Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Birthday Present Suggestions

So next week I add another year to a tally that is actually pointless. I will be 32 for life (physically) and mentally 12 (for real). Doesn't really matter what the official number says.

Since I am getting scores of requests to what I need as mementos to remember you beautiful people out there I thought I'd make it easy and just put together this little list of goodies that I would appreciate:

1. Warren Ellis' Transmetropolitan comic trade paperbacks numbers 8-11.

2. Water proof hiking gloves that dont look like Ronald McDonald throwoffs.

3. A Nike Air Jordan 6 (size US 9 - the black colored version) as I never could afford them and still can't rustle up enough Ringos to buy a pair. Damn you elitist Airholes!

4. A Master replica Obi Wan Kenobi 1:1 scale light saber (from A New Hope) or the Skywalker version from Return of The Jedi because sometimes on dark lonely nights when I sit alone on the sofa channelling my inner Jedi trying to Force choke that lizard on the ceiling that's keeping me awake.

5. Shirts I dont have to iron when I wake up late for work hung over like a sick rat. Those Nike Dri Fit stuff also work but dont get me those in gay colors or the ones with slim fit as I do have a gut ay and dont like ironing clothes in the morning when I am drunk. So yeah, Iron free shirts.

6. G2000 work pants since I just realized my pants which used to be black are now gray and it's not cool trying to pick up taller women in pants which seemed to be tie dyed. Size 30. Not too tight though, I have an Indian ass and my balls need to breath.

7. Gift vouchers from Borders so that I can buy books that I can't find in Book Excess in Amcorp Mall. And also because I refuse to use my own money to buy FHM's sexiest women of the world issue.

8. Buy my toys and give them back to me as a present - best gift ever you help me enjoy action figures that I like while making me money and also earning my eternal gratitude. Good no?

9. Waterproof hiking jacket - my trusty ACG is ten years old and has indicated that he's NOT going to be aging gracefully.

10. A mountain bike which doesn't weigh a ton and a half. Extra bonus points if you can throw in a matching helmet.

See? All within reasonable means. If you're not sure where to get some of these call me and I can direct you straight to the store front. I might even drive you there!

See you next week folks! I hearts y'all!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Saved By The 'Paste

I ended up scalding some fingers with hot water last night (don't ask......). The real pain didn't seem to hit till much later. Its one of those sneaky little mother fuckers that creeps up on you like a little mini finger tickle and then descends within minutes into an angry taloned vice grip of a furious woman. I sat through the first 5 minutes watching a Dexter rerun. Thought it would go away. But pain is an unforgiving gay man.

I try to man up and see how long I can take it. Sorry to say all those Twilight viewing session has affected my Kryptonian strength. Or should I say stubbornness of Kryptonian proportions?

Then this weird confusion sets in. I know what to do with a broken foot and torn ligaments (doctor/hospital), bleeding nose (ice pack), leech bites (stick a Chinese newspaper on it), fear of vampires (have sex), BUT what does one do with raising pain in ones fingers at 11pm?

Luckily all those old memories of patient voices from my past drifts to the fore and I find myself rubbing tooth paste onto the burnt digits.

Aitelyu, Sensodyne works man! Instant relief. Instant! Plus if you're hungry you can lick your fingers too. Minty. Yum......

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tasik Bera - Indifferent Serenity

OK, this is the version that could not be used for obvious reasons. My editor V must had a fit when she saw this and her words were along the lines of "put your personal thoughts on your blog! we're a travel magazine...!!!!!!!!" Well I rarely feel strongly about my thoughts so here you go folks, the version that didn't make it to print.

The photos are from well known outdoor photographer Rabani Ayub, a native of Kudat from Sabah. A great guy and one of the most experienced nature/outdoor photographer/journalists around.

I stand at the edge of the uncompleted jetty, 30 feet above the inky blackness of Tasik Bera and stare out into the dark, lake in front of me. I am looking for something from the lake to give it some character. The half moon is veiled by a cloudy night sky. The night is still and heavy with silence but for the continuous hum of a thousand insects. The monkeys and night birds are painfully quiet. There are no smells, no nocturnal songs and chatter from the wild life. Even the air is painfully still, a windless void since we arrived. Nothing. Nothing stares back at me quietly. Nothing tells me gently to head home.

