Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri

Rumah terbuka bukannya pameran
Kunjung-mengunjung ikatan dierat
Tangan terbuka pintanya kemaafan
Senyum tertawa dendam dikerat
Bumi dipijak memang ternama
Keringat gugur sekian lamanya
Hari Raya disambut bersama
Malaysia tercinta milik kita selamanya
Pantun yang tak seberapa ini ditujukan kepada rakan taulan dan sahabat handai yang menyambut Aidilfitri dan juga kepada semua yang tumpang holiday.

Monday, September 29, 2008

There'll Be More To Come.....

OK, we 1st heard about the Freddie and Fannie, then the Bear, then the Lehmann Bro followed closely by the WaMu (Washington Mutual) and the AIG problem. Now we have Wachovia.
Brace ourselves. Prepare for the worst of time. God Bless.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Marseille 1 : Awed by Guy and Michele's Warm Hospitality

Travelling back to Marseille by bus from Aix en Provence. Will then take the metro to meet my friend, Pierre's parents, Guy and Michele. Pic above is the train station Gare de Marseille Saint Charles. It's a big station and thank god for McD, I managed to have an "economical" breakfast and wifi internet connection to work out some stuff from work. I hate travelling before official work but ok... tat's another story.
Again, the famous Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde is in sight.

Took the metro from the Gare Saint Charles to Guy and Michele's place.

I was so thankful and grateful as Guy and Michele took time to fetch me from the metro station. Michele recognized me instantly!!! Well, being an Asian with unmistakably Asian look plus Michele did some homework... guess it's not difficult. Thanks again, Guy and Michele!!!

Back to Guy and Michele's place!!! Their house is at the top of the 3 storeys building and yes, it comes with a balcony overlooking to the sea as Marseille is next to the sea. A port and industrial city to be exact. Also the place where the head-butting Zidane came from.

My delicious French lunch. Yummy!!!!

Oh.... the so very very delicious lapin (which should be pronounced as "la pa" and not the romanized guesstimate of lapin as it mean other things. right Michele?) together with corn and potato (if I remember it correctly) By the way lapin is rabbit meat. Of course, with wine too.

And it's foie gras!!!!! The most wonderful thing is tat it was HOMEMADE!!!!!!!!!! I was so fortunate to taste Michele's home-made foie gras during my 1st meal with them and yes....I had been so lucky to taste many more delicious French cooking the few days after that. Oh....I'm blessed!!!! And thanks to Pierre too!!!!!

More on Marseille and the wonderful Guy and Michele in the coming posts.....

Saturday, September 27, 2008

No Malaysia Politics Stuff

What a refreshing change!!! I didn't blog about anything on the distressed state of Malaysian politics for 4 days and hoping to spend the weekend without it too, if I ever write anything on Sun. It's such a relieve not to delve into the stupidity of some quarters who start to throw lawsuit for insulting errrrrrrrrr......OK. I'll stop. Don't wanna spoil my mood. I have my 5th day to go. Also wanna clear some of my lying stash of unattended DVDs.

Paul Newman Dies At 83

OK, at the risk of sounding like a paparazzi's blog, I found that Paul Newman's life story is interesting and really worth knowing cox it's not your typical Hollywood stuff.
Here's some bits tat I find interesting, extracted from Yahoo! News.
He sometimes teamed with his wife and fellow Oscar winner, Joanne Woodward, with whom he had one of Hollywood's rare long-term marriages. "I have steak at home, why go out for hamburger?" Newman told Playboy magazine when asked if he was tempted to stray.
Newman had a soft spot for underdogs in real life, giving tens of millions to charities through his food company and setting up camps for severely ill children. Passionately opposed to the Vietnam War, and in favor of civil rights, he was so famously liberal that he ended up on President Nixon's "enemies list," one of the actor's proudest achievements, he liked to say.
Newman, who shunned Hollywood life, was reluctant to give interviews and usually refused to sign autographs because he found the majesty of the act offensive, according to one friend.
In 1982, Newman and his Westport neighbor, writer A.E. Hotchner, started a company to market Newman's original oil-and-vinegar dressing. Newman's Own, which began as a joke, grew into a multimillion-dollar business selling popcorn, salad dressing, spaghetti sauce and other foods. All of the company's profits are donated to charities. By 2007, the company had donated more than $175 million, according to its Web site
Newman had two daughters, Susan and Stephanie, and a son, Scott, from a previous marriage to Jacqueline Witte. Scott died in 1978 of an accidental overdose of alcohol and Valium. After his only son's death, Newman established the Scott Newman Foundation to finance the production of anti-drug films for children.
Newman started in movies the year before, in "The Silver Chalice," a costume film he so despised that he took out an ad in Variety to apologize
"I'm not mellower, I'm not less angry, I'm not less self-critical, I'm not less tenacious," he said. "Maybe the best part is that your liver can't handle those beers at noon anymore," he said.
He's really cool, as he's well-known of. Also, his story reminds that everyone can make a difference, sometimes maybe just by being different from the others in your league.

Once : Simplicity At Its BEST

Tagline : How Often Do You Find The Right Person?

