Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Big Blue Marble

Does anyone remember this show? Well, if you did, then you would remember the catchy theme song.

Big Blue Marble was an educational TV show in the 70s. I can’t really remember which day or what time it was aired. Must have been in the afternoon I think as those days tv programs would start its transmission only in the afternoon – earliest by 3.00pm.

The program was big into promoting pen pals and kids communicating with kids. I had two pen pals from the show. One was Sonja, a girl from Finland and the other was an Italian girl (can’t recall her name) who lived in a village and worked in the family vineyard.

I corresponded only for just a while with the Italian girl but I had Sonja as my pen pal for a long time. We were still writing to each other when I was studying in the US. It was only in the last few years that we stopped exchanging letters. Sonja had gotten married to a musician and she had two children….a boy and a girl I think.

Gone are my letter writing days. Gosh..I can’t recall the last time I actually wrote a letter using lined sheets of writing paper. I used to get special letter pads for writing to my pen pals. They had to be the lightest sheets as letters would be sent overseas. The postage would cost more if the letters weigh too much.

Much of each episode in the Big Blue Marble featured a study of some child growing up in a foreign land. It had lots of interesting stuffs and you get to learn a lot about people from different places.

The original theme song was simple and it simply gave the message on friendship and making the world a better place. It featured greetings in about a dozen languages. I remember a Japanese girl saying “sayonara” and I think there was also a Malay (or maybe Indonesian) girl who said a greeting in Malay.

Here are the words to the "Big Blue Marble" theme song.

Big Blue Marble.

The earth's a big blue marble when you see it from out there

Closer, getting closer..

Perspective start to change… things look a little strange.

As we get closer closer, growing closer.

No need to be afraid our troubles start to fade.

As we get closer…

Together is a word we must learn to understand.

If we ever want to get to know each other better.

Together is a word that holds tomorrow in it's hand…

Tomorrow's just another day to get together, and...

Get closer closer, closer, closer .

Closer, getting closer…

I searched on YouTube for the Big Blue Marble theme song. Someone had uploaded the intro video.

Wow…what a flashback!!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Happy Birthday to ME!!

February 19th was my birthday. Since it was still the Chinese New Year holidays, it was a quiet celebration for me. I don’t fancy having “bangs” on birthdays anyway.

With Abe still in Kota Kinabalu, I decided to go back to Mom’s house in Seremban… at least my sisters would be there. I was hoping for no surprises but I sensed something was cooking when my niece Aliah called my daughter a few times to check if we were going back to Seremban that day.

True enough…at almost nearing tea time, the children brought out a cake and started singing Happy Birthday at the top of their lungs. There were all 9 of them. It sounded like a school choir…with pitchy tunes here and there. Well…children…they are always happy and merry.

So I blew the candle with my little girl and my two younger nephews Alim and Ilham. We cut the ice-cream cake and passed it around. It was good…but even better to my already expanded waist line ;-(

My wish this year is to stay cool and calm in everything that I do and also to be strong in facing the challenges ahead. I’d like to keep healthy and will definitely try to shed off the few extra KGs.

Monday, February 19, 2007

February 6th : Day 5 Siem Reap - KL

Today's our last day in Siem Reap. Our "tuc-tuc" guy Mr Sukkry came at 9am to pick us up to the airport. Unlike our other hotel pick ups, this one was rather unique. Our ride to the airport was in a tuc-tuc!!

The ride was rather dusty as the vehicle was an opened motorized rickshaw. But it got us to the airport in no time. Thanks to the riding skills of our "tuc-tuc" guy.

February 5th : Day 4 Phnom Penh

After breakfast, Paullie took us to a jewelry shop. It had nice collection of jemstones. Got a good bargain on a ruby bangle. Then off to the Russian Market. It had lots of small shops selling handicrafts and local silk embroideries. Got some silk purses and small ruby studded earings for my girls at home.

Paullie showed us a hotel which belonged to a Malaysian. Naga Hotel was the name. The hotel had a casino in it. I asked if we could go in and have a look. Paullie said of course we could. However..he told us we didn't have much time to indulge ourselves in a game. Huh?? Whatever was he thinking of!! I actually wanted to use the restroom..and in order not to make it so obvious..I'll just walk around in the casino and watch people gamble their money away.

