Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Images of Koala Rumpum

Like my little friend (all of 3 years!) pronounced it, Koala Rumpum (Kuala Lumpur) was quite an interesting place! Here are some pictures of the city:

Palace Gates

Inside the National Monument Area

Independence Square

Atop the KL Tower

Putrajaya River

Retribution? Not Quite...

Trust was something that came naturally to her! Never mind the myriad tribulations she'd already faced when it came to her blind trust in people; she still carried on trusting, wholly and completely! It wasn't surprising then that as she looked at her piece of creativity in admiration, she smiled to herself and prepared to send it to the "middleman" (mm), who would then let her creativity garner a place in the big conglomerate that both were a part of! As was her nature and compulsive need, she read and re-read, many times over, the few words that she'd put together for the event. Nodding to herself, satisfied that the lyric was worth being read by many other eyes, she took a deep breath and handed it over to the mm.
To the middleman's credit, a small note of appreciation was sent to our protagonist. Convinced that her work was in good hands, she heaved a sigh of relief and set about doing her daily chores. Nevertheless, something nagged her; something was surely amiss! Sure enough, she heard the sounds of a good job being lauded coming from the middleman's room, but no one seemed to realize that she was the author of those words that were being applauded! Not one to be slighted so easily, she waited a while and then went to the middleman's room. Upon enquiring about how the poem had been received, the middleman waxed eloquent about how much appreciation had come its way and how the mm had proudly declared that the mm and another person had put it together! Our girl didn't know what hit her! Fumbling for words, she smiled faintly and came out of the room. Disappointment writ large on her face, she couldn't fathom how someone could take credit for what was definitely not their work!
As is the way with things, she soon chanced upon one of the big guys who'd loved the poem and praised it whole heartedly. Not one to stay quiet, she asked him whether he'd liked the poem. Surprised, he asked her whether she and the mm had put it together! Composedly, our girl minced no words when she replied that she'd written it herself. With ensuing words of praise ringing in her ears, she left the place.
Somehow, she wasn't satisfied, though. Retribution though it had been, what remained was the fact that her trust had proved worthless yet again!
Plagarism is an evil eating into our very lives. Raise your voice against it. More importantly, resist it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

KL Chocolate Factory

Apparently, eating chocolate every day erodes the bones and makes them weak!

Do I really care if I get to sink my teeth into the sumptuous dragon above, or even the lil fellas below!?!

Friday, January 25, 2008


Malaysia has nice, wide roads! That's the first thing that struck me when I got out of Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Also, is the airport itself nice or what! The baggage claim (or reclaim, and rightly so written in one of the airports; I forget which!) section is so far away from where the plane lands that commuters need to take a train (through the airport) to get there! That train ride was just so awesome! As the train flits by, you can only begin to imagine the airport's expanse!

The hotel that we stayed in at KL offered a lovely view of the famous Petronas Twin Towers, featured many a time in Indian movies! I must say though that I found them beautiful only at night, all lit up and glowing; during the day, somehow, they just looked like two metal towers; nonetheless, with an amazing architecture! The hotel was also very well placed, what with upmarket malls and stores surrounding it on all sides.

The night we landed in Malaysia, we just strolled around the neighbouring area of Bukit Bintang, taking in the sights and sounds of the ever lively streets! All through the walk, we kept spotting the Petronas, and each time, I was awestruck by its nighttime beauty!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Thailand Musings...

Majestically reclining,
He took my breath away!

Swathed in a golden skin,
Over all, does he hold sway!

Temples steeped in tradition,
Monks absorbed in prayer,

Thailand is an eclectic mix,
Of these, as also every lair!

Abounding in culture,
Abounding in colour,

Of dancers and rhthym,
Of warriors and valour!

Elephants and dolphins,
Spy shows and cowboys,

The funny and the bizarre,
And of life, all the joys!!!

Pristine, blue beaches,
Dazzling, shimmering malls,

Thailand is one place,
I'll go every time it calls!!!

The dummy lady up above,
All tattooed; yes, that's the one!
She'll squirt water all over you,
A close look at the jets, and run!!!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Maadaaaame!!! Maadaaame...

