Sunday, April 29, 2007

And the Oscar goes to...

... Bee En.

The people of Ijok have spoken and I'm sure they'll get the government they voted for.

Well, I guess those folks are not so adventurous in their political taste.

Friday, April 27, 2007

1 = One = O

Since the election fever is on in Ijok and one of the main issue appears to be racial politics (again... so, what's new?), I would just like to raise an interesting "racial" issue here for your consideration.

I just discovered to my amusement last night during a birthday dinner for my colleague that there are different ways of referring to the shortform name for 1Utama (that monstrous shopping mall). My whole life I've referred to it as "1U", pronounced "Wun-Yew". But apparently, the Malay folks have been calling it "OU", pronounced "Oh-Yew". A quick survey around the dinner table confirmed that all the 3 Malays call it OU, while the 3 Chinese and 1 half-Chinese call it 1U. I guess the term "OU" is equivalent to "1U", as "One" is the written form for the number "1" and "O" is the first letter of the word "One", so 1U = OneU = OU. So I learn something new everyday.

BTW, if I were a registered voter at Ijok, I would know by now which guy to vote for. :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Nasi Lemak Udara

This is the most altitudinous nasi lemak I've ever had in my life.

At 36,000 feet up it still tastes better than many other nasi lemaks at sea level.

At RM7.00 a pack it is pretty expensive, but then, so is jet fuel.

Here's how it looked before...

And after...

And here's the scenery while I ate...

And after I ate...

Monday, April 23, 2007



A flutterby in the sky,
seeking new heights up so high.
I beckon it to come nigh,
in vain attempt, so I sigh.

I wonder, is this a lie?
Can flutterby's really fly?
Oh yes, they can, don't you cry,
For flutterby's wings are sly.

This poem did not comply.
Exasperated was I,
'til I realized: Flutterby?
'Tis butterfly with glazed eye.


Call me crazy, but the little "poem" above just popped up in my mind
earlier this evening while I was waiting for the Bible lecture to start.

And now, the important stuff...

The lecture was on Romans 6:1-11 -- died to sin and alive in God.

1. A Christian cannot continue in a life dominated by sin, because a Christian has a new master, Jesus. Sin is the old master who still hangs around, barks orders and whispers lies. But sin has lost its power and control over a Christian's life.

2. Jesus has conquered sin and death by His death and resurrection. Whoever believes in Jesus has been set free and is no longer a slave to sin. Jesus not only paid the penalty for sin, He also broke the power of sin. Where humanity was dead in sin, now believers in Jesus are dead to sin. Sin has lost its hold on those who trust in Jesus. The extent of the Holy Spirit's work in a believer's life is dependent on the willingness and obedience of that believer. The choice is ours.

3. Believers are to count themselves dead to sin and alive to God. The way we behave shows what we believe. It's time to listen to the new master, Jesus.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Good Monsters

I've been listening to Jars of Clay's new album "Good Monsters." The music's good. It sounds to me like a departure from the earlier distinctive "alternative" sound of Jars of Clay. I feel that this album's got more raw power and soul. But it could be just my perception, or maybe I've forgotten how they sounded in the earlier albums. There's a good mix of fast and slow songs, some upbeat, some melancholic. It seems to have grown on me. Some of the lyrics are a bit cryptic though, and I still haven't figured them out.

Here's the title track:

Good Monsters
Words and music by Dan Haseltine, Charlie Lowell, Stephen Mason, Matt Odmark

All the good monsters open their eyes
To see the wasteland where the home fires rise
And the people shouting, "Why, why, why"

Do you know what you are?
Do you know what you are?

All the giants wake from their sleep
And roll outside of safety's keep
And the pain makes them feel so alive

Do you know what you are; do you know what you are?
We are bored of all the things we know
Do you know what you are; do you know what you are?

