Friday, February 27, 2009

Dream Trips

I love travel. I have been to a number of countries, such as Thailand, Indonesia (Bali), Vietnam, China, USA, Sweden and Netherlands. There are, however, some destinations which I dream to go to, but so far have not been unable to make it.

Hokkaido, Japan

Lavender of Furano, canals of Otaru, snow festival of Sapporo, night view of Hakodate… these images immediately come to my mind when somebody mentions Hokkaido. Japan is a beautiful country, and Hokkaido is arguably the most beautiful island in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Unfortunately, Japan is an expensive country. Accommodation can easily set me back 10,000 yen a night. Even a stay in the capsule hotel could cost up to 4,000 yen. I would be a lot poorer after returning from a 10-day Hokkaido trip.

Silk Road, China

Desert, grassland, historic monuments, grape farms, “Fire Flame Mountain” in Turpan, traditional Uighur dance… Romance of the Silk Road has never failed to capture my imagination.

On China side, the Silk Road stretches across three provinces – Shanxi, Gansu and Xinjiang. My main interest is in Xinjiang, the largest province of the Middle Kingdom. I gather that if I were to backpack in Xinjiang, it would take at least 2 weeks, but preferably 3. Somehow, I doubt I can be away from my job for that long. Who says Malaysia has too many public holidays?

Money could be another issue. China is not as cheap as many people think. Budget hotels are not usually opened to foreigners, and the vast distance between places of interest in the Silk Road means transportation expenses would be a headache too.

Safari, Africa

Elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena, antelope, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest… I wish I could see them in the wild, in the African safari!

The airfare to the African continent is going to kill me though. The national parks aren’t cheap either, not to mention the private safari lodges. Tiger Woods spent his honeymoon in one of those private lodges, so you know they are not for ordinary folks.

Despite the hefty price tags, thousands of tourists visit the safari parks every year. Pundits tell us to book accommodation in the national parks one year in advance! Not refund if I fail to make it. Ouch!

Besides, I need to purchase a 300-mm lens for my camera.

So, I dream on…

What are your dream trips?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009








泰国前首相 Thaksin Samak 以及现任首相 Abhisit 都有华人血统,反 Thaksin Sondhi Chamlong 也都是华人。



泰国华人和大马华人大不同。他们已融入当地社会,取泰国姓名,讲泰语,和当地人通婚率也很高。去年我在曼谷的Suan Lum夜市场遇到一位卖茶叶的少女,她就告诉我说她的父亲是华人,母亲是泰裔人。







Monday, February 23, 2009

Portraiture Lighting Tips

I joined an outdoor portraiture shooting session last January. I have found that, when the sunlight is harsh, backlighting photos are often easier to take than front-lighting ones.

Note: All that is discussed below applies to outdoor portraiture of women only.

Below is an example of front-lighting picture, that is, the model is facing the sun.

One problem of front-lighting is that the shadow can be distracting, as you can see in the picture above. Another problem is that the model may squint her eyes when facing the sun.

Here is a backlighting photo, that is, the sun is behind the model.

One issue with backlighting portrait is that the subject’s face may be underexposed, i.e. too dark. This, nonetheless, can be overcome by firing the flash or reflecting sun light using a “reflector”.

There are several advantages of backlighting portrait. Firstly, the shadow problem is minimized. Secondly, sun light reflected off the model’s hair, making the picture more pleasing. Thirdly, the use of flash or reflector, apart from brightening the face, also creates “catch lights” in the model’s eyes, again enhances the picture.

P/S There are ways to enhance a front-lighting photo, but these are beyond the scope of this post.

A reflector...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Since 1851

The older a firm is, the more we can trust its products or service. Or is it?

If not, why do we see so many “since xxxx” taglines?

Kiehl’s – since 1851…

OshKosh – since 1895…

Sri Melaka – established 1985…

Mind you, Intel and Microsoft dominate PC market, but the older IBM, founded in 1889, exited the business several years ago. Lehman Brothers was founded in 1850, but is now bankrupt.

If you started up your firm last year, you can also consider adding a “since xxxx” tagline for advertising purpose. Examples:

Neo’s Studio – since 2008

Sloppy Chic’s Kitchen – established 2008

Kikey’s Au Pair Agency – founded 2008

Lisa’s Management Consulting Firm – your ideal partner since 2008

FoongPC’s Music Center – bringing music and joy to you since 2008

Tell me if the tagline helps you increase the sale…

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


[ 最近写了一些关于语文污染的课题,现在决定挖个旧 post 重新刊登。原贴在]

中文purists (纯正主义者)老爱埋冤说:“中文里有太多英文词汇,它已被污染了!”


  • typhoon
  • ketchup
  • kowtow
  • gung-ho

似曾相识,对吧? 没错,它门均源自中文。再看看以下几个字:

  • amok (发狂,源自马来文)
  • bazaar (市场,源自波斯文)
  • fjord (源自挪威文,中文是???)
  • guru (大师,源自梵文)
  • hippopotamus (河马,源自拉丁文)
  • jungle (森林,源自印度文)
  • kangaroo (袋鼠,源自澳洲原住民语)
  • kindergarten (幼稚园,源自德文)
  • monsoon (季候,源自阿拉伯文)
  • pundit (有学问的人,源自印度文)
  • rendezvous (集合点,源自法文)
  • tsunami (海啸,源自日文)


中文的外来词汇少,往往导致我们不能准确的表达意义。举个例子。羚羊有多个种类,英文有以下几个名称:antelope, gazelle, gnu, springbok, impala, kudu, 等等。在中文,我们只能笼统的称它们为羚羊。



Related post:

Monday, February 16, 2009

Malaysia’s East-West Highway

During the 2009 Chinese New Year, I traveled to Kelantan with my parents from my home-state of Perak. The journey passed the scenic East-West Highway, which connected Gerik in Perak and Jeli in Kelantan.

