Saturday, December 26, 2015

Best of 2015 - Top 5 articles of the year

This year, we say goodbye to:
1) LRT monthly pass
2) My samsung tab 7.7
3) Extra money for anything

This year, I have been much less active on blogging. It's partly due to a heavy travelling schedule for commercial production and almost largely due to the JUMP in the cost of living in KL which happens just this year alone - the adjustment to this cost of living is NOT EASY. There's no more monthly pass travel for the train LRT - so a lot of people are having to fork out extra money, lessen our money to spend. I'm no exception and also falls victim to the low wages but high living cost scenario. As the year is coming to an end, I am only thankful for my ONE achievement - the Incredible India commercial I did with Aamir Khan.

Of course, I should be thankful for my health too, having fallen ill recently to fever and sore throat. But writing this in my miserable hotel room facing the beautiful Danga Bay, taking in the seaview as I try to recuperate, I was able to contemplate the past a little. Mind you, I've closed this blog from the public for at least 3 months due to some unforeseen circumstances to adjusting to the harsh living costs in KL. So for this year, it's not the Top Ten, but only Top Five.

Surprisingly, this type of article ALWAYS managed to secure the highest readership as proven in my last year's  Best of 2014 which garnered over 2K of shares in Google+. I'm still puzzled over this, for there are certain articles I would never expect to have such a number of hits and BOOM - the numbers of readerhip was staggering. Maybe it was because of the picture of me, because I seldom post pictures of myself here or in Twitter or Instagram. I'm not a selfie-type. I cherished my image too much to waste it on social media. So aren't you curious to know which articles make it to the Top Five?

1) The Humiliation Culture that targets Chinese Male

Yikes, it's a social issue alright. I think social consciousness has taken flight really high this year. I've always been an advocate for equal rights for everyone regardless of who they are. But when certain people targets on me and my type of profile - man, I just have to write about it! For this article, there's over 1k shares over Google+.


2) Retrospective of 10 years as Artiste

This year also marks my 10th year being an Artiste. It's no easy job, my friend. It's true you cannot find a living being an Actor in Malaysia. No support from the media. No support from the local film industry. But hey, I still made it. So in my opinion, it's worth a mention. And for all the haters out there, eat your heart out.

3) Quila-i-Mubarak

This article is one of my travel series. It was my first time visiting India, and the Red Fort was beautiful. The mystery, the royalty, the richness and beauty of the pavillions, the ghosts.....


4) Chowdhi Chonk

Chandi Chowk is one of the oldest street in Old Delhi, one full of special memories for me! The burst of people, colour, sounds and sights! I missed the dog with one ear, I hope he will get a good life and a good master. I missed the ice-cream, Khoyakulfi! Oh, so DELICIOUS! If I have the money, I will surely go back to that street again.


5) First Destination in India

And finally, to round up the Top Five articles most read of the year. Yes, it's my first article on my first time to India! I think my readers are taken by my adventure and that's why the readership was staggering! It's all written from my heart, my point of view as a virgin traveller to this exotic land.




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World Cup KFC commercial
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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Tune Hotel, Danga Bay Review - Stingy in All Areas

I consider myself to be a reasonable and moderate hotel guest.

I'm not demanding or picky over tiny little details. But it doesn't mean I'm totally stupid. For this Christmas and New Year holiday, I managed to book the Tune Hotel at Danga Bay. I thought it would be nice to try somewhere new and get away from the god-awful KL city. It was the lowest rate that I could find at Agoda.com for within that area. I actually prefer to spend the holidays by the sea and also the area is quite new to me. My holiday spirits was high until I got into the hotel.

Unfortunately, this hotel pales in comparison to the hotel I stayed at Georgetown for last year for my Christmas holidays  - Glow. Both of these hotels fall under the same price category, so I have to compare both to justify the costs. And what a vast difference in terms of quality.

1) Front Reception - Misinformation
First impression of the hotel is fantastic. But nobody becomes the hotel patron for its first impression, right? So the reception officers have to be good at their work. There wasn't a long queue because I checked in quite late - around 9pm. The lady didn't greet her guest with pleasantries like "Good evening" or introduce her name. As I've mentioned earlier, I consider myself to be reasonable - so I let this slip.  Upon checking in, I was given a bag that contains remote controls for the air-cond and TV, 2 towels, soaps and shampoo. I felt this to be quite strange - perhaps the management had cases where the guests steal the remotes? Later I came down to the reception and enquired about the wi-fi connection and problems with the air-cond. They were quite stone-cold and robotic in their explantion. For example, I asked the reception about the air-cond not turning on properly and she told me if I saw the display at the door (?) where the top-up would appear. I wondered what "top-up"? She further explained in her condescending tone that I will see the top-up, but that wasn't my question. I only want the air-cond to work and she still doesn't get it. Besides this, you have to take the information given by the reception with a grain of salt. I asked them about any bus that goes to JB Sentral (a transportation hub) and they told me none by stating the only way to get there is to call a taxicab through them. It's not true! There are MANY buses that goes there - you just need to cross over the main road. I suspect the taxicab syndicate made a deal with the reception. You may wonder why I have to come down from my room to the reception to enquire. Herein, lies the second problem.

2) No telephone in the room 
The telephone in which to call the reception is not present in my room. There's only 1 telephone to call the operator for each floor and it's located right next to the lifts - more than 100 metres from my room. This means hotel guests have to come out from their rooms in their bathrobes, sleeping pyjamas or maybe even in the nude whenever they faced any service problems all the way to the lift area in order to call the reception. For the hotel of the same price range at Glow, Penang - this never happened.

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3) Right-in-your-Face Advertising
We all know Tune Hotels to be affiliated with AirAsia already. But do we really need a huge glass door with the name Tune Hotel, right inside the room as well? This glass door advertising is right in front of you when you enter the bathroom. When that glass door is left open, the entryway is completely blocked because of how narrow it is. So the guest have to open and close that damn door everytime they enter the bathroom. This is the marketers' perceived "clever" marketing tactic to shove the hotel's brand name into the guests' throat and mind. But come on, we want to rest in our rooms without the unnecessary advertising. It only enhanced our dread of ever being a patron in your blady hotel in the first place. Also mind the glass door in the shower area because you need to fully close the door if you want to bath without having to knock your elbows onto it. The room space is really confined.

4) One wifi connection per device
Remember I told you about me having to come down to the reception to enquire about the air-cond? Well, that's not the only thing I needed explanation on how to work. I needed help in the wifi connection as well. The password and codes are printed on a small piece of receipt paper. The first time I keyed in, it did not register so that's why I have to come down to the reception. As it turns out, the wifi-connection only works for one device. When I applied the same passwords and code  to my other device, no connection registers at all. Worst still, I need to go to the reception again the next day to ask for new password and codes because the reception people couldn't bother to inform me about the daily changes in the first place. It's really not worth the trouble, because the wifi connection is very too slow and too complicated to connect.