There is no contempt from the lake. She just wearily ignores me, having more important things to do than to pander to the needs of an unworthy scribe who is unfit to record her story.

We had arrived at Tasik Bera in Pahang after a three hour drive from Kuala Lumpur. We were met by Encik Azlan from the Wildlife department and also part of the RAMSAR project who together with his rangers Encik Tahir and Encik Nazim acted as our guides during our stay at Tasik Bera, a 6,000 hectare lake. Almost half the lake is under a peat like swamp from which grows the dominant plant life of the lake, the Pandanus or Pokok Rasau and the Lepironia or Kercut reed.

We were taken on a quick tour of the lake by the rangers. The stillness of the lake forms a liquid canvas spread before us, calm and serenely placid, reflecting the sky and the clouds above. The boat passes by the Pandanus trees and we weave our way in between open lake and narrow canals covered by canopies of Pandanus leaves. We pass by a white throated King Fisher on a burnt Pandanus stem, the result of indirect fishing by the local aborigines, the Semelai, who burn sections of the Pandanus clusters to get access to fish and turtles. As we approach the Pengkalan Sudin jetty we pass by fragile, dainty white water lilies, which are only found in Tasik Bera.

The next morning I sit down at the Persona Lake Resort and tuck into my breakfast of fresh nasi lemak with some of the best sambal I have had. Many fat juicy anchovies lost their lives for this delicious meal! As I sip the hot coffee, I am serenaded by a multitude of songs from around me. Magpies, mynas, yellow throated bulbuls and white rumped Shamas are awake and sing me their morning songs. Chirps, tweets, whistles greet me as a White Bellied squirrel scampers up the trunk of an age old tree by the side of the lake.

We later proceed to take a boat to visit the local aboriginal village of Kampung Pekhir, one of the smaller villages of the Semelai tribe. The hot season has reduced the water level at the lake making inter-village boat travel a challenge as some of the water ways have been overgrown by the Pandanus plants. The Semelai contrary to many reports are now marching down the road of modernity. They are now established rubber plantation owners with each family tending to at least 6 acres given to them by the government. Fishing is now more of a pastime for the Semelai probably due to the decreasing fish population in the lake through over fishing and also the declining oxygen levels in the water caused by the increasing growth of the Pandanus and Lepironio reeds in the lake. The Semelai have also traded in their traditional dugout boats, the Perahu Jalor, for newer fiberglass boats which takes them faster albeit more noisily across the lake.

On the agenda is a visit to the Semelai herb garden and to watch the burning of the Moraceae tree (Artocarpus Scortechinii) a tree whose sap was used for their torches before the introduction of electricity to the villages. It was a visit that was a mixture of a quaint eye opener and slight disappointment.

We left the Semelai home at Kampung Pekhir after we picked up our young guide, Moy. As the dry rubber leaves rustled beneath our booted feet, the sounds of Justin Bieber wafted over the air from a small radio signaling the invasion of the Miley Cyrus generation into the quaint village lives of the orang asli. As we headed deeper in the plantation we hear an elephant in the distance. It sounds about less than a kilometer away. It is a warning trumpet as it has obviously picked up our scents. We press on and within minutes we hear a scuffling in the brush on our right and we hear the urgent snorting of a wild boar. We wait hoping the fates will allow a good photo opportunity for Bani, the seasoned photographer from our team. No such luck as the boar stays incognito.

The Semelai herb garden is a bit of a disappointment as it is more an ‘exhibition’ of selected jungle herbs cordoned off within the secondary jungle. These herbs cured colds, fevers and other ailments before tarred roads opened up travel to local pharmacies in nearby towns. Traditional animal traps are displayed in an open space giving it a staged feel. We make our way to the tree burning experience. Moy sets fire to some sap to show off its burning properties. He puts it out after a minute when we realize that it was totally unnecessary. The sap will flow after the hardened bits are scrapped off the bare bark which has been carved out earlier allowing the fresh sap to flow. I guess it is a neat party trick for unsuspecting tourists.

