues I've seen of an elephant headed fish. That's a legendary character from the sea much like the Mer-Lion of Singapore.

Teenage Pissed Off Mutant Turtle?

This guard dog outside some villas is supposed to be a lion but it looks more like a hyena. But hey, lion or hyena you should be all good for the night.

Dragon/demon/lion thing

Guard Dragon. I just realised that all the 'guardians' are scary ass MoFos so what do the things that they are guarding us from look like?

I thought this was Buddha but was informed it was just a happy little fat dude.

This cool surfer god riding the stones waves outside a surf shop on the way to Jimbaran.

Gods and Mythical creatures

The Raksasha or demon guardian. Talking to a dude from the hotel he said black magic can also be used for good. But that cannot be good in the long term...

Dewa Ruci or Beema from the Hindu myths, the strongest of the 5 Deva brothers in the Mahabratha. I impressed my cab driver with my knowledge of Hindu Mythology. Beema here is seen wrestling with the dragon incarnation of the Balinese God Saeyang Widi (who is supposed to be the one main god on the island) who was putting the Deva through some tests. Guess they didn't believe in multiple answer quizzes back then...

The Satria Gototkaca statue - this awesome monument is also along the way to Jimbaran and shows Beema's bro, Arjuna taking on an Asura dude in the war of kin from the Mahabrattha. It looks to me they downplayed the charioter who in Hindu myths was the incarnation of the god Vishnu/Krishna. It cost about USD145,000 (just an approximation as I my memory is dulled by too much alchohol)

UPDATED 4.46PM, 25th Dec. 2007 - Only Eagle Eyed Ah Lim could have spotted this - the wheels on the chariot has threads! Balinese sense of humour or lack or reference material for the sculptors? Which then brings into question is this a real monument or something just for the tourists?
They detailing is fantastic. Enlarge pics for max effect.

Dewi Seri - Goddess for wealth and harvest.

Ganesha the Hindu God of knowledge and learning.

The unfinished copper plated Garuda, the mount of Vishnu at the Culture Park. I'll cover more on this at a later post.
And finally...

*All pictures property of Chindiana Trails

Monday, December 24, 2007

Kuta, Bali

Suits are not supposed to see the light of day in Bali. Nor ties or shirts or even loafers. And the island showed its disapproval at me by enveloping Kuta and the surrounding area with thick humidity. I was sweating up a storm and even within walls of the hotel lobby my shirt was sticking to my back. Why is it that resort hotels always have un-air conditioned lobbies?

I stayed at the Patra Bali near the airport. Very cosy although there was no real beach instead there was a rocky breaker that stretched all the way to the Discovery Mall.

The breakfast is edible, the Internet is woefully slow at the business center where the price of the Internet access voucher is rather pricey. The rooms are nice and large and you could almost spend the whole day just in the hotel exploring its grounds and just chilling by the beach and the various pools.

Some of the villas. The private suites come with their own outdoor jacuzzi

Patra Bali Main pool

One of the smaller pools closer to the presidential suites

Lobby of Karthika Discovery Hotel

The stretch of Kuta is truly a resort town. The surfer mentality still remains although its probably years past that the last serious surfer gulped down ice cold Bintang looking onto a Balinese sunset. Its all good to walk around shirtless, in string bikinis and especially in flip flops. But beyond the proliferation of surf shops and the surprising abundance of Polo shops (note that there are 2 versions here – Polo and Polo by Ralph Lauren, its just another tourist town – the cheap t-shirts, the trinkets, the fake Manchester United jerseys all easily found on the beaches of Ferringhi, Phuket, Hanoi and even Mongkok.

Lamps at Ku De Ta

I stopped by Kudeta at the upmarket area of Seminyak and found it very chill but just wasn't in a up for a quiet drink with mood lighting. Its one of those places folks who listen to Café Del Mar would love to hang out with sipping their Stellas.

For the second time the sea food at Jimbaran disappointed me until I realised that Jimbaran is not about the food. Its dining on a 3 or 5 kilometer beach (depending how many beers you’ve had) with tables placed almost until the sea. The beach stretched from the Four Seasons on one end almost to the airport on the other. Its about eating fresh and sometimes not so fresh seafood as the evening waves crash against the beach, the wind is in your face and so is the dying embers of that magnificent sunset on an ocean view that spans the entire horizon. On both sides of you the lamps from hundreds of tables on the sand stretch of twinkling into the distance and as you sip that ice cold beer as your seafood barbecue platter arrives, you see an airplane take off in the not too distant airport, its lights flashing faintly as it rises into the Western sky. At the restaurant nearby clear voices sing an Indonesian classic. Nice.

A shop specializing in condoms and of all things figurines of sexy manga babes. I guess its the replacement for the blow-up doll?

Kuta Beach

I think its an Australian franchise. Just try once for the sentimental reasons. Hey you can even buy a souvenir "Run Forrest Run" T-shirt.