5) One electric socket per room
If you carry multiple electronic devices that need charging, you better bring along an extra electric socket. This is because in this hotel, I could not find a second electric socket to plug into! There's only one situated right above the security safe. So you need to wait until you finished charging one device then unplug and charge the second time on the same one electric socket. Are they trying to save electric cost? This is so untenable.

In conclusion, I will never go back to that hotel again. Tune Hotel, Danga Bay faces too many insufficiencies that any first-time travellers would face with many frustrations. Communication is one HUGE area the hotel reception is lacking - don't take the glamorous surface for any of its perceived "value", it's simply not worth it. This hotel is too limited and stingy in all areas to make the travellers feel valued and comfortable. But there is ONE saving grace for the hotel at that location and it is the food shop - Hainan Coffee. They served really money-for-value breakfast. Just come out from the hotel and walk along the shophouses. It's not easy to miss. At least I got my tummy satisfied after all the frustrations. Imagine if I don't eat.....




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Friday, July 31, 2015

Angry Birds 2 Review - First Impressions (Updated)




You guys know I'm a huge Angry Birds fan, just like the rest of you.

Rovio has consistently produced many of its games apps with movie tie-ins, but for the sequel to their original smash hit - it's definitely worth a review. It took Rovio 6 years to come up with a sequel! For first impressions, I noticed how LARGE the app has become. Since Angry Bird's Transformers, I noticed Rovio seem to overlook the importance of app size. Personally for me, the smaller the app size the better because most of us have smart devices that comes with only 16gigabyte of space. This huge app needs to be downloaded only via Wi-Fi connection.

Upon opening the app, I need to sign in through my email to start playing the game. This signing-in option is vital because that way, my scores from the past is kept online. With our ever-changing taste of different kinds of smart devices, storing our game scores online is vital for I have the "unfortunate" experience of playing the game all over again after I moved to a new device. But with this signing-in feature, all my past game scores are kept safely and I don't have to play the game all over again. Unfortunately, this option doesn't work when I uninstalled the game app due to storage issue with my device. When I re-installed the app and signed in, I have to start from the beginning!

A noteworthy mention about this sequel compares to the original is the graphics. The characters of the evil piggies are more animated and expressive this time around. I noticed their funny reaction when I pull my sling to direct at them. At the top left corner of the screen, you'll get to see the close-up shot of both the angry bird and the evil piggie's comic expression, which to me is a great feature to add the "drama" of the whole game. It seems Rovio is trying to pull the attention of the gamers on the construction of the structure where the evil piggies reside. I feel this is unnecessary vanity on Rovio's part.

A line of dots would appear to project the trajectory of the sling is a great feature to have. This feature first appeared in Rovio's Stella game app. Another great new feature for this sequel is the gamer get to select which bird to slingshot. The birds are now presented in the form of game cards where you can pick. A new game card (ie: bird) shall be given to you everytime you scored a certain number. You can view your score on the upper right corner where the destroyed structure where the piggies are situated will morphed into golden dust and flew up to become your score card. The sling cards are the birds you get to sling onto the piggies. You have to be careful which sling cards you choose because upon touching the card, you cannot change your mind and select another card!

There's a downside to this sequel when you failed to complete a level. It takes you double the screen tap to get back to the start, as compared to the original Angry Birds where you can simply tap the pause button and restart the level again (when you suspect you're going to fail) all on the same screen. The sequel seem to focus more on the King Piggy where at certain levels, it would appear in its gigantic form. It would also appear when you failed a level, and the whole screen would have to wait for the King Piggy and its consorts to appear. It actually takes more time to restart playing a level. This is not a good thing for impatient gamers. Another difference from the original Angry Birds is that this time, the game levels are one way - meaning you have to complete one continuous level to reach another level. Angry Birds 2 does not have thematic sections where the gamer can choose to quit one section and start a new level from another section.

In conclusion, Angry Birds 2 is a much more graphics-centric than its original - which can be a good and bad thing. The first Angry Birds is a much more simpler and direct game to play. Angry Birds 2 have more of the drama and focus, thanks to the focus and mini-screen shots used to make the game more compelling and immersive.

Pros:
Better, more immersive graphics
Extra cards to sling when points achieved

Cons:
Cannot store scores from last game after uninstalling
Too long to quit and restart a game
Game levels are one-way, no selection option
Unable to switch sling card after selection
App files takes more storage space


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

How to fight Corruption on a Worldwide Scale - Start from where you are right now.





Corruption is rampant everywhere in the world. It's even more rampant in countries with a biased, race-directed education system, puppet leaders assuming leadership and civilians already disillusioned by their own ignorance. Corruption can bankrupt a country, take Greece for example. Corruption is a serious mental phenomena that destroys you without knowing until it's too late. Do you notice everytime any mass riot or violence happened, the media would often sweep the real issues under carpet? They would often say "It's not racial. It's not corruption. Let the law take it's course". For me, that would be called simply as ignorance.

Yes, the whole world wants you to be in ignorance. When anything goes wrong, simply blame your leaders. Blame your idols. Or blame the Chinese. Or Malays. Simply just blame. You can do nothing about it. It's all part of the system. Part of the shared corrupted culture. But with this continuous ignorance, the people becomes poorer each day. We have to work harder for money. I am a Malaysian Chinese artiste, and could not make a living in my own country. Instead, I have to persuade producers from other countries for work - how come? Corruption. Certain extremist politicians in Malaysia used the race card to sideline credebile non-Malay actors like myself from holding main starring roles in local films. That way, Malaysian audience only see one color on screen the local media. That way all kinds of negative connotations about the Malaysian Chinese can be conjured up because our voice is not heard in local movies. Our quality of life goes down. Prices of goods goes unexpectedly high. And our attitudes towards each other began to change. Self-pity began to fester. Soon we turn to each of our own God for help. Shouting, wailing and fighting in the name of God for our rights as sons of this earth. All the while not knowing that God only helps those who help others. More specifically - others from another race.

Below are 4 universal truths one needs to understand to fight corruption.


1. You have a part in it too

When it comes to corruption, EVERYONE is guilty. Nobody can give any excuse out from it. Success happens when all the right components combined just right. So does corruption. Corruption doesn't just happen overnight. It happens gradually, right under your nose. Who puts the racist political leaders up there in their high and mighty pedestal? You do. When you pick a leader, you are conditioned to pick only based on their race - not on their track record. Same corrupted principle everywhere - when casting main actors for local movies or hiring staff for a government-owned organisation. The only enemy you have to watch out for is yourself. Not the other races. Watch out for the other ghosts and demons handed down into your mentality by your elders. Your own mind is darker than you thought. You are conditioned to pick your leader based on their family legacy - even though their family legacy has nothing to do with how fair they would govern a country in the future. When you go shopping for anything, you always placed price as the first priority. So when you purchased a smartphone that doesn't work the way you wanted it to, you went back to the shop and complained, kicked at the glass display, punched the salesperson, then turned back to secretly steal another smartphone to cover "your losses". In a recent case, you would possibly bring your whole posse and cause a riot of unneccesary violence.


