Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Stand

I’ve been listening to Idina Menzel’s “I Stand” CD for sometime now and am definitely enjoying it tremendously. I actually bought my copy out of the iTunes store since I don’t know it is available in our local music stores. I guess that a lot of people in this part of the world, especially those who are not familiar with recent American stage musicals, wouldn’t really recognize her name much less buy her CD. Some of the songs on her latest CD really spoke to me in light of recent developments happening in and around me.

One song in particular is the title track which an acoustic version of the video I’m sharing here. I love the thematic content of the words and even more, the way that it forces me to think of where I stand on some of the things that affects me. I am by no way an activist. Always thought that activism was the purview of the privilege and the moneyed. What use is activism for someone who needs all the waking time he has to make sure that he makes enough money to pay the bills at the end of the month. But in the end, who will fight for you if it is not yourself. No use waiting for handouts from the government or empty promises of come-back kids hungry for their self serving limelight.

We make our own destinies and changes.

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference"

I Stand by Idina Menzel
© 2008 Warner Bros. Records Inc. for the U.S. and WEA International Inc. for the world outside the U.S.

"I Stand"

When you ask me, who I am:
What is my vision? And do I have a plan?
Where is my strength? Have I nothing to say?
I hear the words in my head, but I push them away.

'Cause I stand for the power to change,
I live for the perfect day.
I love till it hurts like crazy,
I hope for a hero to save me.
I stand for the strange and lonely,
I believe there's a better place.
I don't know if the sky is heaven,
But I pray anyway.

And I don't know
What tomorrow brings
The road less traveled
Will it set us free?
Cause we are taking it slow,
These tiny legacies.
I don't try and change the world;
But what will you make of me?

'Cause I stand for the power to change,
I live for the perfect day.
I love till it hurts like crazy,
I hope for a hero to save me.
I stand for the strange and lonely,
I believe there's a better place.
I don't know if the sky is heaven,
But I pray anyway.

With the slightest of breezes
We fall just like leaves
As the rain washes us from the ground
We forget who we are
We can't see in the dark
And we quickly get lost in the crowd

'Cause I stand for the power to change,
I live for the perfect day.
I love till it hurts like crazy,
I hope for a hero to save me.
'Cause I stand for the power to change,
I live for the perfect day.
I love till it hurts like crazy,
I hope for a hero to save me.
I stand for the strange and lonely,
I believe there's a better place.
I don't know if the sky is heaven,
But I pray anyway.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Melaka Trip '08 – Day 02 : Colorful Melaka

Since the weather outside is frightful and I’m definitely not feeling delightful what with being under the weather and all, the last entry on my visit to Melaka 2 weeks ago will hopefully remind me of the brighter day that we had on that trip.

While some of the restored buildings have some questionable lighting selections (what’s with the red lights on the buildings at Jonker’s St anyway?), quite a few of the buildings in and around Melaka really stood out due to it’s vibrant paint jobs. While one could argue that these buildings would technically should not be painted in such colors in an area listed as a heritage site, I feel that they offer a refreshing respite to the eyes after a day of looking at buildings that have been restored back to their original appearance. These vivid splashes of color in and around Bandar Melaka was definitely quite memorable.

***©All photographs and rights reserved by K:Rew's photography. Please do NOT post, print or distribute without permission.***

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Melaka Trip '08 – Day 02 : Eating Our Way Through Bandar Melaka

Our initial plan on the second day of our Melaka trip was to visit a nearby waterfall for a picnic lunch but after waking up much later than we originally planned, we decided to scrap that plan and walk around Bandar Melaka instead. Our first stop was at a nearby warong under the trees to begin the day with a hearty breakfast of nasi lemak, noodles, spring rolls, Nyonya pie tee (top hats) and drinks. After our leisurely breakfast, we proceeded to Bandar Melaka to work off our meal and see what the city had to offer since for several of us this trip was the first to the city. We parked our cars near the Jonker’s St parking lot where we parked the previous night and proceeded by foot to the nearby Melaka River Esplanade.

