Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Of Merdeka Day Commercials

Today, Malaysians celebrate the country's 53rd Independence Day.  For those of you who don't know, Malaysia is a country in Southeast Asia.  Its neighbouring countries include Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.  We were once colonialized by the Portuguese, Dutch, Japanese and British.  Yeah, that's the grim reality forever entrenched in our history but we've moved on.

I'm not sure how Merdeka Day is celebrated in my country during these trying times but one thing for sure, there'll be the usual Merdeka Day Parade somewhere.  Same old same old...  What I really look forward in the Merdeka month, however, were the various Merdeka commercials, sponsored by big Malaysians corporations.  The late Yasmin Ahmad (correct me if I'm wrong) might have started the trend of directing muhibbah, value-laden Merdeka commercials, while others practically jumped into the band-wagon.  Problem is, when you have too much of a similar thing, it becomes a bit tired.  To all seasoned and aspiring creative directors out there:  initiate something fresh, not just be mere followers, guys!

Out of the many Merdeka Day commercials churned since 1997 (I think), four remained my all-time favourites.  They were sponsored by Malaysia Airlines, Petronas, and Proton, respectively.  The commercials depict the good side of Malaysia's multiculturalism.  I'm not so sure who directed the commercials but the first two might have been (directed) by Yasmin while, the last one might be the works of either Ho Yuhang or Afdlin Shauki.  Yasmin has since left us but her legacy lives on. In the mean time, all is not lost when it comes to Merdeka Day Commercials.  Watch out for more creative works by Yuhang and Afdlin :).     

Malaysia Airlines 41st Merdeka Day Commercial

Petronas Merdeka Day Commercial

Proton Merdeka Day Commercial

Proton 52nd Merdeka Day Commercial

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Cove

Since we were already in the Jurrasic Coast, we decided to pay a visit to the famous Durdle Door.  However, we ended up in another World Heritage Site:  Lulworth Cove.

The country road leading to the Cove

Thatched-roof cottages, a pleasant sight

It was one of those occasions (getting more frequent now :P) where I cursed myself for not getting that god****  wide-angle lense... arghh!!!



So, as any ill-equiped photographer, I had to climb up the cliff in order to capture the cove in its entirety.  

The Cove...

 The photographer :))

 The signboard

Sekali pandang, teringat kat Lake Toba di Sumatra.  However, it's an entirely different landform; Lake Toba being a huge volcanic lake. 

The view on the other side

Stair Hole

Well, Durdle Door tah ke mana, crabbing lagi lah... hehehe... but at least I got to capture the sunset (well, almost...)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Weymouth 2010

Just before Ramadhan the other day, we went for a picnic.  We were supposed to go camping, but since all the camping sites were fully booked, we had to content ourselves to just go for a picnic.  Nak picnic pun kena survey tempat sesuai.  K. Za's husband had wanted to 'crab', while hubs had wanted to picnic at a site with a nice sea view.  That's how we ended up in Weymouth, which was recently ranked fourth in top 10 "emerging destinations" in the world

Situated along the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, Weymouth is a large resort town in Dorset.  It took us about 3 hours from Bristol to reach the place.  From Weymouth town centre we made our way to Nothe Park. Once there, we scanned the park for a suitable picnic spot. 

We were lucky to find a secluded spot, with ample shade and a scenic view. 

View from our picnic site

We immediately set up camp.  Sebenarnya kat park ni tak boleh camping (Kui! Kui! Kui!) but our argument was: as a precaution in case it rains.  Showers were predicted that day ... honest!

our new 6-man tent :)

Alhamdulillah, there wasn't a single raindrop.  The weather was perfect and the kids especially, had a good time.  Bersukaria sebelum puasa ... :)

Later in the afternoon, we were joined by 3 more families.  I guess everybody wanted to spend the last weekend we had before fasting, somewhere :).

Nothe Park would have made a great camp site.  Nothe Fort, the beach and the pier were just within walking distance.  Other facilities include parking space, a WOC, barbecue pits and a few food stalls.  

Squirrels roamed the area freely and 'lovebirds' unabashingly making out in the open air :)!

a bushy-tailed squirrel nibbling an acorn

Ni lovebirds sopan ... hehehe!

Flora and fauna beckoned the discerning photographer....

Verdict:  The beauty of the place is worth the trip!  (Crabbing tah ke mana ... Kui!Kui!Kui!).  Hope to visit this place again, some day! :D


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ramadhan... here and there

The holy month is back!  This being my first Ramadhan in Bristol, I was really curious how the food 'feel' is going to be.  Back in Malaysia, mention Ramadhan, and images of food in abundance will  come to mind, although the month should really be about performing 'ibadah', doing good and being patient ...

(Recall mode)
Come Ramadhan, food bazaars will be sprouting out everywhere in Malaysia. The choice of food ... enough to make Ethiopia weep!!  There'll be all kinds of nasi (rice) dishes - fried rice, nasi lemak, chicken rice, biryani, nasi dagang, nasi  kerabu, nasi campur, etc.  A variety of noodles - mee rebus, laksa, mee sup, kuewtiau goreng, etc.  Assortment of kuihs (traditional cakes): curry puffs, cucur udang, buah melaka, kuih cara, apam balik, my favourite putu piring :).  Other Malaysian food - satay, ayam percik, murtabak, ikan bakar... and beverages - fresh tofu, air kelapa muda, sugarcane ...