We then proceed to look for the Purple Water Trumpet, another plant that is only found in the lake. The search proves futile as we travel by road and boat, from Kampung Pekhir in the north to Kampung Pos Iskandar (formerly called Kampung Fort Iskandar) and finally ending up in Kampung Jelawat in the South. We do however come across some old Perahu Jalor that still seem to be in use at Kampung Jelawat. It seems tradition still remains in pockets among the orang asli settlements.

Tasik Bera and the surrounding secondary forest make up the Malaysia’s first Ramsar site, a status given to the area because of its ecological importance.

It covers the secondary forests surrounding the lake, the lake itself and the unique peat swamp forests dominated by the Pandanus plants and fields of the Lepironia reeds which store water beneath the peat soil from the rainy season. Hence walking on the peat soil is often not advised as you will find yourself sinking into soft mud before hitting murky water. The site also supports globally endangered species such as the Arowana fish and the Stripped Soft Shell turtle. It has high bio diversity of flora and fauna.

Pandanus plants reflected in the calm waters.

The lake acts as a filter from the rivers from the state of Negri Sembilan that flow through the lake where the Pandanus plants sieve debris and silt before being ultimately emptied into Sungai Pahang the main source of water for the state of Pahang.

Because of this unique ecosystem, guests come from as far as Japan and Germany, many of them avid bird watchers and anglers. However with the proliferation of the Pandanus plants and the Lepironia reed fields, only about 40% of the lake is accessible to the public.

Semalai kids at dusk. We chatted with them near Kampung Pos Iskandar where we were trying to seek out the water trumpet plants.

Tasik Bera is home to wild life and unique plant life but the onset of the industrial world is knocking impatiently on her borders. Almost an island surrounded by palm oil and rubber plantations, chemicals from pesticides are slowly seeping into her waters. Illegal loggers and poachers are stretching the already undermanned Wild Life Department and Ramsar rangers to the breaking point. With a staff of only 18 the Ramsar personnel made up of staff from the Wild Life, Forestry, Fisheries, Environmental agencies, covering an area of 6,000 sq kilometers is a losing battle.

The White Bellied squirrel that we spotted during breakfast. Bani in true Predator style grabbed his camera and hunted down this little guy and got this great shot.

It has been a long day. We know now that the wild life will deplete in time. The fish and plants will give way to palm oil and rubber and later to livestock. The elephants and tigers will not wander through the ever shrinking forests. The Semelai have embraced industry, though not yet, they will slowly lose their roots to the good earth that had sustained them for ages. But for now, Tasik Bera stands quietly regal, a tired mother still nurturing her children. Some have outgrown her but the waters, the earth, birds, mammals and fish will still need her to provide a home for them.

We stand on the incomplete jetty as the dying embers of the sun throws thin golden embers of light that are reflected in the incredibly placid lake before us. Far away to the South West, lightning flashes and thunder rumbles. Behind a Pandanus grove, children’s laughter liven up a very still evening. The sun sinks further as gold reflects off the lake. A boat buzzes past us. Almost immediately a cold wind rushes in from the South and the lake ripples impatiently. Bani looks at me. “Guess it’s time go?” We pack up and walk back up the uncompleted steps of the Jetty. Our time was up at Tasik Bera. She has more important things to concentrate on. Her family needs her and she has no more time for us.

We leave the lake to the Ramsar team and their never ending duty to protect the sanctity of Tasik Bera from poachers, loggers and the ravages of time.

Rabani got this shot of me and a maritime officer as took a kayak out into the lake in the early morning. I left this part out in the first draft and but bits was included in the final version that was published.

From Philippines with Love

What some folks get up to on a weekend. No water buffalos were harmed in the making of this video.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

How Sarawakians Spend Their Weekends...

10pm on a Saturday night.

Acid texts Langkau - "dude where are you? Join me for drinks!"

Langkau replies - "sorry can't, am up in the mountains catching scorpions and snakes."

At 10pm on that same Saturday I was watching Eclipse at home with a hot Milo and keropok.

Excuse me while I go find a bear to wrestle....

Monday, September 20, 2010

Alycia's Excellent Adventures

OK since i am cheap I am attempting to use my incredible writing skills to get me out of buying a baby gift for Peekz who at this very moment is at home going through painful contractions awaiting the birth baby Alycia.

This is mainly for Peekz to keep her company while she sits home in slight discomfort. References might seem vague to you guys so you might get a little bored.