Being more acquainted with the river conditions in KL, I have to say that I was fairly impressed with the condition of Melaka River. While it was not exactly a river of pristine clear waters, it didn’t look all that shabby and more importantly it didn’t smell like a sewer dumping place that some of the rivers in KL have sadly become. The walkway that lined the riverbank was also well maintained and quite nice to have our morning walk at which we did that day. Bandar Melaka was also refreshingly quiet that Sunday morning relative to the hustle that our group was used too living in hectic KL. Our walk would soon lead us to the Dutch Square where the Stadthuys building was located. I wished that I had more time there as I would definitely would have like to explore the buildings there as well as visit the Porta de Santiago at the A'Famosa Fortress as well as other historical sites in the area. It’s quite funny that I came all the way there and didn’t come close to a historical site.

(Scenes from the Melaka River Esplanade)

Just past the Dutch Square, we walked by into a row of similarly red hued shophouses where one of them specialized in selling a variety of items made with bird’s nest. We decided to take a break from walking and enjoy the comfort of air conditioning while sipping on a selection of concoctions made with the prized ingredient. I had a drink made out of ginseng and bird’s nest which tasted quite nice and suppose to help with internal rejuvenation if the menu description was correct. It was during our break when the sky suddenly opened up with a short burst of rain that helped cooled the air down that morning. After the rains and finishing our drinks, we left the shophouses area to continue on our morning walkabout of Bandar Melaka.

(Dutch Square, Melaka)

We soon arrived at the Melaka River Esplanade opposite the Church of St Francis Xavier we found the place where we could take a cruise along the river. According to their sign, the cruise would take 40 minutes at the ticket price of RM10 per person. Unfortunately, while there was already 9 of us in the group, they could not let the cruise start unless they have 12 people on board. Not really keen to wait around for more people to show up especially when the sky was still quite overcast and heavy with rain clouds, we decided to skip the river cruise and walked the length of the walkway instead to the end of the path. Thanks to the rains before, the mid morning was fairly cool and comfortable for our walk and picture taking sessions in the area. Once we reached the end of the path at the Jambatan Pasar area, we decided to leave the Esplanade side and walk towards the Jonker St area which in the day would be less hectic without the crowds of the night markets they set up there.

All along our route, we could see examples of heritage buildings being restored as well as those that have already been beautifully restored. These were the buildings that have made this area world renowned and recently included as part of the UN World Heritage Site list. We stopped for a bit at one of the Chinese tea houses to get a breather and appreciate the intricate carvings and antique decorations that they owner had brought in from China. We also strolled down a road when a mosque, a Hindu temple and a Buddhist temple stood practically side by side, reflecting not only the cultural diversity of the area but also an earlier day when more of us believed that all else being equal, we are all the same regardless of which religion we subscribe to.

It was on this walkabout when I finally found the Portuguese Egg Tarts that I have been craving for in this trip. I’m somewhat of a fiend when it comes to these delicious delicacy ever since I first had them in Hong Kong. It was strange for me not being able to find anyone selling it at Jonker St the night before but the pastry shop that we stopped on that morning walk more than made up for the wait. I bought a whole box of it to bring back home as well as a few, not exactly pure egg tarts since they have other items like curried chicken added to the flaky pastry, to eat on the go. Duly satisfied that I finally would be able to stop talking about finding egg tarts, the gang proceeded down the street again towards the end of Jonker St to find a place to have lunch.

(Yummy freshly baked egg tarts)

We finally decided to have another round of chicken rice balls as our final meal in Melaka. Unlike the one that we went to the day before, they had more variety of dishes to go with the chicken rice balls. They even had roasted duck that I have not had for a while which really got my appetite going but unfortunately the variety seemed to come at the cost of the quality of the food. It was no way as tasty as the one that we had the day before which was a bit disappointing considering how popular the place that we were at was suppose to be.

Once we finished our lunch, we walked back to our car and proceeded back to the apartment as it was nearing time when we had to go our separate ways. Before we did, we made a pit stop at a nearby home factory making Nyonya style kuih and savories to get some for our trip home. The small factory churned out a variety of local sweet cakes for local distribution around town and they had a room full of kuih for us to pick from. Having had my fill of food on this trip, I could not even think of eating anything else but these kuih were hard to resist and I ended up buying a few for the road.