Not all monsters are bad
But the ones who are good
Never do what they could, never do what they could

All the good monsters rattle their chains
And dance around the open flames
They make a lot of empty noise

While all of the bright eyes turn away
As if there wasn't anything to say
About the justice and the mystery

Do you know what you are?
Do you know what you are?
We are bored of all the things that we know
And we are forms of everything we love, we love..

If good won't show its ugly face,
Evil won't you take your place?
Nothing ever changes, nothing ever changes
By itself

We are bored of all the things that we know
Do you know what you are?
Because we are so in love with ourselves

We are forms of all the things we love.

p/s I'll be off to Chiang Mai for a company trip later today till Sunday. Pray for journey mercies and that I'll get to eat some yummy longans, and experience the real life there instead of consumer-packaged mass tourism. But it's a group tour, so I guess it'll be a bit of the usual itinerary to "standard" sites. :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Aun mentioned in his weirdness posting that scents had a tendency to evoke memories. Well, that's true for me too. Y'know, in this so-called "multimedia" IT age, we're actually shortchanging our experience of our existence here on Planet Earth by overemphasizing the visual and auditory senses, and downplaying smell, taste and touch. But that is inevitable, since smell and taste cannot be realistically captured, stored, transmitted nor reproduced electronically. There are some motion-based mechanisms that can replicate the sense of touch to a certain extent, e.g. remote-controlled surgery or robotic arms. But it's nowhere near the real thing.

But I would just like to list down here some scents and smells that trigger a deja vu or instant recall to past events and places...

1. Smoky 2-stroke outboard engine exhaust (the nauseating kind) will bring me back to my younger days in the 80's when I tagged along with my dad and his Bible college students into
the interiors of Sarawak for their mission trips. We would head up the Baram River by boat to the longhouses and remote villages where the students would do their ministry practicals and my dad would often preach. Nowadays I get the exhaust smells during boat trips to East Coast islands for holiday.

2. Diesel engine exhaust reminds me of the days in Sarawak (again) where we travelled in those massive express boats that plied the major rivers like the Baram and Rejang. Those boats had huge inboard Caterpillar engines that roared with an incredibly loud din. Those were carefree days for me. The biggest danger was probably falling off the roof of the express boats as they skimmed across the brown river water. The boats are still in operation today, although their role is somewhat reduced as more and more road connections are built, thus reducing the dependence on river transport. But for some interior regions the river is often still the only transport route.

3. Wood fire smoke from campfires or old wood-fired stoves remind me of Sarawak days (again!) where my family and I would often visit the longhouses in the upriver regions. There, where gas stoves were unavailable, the local folk would cook their meals over wood-fired stoves in the smoky kitchens at the back. The entire kitchen would emanate a distinctive woody and smoky scent even when there was no fire. It's a warm inviting smell with a promise of yummy food to fill the tummy. The waft of wood smoke also nicely complemented the fresh air from the surrounding forest. Hopefully the smoke won't cause lung cancer though...

4. Naphthalene urinal deodorizers in hotel and public washrooms take me back to the gym changing room at Bannockburn School, Illinois, USA, where I studied in Grade 6 and 7 way back in 1985-87. The gym changing room had this lingering smell of naphthalene, like mothballs everywhere. In addition to smell, temperature also accentuates the memory. The changing room had an unpleasantly cold and dank atmosphere during winter, which helped seal in the memory even deeper. So today, any hotel washroom with cold air-conditioning and naphthalene-scented deodorizer will kinda make me wonder... hmmm, haven't I been here before...?

5. The smell of the sea and sea spray brings back good memories, anytime, always, and promises more good memories to come. :)

6. I'm sure there are some more but I just can't remember at the moment. That's the thing about these type of memories. When you get it, you get it. Otherwise, it's hidden somewhere in the recesses of your brain.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

In a dilemma

I have to make a critical decision soon. Like, by tomorrow evening. I need to decide whether to commit to C or to N, for a long term relationship. It's not practical to have both at the same time, because they can't really get along with each other. It would be too expensive too.