Anyway Peekz, this is for you!

Alycia's Most Excellent Adventures

Once upon a time......

Baby Alycia impatiently kicked Mommy as Mommy sat down for a banana leaf lunch at Kanna Curry House. Alycia could feel something urgent in the air. Mommy could be in a spot of bother. The evil FON, the Master of Mutant Muffins was last scene skulking the neighborhood only weeks ago. Mommy had lost her super powers many moons ago. Back in the day Mommy was known as Mighty Mouse. The smallest street fighter who could out fly, out fight and out Kryptonite Superman. The FON however wanted to create a toddy manufacturing cartel in the heart of Klang. Mighty Mouse had fought it off but not before the FON had sneaked in some of his magic muffins into Mighty Mouse's head quarters. After a long day and battle weary Mighty Mouse had walked in and taken a bite from what looked like a banana chocolate muffin and after the initial shock, found herself on the floor and stripped of her powers.

But Mommy is still MIGHTY and had reinvented herself as the best street fighter in Klang, PJ and some say in Batam. She met daddy soon after. Alycia did not see daddy much as he was a WereTransformer. He was a Honda Civic R-Type in the morning and would only return to human form at night.

Mommy worked for The Grinch but Alycia normally heard Mommy refer to him as Grumpy Bugger, Moody Boss or sometimes just Cibai. He was friends with the FON but because he was so grumpy all the time he could not see that the FON was an evil genius, a mad culinary scientist who slept on mattresses stuffed with foreign currency from all the lands he had plundered in a dark majestic room in his castle on Penang Hill.

Alycia could not wait. She had another week to go but she had to put her battle plans together. How was she going to fight an evil genius when she was still suckling?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bowel Inducing Theraphy

I mean this is totally understandable. Its Bangkok and the Thai's have nicknames that make sense to themselves. Am very sure that Ms Puke's nickname means something totally different in Thai than from the after effects of a late night binger but not really the best branding exercise for a traditional massage center in the center of touristy downtown Siam Square area.

Well the next time you hit BKK go check them out HERE.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Gen X v Gen Y

I have resigned myself that I am stuck in this state of perpetual cynicism and now rarely hold back with thoughts that sometimes should be shelved in the recesses of my vulgar opinionated mind.

I was making small talk with a 25 year old I hardly know when he asked what I thought of Generation Y who seemed to be unsure of what they really wanted or seemed to change jobs often looking for that gleaming pearl of a vocation that would ultimately satisfy their mystery hunger that resided in their well fed gut.

My response as a mature adult to this young idealistic man?

"Generation Y? What's that? Around 33 ish and below?

"It's 35 and below to be exact sir."

"They're fucking soft. A lot of dreams, no real fire."

This startled him but surprisingly he looked at me curiously and asked me what made me say that.

"Let me guess - you studied abroad?"

Again a startled look and he now looks at me as if I am a mixture of Michael Jordan and Yoda's left butt cheek.

"How do you know???"

"It shows dude. Dont worry, its not you. Some friends of mine had this little talk and we've come to the conclusion that a lot of guys at least under 33 are insecure and mostly a bunch of mama's boys. It's not your fault. Its just the times. Women are getting more macho than you. Your parents worked decently and they provided everything for you. You can make mistakes and you know at the back of your mind you will have some fall back plan. Thats what probably triggers the reason to job hop in search of what you think is the perfect job. You've travelled abroad so you know there are endless opportunities but you're just not sure which one of it is yours. I come from a small town. We can't even get into universities if we're not Malay (well if you're not the top 30% smartest Chinese or the top 13% Indian of all applicants to the 5 national Us in the country then). We just get working so we have money. Times were different then, the only TV we had was showing government programming, Sesame Street and Happy Days. We didn't think about being celebrity chefs or pilots or travel writers. We just took whatever we could get and tried being good at it."

He kept quiet but nodded his head a little. I dont think it was at my mama's boy reference ( i REALLY need to learn to watch my tongue). "Yeah, you're right in a way..." he said softly.

"So you let me know if you're keen on the job." I shake his hand and leave him to his thoughts.

He seems OK. This impromptu round of grilling showed he was not affected by extreme grumpiness AND he genuinely seemed keen to join our little outfit. We'll see.