The first time I heard about this movie was when it was nominated for the Best Song in the 2008 Oscar. It's a dark house when you compete against Hollywood biggies i.e. the songs from the Disney's "Enchanted" and you know what? They WON!!!! Made a mental note to myself to buy the DVD if I happen to see it. So, I found it in Sarawak and bought it and it was stashed together with other DVDs until this fateful afternoon when I popped it in to the DVD player after clearing some piles of work (yeah....I'm a corporate slave!!!!).
The premise of the movie is simple. Not really musical but the whole movie was filled with songs, yes, the singer who's the main actor in the movie has a high-pitch sad and soulful voice (well...it's the "in" thing now right? With James Blunt, Paolo Nutini etc.......) and don't be fooled by it thinking it's the stereotypical movie.
OK, I might sound oxymoronic and contradicting myself here. The story line is SIMPLE. A guy busking on the street with his guitar in Dublin. Met the girl (no mention of their name actually) who's from Czech. They share the same passion in music and some relationship history as the guy has an ex-gf in London while the girl had a baby girl and her husband who's back in Czech. The guy want to cut a few songs recorded and they made up a band with some other street buskers. They got something on but nothing happen, no sex, no relationship. He went to London to look for his ex-gf and her husband came to settle down with her in Dublin. It ends with the guy bought a piano for her which she couldn't afford.
The whole movie was subtle and while the chemistry was not exploding like the fireworks during Beijing Olympic Games, it's surprisingly grippling and intense. See how am I contradicting myself here??? With nice songs and simple story lines as opposed to the vivengveng elaborate costumes and grande orchestrated songs in typical West End or Broadway musical, this is a real gem with realism aplenty in the portrayal of the characters and its story line. Not to mention the songs keep playing in my head now.....
Simple stuff touches the feelings most. Excessive addition only made the whole thing saturated.
One of the best movie I watch this year. Definitely in my year end list. And I definitely gonna get my hands on the soundtrack!!!!

Aix en Provence 8 : Montpellier-Marseille-Aix

To go to Aix en Provence, one has to first go to Marseille before proceeding to Aix. I took a train from Montpellier to Marseille, which I will be back after spending two days in Aix to meet up with Pierre's parents who's generous enough to have me with them at their house in Marseille before following them to their little cottage in Saint Jeans en Royans!!! I LOVE my time there and it's such a nice getaway to the French countryside.

The train from Montpellier to Marseille. Typical nice comfortable train. Forgot how much it was but it's definitely not cheap I think. Oh, the dogs get to travel too.

With nothing to do other than reading the ever-dependable Lonely Planet, I want to do other things. What better thing to do than doing some house-cleaning er....should be bag cleaning in this case I think. Throw the receipts etc...and found this receipt of my breakfast in McD. The interesting bits of this, well other than the expensive 7.40euro (about RM37) breakfast, is the Code WC at the bottom of the list. The restrooms in McD is not really free but if you have your meals or buy something, the code in the receipt enable you to use the facilities. Cool heh?

The train passed by Arles famously known as the place where Van Gogh painted lots of his work. I am not so sure whether the famous Starry Starry Night or the Sunflower was painted here but with the short time I have, I decided to skip it. Sorry Vincent!

Reached Marseille finally and above is the view of Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde from the Gare St Charles train station. More of the Basilique later...... Walk about 10mins to the bus stop to Aix en Provence.

My Trusted Travel Companion

My 10-years old loyal Bozaki daypack and the backpack packed in black duffel bag at the back. My loyal daypack had been following me to lots of places. The foggy London town, the ancient Rome, the saddenly-romantic Venice, the artistically charming Firenze, the sands and dust of Cambodia, the emerging Vietnam, the strangely familiar and close-to-heart Indonesia and yes, recently the enchanting France.
It shows sign of old age already as you can see in the picture.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Aix en Provence 7 : Evening Stroll

The major shopping centre, Square Mattei. Oh, I think the trees "pre-Autumn" already. It must be damn nice to spend Autumn in France!!!!!!!

I guess it's the library and art centre. Saw people practising dance and tonnes of books. But the library was closed.

The evening crowd started roaming the street..........

meeting up with friends and buddies......

having a sip of coffee before adjourning to some nice restaurant..........

chatting and spending the last remaining days of the wet summer.......

and contemplating for what to do for the next summer????

Aix en Provence 6 : Morning Walk

You can't miss this, the centre-piece of Aix, Fountaine de la Rotonde.

Along the main "street", the Cours Mirabeau.

I forgot which market was this. Either one of these; Place Richelme, Place des Precheurs or Place de Verdun but I think it's the latter.

Aix en Provence 5 : Aix @ Night

After the delicious Lebanese dinner, I decided to go for a walk around the centre of Aix en Provence. I think this is Pl des Augustins...

The main street of Aix, the Cours Mirabeau.

It's nice to have a slow and relaxing stroll along the Aix's pasar malam (night market). The only thing lacking is someone clutching my arm and a head slightly tilted and rested on my shoulders hahaha.....

If I remember well, it's Fontaine d'Eau Thermale

The main fountain, Fontaine de la Rotonde

The spanking new Square Mattei.

Waiting for my bus back to the Youth Hostel. The station is on the right of the pic above.