Wednesday, December 29, 2010

20101208 Indonesia – Bali

The tiring 17.5 hr bus journey started at 12:30pm from Yogya. It was terribly uncomfortable because of the nauseating artificial air refresher in the bus. They had done slightly too hard to please the passengers. It took me a few hours to accommodate with the ordour. A female passenger boarded, I guessed she had overdosed cheap perfume… my nose suffered again.

There was no highway from Yogya to Bali, only 2-lane roads. All the way the bus navigated through green fields, jungles and local villages, and boarded a ferry for an hour. Was so glad to have hotel pickup arranged beforehand, saved my time searching for transportation in the tired mood.

08-Dec was a Hindu festival, many shops were close. I spent my time strolling on the beach and had a long sleep to compensate the sleepless night earlier.

I rented a motorbike (USD 6) and rode to Tanah Lot where a temple was built on an island, everything looked alike as 8 yr ago. The island was accessible in the evening during low tide. There was a cave at the bottom where “holy” spring water flow. I guess that was just a waterhole from the lime stone. Proceeded to Ubud, but under-estimated the distance was so so far away. Ubud seemed to be much more commercialized nowadays. Lots of expensive hotels, restaurants and souvenirs surround the palace. Ubud is famous for quality paintings and sculptures. Of course good stuffs are not cheap.

Went to the pub at night. Drinks were cheap, but the crowds were much less compared to Thailand. As usual, many people volunteered to accompany the lonely hearts… but they were not pushy.

With an acquaintance, I shared renting a car to travel to north Bali. Pretty cheap - USD15/day. First to Lake Beratan, not so impressive. Dense fog enveloped the whole area swiftly after we arrived. The adjacent temple Puraluhur Baratan was small. A few km ahead lied Lake Buyan & Lake Tamblingan. Circumnavigated the mountain roads was not easy in the rain. We headed straight to the north point - Singaraja. Quite disappointed, stayed less than 1/2hr and returning to Kuta. We stopped by Gitgit Waterfall, quite impressive but all of us were partially soaked in the rain.

The next day we covered the southern region. Nusa Dua has good white sand beach but almost exclusive to the luxurious hotels and resorts. We had our lunch at Jimbaran. We chose the lively seafood from the aquarium – clams, crab and a fish (frozen) for the kitchen to prepare grilling. When served, I noticed the crab meat shrunk and was too soft, 4 legs were missing. Obviously it was a dead frozen crab but not the lively creature that I chose. I complained to the waitress but she insisted that she supervised the food preparation.

20101205 Indonesia – Yogyakarta

I travelled by train to Yogyakarta (pronounce Jogjakarta), or Yogya in short. The service was quite good and clean, though the wagons were not new. It’s Ok, comfortable with a/c. The 8 hour journey passed through villages, symmetrically divided vast lush green rice field, the terraces shored up according to the slope contours, with scarecrows' thatching sleeves hung on the bony frame. I was listening to Yanni, wonderful feeling.

Rain poured lavishly at the time of my arrival. I was partially soaked. The rickshaw driver seized the chance to demand higher charges. I settled at a guesthouse tucked inside a very narrow lane near to the railway station. Was inconvenient to move around to find a better option.

Dinner was OK, had the local vegetarian food Gado-gado and scrumptious avocado juice.

Yogyakarta is said the most touristy city (other than Bali) in Indonesia. This statement misguided me somehow. It was not so attractive. The main draw – Kraton (Palace of Sultans) failed to impress me, only some exhibits of the previous sultans were displayed. The bird market was my pick in the city. Not bad, plenty of birds, roasters, lizards, dogs and cats for pets. The odd creatures like python, civets, bats, monkey were also found. Can't be sure some of them are illegally traded.

Due to the recent eruption of the nearby Merapi volcano, the most famous Borobudur Temple was partially close for ash cleaning and renovation. Tourists were only allowed to stay at the lowest platform though the entrance fees remain the same (EUR 10). Not fair… I skipped the visit this time.

I also planned to trek the highly recommended Bromo mountains. The authorities have banned the trekking due to some signs of eruption and the continuous rain pour lately. The risk had increased. I skipped again. Will definitely make it next time.

Without Borobudur and Bromo, there is no point to stay in Yogyakarta. I decided to leave to Bali, to try to recall some memories almost 8 yrs ago.

20101201 Indonesia – Bandung

Bandung is not a destination for ordinary backpackers, but its relatively higher altitude promising a cooler climate and being the hub of clothing factory outlets have attracted many tourists from both domestic and abroad.

Bandung airport is really small. 2 immigration counters were located right in front of the arrival entrance. The long queue of passengers may have to stay under the sun or rain outside the arrival hall. For all foreigners, all 10 fingerprints and a photo must be taken for record – first kind of experience in my travelling life. Process was fast somehow. The baggage conveyor belt (only 10m long) is found right next to the counters. Prudent custom officers checked almost each piece of luggage, but foreigners are mostly exempted from this tedious procedure.

The climate, indeed, not really cooling, but just a couple of degrees Celcius lower than Kuala Lumpur. The city is quite tidy, quiet and clean, this was a good start to convince my mom the place is not filthy like India.

Many street entertainers were waiting at traffic light junctions. Mostly have a guitar on hand, a few kids and transvestites were seen. They approached the stopping cars and sang or danced, expecting a few coins of appreciation.

Probably the hotel staffs didn’t understand us well, they couldn’t recommend precisely the outlets that meet our expectation. After visiting several disappointing outlets on Cihampelas Road, we finally found one. Ha… shopping spree commenced! The outlets have lots of signature brands with huge discounted price – some rejected items, some “A” quality imitation, some belong to previous seasons.

We rented a car to Tangkuban Prahu (30km north of Bandung) to see the volcanic craters. At the entrance, the rent car driver was so enthusiastic to purchase tickets for us. I counted he paid for 6 persons but only 5 tickets were given. I demanded back the difference. Reluctantly he withdrew the missing Rs50000 note (EUR4.5) from his pocket to me. I gave back the money to him end of the trip as tips. He was overjoyed.

There are several craters in the area, the car park was situated right next to the biggest Kawah Ratu. Scenery was good. Plenty of souvenir and fruit vendors gathered. The sulphuric fume was still emitting, tourists were kept a distance away from the poisonous gas. With my family, I couldn’t trek to other craters. The tourism authorities strictly requested all tourists to be accompanied by official guide to trek to other craters.

p.s. The hotels and taxi are not so cheap. Local foods couldn’t please our taste buds.

Indonesia – General

Indonesia is so close to Malaysia, yet I feel so far away. I have no clue at all about our neighbour other than Bali. The general impression (mostly negative) is mainly picked up from the local media about those crowds filling the hard labour works abandoned by Malaysians. How ignorant I was, the trip changed lots of biased stereotype positively. In fact majority of them are so genuinely friendly. Well, I had only been to Bandung, Yogyakarta and Bali (all in Java Island). My judgment is simply based on the experience on these 3 cities.

The country is wide, scattered in several huge islands. It is less developed economically than Malaysia, but this world’s largest Islamic country has a huge population of 270mil. It has great potential to surpass other Asean countries due to its huge internal market, low labour costs and rich resources.

I bought Lonely Planet edition 2009. Most of the prices and costs were not updated accordingly.


I have closed this blog for 2 weeks for some personal reasons. Now the mood is back and will start posting again. Thks for your visit.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Trip To Indonesia

Next week, I will travel to Bandung with my family, and will move on alone to other places in Indonesia afterward. No route plan yet, very much depends on the mood then.