He just called. He wants to start this Friday.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Various Methods in Airplane Toilets (No not sex)

Let's forget about the various techniques we see in public toilets. Within the confines of an almost coffin sized loo, budget airline travellers manage to amaze with their creativity at astounding battle hardened airline staff. That and also something that I have always maintained the since "Everyone Can Fly" it means that you're normally sharing a seat with some old aunty from a hill tribe in Vietnam or a fossilized ex communist from Kampung Baru Batang Berjuntai.

After extensive journalistic research I have put forward a list any innocent traveller may encounter in an airline toilet before an intrepid Flight Attendant manages to clean up the mess.

So here we go. You'll thank me later.


Dumping at 30,000 Feet.

The average Asian is quite adept at taking a shit in any condition. Sometimes based on dodgy or spicy food, working outdoors on projects, plantations, on holiday, on that beach just that little too far from the hotel after the extra spicy curry fish head dinner kicks in... and mainly Asians just don't really give a fuck about modesty as long as no other human gets a direct view of their hairy ass squatting behind a bush, abandoned shack, bus, etc. In the limited confines of a narrow airline toilet and with many passengers who are first time flyers the range of shitting techniques can get quite creative.

1. The Squatter - the universal squatter who balances his ass over the toilet bowl birdlike, holding on frantically to both walls as the plane hits turbulence, but happy that he/she has not made ass to potentially bacteria filled toilet seat contact. Leaves shoe and slipper print marks on the rim as evidence of presence.

2. The Small Town Uncle - walks out of the toilet confused and asks where is the rope to flush.

3. The Anywhere But The Right Place Folk - OK you can't really blame them, they come from some of the remotest villages either visiting relatives abroad as their children who work in KL saved enough to buy them the cheap ticket or they are from foreign workers from Laos, Vietnam or Cambodia flying first time. To many of us who have visited kampungs the toilet is a hole in the ground or over the edge or in the river. A toilet seat with the cover down looks like a chair, sooooooo the closest to a hole in the little cubicle would be.......?

4. AND if you dont have a penis to reach THAT place, it would be............. ?

5. The Superstars of Shite - Of course there are those wondrous and talented souls that their shit ejecting talents even confound the most battle hardened flight crew. Until this day no one has figured out how that shit smear appeared on the toilet wall of the Airbus A320. ( I believe this was bravely encountered by Stella?)

Other notable mentions:

Not quite a crapping award but its more like - Scare the Piss Out of The Pilots Award - folks who mistake the flight deck door as the door to the toilet. Finding it locked they suddenly start jerking and frantically hitting it in hopes that a magical genie will open up the door for them to take a dump. This obviously scares the shit out of the pilots who are probably sipping that first coffee at 30,000 ft.

Oh wait.. there WAS a shit reference in there. I am so cool.

Have a great day folks.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Malaysian Delimma

I've always wondered at what seemed like a travesty of fate that the hottest Malay girls in Malaysia seemed not only supercalifragilistically exotic BUT were also from extremely well to do families, while their country/kampung kin were the exact opposite, short, dark and normally working as a bored sales girl in a department store.

It always seemed like the rich were born from some fashion magazine.

OK, so I am not the smartest pea in the pod, maybe some of you already realized this but I only came to this conclusion reading the good doctor's controversial book from the '70s.

During the British Occupation Malays in general were not an adventurous race. Keeping to their 'kampungs' and making a living mainly as farmers and fishermen.

In the 40's and 50's where the Chinese immigrants controlled almost all the trade in the country there were a tiny group of Malays who sought to seek a living in the towns and cities. These Malays were integrated with the other nationalities who populated the larger cities. Thus in the view of the political tensions in the late 50's and 60's the British moved many Malays into senior civil service positions which would normally be the now more educated city Malays who would have wed foreign wives.