After the toilet trip, we got into Paullie's van again and headed towards the bus terminal.

We boarded the 12.30pm bus to Siem Reap. Here we go again...another 5 hours before we get to Siem Reap.

Upon arriving at the bus depot in Siem Reap, I was greeted by a guy with the Salam. To my surprise he spoke in BM to me. He asked if I needed a ride to Siem Reap. I said yes and he told that he is a muslim living in Siem Reap. He spoke good BM as he comes to KL often to visit his daughter who studies in Kajang. Fheww...what a small world!!

Mr Sukkry drove us in his tuc-tuc to our hotel. That nite we were too tired to go out for dinner. We had instant noodles in our room ;-)

February 4th : Day 3 Siem Reap - Phonm Penh

Arrived around noon in Phnom Phen after a 5 hour bus ride from Siem Reap. Was received by Paullie our tour guide at the Mekong Express Bus Depot.

We checked into our hotel Casa Phnom Penh and then off to lunch.

Program for the afternoon.

1. Toul Sleng Genocide Museum (pictures and stories of the museum can be found at my photoblog)
2. Central Market
3. Independence Square
4. Phnom Penh Water front

After dinner Paullie sent us back to the hotel. We were so exhausted from the long journey today.
Waiting for the sun to set up on Angkor Wat.
What a spectacular view it was!!!
It was worth the wait and certainly worth the climb (eventhough my knees were still shaking..)
Don't look down...On the top level of the Angkor Wat.
My climb up the steep steps of Angkor wat. Still at the bottom of the steps.

Midway through the steps. Looking down and catching my breath.

My knees started shaking by now. Just a little more to go. Really got to grip hard.

Last stop for the day - Angkor Wat.

Led into by two long courseways over a waterway, the complex is huge and could well be seen from a distance. According to our guide throngs of tourists visit this temple. It was a Hindu temple when it was first built. Now it has become a sacred place for Buddhist monks from all nations.

The second set of temples we visited was the Bayon Temple. According to beliefs, this temple was the place of worship of both the Hindus and the Buddhist.

Built in a very vast area, some of the carvings are still intact and distinct.

This is Ta Phrom temple. This temple is surrounded by big trees that have lived for hundreds of years. The roots of the trees have become so big and they now grow over the walls of the temple.

Some of the temple structures have been destroyed by these roots. A scene from the movie "Tomb Raider" was filmed here at the Ta Phrom temple.

February 3rd : Day 2 Afternoon - Angkor Temples

In the afternoon, our guide took us to vist the Angkor temples. There are 3 main temples in the complex namely Ta Phrom, Bayon and the Angkor Wat itself.

Tourist could choose to cycle in the area. Bicycles are readily available for rent. For us, well...we'd rather ride in our air conditioned van for I think I'd fall flat if I had to cycle more than 10 kms to visit the temple and its surrounding areas.

February 3rd : Day 2 Morning - Tonle Sap Lake

After breakfast at the hotel, Mao picked us up in the van and headed towards Tonle Sap Lake. It was cold in the morning with temperature at 16°C.

The drive to Tonle Sap took us about 40 minutes. The ride was bumpy as the roads were not as good as the ones in town.

The Tonle Sap Lake or Great Lake, is one of the unique geographical wonders of the world. It consists of the lake and a flood plain of interconnected streams, ponds, flooded forests and wetland vegetation that supports a rich biodiversity of species including; aquatic plants, fish, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects and microorganisms.

The extensive biodiversity is linked to seasonal flooding. During the wet season the lake increases 4 times in area from its normal size of 2500 km2 during the dry season. There is a strong relationship between the people and the natural resources of the Great Lake. It supplies the basis of life to the local people and is one of the largest freshwater fisheries in Asia.

There are about 500 families living on floating houses in the lake. They lead quite a normal life by doing daily routines such as fishing and selling local food to tourists that come by. The village even has floating schools for children in the area.