(Yummy Nyonya kuih from the home factory)

Once we got back, we all got ready to say goodbye to each other and leave for our respective destinations. It was quite a short trip but being able to enjoy it with a bunch of friends that you always look forward to spend time with definitely made it memorable. I’m fairly sure that this won’t be the last time would have such gathering among friends and I’m definitely sure that this won’t be the last time I’ll be visiting Melaka.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dancing Through Life

Been on a “Wicked” binge and trying to find out clips of the show on youtube to supplement listening to the Original Broadway Cast Recording CD that I recently put on my play list. Considering that it might be awhile before the show comes anywhere close to these shores, bootleg recordings of the show on youtube might be the closest that I get to actually watching it.

While trawling youtube for the clips, I came across one with Joey Mcintyre playing the role of Fiyero from the show. Needless to say, I was excited about this considering not only is it a clip from one of my favorite Broadway show but also by someone who was part of NKOTB which I’m ashamed to admit I was a big fan of back in the day.

Since it’s a fairly boring week blogwise, I thought that I would share the clip here. Lyrically, it’s also something that I wish some days that I could do. Nice to be able to be that free.

("Dancing Through Life" from Wicked)

The trouble with schools is
They always try to teach the wrong lessons
Believe me, I've been kicked out
Of enough of them to know
They want you to become less callow
Less shallow
But I say: why invite stress in?
Stop studying strife
And learn to live the unexamined life

Dancing through life
Skimming the surface
Gliding where turf is smooth
Life's more painless
For the brainless
Why think too hard
When it's so soothing

Dancing through life
No need to tough it
When you can slough it off as I do
Nothing matters
But knowing nothing matters
It's just life
So keep dancing through

Dancing through life
Swaying and sweeping
And always keeping cool
Life is fraught-less
When you're thoughtless
Those who don't try
Never look foolish

Dancing through life
Mindless and careless
Make sure you wear less
Trouble and rife
Woes are fleeting
Blows are glancing
When you're dancing
Through life

(spoken) So - what's the most swankified place in town?

(spoken) That would be the Ozdust Ballroom.

(spoken) Sounds perfect.

Let's go down to the Ozdust Ballroom
We'll meet there later tonight
We can dance till it's light
Find the prettiest girl
Give 'er a whirl
Right on down to the Ozdust Ballroom
Come on - follow me
You'll be happy to be there

Dancing through life
Down at the Ozdust

If only because dust
Is what we come to

Nothing matters
But knowing nothing matters
It's just life

So keep dancing through

(spoken) Miss Galinda - I hope you'll save at least one
dance for me. I'll be right there. Waiting. All night.

GALINDA(spoken) Oh - that's so kind. But you know what would
be even kinder?

(sung) See that tragically beautiful girl
The one in the chair
It seems so unfair
We should go on a spree
And not she
I know someone would be my hero
If that someone were to go invite her

(spoken) Well, maybe - I could invite her!

Oh, Bick, really?
You would do that for me?

(spoken) I would do anything for you, Miss Galinda

(spoken) So...

(spoken) So I'll be picking you up around eight?

GALINDA(spoken) After all -
(sung) Now that we've met one another

It's clear we deserve each other

You're perfect

You're perfect

So we're perfect together
Born to be forever
Dancing through life

(spoken) Oh, Elphaba - isn't it wonderful?

(sung) Finally, for this one night
I'm about to have a fun night
With this Munchkin boy
Galinda found for me
And I only wish there were
Something I could do for her
To repay her
Elphaba, see?
We deserve each other
And Galinda helped it come true
We deserve each other,
Me and Boq
(spoken) Please, Elphaba try to understand.

I do:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Melaka Trip '08 – Day 01 : Timor Leste Children Shelter, Melaka

Photo Credits :

Some times in the face of adversity, it only takes a measure of kindness to change the lives of so many people. This was the lesson that I was reminded of on the day that we took time out of our fast becoming gastronomic tour of Melaka to stop by a nearby shelter for some of the children displaced by the internal strive in Timor Leste.