And now my theory, if you were a civil servant in the 60's there is ample time for your many generations to move up the political food chain. So now you're into the Ringos, hot kids who look like they could have come from any where in the world and now you're sitting pretty in that ten story bungalow in Ampang while your village relatives seemed to just stay home and um... get hitched to your cousin, sisters cousin, aunty or well... whatever. There were no not much roads into the interior then and travel was mainly by river. SO, if you were an unadventurous man back in the day, your choice of spouse would be limited to whoever was confined to your little village in the jungle. (am tempted to say give or take a monkey or two for a laugh but since social satire on the internet is going to be banned in Malaysia soon I SHALL REFRAIN from using these childish metaphors)

Anyway, trust me to only be concerned about the origin of moneyed babelicious hotness when reading one of our nations most open books about race relations in our melting pot of a nation.

The good doctor does tend to get long winded but you take away so many points written by a political rebel in his time:

1. The efficient and almost ruthless Chinese trading practices that enabled them to control almost all the trade in Malaya. The bribes to British civil servants, the freezing out of Malay competition, etc

2. Why land in Malay settlements are lower and Chinese areas

3. How the Malays laid back attitude was exploited by the English and the Chinese, etc

Things have changed of course over time. We are more integrated now in some ways except when politicians use us against one another for their own means. But it gives us an insight into racial divides, political manipulation and clannish trading practices that could conquer nations in an era not that far removed from now.

This is a good read for any of us who wishes to know at least some of the building blocks of human history that made up this nation before we think that Malaysia was made up dodgy local cars, Catherine Zeta Jones' ass hanging from the Petronas Twin Towers or colorful Visit Malaysia ads.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Kuching Kayak Experience

You're here with me. We're just drifting down a wide river ringed by a lush tropical jungle. The morning air is fresh from the mountains as the wind plays catch with us among the trees overhead. I close my eyes, remember you're still here with me, and lean back onto the kayak. Acid's oar in front splashes the cold water, made muddy from the heavy rains the night before. There are birdsongs in the morning air as we head down stream. I close my eyes. I feel like I'm floating although the boat is being carried by the current. I could almost fall asleep.

Then I hear Acid calling me an asshole. Think she realized I was trying to cop a nap under the morning sunshine...

Kids playing with a fishing net in the river below

We had started the day early and drive out about an hour to a small kampung to collect our kayaks. It's a regular kampung, with the buildings almost similar to any other kampung or new village in Semenanjung. Its about time that we realize that the orang asli dont all live in wooden long houses while running around in loin cloths.

A brightly colored home in the village.

We drive up stream for about 30 minutes and start out journey. In total 2 double seater kayaks and two singles which carried one guide and a English bloke who runs a tour agency in Hong Kong.

This river ride is most definitely NOT for adrenalin junkies. Its just you, the river and whatever you see and hear in the jungle. Its about taking in the scenery, feeling the cold water in your hands and marveling at the mountains that tower ahead and sometimes beyond the jungle canopy.

We pass by some villages and some home stay programs. But other than that things are pretty sedate.
Taking a breather unders a cable bridge connecting the road to one of the villages.

Many of these tours have Western tourists in mind. Like stopping to see 'aboroginal villages'. I mean the folks now have advanced. You're not going to see head hunters squatting around a wild boar roasting on a pit in the middle of a forest. If you seen one kampung you've seen them all. Of course there is the 'see local herb gardens tour' which is nothing more than various varieties of vegetables and chilis. And no, you're not going to find anything to get high from here.

We sometimes had to weave around trees and debris which was easy enough. No real dramas. I gues communication is key as we actually ran smack bang into that branch in the middle there when I was busy taking pictures and forgot to inform Acid that I had temporarily suspended steering duties.

The Kurakura homestay.

We stopped by the Kurakura home stay, run by a Norwegian guy Lars and his local Bidayuh wife from Semedang ( thanks to Langkau for the additonal info !) . It was quaint but again for maybe us small town kampung folks this is not a novelty but it was a great place to stop by and relax for a bit. Pity the kayak agency did not stop here for lunch. It would have been perfect surrounded by gardens and surrounded by thick jungle and the river just below. We just had some local plant juice which was refreshing on a day that was getting a little hot.

Home made flower deco

You get to appreciate the force of the river as evidenced by the rock formations towards the end of the trip.

We stop by a small section that has a deep end where some of the guys take turns diving into the river. I just lay down in the cold water and took it the lush majestic jungle around me.