When people say that the Thais are a group of friendly and accommodating people, they aren't far from the truth! They genuinely are some of the nicest people I've ever met! Of course, I'm sure that there are good and bad sorts everywhere (we did encounter one such foul mouthed gentleman), but, in general, the people of Thailand are friendliness and hospitality personified! This was evident wherever we went. Barring the umbrella seller who yelled at us in Thai when we declined to buy an umbrella from him (I must admit that the umbrella was beautiful, though! All traditional and reasonably priced, we made a mistake by not taking up his offer!), all the other people we came across spouted smiles, with words, as sweet as honey, to match!

When we went shopping in all the lovely street markets, Pratunam being the most notable among them, the shop girls went out of their way to be nice! The number of compliments I received that single evening was enough to make me feel like an Empress! They also had this cute way of pulling my arm whenever I walked away, not being happy with the price they quoted! Musical intonations of "maaaadaaaame, maaaadame..." still ring in my ear! "Hello, madaaaaame!" in a singsong tone is how they usually seemed to greet foreign women! Of course, each of them is armed with a simple calculator, which comes out every time a customer starts to haggle! As most of them barely spoke any English, they used the calculator as a handy tool to convey the best prices they were willing to offer!

If you're a pro at bargaining, Thailand is the place for you! Start to bargain and prices fall straight from 400 Baht to 250 Baht to 100 Baht and so on! Whether ultimately you pay for what the item is worth or not, you definitely get a kick out of having been able to reduce the price so much!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Different Facet of Thailand!

Lady boys, like our guide called them, are everywhere in Thailand. Apparently, it's one of the few things that families in Thailand worry about when their sons are growing up; the other important thing being the boys agreeing to spend some weeks in a monastery, living the simple lives of Buddhist monks. These lady boys, when you look at them, will give you no indication that they were men for some period of their lives! We attended this show in Pattaya, called Tiffany's Alcazar show, a gala feast of lights, sounds, costumes, humour, songs, revelry and most importantly, dance! The costumes and sets were like out of a fantasy land; so brilliant and colourful that they could have put any Indian movie or festival celebration to shame! The performers, all lady boys! Every single one of them! Yes, not one is a girl by birth, claimed our guide vehemently! A glance, not followed up with a hard look, couldn't have confirmed that! The show was spectacular. All of us enjoyed every bit of it! The grandiose sets and costumes kept us spellbound till the very last minute. Of course, we weren't allowed to click pictures inside the auditorium, but we did click some outside, of the participants and some other sundry stuff.

Walking street in Pattaya has no comparison. I'm certain of that! It's a one-of-a-kind amalgamation and co-existence of curio shops, massage parlours and night clubs and bars! Although the night market that we visited in Bangkok also had shops and these bars, the shops/stalls took the main road, whereas the alleyways paid host to the eerily lit bars, leaving no iota of doubt as to what they had to offer! People of all ages and walks of life mill around in both places, and more so, on Walking Street, of course! Children, women, old folks, all saunter past, taking in the amazing energy of the place! Pimps and their kind approach the pedestrians with promises of "shows" and the like, but refuse, and they bother you no more! In fact, the whole of Pattaya is littered with these bars, some having really funny, sleazy names, and almost all coloured in a pinkish hue, but Walking Street is a whole another experience! We even spotted a girl, dressed in cabaret clothes, dancing in a glass case raised high above the road! What really amazed me is how even kids traipsed along with the elders, with no fear of being accosted by kinds that are usually said to infest such areas! That, for me, was one of the marvels of Thailand!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Getting Around in Bangkok...

While on our way to our hotel from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport, the first thing that struck me was the amount of colour on the roads! Initially mistaking the colourful automobiles to be private cars, I soon delightfully realized that the profusion of colour that were the roads, was all thanks to the taxis, cabs, call what you will! Ranging from bright oranges to fuschias, blues and greens, I spent the rest of my traipsing days and nights on Thailand roads trying to spot one, new, bright colour that I hadn't seen on my earlier sojourn; sometimes, the sojourns being just minutes apart! Not for the Thais the drab yellow, white, or other monotonous colours that are usually cabs; Thais need their dose of colour and glitter in most everything!

The tuk tuk is another common feature on Bangkok roads. Very similar to the auto rickshaws found in this part of the world, they are only bigger and more fun to ride! Also, of course, they come in hues that can give their bigger counterparts, the cabs, some stiff competition! Tuk tuks are an easy way to travel to short distances, and it's only when you travel to other parts of Southeast Asia, namely, neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore that you realize how nominally priced the transport fares in Thailand really are!