More pictures of the Floating Village.

February 2nd : Day 1 KUL - Siem Reap

As promised my trip to Cambodia...

If it hadn’t been for the RM49.99 tickets to Siem Reap by Air Asia, I don’t think we would be heading for a holiday in Cambodia. It was way back in August last year that I managed to secure these tickets. Then sometime in September 2006, I got some good bargains on the ground tour arrangements at the MATTA fair. Not too bad huh!!

Both my husband and I were looking forward to this trip. I needed to really take a break from work and things at home and nothing would be better than taking a short holiday as early as the second month of the year.

So there we were…at around 10.15 am departing from LCCT Sepang… en route to Siem Reap. The flight took us about 2 hours. The flight was alright. Air Asia being a no frill airlines did not have any food served to its passengers. Instead, if passengers would like to have something on board, they could buy snacks sold which are sold on board.

Having taken a heavy breakfast at the airport earlier, I wasn’t interested in the snacks. It was time for me to close my eyes for a short while. I must have dosed off even as the plane took off. When I opened my eyes, I saw the stewardess already pushing the food cart. Ha…ha …makan time for those who would like to purchase the snacks sold on board.

Two hours later the surrounding areas of Siem Reap could be viewed from air. Aha…almost nearing our destination. After a some what bumpy landing and upon coming to complete stop, the doors of the airplane were opened and we headed our way to the terminal building.

Immigrations clearance was smooth. We claimed our baggage after that and headed to the money changer to get some local currencies. Then we headed straight to the main exit door. There were like 10 tour guides waiting for their groups from this flight. Each one of them was carrying an A4 size paper with the guests’ names printed on them.

I found my guide in no time. We introduced ourselves and pushed our trolley to the van waiting at the airport car park. Our guide was Mao..a local guy who spoke relatively decent English. There was just the two of us in the group. Well…I didn’t mind it all.

From the airport we were taken to our hotel – Casa Angkor. On the way to the hotel we saw lots of newly constructed hotels along the road to Siem Reap town. Our guide explained that tourism is booming in Siem Reap now. During peak season, hotels can be fully booked. So…that explained why every little space available will be converted into hotels.

We arrived at Casa Angkor in 15 minutes. Actually the hotel is not very far from the Airport. The driver was driving like 50km/hr. No rush..he was just showing off his place. I guess it’s ok..coz we are on a holiday. We’ll take it easy for the next couple of days.

I was impressed with what I saw of Casa Angkor. It had beautiful interiors. Even though it’s a 3 star me it didn’t seem so. There was a small swimming pool, a gym and also a spa. The spa had caught my interest obviously. I hope to be able to get myself fixed up with a nice massage before I return to KL.

We put our luggage in the room and then headed back to the hotel lobby. Our guide had waited for us there.

Next stop will be lunch. Yupp…we were hungry already by then so it’s time to eat. The guide took us to a restaurant called SeamHeap Restaurant. Lunch was vegetables and sea food considering we were not into the meat or chicken that was served.

Lunch was ok. If only it was a bit spicier..then it would have been better. After lunch we went back to Casa Angkor for a break before the program in the afternoon.

I managed to catch a short nap before our afternoon tour program. At around 2pm were met up with Mao again. The first stop for the visit was going to be a jewelry shop. Upon arriving at the hotel we were served with fresh coconut drink. The sales girl showed us precious stones like rubies, sapphires and garnets. The pieces there were ok..nothing really caught my eye. So…my purse was relatively safe for the moment…ha..ha.

We spent about 20 minutes at the jewelry shop. It’s considered very fast by my standards. I was lucky as there wasn’t anything I liked. The sales girl was very upset went we left. She had made an offer on a ruby pendant for RM350 to my husband. She started of with USD350 for the piece. After much of bargaining..she offered him the stone at RM350. Wow…what a bargain!! Unfortunately, I wasn’t really interested with the piece. was no go. And that explained her disappointment with us.

Next stop was the Artisan Village. This was a place were locals put their carving and painting skills into practice. Some of the girls who worked on the wood carvings were deaf and dumb. What a pitty…they were such sweet girls.