It's tarjan time as the vines are strong enough for a full grown man to climb up (and dive off if they feel like it).
The craffy rocks along the way

Most kayaking or white water rafting trips actually waste a lot of time. I think we we wasted at least 2 hours going to see ' an original aborogine village' same as any kampung you see in Batang Berjuntai, and some small water fall which was slightly larger than a broken monsoon drain in Setapak. We paid RM150 for this trip but prices are normally around RM180 which includes bottled water and a sandwich lunch.

Gear - bring lotsa of sun block, insect repellant and long sleeved shirts. The sand flies are mean little bastards and I've still got the bite marks to mar my pretty arms.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Defensive Driving Part 1

Dear Drivers of Small Cars,

we do not judge you by the size of your vehicle but more for your ability to control technology and basic motoring skills . We as the dominant species on earth have well advanced beyond slapping our balls with day old banana skins. It would do you well to remember this.

Specifically this address is to all drivers or Kancils, Kelisa's and any other Malaysian made little tins on wheels. It's perfectly OK, we understand that you're probably:

a) some pimply spiky haired male student from a private college in PJ who thinks he's a badass mother fuker but more likely a chicken shit little punk with more bark than any bite. Eats in mamak stalls and dreams of revving down the street in a neon lit Honda Civic. You wanna be somebody after one too many Hong Kong gangster movies. Its best you wait till you grow some hair on your balls first. And these things take time NOT just because you have access to a set of car keys.

b) an accounts clerk who is in her second month at work - a quiet mousy woman who feels that she must defend her right as a woman by obstinately not giving way to anyone in a traffic snarl, looking ahead and avoiding eye contact when you give her the evil eye. Will probably go home and kill the neighbors cat if she does not back into the house gate first.

c) a government civil servant junior executive - some punk with a cap on this head, seat pushed all the way back and his young wife and baby in tow. Dashing around the narrow roads and accelerating ahead to cut off any one seen pulling out from a junction in front of him. Does not understand that giving up a bit of space on a tar road does not affect the size of his wiener.

d) The Country Clowns - with Selangor, Perak number plates and god forbid some old uncle who drove down from Perlis - pulling out with a vengeance from junctions and suddenly jamming their cars almost to a stall, progressing sedately like a drink diva in the third lane of the highway.

e) a rempit who borrowed a friend's ride because you're on a date during the rainy season and you can't have your little girl getting wet before you take her for that delicious meal at Kedai Mamak Buka 24 Jam.

So, dear driver of a small Malaysian Car, you really don't need to feel insecure. Really. Trying to disguise your car by painting it with Mini Cooper racing stripes won't fool everyone. They will just know that you're just shit poor and have a small dick. Going for the cool matt black with over sized rims only makes your car looks like a hobbit rapper's rad ride which effectively also means you have a small dick.

So really, Small Car People, dont feel bad or insecure. We understand that some day you will grow up, earn more money, grow some testicular fortitude or even score many victories for women's liberation. It will take some time but you will get there. We're with you on this. Really. You really dont have to drive like retarded cats in heat.

So, in the spirit of the upcoming holidays can you please stay the fuck off the roads as many of us have to balik kampung in peace.

Yours very sincerely,


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Weekend Getaway in Cat City

The Basaga boutique hotel courtyard rooms. (more in another post)

I've been meaning to try short weekend getaways but never really got around to it until last weekend. With AirAsia's cheap flights it's possible to just cabut off to a beach, forest, volcano on a Friday afternoon and get home by Sunday night, well in time to catch endless reruns of Desperate Housewives.

Acid from Kuching tempted me with a kayak excursion just outside Kuching. How could I say no to a weekend of kayaking down a tropical river surrounded by some of the oldest forests in the world?

The Basaga rooms and pool.

The entrances to the Basaga Courtyard rooms

Acid had recommended the VERY cosy Basaga hotel ( in Kuching. I loved the quaint boutique hotel nestled in the heart of the city amid huge trees and shrubs.

I have to admit the last time I hit Kuching town, dinosaurs were doing the Macarena around tar pits. The only radio station they had in East Malaysia was Blue FM. Wait, I think they only still have it now. (wahaha! joke joke only my Sarawak kakis).

The distant foggy memories of Kuching as our once every two months sales road trip of East Malaysia where we would start of in Kuching and head up towards Sabah, travelling by the old MAS turbo props hitting every town from Sibu, Bintulu, Miri, Labuan before flying into Sabah where KK, Sandakan and Tawau waited for us.