2. Equality always win over "Kindness"

You always feel comfortable being among your own race. That's because you perceive that they'll always be kind to you. But reality is not what you would hope for. Being with your own kind, you are expected to do certain things. Most of the times - do corruption. Like when one of your brothers are caught for stealing or beaten up, you would have to stand up for him and cover his ass. But all for what? All for their "kindness". They have been so kind to you so now it's your turn to reciprocate. Nothing is free in this world. So why would you be so foolish and accept such "kindness"? Why should you follow a corrupted leader that only gives you "kindness" when you have to do his corrupted bidding? Have you forgotten about your own self-worth? Your self-worth would guide you to be fair and equal to everyone regardless of their race, religion and physical appearance. Because if you don't, you would continue to live in a low quality of life. Your achievements (if you have any) would not be recognised and advance in your career. But you choose to silence those basic human thoughts and compromised your true potential to become puppets of destruction. Yes, we are all on the road to ruin. And the least we can do is to embrace each other towards that path...in the name of kindness.


3. Stay away from Superficiality

Superficiality breeds hate. When superficiality culminates to its peak, it would generate riots and violence. It's a natural cycle that one would observe anywhere in the world. Superficiality means lies. Superficiality is everywhere from hand-kissing your elders to giving your seat to a pathetic charity-seeking bitch in the train. Young people are most susceptible to superficiality. When people are selling you a fake product and the price is so low, you would immediately buy it because your own corrupted values are superficial too. When a riot breaks recently, certain "artiste" would post their self video to promote peace and harmony. But in actual fact, they are really promoting their fake selves. They are not capable of thinking why such incidents happen like they do. All they want is to take advantage of the situation and show the world they are so damn good and perfect.


4. When one apple is bad, not all apples are bad

But hope still prevails for those with the right kind of mind and attitude. Those rare folks who doesn't generalize things and people in vague and superficial context like ALL chinese are cheaters just because they have been cheated once by one. Those rare heroes of society that stood up and fight for the genuine values that uplift all humanity regardless of their sexuality, race, status and physical appearance. Those precious individuals who choose to be angry for standing by the sideline too long while witnessing corruption that's slowly impoverishing their lives - and started to fight for equality. Those type of heroes are hard to find, maybe even impossible! If each one of us take action to fight corruption, the recent riot incident at Low Yat Plaza would not have happened. The riot is not only just about race. It's about people's frustration towards corrupted capitalism that's already impoverishing their lives. Imagine what you can do when you channel all that rage, fighting and rioting energy towards combating real corruption in your everyday lives instead?

Your effect on humanity will be so much greater and more significant.


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CREDENTIALS:
* BMW Film Awards Best Actor
* Jury Duty
Worldwide Photo Exhibit
Endorsement Value
World Cup KFC commercial
Controversial but Most-Watched Episode
The Golden Shorts Fame



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Relax in Tokyo, Work Worldwide



Am I dreaming?

Being on the lap of ultra luxury. Everytime this occurs, my mind would go back to the days of desperation. Now I can breathe a sigh of relief from all my hard work, at least for now. Tokyo is a completely different city from Kuala Lumpur. I recalled sitting in a laundry shop in KL when this Chinese woman came picking up cans from the garbage. She looked at me and smiled. I seem to attract a lot of strange woman. (And men.)

Sometimes I feel like it's a curse to have a friendly and youthful face because people would come to me and initiated useless conversations. In KL, I would be wary of such people approaching me because most, if not all, are looking for money. She asked me firstly about my race and then asked to help her crush the cans using my feet! She explained further how old she has become, and nobody wants to give her work and needed money for these cans. I didn't even ask her for the reasons but she told me in detail anyway. I told her about the surveillance camera in the shop and immediately she changed from a superficial friendly, sympathy-seeking woman into a rageful self-pitied hysteric. Just a little bit, but I was able to detect her angst towards society.

Sometimes it's good to be back in KL because of how desperate it is. It made me stay grounded. But nobody can remain in a place too long where the rich gets richer and the poor remains the same. I never consider myself to be fortunate or lucky because I never started out my career as an actor that way. I basically started out in a barren land that was never flourishing well. It was a land of little water and sunshine, but as a plant - I knew I must only grow stronger. To fight against all odds -- be it my race, short height and unimposing presence. Never believe when people claimed themselves to be an overnight success.

The picture for a Japanese magazine
Life is a journey. It's everybody's job to enjoy the journey. Getting to the goal is so blown out of proportion until so many became blind to the beauty of the journey itself. It is all about what's happening right now. And for now, I can finallly rest a little. Truly, every little bit counts. After all the exhaustion of travelling, this little bit of heaven was truly a welcome.  To be free from fear and homophobias. Yes, Malaysia is a homophobic society, unlike Japan and Thailand. It's no wonder that their creativity is at its height and Malaysia's creativity level stagnated. In Malaysia, we give ourselves too many excuses to be racial, religious, homophobic and lazy.

How I wished if there's a superfast train that travels from Bangkok to Tokyo - that way I can earn those high-value Yen and live like a king in Bangkok. In Tokyo, almost everyone is glad to be of service. They'll say sorry when they're wrong and extremely humble when they're right. But they never fight to see who's wrong or right, you see.

To them, it's all about beauty and harmony.

And we should be, too.


Read more about my TRAVELS:
Bangkok, Thailand
* INDIA: Kailash Colony , Chowdhi Chonk , Quila-I-Mubarak
Europe


THANK YOU! If you enjoy my blog, kindly click "Join this site" button on the left side of this page AND 

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Worldwide Photo Exhibit
Endorsement Value
World Cup KFC commercial
Controversial but Most-Watched Episode
The Golden Shorts Fame



Monday, May 18, 2015

Microsoft Lumia smartphone is my first purchase in the category. Here are 6 reasons why I bought something I swear off never to buy.





Microsoft Lumia finally becomes my first official smartphone purchase.

At least in the smartphone category. I've purchased features phones before - from Sony, Nokia and Motorola. Then tablets from Samsung and Asus (different category). But for a specific category such as smartphone, I have long held the disdain and tried my very best to stay away from purchasing anything smaller than 7.7-inch for I held the negative impression of small, compact devices as merely trends to waste the consumers' spending.

Drop Accident (not test)
But accidents are unavoidable. I dropped my Samsung tablet 7.7 and the screen cracked for the first time, strangely even with the covers on. I've dropped it before and it never cracked this bad. The tablet still functions but the aesthetic quality on the front was marred considerably. I've got no choice but to send it for repair, hence the search for a cheap smartphone to temporarily substitute its place began. I simply cannot view the front with its deformities - a great looking screen matters a lot to me!