Best Actor

The stampede set-off by the bridge collapse at Phnom Penh (Cambodia) 5 days ago caused a death toll of 357 and thousands wounded during a festival which attracted 3 million people from nationwide. The picture of the incumbent Prime Minister Hun Sen with spouse weeping for the tragedy was published on the newspaper the next day. What a great actor. I guessed he didn’t blink an eye during his notorious period in office in the 80’s. His hands were stained with bloods of thousands of political prisoners.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Freedom In Exile

Being a highly respectful and reputable leader to the Tibetans, I guess most of the visitors are definitely interested to study Dalai Lama. This book was first published in 1990, narrating only the superficial history of his life and philosophy, gratefulness to Indian government, struggling to free Tibet. Quite interesting and it arouses sympathy. Somehow there is not any hint to uncover / criticize the mistakes done internally.

Monday, November 15, 2010

India 2nd Trip - Photos

The photos of 2nd India trip have been uploaded to my Travelogue.

Friday, November 12, 2010


I made a day trip with a friend to Muar, a small town in southern peninsular. Things changed in great extend since my last visit 16 years ago. We drove past small villages densely decorated with greens and wooden huts; I learned to appreciate the ancient buildings with rich cultural elements… The small town no longer fit the images etched in my memory - a few pubs, modern buildings, shopping mall, luxurious cars scattered sporadically. Even the local foods tasted differently.

Journey Ends

Frankly I didn’t enjoy much the recent Indian trip. Probably there was no excitement satisfying my “curiosity” (McLeod Ganj was an exception). The general unhygienic environment and the typical arrogant kinda attitude of a handful local people (exerting superiority) were annoying. Anyway, the journey ends now. Very likely I wouldn’t visit India again. Never say never… I still have my heart with the Tibetan refugees and hope to set my feet on Ladakh one day.

p/s: Books are relatively cheap in India. I bought 9 books on this trip.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

20101026 India - McLeod Ganj (Return again)

Yeah... back to McLeod Ganj again - my favourite place in this trip. In fact the main idea was hoping to see His Holiness Dalai Lama on the upcoming Tibetan Children Village (TCV) 50th anniversary celebration on 30-Oct.

As I had done earlier, I joined the English conversation class to interact with the students - I really enjoyed greatly. Unfortunately the amount of teachers (mostly tourists) is decreasing in the coming winter period. Their learning progress would be affected.

I attended a couple of gatherings where the Tibetans sharing their experience and efforts in this exiled government, and their political views. Through various discussions, I realized that some of them were gradually losing their faith to free Tibet, the family issues and living environment top the reasons. Felt so helpless... History is not made in a day, could be through generations. The frustration idea could be contagious and sabotaging the efforts of their government.

I took a chance to trek to the Triund (mountain area) - altitude 2850m. The 3.5hr trek was quite tiring, but was rewarded by the splendid views when I set my feet on it. Grassland carpeting the mountain top, a few shacks providing refreshing meals and drinks, snow clad mountains standing stout behind us, enjoying the caress of the soft sunlight and the light cooling breeze. Too bad, I sprained my right knee again on the way down though I had put on a protection cap. Not so serious somehow. Was interested to listen to my guide (a student in the English class) telling his stories back in China.

On 30-Oct-10, I was so excited to join the crowd for TCV's 50th anniversary celebration. I know I should't expect much presentation from the school. What I wanted was just to see H.H. Dalai Lama... I saw him, though he was 50m away. My camera only managed to capture a small figure of him for this far distance. I'm content. I stayed only till noon, had to prepare myself to take an evening bus back to Delhi, and flight back to Malaysia on Sunday's evening.

Dalai Lama (71 yr old) has announced his retirement sooner or later. Many Tibetans worry about who would be his successor? What would be the next without Dalai Lama? I felt kinda missing the Tibetans here. Don't lose your faith, my friends.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

20101024 India - Haridwar

I took a jam-packed rickshaw to travel from Rishikesh to Haridwar. It was OK, but the moment I arrived at Haridwar, I had the instant feeling that this was not my expectation.

After checking-in hurriedly into a hostel recommended by Lonely Planet, I started exploring the city, headed straight to the public bus station (opposite to the railway station) to check out the bus schedules. This short walking distance... hmmm... I can only describe CHAOTIC!

It was hot and humid. The ghats were long on both sides of the Ganga river bank. But... as usual, rubbish decorated the area. Lots of people. And plenty of poor people lying and scattering around under the scorching sun. The water level was low, probably controlled by the dam a short distance away. Quite some "extra objects" in the river - very likely not rubbish because no one should dump anything into this holy river, I think those were left over from the praying ceremonies.

Finally, I walked up to the largest ghat in the city... phew... very very lively and lots of pilgrims. Not many foreigner faces were seen. The whole city was very Indian. It is an important pilgrimage city but not a touristy place. It lacks the charm and uncomparable to Varanasi.

Right next to this ghat was the colourful Bara Bazaar. Most of the shops were selling local snacks and ceremony related substances. Plenty of unfortunates begging for money - those losing fingers and palms because of leprosy, amputees, old skinny persons... my heart sank...

An old monk pulled my shirt and pointed to a restaurant, I guessed he wanted me to buy him a meal. How could I do that? Dozens of them in the area, I would be besieged if I would agree to him. I walked away immediately, he poked me with his walking stick!!! What the heck!

I went back straight to my room and only walked out to have my meals. I didn't want to go back to the ghats anymore. Interesting, there were plenty of stickers printed "Keep Silence" in the whole hotel building, but I heard the Indians talking out loud from 8pm to 10pm. My ears were tortured.

The next day, I went to the local bus station. I asked someone which was the bus to Dharamsala... "~!@#$%^&*" and he shoke his head rhythmically and pointed me to another one. I asked the 2nd one, he shoke his head too but said "3pm". Fine, I sat down on the floor (no bench and chair at all) in the middle of the waiting hall. There were not even a sign in English. After 15min, I noticed there was a bus printed "Dharamsala", I approached the conductor, he told me the bus would be leaving in 10min, which means 2pm... NOT 3pm!!!

Glad to catch the bus... but the tedious 15hr overnight journey on this so-called "semi deluxe" bus was really really really not pleasant. I had to share with another 2 persons on the non-reclining seat with limited leg room. My neck was pain and my legs were sore.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

20101022 India - Rishikesh

Have not planned to visit this town, stayed here only because of transit. Somehow the unexpected turned out quite good, not so touristy.

This small town is settled on the holy Ganga river bank. The water quality is much more cleaner and fresher than at Varanasi because of its location at upper stream. The serene and relaxing ambience provides a good spot to practise yoga, meditation and learning cultural music.
Hindu devotees come to cleanse their soul. The ghats (staircase leading people step into the river and bathe) were tidily constrcuted and fairly clean. Iron chains were for holding in order not to be flushed away by the swiftly drifting current.
An Indian lady tried to convince me to dip into this cold water in a morning, to wash away my sins, she said, this opportunity was rare to me. Well... I chickened out... Acc' to what I believe, "sin" is like a drop of ink dripping into a pile of clean water. No one could erase the sin, but to carry out more charity works to purify the contaimination.
I saw a naked sadhu performing his "ritual" on the river bank. His hair was so long till touching the ground. Well, I didn't want to offend him and dared not to get closer. His body was smeared with white ash. It was a little too dark to take a photo of him from far side. I tried to locate a better place the next day but he didn't turn up.
Walking around the town... I was really astonished to see piles of rubbish were dumped here. Water flew over the rubbish before pouring into the Ganga...