Kuching meant flying in early from KL and seeing dealers till the sun set. I know we would hit a bar somewhere somewhat close to the waterfront, this old dude would take bets in guessing the capital cities of the world. I lost one to many beers to him but at least I now know for life that the capital city of Sierra Leone is Freetown.

I was never impressed by East Malaysian food until Acid took me on a trail of gluttony through the City of Cats.

We hit Jambu, a really cool restaurant that would be at home in chic Singapore (go HERE for pics and info). They have the most decent tapas and of course the local Tuak. Great place for a romantic dinner or just get drunk at the bar.

After downing some beers and a coupla shots of home made local rice wine we head to....

where we catch up with Langkau, another blogger from Kuching. Tuak and beers flow freely as we commandeer the DJ consul - one must have U2 and Skynard as background soundtrack when one guzzles cold beverages. Ruai is sort of a local institution and it's very humble appearance belies it popularity among the older locals and tourists. The younger Lady Gaga crowd does make an appearance once in a while as Ruai is known to keep open past the official closing time of 2am in Kuching.

Langkau is sorta like an eco warrior of sorts spending considerable time among the local tribes and and learning about their issues while sampling the local langkau (rice wine) along the way. Thats a good way to save the planet dude!. An anthropologist by training, he teaches in a local academy while spending his weekends in the various villages around Kuching. Just like most Sarawakians I know, the Langkau-meister is one lean mean drinking machine and puts me to shame. I slink back to Basaga early to prep for the next day's watery adventure.

Saturday morning we head out early to the start of the Kayaking trip along Sungei Abang. (more on this trip in a later post). What a way to spend a saturday - paddling down a slow river, wandering around forested bends and long wide waterways, weaving through fallen trees while surrounded by towering trees ringed by mountains.

The whole trip along the river takes about 6 hours and we get back to Kuching about 4pm. It's a bright beautiful day in East Malaysia. It's been a great coupla hours in the countryside outside Kuching.

Early sunset in Kuching as I head out for an early snack while i wait for Acid to pick me up.

A different style of the Chinese egg/oyster dish. Damn, what's it called?

I have to say Acid fed me well in Kuching. We head to the Happy Garden Restaurant just opposite the road from Spring Mall. It's old school Chinese food and it is quite AWSM. I will never consider East Malaysia as The Desert of Delectable Cuisine ever again. The butter prawns here is especially fulfilling.

After gorging on the grub we head off down to Picadilly bar/club where we go on a whisky diet where some well known DJ spins some of those bass loaded songs that can only be entertained after a diet of E and booze.

View of the cobblestone courtyard from my room. Comes with outdoor bathroom for the inner exhibitionist in all of us :)

The outdoor dining benches at Basaga

Sunday morning is gorgeous as sunlight streams into my room. I spend the morning lounging in at the hotel lounge area reading a compilation of H.P. Lovecraft tales before breakfasting among greenery at the outdoor cafe at Basaga. Damn I just realized I forgot to pay the bill for breakfast.....

Acid, hospitable as ever, drops by to take me for lunch. I have to say that woman has excellent tastes. We go about town and hit a private marina where a grumpy security guard keeps me from taking photos. Kuching has come a long way over the past 15 years. The food is great and the people most excellently excellent. Of course it's still the heart of our forests and the jungle lives and breathes at the edges of our consciousness if you are willing to open up and listen to it's heartbeat.
View of airport from departure lounge

I get on my flight which is slightly delayed 6.30pm to 7pm. I arrive in KL at about 9pm and am home by 10pm.

I tell you, this is fantastic. One solid weekend of fun and relaxation, inner reflection, good company and some great local wine. The only thing missing was some mind blowing sex. Well maybe an Tickle Me Elmo to cuddle up to. I'm not fussy.

Costs for this weekend :

AirAsia flight tickets return - RM220
Cab return trip Subang to Airport - RM135
Basaga Hotel 2 nights - RM258
Kayaking Trip - RM150
Food and Bev - I leave that to your imagination but Acid was not allowing me to pay for dinner but the prices are quite good i think. Same as PJ prices. I felt like royalty.