Coincidentally right at that time, it was Microsoft's first day opening of its retail outlet at KLCC. I didn't queue up in the early morning like the other fans do to get the freebies. But don't get me wrong - I am as guilty as others too for I am a freebies junkie like them, never doubt that. It's just that since Microsoft took over Nokia's handset business, it never interests me a bit to see what they do with Nokia.

By the time I arrived at the new Microsoft outlet, there wasn't so much of a crowd. It was well past 7pm. I was surprised to not see any price tags on any of its products display. Well, that's the first thing a consumer look for right - the price? Being that was the first day, all the salespeople there are hyped up and full of good energy to help.  So I asked for the cheapest smartphone they have. It was a Lumia 4-incher priced at RM320.

The first thing that piqued my interest in purchasing a Lumia is the Metro interface. The whole look seems new and different to me, with its huge panel button in which I can touch upon easily. Personally, I still find the price tag a bit too expensive, considering I was only purchasing it for emergency purpose since my main "phone" is in the process of repair. So I queried about the freebies.

Freebies
The salesperson told me I would get a RM50 voucher and a headset valued at RM99. So I added and subtracted the value. I came to the final number of only RM170 in purchasing the Lumia. I needed a new headset anyway, so everything seems to fit in perfectly. That is of course, if I really wanted the headset and cash voucher. The cash voucher could be used in Tesco, H&M and some other outlets I couldn't remember. But Tesco sounds more practical because I could get my groceries there.

Powerful Google
But my reason for purchasing a Microsoft Lumia is bigger than just using it as a temporary replacement. The first and foremost in my thought is how powerful Google has become. Their operating system is almost everywhere. But the thing that irked me the most is how they control the search engine segment. Personally, I don't think Google have the most accurate search results when I type in a specific set of words. For example, when I search for my name - other name results appeared along with mine which clearly are NOT me. (Note to Google: I would prefer only my name results to appear - it's Law, not Lawrence) The reason Google is becoming more powerful is because of the popularity of the search engine. That's why sometimes it's good to ditch them...at least temporarily.

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New Interface
The secondary reason is Microsoft's Metro-style operating system - which is completely new to me. I love to try out new stuff, and with my current situation - it's the most opportune time to try it out. It gets some getting used to - for the interface really requires a lot of swiping right to left. That's still bearable when I use only one hand. The Metro design language looks quite glamorous too with its billboard-like panels which rotates like the flight departing and arriving panels at the airport. I was hoping to open Flash websites on it, but it just appears blank.

Quality Music Player
The third reason was a surprise to me. I find that the music playing on a Lumia actually sounds better. But don't mistaken the quality to come from its earphones. The earphones that comes with are actually quite terrible. So I used my Philips earphones instead and the music really sounds great. But there's a downside to this - the storage is only 8 gigabytes, which means I need the micro SD slot. Please don't believe when others tell you that you don't need micro SD slot like what Hugo Barra did recently for Xiaomi. Just because a person have a pleasant face means anything at all (seriously?) and you should believe that change will happen. We are the consumers and we dictate that micro SD slots are IMPORTANT! This point brings me to the fourth reason.

Convenient Size
The 4-inch size! Yikes, I never thought it would be so convenient to listen to my music with a 4-incher versus say a 7-incher. This Lumia fits right into my palm and I can increase the volume button on the right side. The great thing is I can change my music just by using one hand! And that's a real convenience when you have things to carry with you when you're moving about. But I do have a few gripes about managing the music with its interface. Sometimes I need to swipe a few times to get to the list of music. It doesn't just get me straight to the music I want.

Below are the cons of the Lumia:
1) Takes long and complicated to insert SIM card to read on phone
2) Low quality earphones
3) Requires effort to manage music player
4) You can't open the apps without a micro SD card
5) Flash websites cannot be accessed
6) Small storage size

For more articles on IT Products, click below:
Samsung M3 External Hard Drive
Samsung Service Centre Review
Asus Transformer Infinity Review
How to Increase Storage Capacity of Smart Devices
Shopping for Electronics as a Way to Shorten Learning Curve
Shopping Tips for Electronic Gadgets
Music Player Review
Tips to Better Touchscreen Care
The Best Tablet
PC Fair Review KLCC
Smartphones Unveiling Event
Launch Event - Pikom ICT Capsquare

Monday, May 4, 2015

Revisiting a dear friend - Bangkok city.




When was the last time I was in Bangkok? My mind suddenly began to drift into nostalgia....

The last time I was in Bangkok was in 2006 - the time when I took that scandalous modelling assignment.

During that time, social media wasn't accessible to everyone yet. There was no such thing as a smartphone, the Internet was still confined at cybercafe shops and I don't even have a compact camera of my own! But with the advent of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and my growing audience base - the pressure to produce pictures was staggering. That was the beauty back in 2006. There was simply no pressure! Everything was come as they go. I didn't need to carry any smart gadgets - only a backpack of my clothes and clean underwear.

This time it was for an international commercial shoot. Personally, I wasn't too excited about the trip for I have been there before. But it's always refreshing to visit an old friend - at least that's what Bangkok is to me. Bangkok is indeed a friend for how friendly, soft-spoken and similar it's cultural background with myself.

This trip was the one I nearly missed. I received my ticket itinerary which stated my flight time at 8am, flying with Malaysian Airlines. Then at the VERY last minute, my flight time was changed to 9am by the production people all across the Indian Ocean. In the end, I flew with Thai Airways and was equally surprised. Yes, surprises never ends for a globe-trotting artiste.

Flying is much more direct and clinical as compared to taking a long train ride to Bangkok from Kuala Lumpur. With the train ride, you can walk anywhere you like in the train and see all kinds of folks from the very poor to the rich. But in the plane, most of the passengers think they're better in one way or the other. I took a long train ride to Bangkok for my modelling assignment and LOVED every minute of it. I get to cross over miles of paddy fields and green hills and valleys. Totally loved the view. But of course, the hours are long. But with a plane, it took exactly 1 hour and 45 minutes, more or less.

The air stewards in Thai Airways was different.

Their uniform is not as tight-fitting as say, Malaysian Airlines. I noticed one of the air stewardess uniform resembled a lot like a hospital nurse because of how loose it was! But just the way the Thai Airways air stewards speak is comforting enough to put me at ease that they won't have even the slight potential to be rude ..... unlike some the Malaysian Airlines stewards would be with their condescending tone. Interestingly, the Thai Aiways stewards aren't as young looking as they should be. Or maybe because I was in the economy class and they intentionally shifted all the pretty young things to the first class? But nonetheless. the service was actually not bad.