Monday, October 25, 2010

World Vision - My Sponsored Kid

I was overjoyed to know that World Vision (WV) is going to organize a trip to visit my sponsored kid in Thailand in Dec. I had only seen him on the photos he sent to me occasionally. Within this 3 years, I had no chance to meet him. I made all the necessary payments to WV before coming to India.

Last week, WV informed me that they couldn't locate the child because he has shifted out from the project area. Oh no... when was it happened? Why I was not informed? Had all my letters and postcards delivered to him? I paid the sponsoring amount regularly! WV couldn't answer any. Was a little frustrated.

20101015 India - McLeod Ganj

After 5.5hr spinning on the mountainous roads, was so glad to reach McLeod Ganj, which means I could get hot meals now.

The 1st impression was that McLeod Ganj has all the elements to be the hub of backpackers - religious background, cheap accommodations, good foods, souvenirs, narrow alleys, many foreign faces and languages. This is the typical den for those tourists overwhelmed with sympathy and hippies. Tibetans seem to outnumber Indians in this town.

Under the iron wrist and attacks of China government in 1950's, the renowned Tibetan political cum spiritual leader 14th Dalai Lama opted to flee Tibet to seek refuge from India in 1959. This further triggered exodus of Tibetans following his step. The Indian government granted the exiled Tibetan government to be established here, very small scale, smaller then my expectation. The major authorities were available - parliament, court, ministry of education, culture etc. The little museum (a room) inside the Library displayed those precious artifacts brought from Tibet. The main financial support is mainly comprised of public donations.

Another small Tibet Museum in town narrated the histories by displaying a few photos and videos, mainly about the invasion of China government to Tibet. No gory photos displayed about the massacre.

I met a Mongolian lady twice who was studying Tibetan language here. She kept asking about my dreams and gave analysis (prediction) on it. Frankly it was hard to believe. Since she was so serious and keen to explain, I paid attention on it. At last she said her service was not for free, I should pay some amount if I "would seek" her advice next time. Ha... the dream analyst was a commercial person too.

I attended a Buddhist philosophy lecture given by a senior monk. The lesson was somehow too difficult for a beginner like me.

There are several organizations and NGOs here to help the needy (especially those newly arrived) to adapt their new life by giving free foreign language courses, physical assistances etc. I participated in the English conversation class after lunch to try improving their communication capability. Meanwhile I could make some friends and to understand their background and dilemma. It was interesting, I hope my little effort would help.

I had been thinking of picking up meditation course here... till now I didn't realize any due to several excuses.

Most of the monks here had no income, largely depends on the meager remittance from their family or friends to support their daily expenses. I was invited by 2 monks to their accommodations, very very basic living. They even prepared simple foods for me, was deeply touched by their hospitality.

The tough escaping journey stories depressing me again and again. They trekked over the snow clad high mountains for nearly a month, suffering freezing cold, frostbites, hunger, tiredness, avoiding the patrol police (they normally walked only in the night time), taking care of kids, paying huge sum to the traffickers, many people failed and died on the way...

This is the place I felt the most comfortable during this trip... I LOVE it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

20101012 India - Dalhousie

Another 6.5hr bus ride from Amritsa to former British hill station Dalhousie. The roads were snaking all the way up to altitude 2000m. Some sections were REALLY hair raising. It was a big construction to build these roads up to the mountain top. Surprising to see many small villages were patched all over the mountain.

It was dark on my arrival, cold, hastily settled at the hotel for Rs250 (EUR6.2) per night. Ah... with clean big bed, cable TV and hot shower! Wow... value for money. A spider was welcoming me at the toilet located at balcony.

Really small... nothing to see except the dense pine forest, mountains, cooling atmosphere and the sunrise/ sunset views. Dirty... it was dirty for a tourist spot. Rubbish was not taken care of. People dumped loads of rubbish at the slopes instead of burying them. They didn't even clean up the rubbish around the hotels.

A sizable Tibetan refugee community had been established here long ago. I met 2 Tibetan teenagers, they guided me to visit their compound and we talked about their livings. Interesting.

Many locals told me I must visit Khajjiar - termed "Mini Switzerland" with a lake at the center of grassland. It was an hour drive from Dalhousie. I was expecting dense pine trees, mountains, crystal clear water, beautiful grassland, herds of cows and relaxing cafe. Partly true, except the crystal clear water was replaced by muddy pond, skinny cows, cafe with plastic chairs, and worse, rubbish was scattered around, not huge volume but it was an eyesore for a tourist place. I was fantasizing a pretty Indian actress dancing Bollywood choreograph with me and chasing each other at this romantic dreamland.

I waited 2.5hr to catch a bus back to Dalhousie. Unexpectedly the bus broke down on the way, was a little worried. Something was wrong with the front wheel. After 15min, luckily we were on the road again.

I stayed my last night in my room watching Commonwealth Games closing ceremony. Was good.

Friday, October 15, 2010

20101010 India - Amritsa

I dared not to take the food on the street, therefore I went to a restaurant near to the hotel for breakfast. As expected my food was delivered without knife and fork - Indian style. As no one else in the room, so I asked the cleaner. I thought he would call someone to deliver to me, instead he went to the shelf picking for me! With his fingers at the tip of the fork and grinned. He was cleaning the floor with his hands and a dirty cloth just now! I was shivering and headed to the shelf immediately... regretful instantly... Now I know why it is better to eat with your hands in India.

The city is really dirty. Ahh... an Indian told me this is the dilemma of India. Almost everyone is throwing rubbish out of their hand anywhere.

In this holy city of Sikhs, the Golden Temple is a must-visit. This was Sunday cum a special holiday, the temple was full of devotees, surprisingly not many tourists were seen. It was really beautiful, constructed with white marble and golden domes, spot clean (a contrast to the surrounding outside the temple), flowers fragrance filled the compound... solemn and relax. I visited here in 2 consecutive days.

Devotees could dip in the pool to cleanse their soul. There was a huge kitchen and canteen (a hall) catering free foods for anyone in need. Lots of volunteers were preparing foods, cooking and cleaning like a great communal work.

I didn't know if I was lucky, 2 young ladies approached and asked for my contact no. They couldn't speak English at all. The 1st one looks ordinary like a village girl. Since she demanded unceasingly together with 2 older ladies, I gave my e-mail address to her. I won't reply to her for sure. The 2nd lady was more aggressive. She followed me entering the temple, asked for phone no., photo, address... she even touched me... goshhh... she is not so "attractive", her chin distorts to the left while the upper row of teeth protrudes to the right. Eventually, a guy came to rescue me and talked sternly to this lady.

Visited the adjacent Jallianwala Bagh, a small park commemorates 2000 Indians who were killed or wounded by the British authorities in 1919, some bullet marks are visible.

Another must-do in this city was to make a trip to India/Pakistan border at Wahga, 28km from Amritsa to watch the daily retreat ceremony (closing the border). Lots of visitors on this Sunday. Everyone was pushing and rushing to get a good seat. The crowds of guessing 3000-4000 people on each side were screaming patriotically. The border was merely separated by 2 gates on each side. My seat was slightly too far to see the actions. Both sides seem to parade in the same style. Was fun.

note: finally, I had my 1st KFC in India.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

20101009 Srinagar to Amritsar

The houseboat servant only prepared hot tea for my breakfast, they cheated me by saving 2 eggs and a piece of bread. Anyway, I had no appetite because I had to catch the transportation to Jammu.