This side trip was never really in out initial itinerary but when one of the gang mentioned it during our lunch after arriving in Melaka, everyone thought that it was an intriguing way to better spend our first afternoon there. Once we finished our sizable lunch spread, we proceeded in our convoy of cars to the shelter currently housed in a section of the Sekolah Kebangsaan Convent Jesus Infant at Jalan Parameswara, Melaka. Once there, we were met by Lala Noronha who was the children’s guardian at the shelter who warmly welcomed our visit and took us to meet the children. Before we did that, we brought up the used reading materials and exercise books that one of us had brought with them to give to the children per an earlier request.

(L: The school where the shelter was located, R: Some of the children with Lala)

(Lala Naronha, guardian for the shelter)

We were led up to the second floor above the chapel space where the shelter was located and introduced to some of the children who made the shelter their home. These children were originally were from Timor Leste where they were displaced after their parents were killed during the internal conflict in the days leading to Timor Leste’s independence in 2002. According to Lala, who was a journalist covering the conflict during that time period, these children as young as 2 year old were found wondering the streets unaccompanied countless miles from their villages where they had lived before the conflict destroyed their families. Some of these children were severely traumatized as some of them had witness first hand the atrocities visited on their parents. With the scant resources available, there were not many avenues that these children could take shelter.

Lala was one of the people who took note of these children’s condition and decided to do something about it. With the help of the Australian soldiers who were part of the UN peacekeeping force deployed in Timor Leste, they built a small shelter to house these displaced children in a safe environment where there would be protected by the conflict that was still raging around them. Our very own Malaysian Royal Armed forces who participated in the peacekeeping efforts during that time also lent them a hand to protect the shelter from roving bands of bandits who threaten the peace in the area. Our Malaysian peacekeepers were later rotated out and replaced by the Malaysian Police Force who continued to lend a hand to the shelter.

Not only did our armed forces there provided the shelter with necessary protection, they also provided medical assistance considering that many of the children at the shelter were very sick with several life threatening aliments. Tuberculosis, hepatitis and scoliosis were just a few of the aliments that these children were living with which with the limited medical resources available to them during those uncertain times threaten to worsen with time. Our Army medical personal did what they could do for most of them but those who were in serious condition had to be airlifted to better medical facilities for treatment. With the permission of the Timor Leste administration, some of the children were flown to Malaysia to get medical treatment in our local hospital. These are the children who currently reside in the shelter at Melaka today.

Many are still recovering from their treatment and still need to visit the hospital for follow up procedures. While these children are here, they were also enrolled in a local vocational training center for them to pick up the necessary skills that they would need to fend for themselves once they can return to their home country. While they are guest in our country, they are being looked after by Lala with the help of public contributions from private sponsors funneled through the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul - Melaka State Council Project Fund and from the sale of their own homemade handicraft made by the children in their spare time. Most of the money they receive goes towards the medical treatments of the children as well as to medical visa renewals that they have to pay every 6 months.

(Some of the handmade items made by the children - soap, candleholders & decorative boxes for sale)

During our time we were there, we got to interact with the children and found them to be very thankful for this opportuinity which for some was nothing less than life saving. They got an opportuinity to be educated while they are here, although not in a normal school like the other children of there age, in a proper educational environment which they might not get to do so back in their own country. The children however do worry about the other less fortunate children from their shelter back in Timor Leste who were barred from leaving the country to come to Malaysia for medical treatment thanks to the ongoing bureaucracy wrangling over the guardianship of these children. They know that they are the more fortunate ones and realize that one day they will have to return to Timor Leste to help the ones they had to leave behind to the best of their abilities. To think that such responsibilities were being shouldered by one so young and had gone through such upheavals in their lives was nothing less than an eye opening experience for me.