Upon arrival, all the passengers are taken to the main terminal by a shuttle bus. There were renovations taking place everywhere! As usual, after the customs and Immigration - I looked for my name among the crowds of people holding their placards with names of different nationalities. I spotted one with the name "Kris", but when I enquired further, discovered it was for another Kris from a different continent. I waited for more than an hour for my pick-up to arrive. Upon entering the Column Hotel room, I needed to charge my smartphones quick to anticipate any calls from the Thai production team. But the hotel didn't have any adaptors left! So I immedaitely went to Terminal 21 shopping mall - which is huge. I walked to the shopping mall from the hotel, and within a few walks I've already began to sweat - that's how humid Bangkok is.

My trip to Terminal 21 was my first. I started to enquire where I could buy an adaptor, and one of the salesgirl told me to go up all the way to the 6th floor! The escalators was the longest from the ground floor up. Here was where I got a see a bird's eye-view of all the shops at all the floors. But the purpose of my trip there was only to get that adaptor - not shopping. After getting my adaptor and back i my hotel room, my whole body just dropped "dead" on my bed - with the comfort finally in my mind that my smartphone is charging up.

Half-way through my half-dream state, I decided to wake up because of the heat. (strangely, the air-conditioning was working). Usually, when I woke up like that, I knew something was going to happen. Then my phone rang, and I was instructed to take a cab to Srinakarin Market. Take a cab? Hurriedly, I changed my clothes, shaved and informed the concierge to book me a cab. I hated surprises, because I was expecting a ready driver. But I am ever flexible and willingly have to endure a slightly high-tempered cab driver. He simply refused to drive into the market because of the jam! I called the production manager and passed the call to the cab driver to let them sort things out. Already my head was swimming from lack of sleep and now I have to deal with transportation issues. This is unbelievable.

One word to describe Srinakarin Market. Retro. At least that was the section I was visiting because of all the shops. It was actually more like brick houses - many quaint shops selling retro furnitures and equipments and toys. There is also a few bars that double acts as furniture shops. There is also a food court where I noticed a few mixed-food stalls that resembled very much like the mixed-rice buffet-style Chinese food back home. I was tempted to buy some of the food, but I don't want to look bloated before I go in front of the camera! I wasn't starving exactly but my good senses won me over eventually.

That was only daytime. But when the night comes, this market was bustling with music, alcohol and plenty of young Thai patrons. There was plenty of music bands playing at the bars and restaurant type establishments situated mainly at the side of the road. But I was too exhausted already after filming to visit any of the places and decided to hire a motorist to take me back to the hotel. It was nearing midnight and tomorrow I've got a plane to catch!

The motorcycle trip back to the hotel really opens my eyes to my friend Bangkok. It's a huge city and at night can looked scary too. But on the motorbike, I caught glimpses of many night activities in the city - a group of transgender drinking alcohol, construction work on the road and other food shops selling interesting foods I wished I could taste! Seriously, I need to watch my weight. As the motorbike entered more into the city centre, I could see how much the buildings resembled like Tokyo city - all the high-rise are so close to each other or maybe it was night time and my mind was a bit blurry to make any definite comparison due to exhaustion?

In my hotel room, I watched as much Thai television as I could. The commercials they produced are really one-of-kind, very much similar to the Japanese. I don't need to understand the language, just the editing and characterisations of the actors were enough to keep me entertained! There's also one TV channel in the Thai channel that kept me glued - full of black magic, half-naked bodies, deception and mystery. That's the beauty with Thais and Japanese. They're actually quite similar in many aspects. The way they treat their guests are impeccable. They are polite, cultured and full of respect for each other.

As I bid farewell to my dear friend, my mind is full only of fond memories. And lots of interesting stories to share with my acting students.



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CREDENTIALS:
* BMW Film Awards Best Actor
* Jury Duty
Worldwide Photo Exhibit
Endorsement Value
World Cup KFC commercial
Controversial but Most-Watched Episode
The Golden Shorts Fame



Friday, April 24, 2015

A Jetsetter's Fashionable Guide to Living the High Life. 7 Essential Tips for being a true Citizen of the World.

A paparazzi's hounding shot of me.


It's a very nice feeling when someone wrote me an email to compliment how insightful it was to read my blog article, specifically on the Myanmar art exhibition.

It becomes even more fulfilling when that someone is a successful musician signed to an international record label! To me, he's a rockstar. But he was just being his cool self when we corresponded via emails. I''ve heard one or two of the band's hit songs but it never occurred to me the musician himself would send me an email to express his admiration on my critique. Since that post, he has been following my blog whenever he has the time and would inform me which post was his favourite.

He told me I could be a serious art critique earning a living in New York. I told him in Malaysia, my official "profession" is an Actor, and writing to me is only a hobby.  I also quickly added that I'm not some rich or famous actor in my country because getting acting jobs here is not as lucrative as say in Hollywood. The collective backward mentality here thinks since a few Chinese are rich - therefore, all Chinese are rich. I told him I'm not one of them. In fact, I was very honest to him and told him how poor many Malaysian people are, even more so a person like me. The reason I was honest to him was because he was planning a trip down to KL to meet me. I don't want him to have any high expectations of me in person, even though I look great in my pictures. His personal assistant would contact me when he's coming down.

In my mind I thought wouldn't there be a riot of fans clamoring for his attention when he arrived? He's very famous, you know, therefore have to keep his identity hidden here. Thankfully, not that many Malaysians know about him and his music. There was no commotion whatsoever when he arrived and the officers at the check-in gate just treated him like any other passengers! He told me he wanted me to join him in his upcoming tour around Europe. I was surprised beyond words! I couldn't say no for I do love to travel and this would be a chance of a lifetime! All expenses paid for and time with a famous rock star? Who couldn't say no to that? Immediately there are tons of things to prepare!


1) Passport and Visa
You'll have to get your passport ready or renewed if you're planning to go overseas. There's an Immigration Department near my house. Do remember to look good or clean-shaven at least on the day you're renewing or getting a passport because a picture of you shall be taken by the officer. The process is simple if you can listen and follow instructions. When I first arrived, I simply queue to get a number. When my turn arrived, I simply walked to the counter to state orally all the neccessary details like my height and current address to the officer. After that, a picture was taken. It's interesting to note the picture is not in color but black and white. My expired passport would then be taken by the officer in exhange with a slip of paper. After that, I am instructed to wait for my turn to pay at the cashier counter. My name is called and payment is made in cash only. The cashier would instruct me to come back in an hour's time to collect at the collection counter. I took the hour to have lunch. Do keep in mind that all Immigration Offices are now closed during lunch hours, so it's best to visit in the morning or after lunch. Since I didn't have any, I took the hour to have one. Getting your visas done is important too. Some countries, I get to have my visas done on arrivals. Other countries, it might takes you 3-4 days.