Another popular mode of public transport in Bangkok is the Skytrain. Extremely viable, a day's pass lets you travel around the city, up until midnight! Comfortable and clean, Skytrains are surely a traveller's delight in Bangkok, what with many stations' exit doors leading right into a popular shopping mall, a delightful market, or some other place of commercial interest! Talk about leading the customer to right where you want her!

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Tale of Two Daredevils...

...Okay, okay! One, a hesitant one... *phbbt*

Bangkok and Pattaya provided truckloads of opportunities, which, surprisingly, failed to let me not return home in one piece! :-D Quite a feat that, I tell you!!!

What with feeding a tiger and smiling as though it were a pussycat,

hurtling down a 180 ft high tower in 2 minutes,

parasailing and

jet skiing (unfortunately, no picture of this; we were busy trying to hold on and not go *splat* into the salty water!), I feel like quite an accomplished adventurer! :-D

Of course, I had to chicken out of something! Underwater sea walk; now, really! You expect me to survive all the way down under with just that bubble of oxygen!?! You've got to be kidding! In my defense, I did try going down, but my unfaithful ears created a ruckus and brought me right back on board! A did it, though, as is quite evident from the picture. I, on the other hand, went down in a submarine! Now that's more like it; a tank full of oxygen! Nope, no picture of the submarine either; I was still sulking over the apparent unfaithfulness of my ears and pluck!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

First Look

Thailand barely resembled what I imagined it to be! As I've been expressing time and again, ever since I've returned from there, Thailand is an amazing diversity of tradition and modernity! Our first destination was this very exotic land!

Bangkok airport, though not particularly spectacular (unlike Dubai), has its own unique identity. The airport itself offers a glimpse into the beautiful Buddhist temples and idols that Thailand is known for! The Thais love their king, and if our local guide is to be believed, unanimously so! She claimed that there may be other differences or problems between the locals, but the love for the king is a strong undercurrent that permeates their very existence! Going by the number of posters all over the country that depicted the king's picture, as also the numerous placards and the like hailing and celebrating the king, we had no reason to doubt her words! Though their king really has no power, the sway he holds over his country folk is to be seen to be believed! Truly heartwarming!

A quaint, quite unpleasant smell hovers over most places in Thailand. After a great many quizzical moments, we learnt that the smell was of fried garlic, which apparently is an important ingredient in almost all local dishes! I didn't think those tiny, white cloves could whip up such a stinky storm! It's also quite a difficult place for vegetarians to be stuck in, what with most of the food having some form of meat or the other, in them. Street food stalls serve almost everything imaginable! Some of the sea food, insects and the like made into satays may make the weak hearted turn squeamish!

Pattaya in Thailand is often considered to the 3rd sin city of the world, close behind Las Vegas and Amsterdam. One visit to Pattaya and we realized why exactly this was so! More on that later, though!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Memories of a Lifetime, Set in a New Dawn...

It's the beginning of another year! Let me start by wishing the few readers who still frequent my blog, a wondrous and joyous year!

This year started for me and A with a big bang, literally, as up on one of the highest floors in Kuala Lumpur, we ushered in the new year under a brilliantly lit sky of fireworks and the like! The past year has been quite an eventful one for me! Not only did I get to travel extensively, a dream that is beginning to take fruition with satisfying speeds, but it also gave me the chance to visit exotic lands that I'd only heard of and always hoped to set foot in! Of course, the last trip spilled over to this shiny new year too, and I'm hoping that this year brings many more such expeditions my way!

The tour of Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore has left me craving for more! Although Singapore was almost uncannily similar to my expectations, Thailand proved to be the surprise package! I'm truly spellbound by this unique country, not to mention the diversity that is inherent in its very nature!!!

Singapore was clean and green, almost to a fault! Not that I can ever find fault with such cleanliness! It does falter in some places, but more on that later.

Malaysia somehow serves as an in between in my head! The one thing that comes to my mind when I think about it, is its sprawling expanse! Genting Highlands almost didn't feel like part of that expanse, it was more like a fantasy land, what with its theme parks and casinos, et al!

A good start has this year heralded, and my fingers are tightly crossed for the rest of it! Here's hoping it's as adventurous and exciting as the last!

P.S. Expect to hear/see a lot more about the trip in my forthcoming posts!