C'mon people what's with all those take-away boxes? Its just too sweet man!

Fishing on Patra Bali 'beach'. All swimming confined to the pools as they are reclaiming the land around the hotel.

I forgot to book for a late checkout so got booted out of my room by 1pm. My flight was at 8pm. I hit an Internet café in Kuta but the company web mail was already on Christmas break. Now I had about 5 hours to kill in a town that really had nothing to offer me. So I decided to hit a spa. Kill 2 hours there and then figure out what to do later. I went for the volcanic mud thing package. I have no idea what the hell it’s supposed to do but I do know I fell asleep when I was getting some oil massage thing. When the woman started slapping the mud on me I started wondering what the hell I was doing there. The word ‘exfoliating’ came to mind but I didn’t care because it was shit cold. Then I got scrubbed off and got slapped on with some rather nice fruity smelling glop. As I hadn’t had my lunch it actually took some will power to prevent me from licking myself(I MUST start expanding my vocabulary only so I stop sounding like a manic perv). After I had ‘set’ the lady told me to ‘rendam’ in a rose petal bath. As I sat there simmering and trying to figure out how that one piece of volcanic crumb ended up in my butt crack, I wondered if I was now officially “metrosexual’. I realised that was a negative when I asked the lady after if I could exchange my ginger tea for a Bintang Beer and a serving of 'babi guling'.

I like Bali. It makes me comfortable. The people are warm and friendly. Their stone Gods and legends share their land and prayers. Kuta however is not for me. I need to get out into the country, the volcanoes and the countryside. I want to selfishly enjoy a sunset without going through a mad throng. The next trip is going to be pure holiday. I’ve a volcano to climb near Kintamani, the rice terraces to enjoy up north and maybe the royal ponds in the west. On my final day however I will come down to Kuta, maybe get a bit pretentious and head over to Kudeta and sip slowly that cold beer as the sun sets over the Indian ocean and the sounds of the surf and distant voices drowns out the gentle whisperings of the life that waits for me when my flight touches down back home.

* Pictures property of Chindiana Trails

Friday, December 21, 2007

U2 - Revisited cos Sean Kingston Blows!

My third Top 5 Song and a video with a twist. It shows the the rugged beauty of Afghanistan from a soldier's perpective. The Edge's opening intro still gives me goose bumps after all these years...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bali on Bizness

I landed yesterday and met a buddy at the airport. He's here on biz too but the smarter of the two he's extended his stay after his meetings.

I'm now stuck in the biz center because the internet connection in my room doesn't work. The beach is 2 minutes walk from where i am and there are bikini clad females by the pool side who actually have flat stomachs and not the usual overweight German geriatric roasting under the sun that we are used to in our resort hotels back home. I have a meeting in an hour and another at 4pm and 2 more proposals to do. using the net here is slow and i'm restless because the breakfast was limp.

But it still nice outside. I will hit one of the beaches one of these days and have promised myself to catch a sunset with an ice cold beer at least every other evening. Got to run now. Happy holiday today you Malaysians!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Top 5 Deadwood Quotes - Revisited!

UPDATE: I just reread this post that I posted earlier (27/2/08) and had a good laugh!

Thought I'd repost it for some of you new comers who haven't had a chance to browse my older posts. Enjoy!

It's one of those days. Looooong. Cancelled meetings, waiting endlessly for people and stuck in jams caused by idiots. You Section 13 TAR college punks, if you double park on BOTH sides in an INDUSTRIAL area, that means the frequent lorries and trucks can't get through and that means NO ONE gets through. Saw some of you also stuck in the jam but since you're probably on E anyway you'll do the same thing tomorrow. That'll be nice with the MPH warehouse sale on. Best of luck Punk.

Anyway, using profanity is a calming balm to the soul, like eating wild boar curry with ice cold beer, or getting a 2 hour massage for RM30. But to use it with the fullest appreciation of the English Language to deliver a point is something I thought non-existent until I started watching the HBO western, Deadwood. It's that show based more on prose than gun play. Here are my top 5 Deadwood quotes applied for situations in everyday life.

1. When the office politician AND the office sneak gang up on you - "Pain or damage don't end the world. Or despair and fucking beatings. The world ends when you're dead. Until then you got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man.....and give some back!"

2. To any guy who doubts your vehicle can make it up to Genting - "My bicycle (car or whatever) masters boardwalk and quagmire with aplomb. Those that doubt me suck cock by choice."

3. To all men - "Tread lightly those who live in hope of pussy."

4. Just to piss of a bartender - Conversation:

"Maybe I will have a fucking drink, for sociability's sake and 'cause I'm fuckin' drunk!"

"What's your preference?"

" That it ain't been previously swallowed!"

5.And my personal favourite and to use on the next guy with a Beckham 'do - "Get a fucking haircut! Looks like your mother fucked a monkey!"

I feel much better. Going out for a beer now........