2) Bare Living Home
If you're constantly travelling, I feel you don't need to have much furniture at home. Just the bare essentials will do - like a mattress or a small TV. This way, you don't spend much on your furniture and able to channel all that money for travelling expenses. If you're living in hot tropical climate, the more electronic home equipments you have like refrigerator, flat-screen TV or washing machine would actually make your home hotter in room temperature! That's because these home appliances emit heat and really makes your living space stuffy. So eliminate all these home appliances and keep your space bare if you're always travelling abroad. A simple cup of americano and croissant in Paris could cost up to RM50 in local Malaysian currency! I love spending, so to balance things out I opt not to have any valuable furniture whatsoever at home. What for when you'll be globe-trotting all the time right? Your home furniture literally sits at home and collect dust. Are you planning to get a car? (who can buy anything now after GST?) Well don't! Use that money and splurge it on your next international destination. Besides, having a car in the garage unused for long periods of time is wasteful to the environment. Now I'm a citizen of the world, my home is wherever I take it with me. It also keeps my mind at peace from any home break-ins because there's nothing valuable in my home anyway!


3) Trench Coat
A coat can work anywhere in the world. A good trench coat is even better to weather all the cold weather European countries - not to mention in rainy day London, New York or New Delhi. You don't have to buy any other clothing - just a good trench coat will do. In my experience, Malaysian-based retail outlets still have the value for money for any clothing, especially coats. The stores here only sells coats before the season, like in October and November. A good trench coat would have just enough pockets (not too many) for you to place your passport and airline boarding passes. Be careful not to have too many pockets in your trench coat for you might get confused as to which pocket you place your important papers. You want to have only one pocket for one important paper. Keeping it simple is key when burrowing through your trench coat.


4) Sunglasses
A great pair of sunglasses will do wonders to your face. If you have a round face, choose a more rectangular-shaped frame. If you have a more sharper and vertical face, get a more rounded-shaped frame. The degree of dark coating should also be considered when choosing a perfect pair of sunglasses. If you choose a much lighter shade, then in really hot and sunny weather, your sunglasses won't do much to protect your eyes. If you choose a darker shade, then you might go blind a little when in the subway tunnel - searching for your wallet. So try to get a balance of the right shades that suits you best. For me, I found one that's just right - not too dark and not too light but enables me to see in almost all lighting situation. You only need to bring one pair of good sunglasses and they really come in handy when you're passing in the street, not wanting to meet the eyes of strangers. A good pair of sunglasses can save your eye effort and enable you to roam around the scene without looking too eager or too excited. A good pair of sunglasses provides the right amount of mystery and sophistication to the wearer too, especially at any fashion weeks in Paris, New York or London.


5) Luggage
I used to be away for one week at the longest. The shortest period is 3 days. I prefer not to check-in my luggage and instead bring it along with me into the plane. Do enquire at the airline carrier's office to get the details like the size and weight of luggage allowed to be in the plane. I bought one luggage that was just the right size to be rolled on the floor when I'm walking or to be strapped at my shoulders like a backpack. I try to bring only the barest essentials like T-shirts and pants and a few underwears. The rest like toiletries can be used at the hotels where I'll stay or I can even shop later for any necessary clothings. This way, my luggage is light and easy. I would usually roll my few clothes in a scroll-like shape, so as to save space in case I decide to bring more stuff. As for the luggage itself, try to get one that you can carry with you comfortably all the time. I bought one that also have shoulder straps and a compartment space for my laptop. The handle is only one which makes it easy to slip it inside and pulled up at the same time.



6) Hotel Lifestyle
Don't get too comfortable staying in hotel rooms. I know at least I tried to do that because when I reached home, it all feels so different! In hotel rooms, you get air-conditioning, bar, room service  and all the luxurious pamperings deserving for a VIP guest! Not to mention the swimming pool which I love because it's my ultimate exercise regime and what a savior to have swimming pools in hotels (at least the 5-stars ones). The constant travelling from one country to another - juxtaposed with different hotel rooms and suites finally renders all hotel rooms the same to me. The only constant is the pure white bed - which is a symbol of luxury in all these hotels. I'm talking about 5-star quality rooms and they try to be different from each other in superficial terms, but the level of luxury is really on par with each other (thanks to my rockstar friend's high profile) The best hotels always have white beds. We got the best rooms anywhere and the presence of his band really brings a kind of prestige to any particular 5-star hotel brand. Most of the time he's not around, and I always go for the spa treatment exclusively for VIP guests. The massages, facial treatments, herbal steam room and bubbling jacuzzi are enough to rejuvenate any jetlag! We live our lives, basically enclosed within the luxurious confines of the hotel. I accidentally mentioned about my birthday and my rockstar friend bought a cake to celebrate with me! Our social lives are now more in the backgrounds of luxury hotel rooms.


7) Currency
Depending which country you're going and whether you're on work or holiday. As an artiste, I don't usually carry any money with me because most of my trips are paid by the production companies who hired me. (not like I have any money at all!) Unlike some air stewards who boasted about their hi-flying lifestyle, the difference from them to international artistes are we don't serve on the plane like they do! Sometimes I get paid an allowance by the production company. But after your trip and you're going back to your home country, questions would often pop up whether you should exchange your money at the country of visit or back home. For example, I was in New Delhi recently, and I was reimbursed back a large sum of money for my visa application by the production company. Holding onto this money, thankfully, I have the hindsight to exchange it at the airport right away. That's because in Malaysia, the Rupees currency is not favored for exchange! There's also a limit to how much you can exchange to Ringgit. So if your Rupees are exchanged into the Dollars currency is still good. Upon arrival at airport in KLIA, I quickly exchanged the remaining Dollars into Ringgit.

Like a migrating bird, I have no choice but to fly to where the money is. I loved watching the BBC documentaries (especially the Human Planet and Planet Earth series) and am often amazed at how similar the wild life animal is with an artiste's. It's a sad reality that even in my very home, I could not find a living. Truth be told, wild life is actually more civilised and fair than humans are.

But real talent would eventually find work even outside from his own country. And that's a jetsetter's lifestyle worth living.

For more articles about FASHION/ART, click below:
H&M Fashion Review (Coats Special)
The Ultimate 7 Point Guide to Winning Project Runway
Messenger Bags Special
Tips for Buying Shoes (Sneakers)
Stuff Magazine 9th Anniversary Party
Myanmar Art Review
Student Art Fair



THANK YOU! If you enjoy my blog, kindly click "Join this site" button on the left side of this page AND 

*Click "Like" on my Official Facebook and follow my Twitter

*For enquiry about my coaching and requests to write and feature your product/services here in my blog, kindly click Email

CREDENTIALS:
* BMW Film Awards Best Actor
* Jury Duty
Worldwide Photo Exhibit
Endorsement Value
World Cup KFC commercial
Controversial but Most-Watched Episode
The Golden Shorts Fame



Friday, April 3, 2015

The Humiliation Culture that targets on Malaysian Chinese Male Today (Updated)



I am considered dead already in Malaysian "film industry". Even better!

