Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Lonely Planet's Langkau Follies

Langkau strikes on a global level! I am now honored that I now have TWO menaces to society whom I call friends.

Take a read above on from Lonely Planet. Pay attention to the section that describes the 3 day hike from Ba Kalalan to Bario as "mostly gentle terrain".

It's gentle if you're a Big Foot's virgin cousin Sam or a Wookie or mabe an Avatarian Smurf or are they referred to as Pandorian Smurfs?

But enough of the drama - the Ba Kalalan to Bario trail in the Kelabit Highlands of Sarawak are far from "gentle" if you're a city slicker with basic fitness who is not used to carrying a minimum 10kg pack for up to 8 hours a day. This information is deceiving because "gentle" is the same territory as "pleasant" which was the key word used by Langkau to described the trail to me last year.

But Langkau spends his time in the jungles making sweet love to a Chap Ah Pek bottle with his Penan friends, the sexy poster boys for tree huggers the world over. He loves the jungle and it grows on him like a second skin.

His point of references are not for us normal folk who need to walk on two feet. OK, lets get real, Langkau's fitness is still MUCH higher than mine which is limited to a weekly training regiment of one 2hour futsal session on Monday and a one hour frolic in the Gasing Hills over the weekend. Therefore "gentle" and "pleasant" to him means "motherfrodo" in my language.

BUT, Langkau is a respected voice internationally and many seek his advice and wise words.

SO, when Lonely Planet writer Daniel Robinson asked Langkau about the trail (Mr Robinson never really did the trail), Langkau told him to ask the locals of Bario.

Thats like asking the Devil if it's OK to wear a sweater in Hell.

The locals of Bario and the surrounding highlands live the moutains. Going to the grocer means trekking (with a bufffalo) at least 2 days to the nearest store. Getting steaks for a BBQ means a 3-7 day hunting trip for wild boar in the jungles.

So, yes. I can say that I would like to correct Lonely Planet by saying the Ba Kalalan to Bario Trail is not really "gentle". It's CHALLEGING. Go HERE for my pouty bitchy account.

And to future Lonely Planet writers, Langkau IS and ALWAYS will be the heart and soul of Sarawak. And he's definitely one of the foremost and most knowledgable persons about the state. However it's best to remember that he's not quite human and also to get to him before Sarawakian happy hours begin.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

KL City

Picture taken from the KL Tower

Where we drive like blind bastards on steroids and ecstasy, where you can pay off a cop with t-shirts and 20 bucks, where rats rummage within inches of the best food in town, where the glorious golden sunrise bathes our traffic snarled up highways and sunsets rewind that scene all over again, unless its one of those haze veiled evenings where we blame the Indonesians every August for burning their forests. In KL City where the guys are preppy and the girls are pretty (at least in the suburbs), where hot good food waits eagerly to jump into our clubbing hungering stomachs 24 hours a day, where the trees and hills of the countrysides are just minutes away from concrete and tarmac, where sometimes the politicians don't reach us with their tentacles as we're defended by well read pseudo literati sponsored by the Opposition, where our shops spread their fake pirate wares unabashedly devoid of fear from intellectual property lawyers, where we sleep, as the night falls, knowing that the city outside buzzes, whispers, hums, and occasionally after the bars close, screeches and crashes against concrete, trees and rails.

Kuala Lumpur, the Muddy Bank, filthy, dirty, polluted, delicious, cheap, real and unreal, corrupted and optimistic and forever dreaming, young feet on old muscles, walking, running, crawling into a future, fiercely fighting between a zombie holocaust and a hippie Smurf colony.

Singapore's CurryGate

That's what you get when you start to trade in your citizens for foreign man power.

Governments are arrogant and always use the citizens for their own agenda but I've never seen any country in the world where the government is encouraging an almost 100% increase in citizenship by giving citizenship to folks from all around the world especially from China.

Singaporeans are now second class citizen in their own country and when a rude, obnoxious Chinese national (is there any other kind?) wins the right to control curry cooking in your own home, someone gonna get hurt real soon.

Go HERE for the details.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Marvel Minimalist Posters

Seeing as I've been totally devoid of a creative writing spark I thought I'd kick start (hopefully) blog posts with inspirations on simplicity that speaks to our inner geek. Although I am pretty sure the Silver Surfer is actually The Cosmic Dildo of Doom.

Thanksf to Ariel Spock for the heads up! :)





For more of these retro looking coolness go HERE.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Jimbaran, Bali

Yes, the pictures are blur.... -_-

The Girlfriend of Chindi with the lighted airport and Kuta in the background

What's the appeal of this must experience for many in Bali? The seafood is not bad (depending on which of the many many beach front huts that serve them) but what else?