C and N are both very good. I like both of them. The problem is, like I said earlier, I can only have one, for practical reasons.

Part of the problem is that my head and my heart are kinda at odds with each other. In a nutshell, my heart goes for C, but my head goes for N. I have a history with C, and we go back quite a long way. But that is in the past. The future is now. Things have changed, and I need to keep up with the times. Yet, I still have a certain fondness for C. It's just that C seems to be championing a solid legacy, while N is creating new and exciting things. N is promising a more attractive total package deal, while C seems to argue that "total packages" will compromise on quality.

I think N is more innovative and keeping up with the times. C won many hearts in the past, but I wonder if C is keeping up with N, seeing the way N is setting new standards nowadays. I like C for sentimental reasons, and for being with me so long, and giving me much pleasure over the years. But lately I've been having more encounters with N, due to N's gaining popularity among my friends. I find N to be generally more friendly than C. N is more avant garde and versatile, whereas C is more traditional and headstrong. It seems to me that N pleases the crowd, while C is more aloof. N is popular among the younger generation, but C has a stronger following among the elite and upper class.

In terms of looks, they are both about the same. Anyway, looks don't really matter as much as the performance. They interact with me in different ways, so I just have to learn to press the right buttons. They both feel good in my hands or around my neck.

The bottomline is, either one will do fine. I like C for certain things, but I like N for other things. They have their strengths and weaknesses. But I can choose only one.
It seems I can't have the best of both worlds...

Well, I could go with either one first, and could still crossover later if I really want to, but that would entail much hassle and monetary cost. It's not an irreversible decision, but I would like to get it right at the start. I've not much experience in this new area, so I'm still learning as I go along.

I've tried to be "spiritual" about this, and pray for God's guidance, but really, in these sort of things, there's no clear black or white.

So for now, within the next 24 hours, I'm gonna sleep over it a little bit more, and ask around for some advice from the wise and more experienced people. But everyone has their biases.


p/s. Oh, in case you were wondering, C is Canon and N is Nikon. The shootout is between a Canon 30D with 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS lens and a Nikon D80 with 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 VR lens. Of course, the answer is crystal clear to you, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Climbing Kinabalu

Day 1. On the balcony at Timpohon Gate, the starting point of the trail, still looking alive. The night before the climb we considered changing the original plan of taking the Timpohon trail and going up via the more scenic Mesilau trail instead, but it was a too late to change plans, so up the Timpohon trail we went!!! This was my third time climbing the mountain, second time for the tall guy on the right, and first time for the other four.

The early section of the trail has some short stretches of flat terrain like this. But do not let this image fool you. The rest of the trail is basically steps going up and up and up and up.

Posing for a photo at km4 of the trail, just after the rest stop at Layang-Layang. The entire Kinabalu trail is about 8.8km.

At Pondok Villosa rest stop along the way up to Laban Rata. The majestic rock face beckons to us from yonder.

A tree. I'm not sure if it's dead or alive.

Cloud formations on the way to Laban Rata. The blue sky is all natural. Every photo on this trip was shot on Fuji film. Everything you see here has been scanned from the prints. No Photoshop. No touch up.


Laban Rata, at 3300m above sea level, our destination for the first day's climb. Local porters go up and down everyday, carrying fresh supplies like rice, vegetables and cooking gas tanks. Amazing.

Hanging out on the deck of Laban Rata resthouse. To say that the view is breath-taking is a gross understatement.

The view from the deck of Laban Rata. Nice rainbow.

Sunrays streaming through the glass panes and casting long shadows across the floor of the cafe at Laban Rata resthouse.

Laban Rata was full so we went just a stone's throw away to Gunting Lagadan Hut, where we spent the night. A very very cold night. I could not sleep even a wink. The frigid cold simply pierced through every layer of insulation that I wore. Anyway, we had to "wake up" at 2:30AM to start the climb to the summit in the dark, so there wasn't much of a night to sleep.