But this is a serious issue, bigger than me. It's the destructive attitude of a country that's heading towards a "high-income nation" status that's quickly replacing our humanity and respect for each other, thus the widespread culture of humiliating others.

The humiliation culture is getting more staggering in the Malaysian media. Specifically at the portrayal of Malaysian Chinese Male demographic group. (That's also why Jimmy Choo was smart not to be based here.)

I happened to catch a Caltex TV commercial on AXN channel. This Chinese guy was trying to feed a banana to a monkey, accompanying behind him are his two Pan-Asian looking friends: one boy and girl at the zoo. After failing in his attempts to get the monkey's attention with a banana, the Chinese guy throw the banana on the ground in frustration and turned his back. Suddenly a banana was thrown back at him.....by the monkey! The monkey gave chase to him and his friends. When they're in their both separate cars, only the car driven by the Pan-Asian looking girl and boy managed to start and sped off - escaping the monkey. Guess who's left inside in his broken down car - the Chinese guy.

I, myself, comes from being the harsh target of this type of humiliation culture too ever since my Malaysian Idol performance. I was naive at that time - and how was I exploited by the TV station. After 10 years being an Actor, another reality TV show representative approached me (again) on Facebook recently to audition for their reality show - SuperStar Me. The rep from the show approached me by writing on how much she was entertained by my Malaysian Idol performance. (like I care?) Are you kidding me? How can Malaysian TV industry be so limited and shallow in their outlook for after 10 years, they still think I want to join their mini version of the Asia's Got Talents? It's like they are somehow stuck in their limited mentality and thought others like me would just be like them - stuck. That's why I stopped watching this type of shows anymore. It intentionally humiliates others to gain ratings. And what does the humiliated get?

My Facebook response


Sorry, I have moved on!

The reason for my hesitation was that I have the funny suspicion that these type of reality TV show producers are trying to put me as the centre of their humiliation culture again. Thank goodness, I have the good manners to write back in a polite manner and REJECT their "offer". If I'm not the polite sort, I would scream "where's the money?" After the Facebook chat, no reply anymore. Sorry, my credentials are too big for your small mini shows. I already know just my mere appearance would draw in millions of viewers. Lessons learned.

What you can do:
If you flip through any casting pages, you will read what type of characters are given to the Malaysian Chinese Male talents. For commercials, it's almost always certainly have the "Nerd", "Geeky" description on it. For local Malay drama series, the typecast is even worst. If you're a Malaysian Chinese Male talent, please don't sacrifice your dignity just to be seen on screen. Things haven't change much 10 years ago.

And it won't change, until you do something about it. For me, I simply identify which brands, TV shows or movies that exclude, humiliate and stereotype a Malaysian Chinese male. Which is a lot! Then it's my choice to BOYCOTT these products totally and never watch these shows and movies again. Be careful how you spend your money and attention. That's what these producers and advertisers want from us - the consumers. Don't give in to their deception and brain-washing of what success means. Now, I simply have more time to read my books instead of watching thrash.

Politics
How about in the political arena? Tony Pua, the MP for PJ was being labelled as "soft" and "pondan" (a Malay derogatory word for effeminate) when he was trying to debate rationally  and professionally based on facts. This form of humiliation culture is common when politicians choose to debate based on self-concocted notions instead of facts. I truly salute Tony Pua for standing his ground in the midst of this embarassing public humiliation of labels in front of so many law-makers at the Parliament. Certain Malaysian pyschopaths are spewing deragotary words at people in the LRT train too. They are no different from the law-makers who used ugly labels on Tony Pua. Especially at KL Sentral when I have to take my night flights, this skinhead Indian guy in his office attire would be cursing at me when unintentionaly we crossed paths! I don't even know him! I've reported him to the police before. But still, he roams around there freely between 8-10pm preying on his victims. First-class infrastructure inhabited by third-world psychopaths.....in professional-looking attire! Dangerous.......

This type of humiliation culture is why there's a racial divide in our country today. Enough of all these 1 Malaysia propaganda when such TV commercials like Caltex are allowed to air. Enough of boasting we have a world-class education system when our politicians are throwing labels at each other based on race, religion and who's-more-macho instead of debating real issues supported by evidence that really affect the nation as a whole and not just supporting one particular race only. Enough of all these local movies portraying aspirational titles like CEO or pilot, drama series, hyped-up reality TV shows and unreal artiste lifestyle magazines at the newsstands. You're only humiliating yourself on how shallow you've become when you pay them any attention at all. The worst is you'll become delusional in your own hyped-up self.

I have already moved on.

Why haven't you?


Social
With the culture of humiliation comes the sub-culture of false blaming. I was at the Maybank ATM at LRT station, waiting behind this strange head-wrapped woman in her jacket and jogging pants. The reason why I described her strange was because of her behavior of constantly looking at me while we were queing. I felt a strange uneasiness with her stares and turned my back towards her. After her turn at the ATM was finished, she walked off to the side nearby and I walked in front of the machine to insert my card. I waited for the screen at the ATM to display the ready signal for me to insert my card, when suddenly I heard a cluck sound at the card inserter. Then I placed my card inside, punch in my numbers and suddenly that strange Malay woman shouted that she cannot find her card anywhere right at that moment. Then she came to me and accused me of using her card! I told her that her card must be swallowed by the machine, recalling that I heard the cluck sound. That tudung woman refused to listen to reason and continued shouting her accusations at me that I was using her card! She then demanded I followed her to the ticket counter while still continuing her shouting accusations that I used her ATM card. I shouted back at that blady bitch and told her off to not make such accusations. She told the counter that she wanted to see the police - in which I happily obliged. The police came and took our details. After explaining my situation, the police finally recognised this bitch as the one whom earlier had caused another scene at the station by blaming another person for stealing. She had the gall to cause a scene because firstly, she thinks she's a Malay with her religious tudung (the fair, wrinkled and 40-ish) - therefore the police would listen to her story more.

Be aware of con women like this.

Why the Humiliation Culture?
There's a very selfish innate reason why certain people refuse to move on and remain stuck to the behavior of humiliating others. Let me warn you, ANYBODY can be humiliating others unknowingly and not neccesarily the known bullies sitting at the producers' chair or their high corporate offices. Like the ad agency who created that offensive Caltex ad. The reason why such culture permeates this staggeringly is because NOBODY takes a stand to speak out. When this silence happens (it is happening already), these humiliators become even louder, more delusional and bolder.

Firstly, it makes them feels more superior. It provides a mental illusion that they're better, and therefore everybody wants to grab the opportunity created by them. Take for example that rep who Facebooked me to join that silly reality show. Makes me want to laugh.

Secondly, they failed to see beyond their own selfish gains and find any kind of short cuts for instant validation.  I used to have friends like this. He or she will be quick to criticize, complain and judge others. But what have they actually achieved really? And what makes them any different from that crazy tudung woman who accused me at the ATM machine?