Mohd paid for a seat in a van (I thought a 4-wheel wagon). The driver... or all drivers were hell drivers. Almost met an accident on the road, though not our fault. The general attitude of the drivers was too reckless. The whole trip was navigating around the mountains, thousand of curves, thousands of trucks and horn blowing. The Bollywood music inside the van was blaring out loud most of the time. The high pitch tailing Indian voice was irritating. Luckily I had my own mp3. The journey consumed 8hr45min.

At Jammu, immediately I rushed to the bus station for a ticket to Amritsa, unfortunately the 5pm schedule was sold out. With my pitiful begging and charm, the conductor found and allocated the best seat (next to the driver) for me. Thanks a lot! Almost all the way from Jammu to Amritsa was straight, but some sections were very bumpy, my butt ached. The journey took another 5hr45min... much longer than I thought.

11:00pm, at Amritsa bus station, I picked up a a rickshaw driver to send me to the hotel. Around the bus station was really filthy, was almost suffocated by the ammonium stink (it was Indian's general habit to piss anywhere) and the rubbish stench. Poor rickshaw drivers and the homeless slept under the bridge... I didn't feel good to pass by this area.

The rickshaw driver charged me Rs60 (EUR1) instead of the agreed amount Rs20 (EUR0.33). He said the difference was his hotel commission. Ha... I didn't argue with him considering a poor man he is, I was a little annoyed by his trick.

I found 3 mosquito bites on my exposed arms, each had a size of 2cmx1cm. What a venomous insect! Looking at the poor hygienic environment, the mosquito breed must be extra poisonous.

Note: a newspaper costs barely Rs3 (EUR0.05)!!! How do they make profit?

Monday, October 11, 2010

20101005 India - Kashmir

The situation at Kashmir was not safe, I was advised. Strike had been going on for 3 months. All flights to Srinagar were canceled temporarily last 2 weeks. After collecting latest info, I was told the situation was under control and tourists can fly in again.

The flight from Delhi to Srinagar was 1hr10min. The Airport looks like a military base, almost all roofs were painted with camouflage colours. All tourists had to register again upon arrival.It was heavily guarded and militarized along the road. This strike was organized by the radical group demanding for Kashmir independence. Tourism was seriously affected. Most shops, banks and schools were close. Saw some slogans "Freedom", "Indian Dogs Out of Kashmir" etc were painted on the walls. Army was everywhere.

The climate in Srinagar was excellent, lots of houseboats but look deserted. Area not particularly beautiful, less then my expectation, but it was serene.

I signed up for 2 trekking packages for approx. USD160, which I think was overpriced. Considering the present uncertain situation, it would be better to let the agent to earn my money rather than organizing myself.

The first trip was to Pahalgam. The place was not so special, we headed straight to Aru (12km to the north). A horse was arranged for me, and the local guide walked the horse circumnavigating through the pine forest, all the way to Lidderwat, an hour each way. I just recalled the Salem High Country advertisement many many years ago. Frankly, to be alone on this trip was boring. Other than the mountains, pine trees and a few herds of sheep, there was nothing much to see. Anyway, was a relaxing day though my butt was sore.

The 2nd trip was to the glacier at Sonamarg. The scenery along the road was beautiful - high mountains, deep valleys, running turquoise blue mountain streams and small villages. This was what I expect from Kashmir. Felt like being cheated, the horse didn't bring me to the glacier, but still a far distance. I could see but not touch. I had to climb 1/2 hr more to get a little closer for better view. Never mind, the time was too short, and I knew how to plan if I would come again next trip.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

20101002 India - Delhi

Don't like Delhi the first night arrived there. Noisy, crowded, dusty, chaotic and lots of touts tried hard to make money from me. I met a Swiss guy who complained a lot about this. I chose to land here only because AirAsia offered the cheapest ticket to here.

Considering the Commonwealth Games are being held, this city must have had gone through a face lift. Its previous image should be worse.

The monument that I like most in Delhi is Qutub Minar. The beautiful minaret was slightly special. Rest of the sight-seeing such as Red Fort is very similar to Agra Fort; The Humayun's Tomb has the same architecture like Taj Mahal but different material. The reason was that they were built by the same Emperor. Many areas were off limit to the tourists, felt like losing the freedom to wander around these places.

When I came to Jama Masjid, the guy asked me to pay Rs200 (approx. EUR3.5) for the camera. I told him I was not going to take any photo. He insisted me to pay, but I rejected. He stopped me to enter. Well, as I know no mosque would impose entrance fees, they may ask for donation instead. Additionally the so-called ticket was just a simple printing on a white paper, unlike the official beautifully printed ticket given by the others.

The recently launched Delhi subway was impressive - new, cheap and extended to large area. It soothed Delhi messy traffic in large extend. I was so "fortunate" to experience the rush hour on Monday... I hate to feel like a Sardine. T
he train stopped twice on the way, not sure if it was over loaded or just some technical problem. The metro station has always a sandbag bunker installed with military post, guess they are very much afraid of terror attack.

- I met a fat Spanish girl whom I never see a lady filthy like her.
- I have to provide a colour photo to buy local SIM card.
- Many people were asking for tips even for a peanut amount. Are they really so desperate?
- The whole city is heavily militarized.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Malaysia government unveiled the ambitious Economic Transformation Program (ETP) with a price tag of USD444 billion, vows to develop a Greater KL and drive the country into high-income nation by 2020.

Among the programs are building a high speed rail link from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, establishing a subway system in KL, attracting world top 100 companies to invest in Malaysia, escalating regional education hub etc… White elephants. Though it is not impossible, to realize such mega idea in this bureaucratic system itself would face tremendous hurdles, for instance capital, cooperation with other political parties, management transparency, city planning… Wouldn’t be surprised this grants good opportunities to benefit a handful of people.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Shocked myself yesterday morning to see hundreds of pox exploded all over my body and face, like a bed of red & pink roses blossoming in the garden. I trembled in the night like the drug addict suffering cold attack. So I went back to the doctor again.

The moment the doctor saw me, he exclaimed, “Beautiful!” (Did he mean I look “beautiful” with chicken pox???) The situation would be much worse if without early treatment.

This morning, ahh… relieved… just a few new pox appeared… YES! The battle was over. It is subsiding! Suddenly I thought of Rumy, because I know it is irresistible for her to pinch all the pox like her favourite bubble wrap!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chicken Pox

Damn! I am infected with chicken pox. I found a few small blisters on my body when I woke up this morning, with fever and sore throat. Doctor gave me a medication course for a week. He said large patch of blisters might develop over the body due to my age (I hope not, grrrr…)

What should I do now? I have booked my air-ticket to India on 21-Sep. Very likely I have to postpone the flight for a week. Aih… have to pay the changing fees. Think positively it is better to be infected now instead of during travelling.

Friday, September 10, 2010

2nd Trip to India

Just book the ticket to India on 21-Sep, will travel to the northern part – Delhi and Himalaya for a month. I guess this trip would be tough and difficult. The areas are remote, expected to spend quite some time on the world’s highest roads and villages. Hope I won’t suffer highland sickness due to the thin oxygen. Am anticipating to see the glaciers, the snow peaks dotted Himalaya, passing the hair raising zigzagging mountain roads, visiting the Tibeten villages, have a couple of trekking, and savouring the Indian spices again, hope my stomach wouldn’t upset me.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Rwanda - Photos

Have uploaded the photos of Rwanda to my Travelogue. Click on the flag.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Myanmar - Photos

Have uploaded the photos of Myanmar trip to my Travelogue. Click on the flag.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Myanmar - Bagan

The bus trip from Mandalay to Bagan was not so comfortable. Road was mostly unpaved, the air-conditioner was not functioning well, it was hot! The dust gushed in through the wide opened window covered up my face like cosmetic mask, 8 hr journey.