Its the chance of dining on a beach as the sun sets (okok the sunset is too early around 6pm) but Jimbaran dinners can be an enchanting affair where literally you can be eating a grilled fish on a beach with hundreds of table lights spread along an almost 3 km beach, twinkling yellow little stars in the darkness of the night as the sounds of the surf crash gently against the soft Balinese sand.

You eat and drink cold Bintang beers as airplanes land nearby at the Denpasar airport, as they make their numerous approaches from the horizon brightens up the dark sky with pin points of brave twinkling lights that light up the dark, dark western sky of the Indian Ocean.

Soft murmurs break the song of the waves, children laugh and play closer to the sea, the hissing gush of hot steam from the dude selling fresh buttered corn is a constant reminder that you can nibble on a cob as you walk along the beach after dinner.

Lighted sparklers or toys fly out into the night sky as children throw them about with abandon. The delighted sound of childrens laughter chase the toys as they swirl and dip in the air before making soft landings on the sandy beach. Just next door the Javanese minstrels gently croon 'La Bamba' as they seek out alms for their efforts.

Of course you hit Jimbaran for dinner. The prices are decent and the food is edible. Its only about 30-40 minutes from Kuta depending on traffic and what else is there to do in the night before you hit the bars to pick up surfers, beach boys, Japanese tourists, Australian hippies, the models in the chic clubs and the gay lords in the loud dance clubs?

Some of the restaurants can build a stage for companies who wish to have full fledged karoake session but Jimbaran is best experienced with private intimate company or the close camaraderie of good friends. (makes splitting the bill much easier...)

The town of Kuta lights up the horizon.

Lotsa lights momma, so many lights...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Quotes from Around the Region...

"Why are you bringing sand to the beach?" - specifically addressed by men to men who bring wives/girlfriends to Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila. - American man who asked me this when I brought the Girlfriend of Chindi to Bangkok

"Lei cho chor yat, ngo cho sap ng" - Time to move to another country when you hear a Chinese dude (or woman) say this to you, literal translation "you do something to me on the first of the month, I'll get back at you by the 15th", referencing the major prayer dates in the monthly chinese calendar. Nothing scarier after you hear two women use it in front of you - Ariel Spock, remind me never to cross you!

"Hope I dont die in Bali, no one will carry my casket even if i pay them." - Balinese man referencing the strong customs in Bali where one has to fulfill the customs and almost daily rituals and functions to gods and village neighbors of the land in order to be given a full Balinese funeral. As he is based in Jakarta, he has not been fulfilling these duties in his village of Bali which in a way leaves him an outcast.

"Fuck its too expensive to own a car here man. In Malaysia even your dog can buy a car!" - A Filipino friend who just moved to Singapore.

"Hi, do you mind if we postpone our conference call, I'm can't get back to the office because of the really bad traffic." - a nonchalant call from Manila in Philippines at the very moment a tropical typhoon was batterring the country leaving some dead and the streets of Manila flooded.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Danau Beratan, Bali

About and hour and half from Ubud or about 2 hours from Kuta (all depending on the traffic along the narrow Balinese roads) snuggled between mountains is Danau Beratan in the highland district of Bedegul. Its a nice place if you're on your way from the Northern town of Lovina to Ubud or Kuta or vice versa. The cold highland weather is great for having that hot coffee by the calm lake shore. But is it worth the drive just for this? Def not as you would get a more specatular scenery at Kintamani.

So what do you do when you make a stopover? Rent a boat to take a 15 minute wiz around the lake - it costs RP100,0000.00 about RM40 bucks or USD12 for 4-5 people. It's not unpleasant. And for an additional RP15,000 the merceneary boatman will let you disembark at the lake side villas across the jetty (About USD150 per night) to let you walk around their grounds.

The ticket counter to purchase the boat ride tickets.

The wake of our boat as it leaves the jetty. The evening sun was wrestling to get through the thick mists that was begining to envelop the lake.

The mist covered temple at the lake.

One of the few fishermen we saw on the lake.

The villas across the lake from the jetty. On this stark grey cold evening it looked like the setting for the next Michael Myers flick.

The small row of little wooden shop lots where you can get insant hot soup noodles, coffee and other basic snacks. Sorry that the boat is more in focus - i am drawn to colorful things...

The sun valiantly peeking through the clouds as our boat headed back to the jetty.

The sky breaks through a little before the evening mists took over within minutes.

Its an OK stopover if you're already on the road. Bedugul town itself offers many cycling trails that will take you down to Ubud and even Denpasar (about 10-12 hours) and many Balinese locals do mountain bike these trails on weekends (they rent vans that drive them up to Bedegul and cycle down to the towns.

Getting to Danau Beratan in time for sun rises and sun sets would be a good for photographers but the mists would mess with your light. But fuck that right. Fortune favors the brave and the patient.