As we toured the shelter, it was clear to us that the children were well looked after and had fairly well provided modest accommodations. They have a small library as well as a few donated computers with internet connection where they could reach out to their friends and remaining family back home as well as around the world through their own written blog which is reachable at Their monthly groceries were mostly provided by the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul - Melaka State Council Project Fund as well as contribution from the surrounding population. While their basic necessities were currently met, they do still need some funds to pay for traveling and medical cost for the treatment that the children still need before they could get better.

(Surrounding scenes at the shelter)

For accounting reasons, the shelter cannot accept funds directly from the public but interested parties could send monetary contribution on their behalf through the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul - SSVP Melaka State Council Project Fund at the Melaka Public Bank Branch (Acct. No. 3142447201). They do welcome donation of items like exercise books and food items like Milo drink mix which to them are considered luxury items that the children would appreciate. I would definitely recommend interested parties to contact Lala Noronha directly at to find out what items that the children would need. They also welcome visitors to the shelter to see for themselves how these children live and how we can help them. Sharing their stories was definitely an eye opening experience for me and reminded me how fortunate we were to be living in a relatively conflict free country that we do. For some of the group, it was also an enlightening experience to find out how much our armed and police forces make a difference when they were deployed overseas during UN peacekeeping efforts. With all the bad press that they sometime received, the outreach work that both branches do to the community around them have been too easily dismissed when they should be highlighted.

We left the shelter with new found awareness of the children’s plight and a pledge to return back with an oven toaster that they requested as the one that they had before has broken down. It was not much but it was something that the children would appreciate having. On my part, I promised them to write up a blog entry about them in hopes that their story gets told to those who come visiting to this blog and may be in the position to help them. When we have so much, it does the soul good to give back what we can to the less fortunate than us.

* Thanks to Teck and Edwin for giving us all on the trip an opportuinity to give back these children.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Warning! Irreverent Posting – ABBA Attack

Just got an ABBA attack that I have to get out of my system today.

I am by no way an ABBA fan but I do love a lot of their songs. I grew up listening to them since my mum and her sisters were big fans of the group.

I am so watching “Mamma Mia” when the movie is shown here later this year.

(Thank You For The Music - ABBA)

(Take A Chance On Me - ABBA)

(Dancing Queen - ABBA)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Melaka Trip '08 – Day 01 : Getting The Iwannatravellitis Itch Scratched

This trip started with a plan for the gang to get together after a few months that we have not done so due to scheduling conflicts. At first we were planning to go on an island excursion to Pulau Pangkor but it turned out that we would be spending more time on the road getting there relative to the time we actually get to spend on the island. Our alternate plan of spending a weekend amongst nature at the Sekeping Serendah Retreat in Rawang also hit a snag when we were told that the glass cabin there was fully booked all the way till the end of October. Considering that one of us has an apartment in Melaka that could accommodate us, we decided to take this opportuinity to spend sometime there over the past weekend.

We left sometime around 10am from KL as the plan was for all of us to meet up in Melaka for lunch. I got a ride with one of the guys and the traffic from KL to Melaka was fairly smooth that morning. After a short break at the Ayer Keroh R&R area, we reached Bandar Melaka sometime around 12:30pm where the rest of the gang were already there waiting for us. First thing on the list of things to do for the day was naturally to have some lunch and our host in Melaka had already lined up a lunch appointment at a chicken rice ball place in town. Chicken rice balls is definitely one of the signature dishes of the town and I have never actually had any before this trip so I was definitely looking forward to lunch. Host’s choice of venue didn’t disappoint as it was quite a filling lunch although somehow I had it in my head that the chicken rice balls would be larger than the golf sized balls that we had.

During lunch, we all learned about a nearby shelter (halfway house?) for children displaced by the conflict in Timor Leste from one of the gang. Since we did not have anything firm planned yet for the afternoon, we decided that we would all go to the shelter as a groups and see how we could also help out. We all drove to a nearby school where the shelter was located and unloaded the books and stationeries that one of us had bought with him to give to the children. We met with the children with their guardian who told us about what the shelter was all about and why it was needed. We spent a little more than an hour talking to them to see how we might help them out. One of the things that we promised to do was to put the word out about them so that other who might be interested to help would be able to contact them. I’m planning a separate entry for them on the blog which should be posted in a few days.