All foreigners have to pay USD10 to enter Bagan, sort of entrance fees to all sites. Traditionally the heart of Bamar culture, Bagan is crammed with more than 4000 red-brick temples. This small town has high concentration of hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops. The historical and religious rich elements make it probably the touristiest place in Myanmar.

The villagers in Old Bagan were forcibly relocated in 1990 to reserve for archeological zone. The area is largely agricultural plain land, possibly the cleanest I have seen in Myanmar. Different sizes pagoda studded all over the area. Most of them are well maintained, it presents different kind of beauty compared to the ruins in Angkor Wat (Cambodia).

Most of the tourists concentrate on the big pagodas and temples at the central like Ananda, Htilominlo and Dhammayangyi. Instead the further distance Sulamani (has the most beautiful frescoes) and the scenic Pyathada were my favourite. Cycling under the scorching sun to these remote places was tiring but fun.

There are many many more smaller temples with intricate fine colourful murals unknown to the tourists. Many of them are gated and unlit, in order to protect the precious arts from being damaged and exposed to the light (which may fade the colours).

Monday, August 23, 2010

Myanmar – Mandalay

The national security is tight, not sure of local passengers, but the foreign passengers have to register names on bus ticket. While leaving or entering Yangon, all passengers have to pass through a check-point where the identity to be checked. Strong stinky ammonia smell enveloped the area as most of the passengers clear their bladders in the open space.

Comparatively Mandalay offers more sight-seeing than Yangon, though not really spectacular. The Mandalay Palace can be neglected, wild weeds were not cut, layers of dust found their resting place, mostly empty. Mandalay Hill was better, ascending the staircases was not so tiring, the panoramic view of Mandalay city and sunset was beautiful. The glittering 13ft bronze Buddha image was the highlight in Mahamuni Temple. Over years thousands of devotees (only men are allowed) have pasted 6-in thick layer of gold leaf on the image! I had contributed too.

Mingun can either be reached by boat or 1 hr drive from Mandalay. The unfinished Mingun Paya cracked during earthquake in 1838, leaving probably the world’s largest pile of bricks. The nearby Sagaing Hill was not special, but its higher altitude grants a better aerial view of the area. Plenty of stupas studded over the area. Amarapura was another favourite attraction especially the sunset view. The 200 yr old 1.2km long U-Bein footbridge was built of over 1000 teak posts across the shallow Taungthaman Lake.

The jma-packed jade market is situated in Mandalay, we skipped the USD1 entrance fees (no one asked for it). Traders were busy scrutinizing the quality of stones and gems. Workshops were available to fabricate the products for customers.

The visits to the monasteries and their schools were the most unforgettable, that I liked most. Through conversation with the monks, I understood better the monkshood, their backgrounds, difficulties and predicaments, their future and expectation, their disciplined simple lifestyle and peaceful ideology. We were invited to their English lesson, where foreigners are encouraged to interact with them, to practice verbally.

The Moustache Brothers show (USD8), famed for its political critics was truly disappointing, thought Lonely Planet gave a lengthy recommendation was worthwhile, it was a cultural dancing show instead largely. The act was not professional but quite a mix. The emcee was trying hard to be humorous but over superficial. Sound system was weak. Place was run down, eventually turned out to be a souvenir selling at the end of show.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Myanmar – Yangon

The newly implemented Visa On Arrival (VOA) regulation attract many tourists flocking into this long self isolated country. Yangon airport was quite modern, but the atmosphere seemed a little rigid and cold. The procedure consumed an hour, surprisingly the local passport holders needed longer time to get through immigration. The officers were super friendly!

The capital Yangon looks like Kuala Lumpur in 70’s. In downtown, 100 year-old buildings can be seen standing solidly, lots of street hawkers and vendors lined up the main streets, English is fairly popular, most of the vehicles are old (no motorbike is allowed in this capital), taxi is quite expensive, buses are always in rush and heavily packed.

There are only a handful of tourist attractions in Yangon. Shwedagon Pegoda is the only “qualified” spot I had visited. The glimmering golden stupa is particularly beautiful in the evening under the spotlights. The nearby Thanlyin and Kyauktan were not spectacular, but good to kill time.

The traditional Burmese food is not my type, fermented and sour taste couldn’t please my taste buds. The Shan food which is closer to Chinese cuisine is my favourite. Lots of consumables are imported from the neighbouring countries. A can of Coca-Cola costs USD0.70, but the local Star Cola (quite similar taste) costs USD0.20.

Myanmar produce world class gems, but the export was restricted due to international sanctions. The Ruby is said the top quality in the world. It’s fun to learn how to differentiate the quality, but the price tags are not cheap. A tiny bead of top class Star Ruby could cost tens of thousands dollars.

People are generally afraid to criticize the junta government publicly, too many spies are around, rumours said. A monk initiated political talk with me, I avoided it to prevent any unnecessary trouble.

I met a lady in Bogyoke market wearing bracelet and pendant fully studded with diamonds. The bracelet alone costs USD10000. Asked if she is afraid of being rob, she replied no such case in Yangon. wow... this country is safer then ours.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Myanmar Trip

Just came back from Myanmar for 2 weeks visit. The country is seeing influx of foreign tourists lately. It was interesting to visit this self isolated country. Bagan is definitely the jewel of all the tourist spots, rest are not really spectacular. What I enjoyed was the interaction with local people.

Quick Facts

- USD is the most popular and accepted foreign currency. Exchange rate is approx. USD1=Myanmar Kyat 1000. Strictly instructed by Myanmar Central Bank, only the crisp clean USD bills are accepted. Any old, slightly torn, marked or rumpled bills would be rejected.

- The ordinary worker earns USD30 / month but the living costs are quite high, e.g. normal meal in the restaurants USD 1-2.

- Power failure is quite common throughout the country. Many hotel operators have generator installed.

- The vehicle fuel is rationed, but far too less. People have to source from black market which costs 25% higher. Gas filling stations are rarely seen in the city.

- The internet is heavily controlled/ filtered, many webpages are inaccessible. Internet café charge USD 0.40 – 1.00 per hr. Speed was slow.

- Lots of lots of pagodas, stupas in the country.

- People are mostly genuinely friendly. I had been asked “Where are you from?” not less than 50 times a day!

- Many part time guides and vendors gathered at tourist sites offering their service and products.

- Some people asked for different country notes/ coins as “souvenir”. Instead they will exchange with other tourists later. It’s a tourist scam.

- Some vendors asked me to trade my watch with their products, they thought I have a cheap fake watch?

- When renting bicycle, no one asked for deposit or document. They trust all people would return to them.

- Double pricing system are widely practiced on foreigners, e.g. entrance fees for sight seeing, transportation (but not the food).

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Casino vs. McD

Went to the one and only licensed Casino - Genting Malaysia on Saturday late night with friends. My last visit was 11 years ago. Was crowded with gamblers and fortune pursuers. Stacks of colourful chips were placed on the table, voices of cursing surmounted the cheerful acclaims, solemn disappointed expression was hanged on many faces, nauseated cigarette smoke and smell filled the poorly ventilated hall.