Sunset view from Gunting Lagadan Hut.

Day 2. Sunrise along the way up to the top. We were slow, so we missed seeing the sunrise from the peak. Instead, the sun crept up on us as we trudged along, step by step. In Sabah, sunrise happens at around 6AM.

A bit more light...

getting brighter...

and brighter...

Pink and orange giving way to blue...

That's me, silhouetted against the brightening sky... Donkey's Ears on the left.

Plodding on to the summit. As you can see, we were very slow. The sun had already risen but we were still on the way up. Slow and steady.

Low's Peak, as seen from the last leg of the climb. The final push to the summit is sometimes the hardest, but you just gotta keep going.

The three stooges at 4095m above sea level.

Standard photo with the signboards.

Not so standard photo.

Low's Gully, with Eastern Ridge in the distance.

This shot was taken from Low's Peak, looking southwest.

That's me in front, St. John's Peak at the back and the invisible wind blowing everywhere... this is the beginning of the descent from the top.

St. John's Peak

Posing along the way down. This is a trick shot taken from a low angle to give the impression of height. That little sharp protrusion on my right is actually the top of South Peak about 1km away, but juxtaposed against the foreground.

Further down, the team stops for a group photo with South Peak in the background.

I, the straggler, looking forlorn on the rock face... South Peak in the background, again. South Peak is featured on the back of the Malaysian 1 Ringgit note.

An view of South Peak from a different perspective. Most "postcard" shots of South Peak are from the Plateau above. This shot was taken from below.

Taking a breather to enjoy the view on the way down... that's Sayat-Sayat in the distance below... thank God for the perfect weather.

Yup, the rock face looks pretty steep. But only this section. The other sections are not so steep. It's not that difficult to walk up, really. You just need lots and lots of determination and motivation. And it helps if you're fit. My team wasn't, so we had to pull/push one another up. :)

At Sayat-Sayat checkpoint, on the way down from the peak. We were so slow, we only made it back to Gunting Lagadan Hut at noon! The rest of the day was spent descending all the way back to Park HQ. We made it just before sunset. Really slow.

The view of Mt. Kinabalu from Hotel Perkasa, Kundasang, on a clear day. This photo was taken the day after completing the climb.

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?

My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son],
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Rays of dawn

Hallelujah! Jesus is alive!

Sunrise along the summit trail to Low's Peak, Mt Kinabalu.

The first rays of dawn bursting forth,
signalling the dawn of a new day,
and symbolizing new hope and new life,
as on that Resurrection morning two millenia ago.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Have a blessed Good Friday and Easter Sunday,
Commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,
Who brings hope and assurance of life beyond the "here" and "today,"
Restoring humanity to the heights of glory as God intended from the first.

In the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,..."

Biofuel or biofool?

Palm oil: the biofuel of the future driving an ecological disaster now

Ian MacKinnon in Kalimantan
Wednesday April 4, 2007
The Guardian

The numbers are damning. Within 15 years 98% of the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia will be gone, little more than a footnote in history. With them will disappear some of the world's most important wildlife species, victims of the rapacious destruction of their habitat in what conservationists see as a lost cause.

Yet this gloomy script was supposed to have included a small but significant glimmer of hope. Oil palm for biofuel was to have been one of the best solutions in saving the planet from greenhouse gases and global warming. Instead the forests are being torn down in the headlong rush to boost palm oil production.

Read the rest of the article here...

And so the debate rages on...

Are we fools to believe that we can save the planet (and ourselves) by our feeble human efforts? Or are we fools to believe that some vegetable oils are more ecologically friendly than others? Or are we fools to deny that everyone's just looking out for their selfish interests?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Tagged I have been

So, I've been tagged by Nicole.

I've never been tagged before.