Makcik yang jual putu piring *Perghh!* kat USJ4
Photo credit:  Ricky Lai / The Star

And if you think, that's all, hotels are cashing-in, too.  An all-you-can-eat Ramadhan buffet is priced around RM 65 to RM 180 per person (which is very expensive to the average Malaysian).   Believe me, the 13 hours of fasting does not make you hungry enough to eat all-you-can :P.

During the last ten days of Ramadhan, there'll be a different kind of madness.  Instead of seeking the reverred Lailatul Qadar (the Night of Power), shoppers will throng Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman for *Lailatul Kamdar (Nights of Raya Shopping)... Hehehe! On a sombre note, the only people laughing all the way to the bank are the businessmen and seasonal entrepreneurs... Huhuhu!

(Here and now)
Ramadhan in Bristol is a quiet affair.  We fast for about 17 hours over here, but so far even the kids have gone through it without much complaint.  During break of fast or iftar, we eat whatever food that I can whipped up in the short time that I have, after coming home from school.  There's no **PARAM nor all-you-can-eat.  Only all-I-can-cook, which is not bad at all :).  Dah duduk jauh ni boleh pulak masak itu ini... hehehe!  Most important, semua yang dihidangkan licin!  No leftovers (as always the case back home).  Nak makan macam-macam, tunggu weekends.  Last weekend, we had a buka puasa potluck with the Indonesian community and what a spread!  K. Ani's bubur lambuk ... Perghh!! Kalah bubur lambuk Masjid Kg Baru! Yumms!! :D

nasi ayam ku :)

Itulah rezeki kami di Bristol ni...  For that we are truly thankful :)

*    Lailatul Kamdar - credits to Eijarm for coining this term on Facebook :)
**  PARAM = Pasar Ramadhan (Ramadhan Bazaar)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Blue Day at Chelsea Stadium

Before leaving London, we stopped by the stadium of Amirul's favourite football team (after defecting from Manchester United :)) : Chelsea FC.

Goofy Sabri at Chelsea FC

We couldn't enter the stadium because it was already closed but no worries, Amirul had ample opportunity to 'pose' with his favourite stars outside :)

From Frank Lampard...

... to John Terry

... and more John Terry :)

We couldn't possibly leave London without feeling 'blue', could we?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dinosaurs alive at London's Natural History Museum!

Day 2 of our London trip was also our last day at the lodge.  We checked-out early but decided to leave our car at the hotel's parking.  After paying for a whole-day parking ticket (around 7 pounds), we hopped on the bus to Victoria.  From Victoria, we got on the tube to South Kensington.  After getting off, we walked a short distance before reaching our destination for the day:  London Natural History Museum.

There was a long queue at the museum's gate.  Maklumlah, FREE!  There were also other (paid) exhibitions, but maybe owing to the current economic situation, everyone seemed to be heading towards the free exhibition zones...

... and everyone made a bee-line for the
dinosaurs ...
Behold!  Everything dinosaur :)

Dinosaur skeletons ...

Dinosaur eggs ...

dinosaur head :)

Even a 'real' dinosaur! Well, almost ...:D

A must-go place for dinosaur fanatics - kids and adults alike (more grown-up gawkers, actually... :P)

We spent most of our time at the blue zone (where the dinosaurs, mammals and ocean creatures were) and managed to explore part of the green zone (only the birds).  We didn't have time to cover the red and orange zones.  Maybe next time (my London tagline, hehehe!).

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tower of London

From More London, we continued walking till we reach Tower Bridge.  Our destination was Tower of London, on the north side of Tower Bridge. 

The place was already closed when we came.  So, we just lingered outside the premises.

Steep in history, tragedy and mystery, the place seemed to entice even my boys!  Definitely a must-visit, next time :)!

Anne Boleyn, one of its famous resident
From Tower of London, we walked to the nearest underground which was Tower Hill Station.  From there, we boarded the tube to Marble Arch Station.  Our quest: a supposedly halal Mc.Donald's in Oxford Street.  However, we discovered that it wasn't.  Nasib baik ada kawan kat London :).  We were told that there was a halal KFC in Goodge Street.  To get there we could take the tube (to Goodge Station) or bus (no. 7).  We opted for the latter as we would like to see the night live (and lights!) along Oxford Street. 

Happening sungguh Oxford Street di waktu malam!  A far cry from Bristol, Cheh!  It was 8.30 p.m. but the shops were still opened and bustling with shoppers.  My kind of city... heheh!  15 minutes later (due to jam, not distance), we arrived at our destination.  15 minutes after, we were joined by my friend, Lina :).

It's always nice to meet up with friends from back home when you are in a foreign country.  For Amani, she was reunited with her Aunty Lina who used to layan her and spoilt her with gifts, whenever I took her to my office (those were the days...).  For the boys, it wasn't long before they got friendly with the aunty who's "cute like a bunny" :).   Thanks for spending time with us, dear :D!  Hope it's not going to be another six years before we meet again :). 

From Goodge Street, we walked towards Warren Street Station and took the tube to Victoria.  From Victoria, we took bus no 44 back to Battersea.  End of Day 1.