Don’t like gambling, don’t like the feeling of losing my hard-earn money. I lost EUR10!!! You know how much it is? I could buy 6.5 sets of McDonald’s lunch time value meal. It means 6.5 cups of cokes, 6.5 packs of fries and 6.5 McChicken!!! Well, you should know that Malaysia has the cheapest McD in the world.


Finally, has purchased the ticket to Myanmar… only 2 weeks, will depart on Fri. I think should be sufficient to scratch the surface of this mysterious land. International sanctions have been imposed heavily over the notorious tyranny government and humanitarian records. It must be interesting to unveil the truth and discover the yet unspoiled culture.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Where To Travel Next

Thinking now... where to travel next? North China, Nepal, Taiwan or Bali???

Home Sweet Home

So relax, so cozy to stay at home…eating, eating, eating, torturing my stomach to the limit :)

Have visited a few houses lately, thinking of shifting out in the next months. The landed properties prices have escalated in the speed of supersonic. Initially I thought the idea of getting a bank loan was stupid, I was wrong, the house value appreciates way too fast. I should have bought a house a few years back.

The new houses within city precinct are getting bigger and more luxurious. Wondering if there are so many hidden millionaires in Malaysia or these are acts of speculations? The houses recently visited all have 3 storey, with built up area of 250-400m2!

I will start looking for condominiums, though this is not my preference but I have to compromise with various factors i.e. location, budget, built-up area, facilities etc. This is no easy task.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Had farewell dinners with colleagues and friends almost daily in the past week. Appreciate the friends I met here, a good memory to carry back home. 4 days left! Glad to leave this project, never I had worked in such chaotic situation. Looking back, it is somehow a precious experience (though not pleasant) about dealing with people and office politics. I learn better how to do organize my work next.

Thursday, June 24, 2010



Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Death of EURO?

Recently many European countries introduced austerity measures to curb the deficit. More and more opinions suggest Greece would default their debts and leave EURO zone, Spain and Portugal’s prospect look grim too. The weary economy is devastating.

Germany and France taxpayers definitely wouldn’t be pleased to see their hard earn money go to other people’s pocket. I guess not long from now the voices of re-introducing German Mark and French Franc will start echoing.

FIFA World Cup Fever

Soccer is not my sport, this World Cup doesn’t trigger my mood either. People exclaimed the spectacular opening ceremony worth to see… do you really think it was great? I mean compared to Beijing’s Olympic opening ceremony, hmm… The performance of R.Kelly made me sick. There are so many talented African singers in the world, why him? He was accused of having sexual relationship with the minors and was arrested on child pornography charges, though were all dropped eventually. I don’t believe he is clean. Why the organizer picked a “mental unhealthy” artist to perform in this sport event?

When he sings “I believe I can fly” probably he really thinks he is above the law?

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Cost Saving Haven

The highly qualified yet low labour cost factors in China have had become the investment magnet in the past decade. The recent salary adjustment announcement of Honda (+24%) indicated that the workforce/ union is gaining strength. Foxconn’s 12 suicide cases though are irrelevant to the union strike, the boss has promised +20% raise to the workers. This precedence will ripple immensely in China. The immediate impact would trigger living costs and inflation jump high. Let’s see what the government would do next.

Meanwhile, under the global pressure and accusation of manipulating the RMB, China government is expected to appreciate the currency soon.

The soaring production cost is reducing China competition. Could be a good news to other countries, though I doubt the gap would be reduced significantly.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

EURO Crisis

The EURO has dipped 20% against USD in just 2 mths. What a sad thing… seems like my salary and saving are slashed 20% if converted to Malaysian Ringgit. The tumbling of PIIGS has dragged the whole EU down. Germany and France have to blurt out astronomical figures to try salvaging the crisis, it pissed off many taxpayers. Now who can say the idea of regional single currency is invincible?

Middle East countries have idea to implement similar single currency policy. I reckon the crisis keeps them back-off now.

Friday, May 21, 2010




Financial Regulatory

German Chancellor’s ban on the naked sell came unexpectedly, stirring panic in the European market, worrying any uncertain subsequences may follow. The motion was to curb the speculation during financial turbulence. Many hedge funds expressed their disapproval, saying the short selling is not as serious as people thought, of course they voiced out from their own interest.

This ban should have been imposed long time ago. The speculators abuse it as gambling tools to generate fortune. The ordinary investors are forced to pick up the consequences. The ban wouldn’t be much effective if other major stock markets do not implement the similar measure.

Monday, May 17, 2010




Friday, May 07, 2010

DOW Plummet

8:45pm local time, within 5 minutes! Yes! within 5 minutes! I was watching the Dow Jones Index plummeting from losing 200pt to almost 1000pt and breached the 10,000 level! The market was irrational PANIC! Miracle happened at this moment, the index rebounded swiftly right after. There must be interference from powerful institutions at this critical moment, triggering appropriate mechanism to calm the fear.

I guess the fall will continue unless the Greece Debt crisis comes up with a win-win solution. Probably Greece is too clever (cunning) to balloon up the problem to force EU and the world to salvage their crisis.

Monday, May 03, 2010

My Mood

It’s raining outside…
Like to see the impenetrable thick dark clouds hanging low under the sky, shielding the mountain top.
Like to hear the tinkling raindrops splashing on the ground.
Like the colour of rain-soaked green leafs , it’s soothing but not able to rejuvenate my mood.

Greece Debt Crisis

Eventually Greece has agreed to a bailout deal With EU and IMF. Have expected so, Germany wouldn’t let Greece collapsed or indirectly they’re declaring the death of EURO. The opposition to lend a hand to Greece was loud, over the fact that this EU member has not been abiding the rules and seriously corrupted. They would rather see Greece stepping out from EURO zone, would be good to both EURO and Greece himself, though this will depreciate EURO significantly in short term.

Greek Prime Minister said he would do anything to avoid the country going bankrupt. He urged Greeks to accept “great sacrifices.” The recently amended law allows Greece citizen to retire at as early as 50/55 yr old, with 80% monthly salary for 36 yrs. I don’t have to be an economist to tell this shit policy will bring the country economy to hell. Stern austerity measures must be enforced – to extend retirement age, raising VAT to 23%, freezing salary etc. Meanwhile lots of Greeks complained the 5% interest rate of the EU bailout is far too high. What do you want? There is no free lunch my dear.

Meanwhile Spain’s unemployment has reached the alerting 20%! Another bomb would be detonated anytime. The economy of Spain is the 4th largest in the EURO zone. The bailout would be much more costly than Greece. Hard to believe Europe economy is recovering yet.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

First of May

First of May, known as Labour Day in many countries. What does this day celebrate? The labour market is cruelly competitive. Lower class labours struggle to meet the very basic needs of daily life, while higher management manipulates politics to seize power and fortune.

The longer I stay in this country, I realize better the general capability and capacity of labour market here. Qualified personnel and skilled manpower are hard to obtain. My director said I had set the standard too high. Maybe he was right, I shouldn’t compare the standard at par with Asian markets.

Friday, April 30, 2010



Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Next Job

Have extended 2 months contract for the on-going projects till end Jun-10. All of us most likely will leave this country for good thereafter. Colleagues start looking for new job, wherever it will be as long as conditions are right.

I receive an offer, but it is still in the initial negotiation stage. The job site is in South East Asia, will be kicked-off very soon. Which means immediate transfer is requested if I’d be employed (my conditions seem too costly for them). Instead I plan/ wish to have a few months rest in between jobs.