We moved around. The guide explained to us about wood and stone carvings. Pretty interesting…and I just salute their patience and determination in getting the work completed. I didn’t think I had what it took to be a good wood carver.

After visiting the Artisan Village, we asked if there were mosques in Siem Reap. Mao said there is and it is not very far from where we were. We asked if he could take us there and he agreed.

It took us about 10 minutes to reach the place. It was a muslim village with about 500 families living together in the area. When we got down from the van a guy greeted us with a salam. Then he began to speak in Bahasa Melayu. I was surprised as he spoke BM just like I do. Later he told he that he had visited Kuala Lumpur a few times. He even worked in Klang before and had some relatives here. Well…ok that explained it.

The village had a mosque called the Neakmah Mosque. My husband went to have a look inside the mosque with a few of the locals. He said the Imam was a young chap. By then I was already drawing enough attention of the locals around. In no time there were little children and ladies peeping through their windows looking at me. I just smiled and waved back at them….well…what else could I have done??

After spending some time at the mosque, we were off to our next stop..the Old Market. Just like other markets of the places we’ve been to the Old Market is no different. It sells local handicrafts and souvenirs to tourists. There were also food stuffs like rice and vegetables sold in the wet section of the market. One thing one MUST do at markets like this is to bargain.

The items sold were not too bad. I got myself a nice embroidered handbag and a few pieces of cushion covers made of raw silk. On my way out I spotted on raw silk materials. Ahaaa…this I just couldn't resist. The colors were so vibrant. So after much haggling with the seller, I got myself 4 meters of apple green raw silk material at USD8 per meter. Not too bad…coz I know for sure I would have to pay more for it back home.

And I was a very happy person after that…heh..heh.

Next stop was the Central Market. It’s almost the same as the Old Market. Most of the things sold are the same. My husband got himself a Cambodia cap here. I was looking for some carved silver boxes. Unfortunately, there was none to my liking. The prices here were slightly higher if compared to the Old Market.

The thing that amazed me here was the central area of the market. Jewelry is sold here. The whole place was dark when we first walked in. Then as we approached the sellers, they switched on the lights. When the place was lighted..wallah…we saw all the jewelries sparkling in the light. One lady wanted to sell me a white gold necklace and a ruby pendant for USD35. I wasn’t sure if the jewelry she was selling was genuine especially when her store was the least lighted. It could be fakes for all I know. I just ignored her calls and walked away.

By the time we got into our van, it was already dark. We were taken to dinner to a restaurant nearby. The restaurant served buffet dinner and we could choose from the whole spread. Just as what we had for meat, only vegetables and seafood. We were entertained by locals dancing and singing during the dinner. Food was good and I was so full by the time we headed back to Casa Angkor.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Gong Xi Fa Cai...Gong Xi Fa Cai.

Happy New Year!!
May the days ahead be filled with Happiness and Properity ;-)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Luv's in the Air

Yesterday was Valentine's day. It was a day to celebrate with your loved ones. Well, I believe love should not be celebrated only on Valentine's day. Love each other every single minute you can.

After all "Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own." Robert A. Heinlein

Thursday, February 8, 2007

I'm Home

I arrived home from Siem Reap yesterday afternoon. The trip was really, really good. Had a relaxing time. The surrounding was slow paced and so different from the hustle bustle hurried life back at home.

More stories on my Cambodian trip soon...(hopefully the time permits me to write)

Friday, February 2, 2007

Short Break

I am off to visit the temples of Angkor in Siem Reap today. Really looking forward to this short break.

Will be back next week with more stories from my visit.

Under Waters

The southern state in the Peninsular Malaysia has been hit two times with heavy floods since December 2006. Many towns Johor were under waters due to very heavy rains in the past weeks.

The first flood came some time during Christmas and the second one hit big towns like Kota Tinggi, Johor Baru and Batu Pahat in the second week of January this year. Thousands of the local folks had to move to higher grounds and stayed at the flood relief centres.

The rain has stopped since and the sun has started to shine. However, it will take some time for the affected areas to dry up as the soil is still soggy from the first flood last December.