The highway spanned the Lake Temenggor, shown below…

The East-West Highway curved past mountains. Here is a picture taken near a cliff. Damn, I had acrophobia

Related posts:
Kelantan 2009
Pantai Cahaya Bulan
Buddhist Temples in Tumpat

Friday, February 13, 2009

Straight or Gay

Blogger Lisa posted a few photos of beefy guys and sexy gals in her webpage, and she wrote:

Guys please avoid the hunk photos and girls enjoy the hunks and chicks.

I left one comment in her post, saying:

Don’t be surprised if some guys like to look at the hunks photos.

You may be shocked to learn how many gays there are in the United States. Pollster Mark Penn writes:

In 1994, a National Opinion Research Center study on “The Social Organization of Sexuality” found that 9 percent of men and 4 percent of women said that they had engaged in at least some homosexual behavior since puberty Another study by a team at the Harvard School of Public Health reported that 6.2 percent of men and 3.6 percent of women reported a same-sex partner in the previous three years. A third study reported that 9 percent of men and 5 percent of women who had had at least one homosexual experience said those experiences could be described as “frequent” or “ongoing”.

(Source: Mark Penn, Microtrends)

Why does a man or a woman engage in homosexual behavior? Many believe that gay men and lesbians are shaped by the environment. Nonetheless, some people, especially the homosexuals, argue that a person’s sexual orientation is determined at birth. Christian Church, on the other hand, insists that homosexuality is a sinful lifestyle chosen by the individuals. In other words, God made them straight but they choose to be gay.

Now, if we assume that a person’s sexual orientation is indeed determined at birth and not chosen, there should be homosexuals everywhere in Malaysia too. Of course, in this conservative society, most homosexuals would not disclose their sexual orientation. A gay man is still likely to marry a woman. Secretly, however, he may go fishing with another guy in Gunung Belakang Pecah.

Here is a question for you to ponder:

Should you support gay marriage/union?

If you are a homosexual, you answer is obvious. However, even if you are straight, you should still give an affirmative answer. If not, you run a risk of marrying one of them!

P/S Gunung Belakang Pecah is Malay for Brokeback Mountain. This blogger is a straight man.

Brangelina vowed to not get married until gay marriage is legalized.

Wishing you a Happy Valentine's Day.

May you enjoy a very romantic candlelight dinner with your lover - same-sex or otherwise.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009














Sunday, February 08, 2009

Buddhist Temples in Tumpat

Tumpat is a small town in Kelantan, not far from the Malaysia-Thai border. There are some ethnic Thais living in this area, and a number of Buddhist temples have been built.

I came across this standing Buddha in a temple near Tumpat town. I think the temple is named Wat Pikulthong. Please correct me if I were wrong…

Wat Machimmaram has one of the largest sitting Buddha in South-east Asia. Despite its name, the architecture is more Chinese than Thai…

Wat Photivihan houses the largest reclining Buddha in Malaysia

If you plan to visit the temples in Tumpat, do spare your stomach. Within the compounds of the temples, there are food stalls serving Thai food.

Many, many years ago, there was a plan to construct a Kuan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) statue in the Kek Lok See Temple in Penang. Penang's Islamic institutions made noise, complaining that the statue would be taller than local mosques. More recently, a number of Hindu temples have been demolished in Selangor. Strangely, even though Kelantan is the most Islamist state of the nation, we find so many grand Buddhist temples here.

Now back to the standing Buddha in the first photo shown above. The hand gesture of the Buddha symbolizes abhaya, or “fearless”. If you think Kelantan is a scary place, I hope my posts have dispelled the fear in you

Related posts:
Kelantan 2009
Pantai Cahaya Bulan

Friday, February 06, 2009

Message from Boston

I’ve just received the postcard sent by Kikey Loo from Boston, US (before she left for UK).

Thank you, Kikey! I love ya

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Pantai Cahaya Bulan

During my trip to Kelantan, I stayed in Pantai Cahaya Bulan (PCB), a beach some 9km from the center of the state capital Kota Bharu.

PCB was originally known as Pantai Cinta Berahi, or Love Beach. The conservative government of Kelantan renamed it to Pantai Cahaya Bulan, which means Moonlight Beach. Strictly speaking, PCB isn’t the best beach in the state. However, its proximity to Kota Bharu makes it popular among locals.

Sunrise at PCB…

I stayed in Perdana Resort for two nights. Its location was good. Unfortunately, the chalet was poorly maintained.

Here, you see the chalets hidden behind coconut trees...

Related post:

Kelantan 2009

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Kelantan 2009

Kelantan is the greenest of all Malaysia states. I am referring, not to environmental green, but to Islamic green.


I first visited Kelantan several years ago. Then, I was on a “round-the-peninsula” trip with my friends. We reached Kota Bharu (KB), the state capital of Kelantan, in the evening, and left the following morning. I only had a glimpse of the “Islamic capital of Malaysia”. This year, during Chinese New Year festival, I traveled to Kelantan again, this time with my parents.


Kelantan bills itself as “the Cradle of Malay Culture”. The truth is: the conservative state government bans or discourages pre-Islam Malay culture.


Before going to Kelantan, I wondered if I would be able to find Chinese food there. My worry turned out to be unfounded. There were quite many ethnic Chinese living in KB, and restaurants and hawker centers serving Chinese food could be found in the city center.


Since Islam’s influence was strong in Kelantan, I expected all Malay women to wear tudung, or headscarves. Nonetheless, during my trip, I saw quite a few young Malay girls who defied the norm.


Most motorcyclists in Kelantan don’t wear helmets. In this conservative society, Islamic law comes first. Secular laws take a backseat.