Meanwhile, a friend in Australia invites me to start a restaurant business in Sydney. Sounds not bad… I like the city, but I have zero experience in this field. For future and longer term planning, it might be a good move. On the other hand, the working hours are long and the freedom will be very much restricted. Am thinking, do I really have to start from zero again? After all these whiles working in the projects, I can’t imagine if this new business would suit me.

Still too early to decide…

Sunday, April 25, 2010

South & North Korea Conflict, what next?

A South Korean’s navy ship sank at the disputed water at Yellow Sea last month, heighten the tense relationship between the North and South Korea. 46 sailors on boards were killed. Case is being investigated, alleged torpedo assault from North Korean’s submarine. Pyongyang has denied involvement.

Let’s speculate, what if Pyongyang tells lie, South Korean’s immediate military revenge would probably be activated though some analysts bet otherwise saying that South Korea can’t afford to harm the export driven economy. US and Europe for sure would standby Seoul. A good excuse to eliminate the nuclear facility in North Korea, and to emancipate the long suppressed communism in the name of humanitarian.

I guess Pyongyang’s traditional ally, China would try to dissolve the dispute peacefully and prevent possibility of war eruption. The main reasons would probably be shunning off US influence in the region, or maybe keeping North Korea to counterbalance the power of Japan and South Korea. For whatever reason it might be, Beijing can’t provide backup officially.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Leçon de Français

Franchement, je suis tout à fait profiter de la classe de français mais parfois je me sentais la pression d'apprendre une nouvelle langue. Mais il est bon de sortir plus tôt du bureau des œuvres. Après 2 mois, j'ai réussi à comprendre quelques phrases simples et le libellé. Pendant la lecture d'articles en français, il m'aide à comprendre plus facilement. Cela me fait sentir l'effort vaut la peine. Cependant, je dois admettre que cette langue est vraiment compliqué. Pas étonnant qu'il ne pouvait pas être la langue la plus populaire au monde.

Outre de celui-ci, il est agréable de rencontrer d'autres étudiants à travers le monde que je suis l'aîné. Ils sont si polis qu'ils ne m'appelle pas «mon oncle».

(Traduit par Google)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bangkok Riot

The month-long “Red Shirts” protest has eventually turned riot on Saturday. The supporters of the exiled ex-Prime Minister Thaksin stormed the parliament and several governmental buildings earlier demanding resignation of present Prime Minister Abhisit and re-election. The government declared state of emergency on 07-Apr, and deployed tactics to dismiss the crowds. When the dispute heated up, violence followed.

People’s power is forceful, but could be ruined by a handful of people who has other intention. Who knows the terrorists in the southern Thailand are taking chance to mess up the situation to achieve their own goals? Who knows there are huge mobs waiting to loot the banks and shops?

The persisting tabulating political situation has tarnished the confidence of investors and tourists. If “Red Shirts” would win from this protest, you can’t be sure the equally strong opposition “Yellow Shirts” would organize the similar protest again to fight for their interest.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Just Do It!

Sports news is focusing on the return of Tiger Woods on the green course. Why people is so curious about his affair. This is his own business, why public keeps biting his tail? With his fortune nowadays, he can easily laugh it off. Well, I guess somehow he must bow to his sponsors who keep stuffing chunk of greenbacks into his pockets.

Nike must be glad to have Tiger as their brand spokesman. If you have balls, Just do it!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I Slipped My Tongue

It’s public holiday today in Rwanda, commemorating 1994 genocide.

Yesterday evening, as usual, while saying goodbye to a local colleague, I added “Enjoy your holiday!” He walked out from my room and returned after 5 seconds, said, “I can’t enjoy this holiday.” Oppss… I realized immediately I said something wrong and apologized to him. People is reluctant to recall and talk about this gory incident. Too many sad stories 16 years ago and they are trying hard to forget the past but time is too short to bleach the memory.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Buying House

Sis has made up her mind, with the nod of mom, to look for a new house in KL. She asks me to share buying a new unit, of course I would contribute the bigger part.

She has been searching around for a month, considering factors of convenience, safety, low density, a landed properties etc, in KL, this wouldn’t come cheaper than 200TEUR. I realize that if we don’t buy it now, the price would be rocketing beyond the pace of salary increment and inflation. On the other hand I do not wish to apply hefty loan as I always oppose to “work” for the bank by paying the high interest of 6%-7%.

This would be the main task after finishing my work in Rwanda.

French Lesson

Eventually I have accomplished the French course – Level Beginner 1. The size of the class reduced from the beginning 9 students down to 6 after 2 months. It was fun indeed, atmosphere was good. This language itself is so complicated with lots of rules and exceptions. It is distressing for a person like me who hates memorize all stuffs by hard.

We had a dinner at Chinese Restaurant yesterday, to thank our teacher Angelique. Was a nice gathering, an occasion of cultural exchange. It was interesting to observe personalities from different corners of the world.

Am looking forward to proceed with next Level in mid Apr.

picture: Tobias (German), Teoh (Malaysian), Angelique (Rwandaise), Carlos (Spanish) & Harriet (Kenyan).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Euro Zone

Addressing the economy crisis of Greece, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there should be mechanisms to allow for the expulsion from the Euro Zone of countries who repeatedly flout fiscal rules. This clause has to be added on the treaty.

I thought this was already a mandatory condition on the EU foundation? Didn’t those regulation enactors have in mind of such cases might happen? Did they really think EU concept was flawless and each member could develop abreast with Germany or France? Or EU was a humanitarian organization?

EU couldn’t afford to salvage the heavy debt ridden members, which in turn will drag down the overall economy. The statement of Merkel definitely doesn’t please some members. She is right. Instead of sinking together, let the poorly performed members re-organizing themselves and assist them as necessary.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Exclusive Interview President Kagame

CNN broadcasted an exclusive interview with Rwandan President Paul Kagame. The questions of Amanpour focused on the alleged unequalled political rights, genocide, press freedom etc. all sort of “prejudiced” opinions from the outside world. President Kagame tried to give a clear statement of his country’s status quo, I doubt most of the audiences would be convinced. Indeed this is a rather safe country to live in, otherwise UN wouldn’t plan to shift its regional head quarter to this country.

Amanpour asked, does reconciliation (after 1994 genocide) need an authoritarian hand? President Kigame didn’t provide a straight answer, said a clear mind is needed. My opinion is – DEFINITELY. In fact the incumbent government is trying hard to impose a disciplined and fairly democratic system. I believed all poor and underdeveloped countries need strong hands to keep the nation integrated and functioning.

Repeatedly President Kagame advised the host not to judge certain issue based on the statement of a handful people, the voices of the 11 million should be listened instead. I think he was too diplomatic to tell Amanpour to do her homework before accusing blindly the country’s policies.

The interview was too short to address the problems in the country. I think it’s rather an advertisement of Rwanda to clear misconceptions to foreign countries.

