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Arriving in Kunming, Dali & Erhai Village, China in 24hours

As far as my eyes could see out of the little pane on my window seat, we were descending into a mountainous region. Whatever I’ve seen in paintings of old China plastered on the wall of coffeeshops as I was growing up actually reflected what was before me. Landing in Kunming, Yunnan, China, my 12 day trip began. The superfluous road journey was enough to set my hip off if it weren’t for the BackJoy Posture+ seat that I had lugged along. Absolutely necessary for long car rides. Each day, we travelled between 150 – 350km, stopping along the way for scenic spots & photo opportunity. Given the chance, I would have loved to stay put longer in one place to experience the culture & life of the people.

Our first stop was at ErHai Fishing Village, a lake that the Chinese term as the sea for the never-ending sight of the horizon. Not getting much sleep from the night before when we arrived at The Ancient City of Dali (Dali Gusheng), I woke up to a temperatures too low for my liking. A cotton-loving girl donned in Uniqlo HeatTech, fleece & technical jacket is hardly anything to marvel at. I saved my waterproof ski pants for the coldest sector of my journey…….Yading, in Sichuan near the Himalayas.

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At dawn, these boats are parked by the lakeside.

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Boats parked.

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Fisherfolks row out to haul in the catch.

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Wheat clusters left by the road.

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Mode of transport for the village folks.

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Taking out the vermicelli noodles at the factory.

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Noodles hanging out to dry.

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Garbed in balaclava, beanie & hooded jacket.

This was our first stop on our long & arduous journey to Yading Nature Reserve. On the bus, there were 12 other photographers & an MPV with 6 people plus the driver. Travelling 350km upon arrival in the evening was anything but nice. The fun only began on the 3rd day when I was accosted by Leong Taoping (Long Bean Army as I called him) and the demure but bean-bashing, Angela.

Half A Year Gone

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Taiping Lake Gardens.

There are not enough hours in a day for me & every minute is precious when I’m doing the things I love to do most. When Wolfgang visited, we spent a week exploring the jungles of Malaysia equipped with tents, poles, four-legged companions & survival kits. We learnt that even a simple tent can bear quite an effect on your sleep if the roof is not vented & the fly-sheet is not totally waterproof. The tropical rainforest usually lives up to its name when you are least prepared and with Rufus & Spice coming along, there’s no option to stay in a resort. I have no problem with that & it’s so nice to see Rufus getting all protective of his space & master (or slave aka me).

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Rufus having a snooze while I drove.

Hearing the nocturnal insects & the quaak-quaak frogs at night made me feel like I was on a different planet. There was no ”˜ribbik’ nor the ”˜oowooongg’ noises from the bullfrogs but a very distinct & loud ”˜QUAAK!’ which is then answered by their fellow species somewhere else. It was an interesting night. Rufus was adapting to all these foreign noises too. Aziz had to alternate between his tent & the 4WD because Spice kept him awake frequently with the need to answer nature’s call. He decided to sleep in the car so as not to wake Wolfgang.

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Rufus taking a cool dip with me!

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The Milky Way!

We spent nights shooting the Milky Way & visited Lawrence & Ina in Gua Musang in Kelantan. After that, we headed to Grik & spent a night at Belum. There, I was visited by a wild boar while I was in the tent. We drove to Taiping for some sight-seeing before returning to KL for a dive trip to Aur & Tenggol. In between, I caught up with my ex-boss, Dato’ Loy & ex-colleagues to celebrate his birthday & facilitate sessions for FInancial Psychology’s workshops.

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Ex boss & colleagues.

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Pulau Dayang, off Pulau Aur.

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Sandwiched in between a colour-coded (coincidence) dressing for the day, Bose & Soo.

I am constantly reminded that I have to stop & smell the roses each time work gets too hectic or when the assignment gets the better of me. I found one in such splendour that smelling it alone would not justice to it. It put a smile to my face that God flutters the heart of His children when His flora flourishes! Here’s to more discoveries in the wild!

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Istanbul Aku Datang!

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Attending the gala premiere of the movie Istanbul Aku Datang on the night of the 24 October under the invitation of Tourism Turkey, I truly enjoyed the performance of our homegrown actors, Harris (Beto Kusyairy), Dian (Lisa Surihani) & Azad (Tomok). The entire movie was shot in Istanbul, Turkey, a place that I will be visiting next year. The stars were mingling about while I said my hellos to my host, Ali Gulen & the people from the embassy. What thrilled me in the movie was how this idealistic blogger, Dian, who makes her journey to Istanbul a trigger to all her emotions, in a plan to get her boyfriend to propose marriage. She was confronted with the harsh realities of travel (and life) when she had to struggle with her many bags, (something that I too, have to manage), her hope for her love, her fear of cats and the unexpected circumstances that came her way. Thinking she had it all planned, she enrolled in a language course to stick around for 3 months, a period that was to encompass the fairy tale proposal.

On her second day, she was reminded to get a place of her own as her boyfriend, Azad, didn’t want her to be seen living with 3 blokes. Each night, she would blog & plot her moves with her readers giving her sound advice as she signs off with XOXO, D & publishes the blog. Her house-hunting became another nightmare. She ended up in an apartment without knowing it was already tenanted. The conflict starts when the rightful tenant, Harris, whom she antagonistically calls Awak (You) & her intrude into one another’s private space, especially while in the bathroom. Director Bernard Chauly, cleverly depicted the surprise reaction, when Harris stood in front of the water closet, he jumped & ”˜misfired’ the entire bathroom. There were other hilarious moments that had me in a fit. I was glad to note that I wasn’t the only one laughing so hard. There was a ”˜Maggi moment,’ which I could identify with, causing a stir to know how close to home we are when we have such familiarities. Harris starts out as an unrelenting, rightfully assertive, gay housemate…..until he received his Maggi Assam Laksa replacement in a box with an apology. His role as Harris is the man any woman would want while Azad’s act showed the unpleasantness of a man-in-want. Dian’s portrayal will ring true for any girl who has gone to the other side of the world to look for love. I will not give the plot away because watching this movie will stir you into a fury of emotions as their characters unfold. I can’t wait to get my DVD copy to get stirred up again. The movie has English sub-titles & when they converse in English, sub-titles would be in Malay.

        
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Tomok when singing on stage at the launch.

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Beto being interviewed.

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The actors & the host in a lighthearted moment before the movie which will debut on 8 November 2012 in local cinemas.

Set in Istanbul, you should plan your holidays to Turkey after watching this movie because if the romanticism doesn’t make you want to go, the beautiful architecture would.