Lemme see, I am supposed to state the rule of the tag, and then respond to it. OK, so this particular tag says that:

"People who are tagged should write a blog post of 6 weird things about them as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says ‘you are tagged’ in their comments and tell them to read your blog."

I guess I have to write something about my weirdnesses. I was thinking, what is weird to me may be normal to someone else. The definition of weirdness could be quite relative and subjective. Therefore I may think I am weird but you may see me as perfectly normal. On the other hand, I may see myself as normal but someone else may look at me thinking that I have gone bonkers. Of course, some habits or behaviour patterns could be considered peculiar or weird in the light of generally acceptable culture and social conventions. But then, diversity is the spice of life, no?

Here in random order, I list my so-called weirdnesses and oddities and idiosyncracies.

Weirdness No. 1

I like to read labels. Especially labels on food packaging. I want to know how many servings, serving size, net weight, ingredients, type of preservatives and additives, number of packets inside, nutritional value (mostly zero), number of calories, percent daily values, expiry date, date of manufacture, place of manufacture, address of manufacturer, number of languages the label is written in, type of packaging (plastic, paper, glass, aluminium, Tetrak, etc). Basically, I ingest a lot of useless data.

Weirdness No. 2

I don't take directions very well. I read maps instead. I prefer a complicated map rather than confusing turn-by-turn directions. So don't tell me to "turn left, and then turn right and then go straight and turn second left and look for the Shell station and then third traffic lights and then right and call me if you're lost." Just give me the full address and I'll look it up on the map.

Weirdness No. 3

I get lost in shopping malls, but not in the jungle. I have to ask for directions from the information counter at Megamall and 1Utama and Pyramid. I would rather get lost diving a coral reef or hiking a mountain than walking aimlessly in Megamall looking for the escalator to the labyrinth also known as car park Level P4 Section G Row 13. There was once I searched like almost one whole section of level B1 at 1U but couldn't find my car. I almost panicked, until I realised that I had parked at level B2.

Weirdness No. 4

I type with all ten fingers. I was taught the proper way to type at the age of 11, and I've used all ten fingers ever since. On a QWERTY keyboard, left little finger hits the Q, A and Z keys. Left ring finger hits the W, S and X keys. Left middle finger hits the E, D and C keys. Left index finger hits the R, T, F, G, V and B keys. Right index finger hits the Y, U, H, J, N and M keys. Right middle finger hits the I, K and comma keys. Right ring finger hits the O, L and full stop keys. Right little finger hits the P, semicolon and forward slash keys. Thumbs are for the space bar. Little fingers are for Shift.

Weirdness No. 5

If you give me a sheet of paper (blank or printed/written), my first reflex is to flip it over to see if there's anything on the reverse side and to make sure I don't miss out anything important. It's a built-in neuromotor reflex mechanism left over from the prehistoric days when cavemen flipped bones over to make sure they didn't miss out any of the meat for dinner.

Weirdness No. 6

I start reading a book from anywhere but the first page. I usually start in the middle or second half and reach near the end, then I'll jump back to the earlier parts to find out how the story built up to the climax. Then I'll go to the end and piece everything together.
And if I have enough time left I'll read Chapter 1 and see how the writer started it all. That's why it's difficult for me to read novels. I hate it when I find out about the ending before I have a chance to read the beginning. Or I don't understand what is happening now because I don't know what happened earlier. I also read the copyright page to check the year of copyright.

Weirdness No. 6

When taking photos in landscape/horizontal format I look through the viewfinder with my right eye. When taking in portrait/vertical I use my left eye. Email me if you want to know why.

Weirdness No. 6

I don't stay up to watch English Premier League. I like Arsenal, but I'm OK if they lose. It's just a game.

Weirdness No. 6

I can't count.

I hereby tag the following kind souls:

1. Aun & Jacqui
2. Colin
3. Rudi
4. Kat
5. Hedonese
6. Biscottie
6. Charis
6. Snoflek
6. Jon