Sunday, March 14, 2010




Boring Oscar

I watched the Oscar some days ago. After finishing the show, I realized that for what I wasted my time watching this senseless award presentation event? People talked the same things every year – thank so and so, a wonderful team, excellent script… boring? I don’t know who is who, but I just appreciate good movies. No doubt The Hurt Locker and Avatar are excellent, the foreign movie Un Prophete is good too… Up In The Air, The Blind Side are good to kill time… I need Oscar to tell me which movies are worth for watching.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Foreign Labours

Malaysia imported lots of foreign labours for the jobs they dislike to involve in, mainly the construction and plantation industries, and restaurant service sector. In the early stage, our narrow minded government opened the market mostly to Indonesians because of religion sake. After some years of residency, these immigrants were given a PR status, followed by citizenship. This was the tactic to increase the percentage of Muslim in Malaysia within the shortest period so to weigh up the political influence. Comparatively, other countries offered citizenship to the brilliant mind so to improve the quality of the country, but our stupid politicians apparently had no such vision.

The economy downturn and fear of terrorism have forced several European countries tightening their immigrant policy. The elimination of African illegal immigrants in southern Italy, the ban of burqa in France, and the prohibition of constructing minarets in Netherland have triggered protests.


I spent a night in Bangkok before flying back to Kigali. First of all, I still don’t like the new airport. It is further out from the city, less organized, looks like a huge factory storage.

Bangkok city center especially Silom area has more mega size shopping malls sprouting. As usual, I have visited the famous 4-faced Buddha beside Erawan Hotel. Delicious foods can be found easily. The nightlife at Patpong was lively as usual, every 20m someone would approach and offer me various kind of “entertainment”… well, this is Patpong especially when you are a bachelor strolling alone in the area… ha ha…

Bombs in Kigali

Alert! 6 bombing cases within 2 weeks in Kigali, stirring panic in the city. Grenades were thrown in various spots, the latest was into a public transport. The victims suffered light injuries, news reported. No one claimed to be responsible for the crimes. Speculation said the act was to destabilize the politics and thus influence the coming national election in Aug. Seems that these bombs were just a warning, otherwise a greater destructive explosive would be detonated.

Chinese New Year Vacation

Back to work now after spending 2 weeks Chinese New Year vacation at home. Since this trip was not planned and most of my friends were not informed, basically I spent mostly on eating and sleeping and babysitting my niece and nephews. Have gained some weight swiftly which I had tried hard to get rid off in the past months.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Went to immigration office this morning trying to extend my work permit, but in vain. Have to leave this country before the expiry on 14-Feb. The officer rejected my request for 1 month extension while waiting for police clearance process from Malaysia. I begged for 2 weeks… 1 week… No! No! No! No more concession granted. I said I would pay for penalty. No! No! No! You must leave.

Frustrated! I had no plan to go home though 14-Feb-10 is the Chinese New Year because I plan to leave this project by end Apr-10. Furthermore time is too short for me to handover my works to someone else. Also I have to skip 6-7 basic French lessons which I’m enjoying a little lately.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


Goodness... just sense a hint of global economy recovery, and there comes the news of Europe countries - PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) are bogging deeper into economy crisis due to spiraling debts. Governments are forced to slash their spending to help contain their annual budget deficit. The worsening situation might trigger greater recession in the region. The question of bailing out these countries would become desperate, would Germany or France able to help? Very very difficult… Very likely before this turmoil is settled, east Europe countries would follow the pave.

Would someone be dropped out from EU eventually? I think the pace of expanding EU zone is far too fast considering some poorer members are not ready to catch up the infrastructures needed to develop along with the western members.

Comparing to BRIC (Brasil, Russia, India and China) that group the strong growth countries, the name of PIIGS is humiliating.
Shit, EURO has dropped drastically recently. I have told all my friends to invest on US Dollar since months but I don’t have the saving to gamble on it.

Driving In Kigali

What a blessing… yesterday’s rain has swept away the heat that grilled Kigali in the past week. Somehow it caused traffic jams in the city for unknown reason. I had to detour and reached home ½ hr later for just a distance of 7km.

Though the traffic queue was long, but rarely some undisciplined drivers jumped the queue from the opposite lane. They deserved a credit!

Day before my car broke down in front of a restaurant, it was too heavy to push. It barely left enough space to let other car passing through. Eventually a gentleman assisted me to tow my car, but we blocked the road for a few minutes. A snobbish idiot blared its horn CONTINUOUSLY signaling us to give way. Axxhole!!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Earthquake in Kigali

Minor earthquake shook Kigali in the midnight, twice. I was wakened, felt like someone shook my bed, but I thought was just a dream. But my colleagues who stay on the higher floors felt vigorous shaking. They said dogs in Kigali were howling, many residents ran down to the open space… I was not aware at all. Maybe a volcano in the region will erupt soon.



Thursday, January 28, 2010

Haiti Earthquake

Have been >2 weeks since the earthquake shook Port-au-Prince. The city is left with a huge pile of rubbles, enormous figure of casualty and death toll… Foods are scarce and expensive, no shelter, 5000 prisoners escaped, lawlessness is fostering, the city falls disorder. The calamity has worsened the struggling life of this country - among the world’s poorest.

I don’t know what would I do if the home I built up was shattered overnight, and lost everything. I wouldn’t have the time to re-build what I’d lost. I’m always curious, what keeps these poor people to live their life? Many of them have to struggle for foods, sickness, education and all kind of problems that couldn’t be solved without money. Don’t they feel tired? What’s the meaning of life?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Our Driver Is An Artist

Patrick, one of our company drivers, is a part time artist, fairly well known in the country. Our Client knows him more than our boss. He attracts some fans wherever he goes. He has released a new album recently. Two songs have been uploaded to YouTube.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Burj Khalifa

Formerly known as Burj Dubai, the 828m world’s present highest building officially opened on 04-Jan-10. It’s more iconic rather than realistic. This money burning project doesn’t look so unique, the structure design is not innovative, lacking the elegance of Petronas Twin Towers, can’t beat the gravity defying idea of Beijing’s CCTV building… only tallness is about. For this height, not much can be done on the slim structure.

I’m curious if one would feel swinging on the top floor? How could rescue work be done in case of fire or emergency case? How much energy is wasted to flush the toilet alone? How much time and cost is needed to clean the dust off the glass?

A friend said, it would be a good exercise if you recall leaving the house key on your office desk when you are at the car park!

Arson Attacks

4 churches in Malaysia have been set arson by unknown on Friday. Police yet not solve the case. The Prime Minister condemned this provocative action jeopardizing the integrity and harmonious relationship among the races. He defended his political party would never involve in this crime, another idiot politician warned the public not to accuse them or they might face consequences. Stupid!

Feel so bad that the racial and religious issue has been escalated to another level. Why someone’s brain is so small that they couldn’t tolerate the existence and believe of the others?

If I were the Prime Minister, I would order the full force to investigate this issue and the mastermind to be executed!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown

Probably over expected, the latest novel of Dan Brown turned out to be quite boring – I spent 3.5 mths to finish reading (well partly because of the hectic works recently). Apparently the author is trying hard to layout a suspense and mysterious yet with realistic element plot, but it lacks the magic of his previous success. The ending of the novel was particularly uninteresting, too much biblical talk.

New Year Watching Movies

Did nothing but just staying at home watching the following films.

Surrogates – Quite an interesting futuristic idea, story was simple, Bruce Willis was no longer an invincible hero. Not bad to kill time.

Inglorious Basterds – Germans wouldn’t like to watch this movie. The character of the Jews Hunter – Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) was impressive, but Brad Pitt was overacting. So-so…

Where The Wild Things Are – Stopped after 15 min, it was for the kids.

This Is It – The final tribute to MJ, composed largely of the footage of his final concert rehearsal. The film was only presenting the MJ’s dedication to his music, not a hint of any negative element. The choreography was beautiful, that’s what I like most of this documentary.