Thirdly, and most importantly - people who humiliates others in public have no real achievements of their own. Don't even boast about your university degree or PhD - it makes you even worst. Therefore, they seek to become a parasite to take advantage of other people's perceived "weakness" and become their self-proclaimed "strength" or "solution".

Below are the characteristics of people who humiliates other people:
* No real achievements of their own.
* Talk loud, only can act as aggressive bullies
* Stuck in their own limited worldview of "I have to be more superior"
* Accuse others blindly for their own benefit

The truth is, everyone has been humiliated in one way or the other in their life. Some take their past humiliations too personally and stays silent in fear. This type of people are too sensitive to ever become artiste of any kind - they only seek fame. Others act out in anger and become the humiliators or bullies themselves. But these are the extreme two choices to being humiliated. The correct way is the middle way - become neither! Speaking from experience, you have to take it like its just another small matter and move on. Be bigger than yourself. But you still need to speak out so others will know and take actions on it. Race and religion doesn't solve anything.

The best way is NOT to take part in any of this type of humiliation culture to show that you have some self-esteem in yourself. Do not mistaken your self-esteem with your religion, race or sexual orintation - you'll only become more of the opposite in the end. See others neither above nor below you. Because that is the truth. We all share the same problems as fellow human beings. When you know this, you'll find all these public humiliations means nothing. The humiliator is in fact, the humiliated. And you and I, the perceived victims, are in fact, the victors.

And we'll live longer, happier lives too. Below are some actions you should take to counter any type of "humiliation"

* Achieve something for the common good of humanity (there's really no greater achievement than this)
* Speak up when you know you've been wrongly accused or portrayed unfairly
* Open your mind to new ideas that's not solely based on race or religion
* Be humble and know that you are not always right....and it's fine!

For my commentaries on CURRENT ISSUES:
The Power of Joyful vs Joyless
The Violent Nature of Malaysian Society
Zaman Gemilang Ma-Lu-Gua
Why a Chinese person should eat at Chinese restaurant
The Great Malaysian Tragedy
5 Foibles Committed by Political Leaders
Street Protests
The Age of Haters
The Over Emphasis of Hardware over Software
How My "Friend" Make Plus-sized Looks Bad
City Folks' Sitting Culture (BM)
How to Identify Monsters Anywhere
Habits of Local Talent (BM)
Lessons learned from "Friends"
Malaysian "Mega-Structures" Hits and Misses

Monday, March 23, 2015

Quila-i-Mubarak: The Blessed Fort (Part 3)



Truly blessed at The Blessed Fort
Indeed, I am truly blessed. And humbled.

God knows I'm an orphan child - without anyone to rely on in this world. Like water, I continue to flow. With no destination in mind, just free flowing to where the crowds lead. At the entrance of the Red Fort, I was just in time to be joined by a group of foreign businessmen who happens to have an extra pair of tickets ...... for me! I don't know anyone of them, but one of them seemed to know me! I was only a lone traveller in this exotic land and stumbled across another traveller who offered me a free entry into India's largest monument. I was truly blessed. Thankful to God for bestowing me with his rich blessings, taking me to places I've never been before. These must be the fruits of my faith in the Almighty.

The Lahori Gate
The stark difference from being in such close proximity to other exotic creatures to suddenly having huge expanse of spaces to walk upon was truly a relief to the senses. This was once the place for ancient royalties - for kings, princes, princesses and their harem. The Lahori Gate was truly remarkable to see - its red sandstone still looks so red today. Upon entry, I was greeted by the bazaar where trinkets of all kinds were sold. I remembered purchasing an embroidered rug earlier at the "Museum of Textile" at the Kailash district. I suspected the trader there might have cheated me and tried to enquire and compare the prices here instead. It's almost the same price. But I remembered Ali at The Metro informing me that I could get the rug for 400 rupees lesser.




The Museum
I continued serenading further into the corridor from the Lahori Gate. The high ceilings above finally gave way to the open skies. The air becomes slightly hotter for the afternoon sun was shining mercilessly down. Quickly, I was led by the hot breeze turning left towards the Museum where the air seem cooler. The whole history of India's independence from the British Empire can be found displayed in this museum. Large portraits of the many Indian heroes and heroines can be found along the hallways including the famous Gandhi. For me, I was more interested in the pre-history before the fight for Independence, when the king Shah Jahan built this magnificent palace.


Diwan-i-Aam
I walked through the long entryway towards a pavillion housing the marbled grave of the emperor. It's the grandest tomb I've ever seen with its carved stone lid on top of the giant marbled case where the body of the emperor is resting. It is further protected by a giant glass case where at the top lies an ornately carved marble cottage. Higher above lies the ceiling with the half-moon crescent motifs indicative of the emperors' Islamic heritage. It's time to leave the Diwan-i-Aam and enter the Imperial enclosure.



The Imperial Enclosure
Here must be where the royalties relax and just let loose after all the strict public addressings were made at Diwan-i-Aam. I can hear birds chirping and flying across the crystal blue sky. I could see the Khas Mahal and Rang Mahal ahead of me. I walked towards it, enjoying the cool air. Along the way, a couple of locals asked me to be in their pictures. I found this to be a little strange, but agreed anyway. I supposed I must be as exotic as any of the beautiful monuments there and meant to be photographed too and be kept in their collections. I noticed also many tiny squirrels squrrying around up and down into the trees.


Can you spot the two tiny squirrels?
I followed quietly one of the squirrels into one of the trees and two more quickly appeared. These two were looking at me intently as I neared them. It was not afraid or easily frightened by my presence. They might have thought I was one of the Imperial princes coming to feed or hide it inside my golden imperial robe to be brought back as some amusement for the royal harem. I left these squirrels alone in their mischief. I was too entranced to be gazing into the Life-Bestowing Garden (Hayat Bakhsh Bagh).



A peek inside the forbidden pavillion
The reservoirs are now dried. But imagine what a beautiful garden this must be in the ancient times. The Zafar Mahal at the centre stands beautifully in between the two white pavillions of Savon and Bhadon. I was tempted to jump into the imaginary waters of my mind and frolicked with the birds. But it seems everywhere is dry. The hot sun above was shining at its zenith and I need to find some shades to cool off before I leave.




The Shahi Burj
The green grass looked so calming even in the absence of any water reservoir. The Emperor's study room (Shahi Burj) and its pavillions were surrounding me. Being on the grass was enough for me to absorb all the Emperor's secret and magical knowledge in building this magnificent palace of his. I laid my tired head on the soft ground and listened to its grass whispering words of ancient wisdom, carried by the wind into my ear. The wind was blowing gently at first but soon turned into a sudden gush. Like the wind, I too, have to fly into its direction ... wherever it may blows.


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