Thursday, 28 February 2008

Bewitching Bali

Gunung Batur at Kintamani

I was in Bali with the Ex-Cons late January 2008. This was a trip that we had planned since April 2007 due to AirAsia's free tickets promotion. Anyhow, we didn't know that the trip was going to be so strenous. We were treated like regular tourists (some of us were first timers with scheduled tour), didn't know what to expect. We took our programme for granted and didn't do any studying before we went there:p
Our guide, Pak Made (pronounced ma-dei) was very knowledgeable, helpful and I must say very patient with us. He explained everything about Bali's cultures and religion. Its surprising to see Bali people who looked like us but went to pray in the temples, or bringing their canang or offering to the spirits. Everywhere in Bali you can see this kind of custom. Bali is very picturesque and all of us just loved to take pictures instead of really listening to the guide (ha!). Anyway, so much you can learn within 4 days about Hinduism and their culture, by the end of the tour, we had information overload about Bali. Plan your trip well and ask other travellers because some places you can skip (the temples are almost the same).
Some tips to the would be travellers to Bali:
Bargain stalls at Tanah Lot and Tirta Empul is excellent, bring lots of cash, look out for handicrafts like carved boxes, paintings, beaded sandals, figurine, bowls made from cinnamon stick. Please refrain yourself from buying at every stop that the guide bring you as they might be quite expansive.
Must see places in Bali:
Tanah Lot temple (in the sea), Uluwatu temple (hanging from a 70-feet cliff), Kintamani to watch Gunung Batur (active volcano), Bedugul (beautiful lake), Tirta Empul (purifying place for the worshippers), Jimbaran Bay for the sunset, Tanjong Benoa for fish and turtle watching (at a conservatory). Be sure to engage a reliable travel agent.
Extra tips:
Bring drinking water as it can be very hot and dry in bali, wear cool & comfortable clothes.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Selling Dreams

My new favourite commercial in the radio is CIMB's savings promotion campaign. Basically, if you (the innocent but green-eyed listeners out there) save RM500 in CIMB, you might stand a chance to win the Mercedes S-class. The commercial is quite hilarious, which goes something like this :
Son : Dad, I'm gonna buy the new Mercedes s-class (son sounds like a bum,
Dad : Uh huh (sound of papers rustling, imagine dad reading the papers)
Son : So, can you give me some cash
Dad : You must be dreaming that I wanna give you RM700,000 to buy it!
Son : Actually, I only need RM500
Dad : Huh! Then I must be dreaming then, ha! (Typical Malaysian snorts)

And, so the commercial goes blah blah blah into its campaign. I'm not an agent for CIMB or anything, its just that the commercial made me think of another joke and the whole connection to this train of thought. The joke goes something like this: YB dies and goes to the gates of heaven, but couldn't decide whether he wanted to go to heaven or hell. Then, he was sent down to hell for a day to decide, where he met all his friends and they were having such a good time, drinking, laughing, playing golf, etc. Next day, he spent it in heaven, which was good, but serene and he felt bored. So, he requested to God to go to hell, and God complies and sent him there. In hell, he was shocked to find out that the condition was nothing like yesterday, all his friends were miserable and garbage all around. So he asked them what happened. Now, here comes the best part.....wait for the punchline....."Yesterday we campaigned YB, just like you did when you were alive, today you voted!!!"

Ha! That, my friends, is the true scenario of the election. Both stories above are about selling dreams. Repeat, selling. It doesn't necessarily comes true. I know that I'm very unlucky in these contests, I never win, maybe I'm jinxed, me thinks. But somehow, some people out there still thinks they have a chance at winning. Maybe they'll get lucky, who knows. Its the same with election, you never know the character that you voted for would be able to deliver his promises. During campaign, they tried to potray the best character, the best manifesto, the best supporters, heck, even the best campaign poster! But once they have won, you won't even feel their presence.

To be honest, I don't even know who are contending in my area. I just know that their presence will be felt at the balloting area. I wanna do the safe and right thing.......but sometimes I feel that, THEY have become too complacent and secured and smug in this position that THEY are in. Maybe, I should do otherwise, and perhaps that'll ruffle their feathers. But my vote is just one vote. Maybe it doesn't change anything. I'm not even a political activist, but working in and for the ruling government inadvertently opened your eyes and ears to information that are privy to the Higher Authorities and sometimes the knowledge makes you sick. You think, maybe THEY should get a wake up call. If the OTHERS win more seats, they would be their check and balance. Maybe that one vote counts to shock THEM from their complacency....then maybe there'll be some changes from the age-old traditions. Who knows, maybe we'll get lucky after all!

Monday, 25 February 2008

Drive & Swear

This morning's Light & Easy was discussing about a study of people in the office who goes potty-mouth or swearing to release work tension. It made me think how true it is. You feel tense then you swear to release some steam. Blowing off steam is fine by me, but I do not approve of people swearing in the office and saying nasty words that other people would feel uncomfortable with it. Just a light potty mouth session would suffice, I think.
Anyway, my favourite swear words these days is a**hole, which is said privately in my car. Its simple and really potrays the person that I'm swearing at:) Since I been driving to work the past week due to the absence of my other half and the availability of the car to me, I found my self uttering the swear words freely. I am pissed of at Malaysian drivers, the women drivers in particular. Hey, no offense to the ladies out there, but your driving sucked. Its true that women driver are the worst, hence all the jokes about women drivers. But Malaysian drivers are very kiasu and kan cheong, they would take every opportunity to squeeze pass the traffic, without considering other people and sometimes endangering other motorists. I might also be in this category, but I do compromise in some situations: 1. people crossing the road, 2. motorists who bother to signal, 3. animal crossing, 4. handicap drivers.
The journey from Gombak to PWTC is not that far but in the morning Jalan Genting Kelang can be quite hellish. At 7.30am, the cars start piling up and everybody would lose their road ethics in order to make it on time to work. Cars start to cut each other's queue, millions of motorcycles criss-crossing in between cars, buses stopping by the side of the road, people crossing the road, other cars coming in from junctions (having discovered a shortcut way). You can imagine how bad this road is every morning. And when you give way to one car, then another car, would try to take advantage by cutting in the way. You do good to people, somehow, other people would take advantage of you. But this is the Malaysian drivers' culture, either you be bugged by it or live with it! At the end of the day, it doesn't matter which cars cut your queue...I am quite satisfied if I can swear at them and self assure that I'm the better driver for being more considerate.
To keep my sanity, I now practice this mantra: I am a better driver that you...I am a better driver than you...