(The children at the shelter - Photo credit :

After the impromptu visit to the shelter, we left for a cendol break at one of the shops near the main market in Melaka town. While the portions were a bit on the small side, the freshness and richness of the ingredients more than made up for the shortcoming. The original plan was to do a walkabout in the area before dinner but everyone was already feeling a bit overwhelmed by the heat and was looking forward for a nice cooling dip. We decided to proceed straight to the apartment where we were going to spend the night and spend the rest of the afternoon before dinner soaking in the pool at the apartment. It turned out to be a really good idea as the afternoon heat was really unrelenting that day and the cooling respite of the pool was exactly what we all needed.

Dinner on the first night was suppose to be to a nearby inn where they served a halal version of “sate celup” which is another distinctive dish of Melaka. We were all looking forward for it only to discover that the promotion was not available on the night that we were in town. Being denied the experience, we decided to switch venues and have dinner at a restaurant that served Nyonya style dishes instead. There were not many patrons at the restaurant when we arrived which meant that we got served fairly quickly. This was good as all of us devoured each plate of food as fast as they could bring them to the table which is understandable considering the healthy appetite that we all had. By that time, we were well on our way of making our weekend getaway in Melaka all about trying to eat the different dishes that she has to offer.

After dinner, we proceeded to the night market at Jonker’s Street to absorb the local color as well as work off the dinner that we had. This was my first time being at Jonker’s, having missed it the last time I was in Melaka 18 years ago, and it was as I imagined it. The color of the night market was further enhanced for me by the restored facades of the old shops that lined both sides of the road. As we walked amongst the crowd, we stopped to peek into the many clan houses that was also located at the road to see some of the visitors there dancing and singing the evening away. At the end of Jonker’s St, they even had set up a permanent stage where people could watch public karaoke performance which added to the festive setting. We stopped awhile at the area to buy some locally made pineapple tarts and rice cakes from one of the stores there before we retraced our way back down the street to were our cars were parked.

(Scenes from Jonker's St)

(Clan house at Jonker's St)

(Night market scene at Jonker's)

(Public performance space on stage at the end of Jonker's St)

After the long day of food and walking, we returned back to the apartment to watch a little TV before turning in for the night. We were all tired by then but still looking forward for the following day.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Blipvert Update

Blipvert #1

Saw a news article a few days back that creators of Facebook’s Scrabulous is suspending the application after a lawsuit was slapped on the creators for the application by Hasbro Inc who owned licensing rights to Scrabble which the application was based on. Logged on to the application after I read it and found that it was still accessible so I think that the suspension might only be for the North American territories only. Still, if the Hasbro wins the lawsuit then Scrabulous might possibly be removed permanently and it might also include access from other users outside of North American territories.

Used to really hate Scrabble but this online version of the game on Facebook really got me sucked in to the game. It would definitely be a shame to see it go especially when the official version seems to only be available to users with North American territory IP address. I think I read an article that reported that they reasoning for this was that due to cultural difference, Scrabble players are clustered in the same geographic location. I guess no one told them what being online means geographically.

Blipvert #2

Will be taking a city break and heading out to Melaka for the weekend with the gang. At first I was planning for an island getaway in Pulau Pangkor but on reviewing the travel plans, it looked like it would take longer for us to get there than us relaxing on the island itself. My second option was a overnight stay in the forest at Serendah Resort near Rawang which I have been wanting to go to ever since I found out about it from another blogger. Unfortunately the glass cabin that I wanted to rent out was fully booked all the way till Oct.

I’m looking forward for this trip as the last time that I went to Melaka was back in 1990 and it was an overnight stay there after arriving very late from Seremban. I didn’t get to see any of the sights the last time I was there so I’m really excited about seeing the place where our country’s history began. The prospect of walking down Jonker St and savoring Melaka’s signature food dishes will definitely keep me in high spirits until I get there tomorrow.

Till next update, y’all have a great weekend ahead.