Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pledge your support!!! Spread the word!!! Switch off!!!

Everyone says that they are worried about the declining state of our environment. Most would say that they feel powerless to do something about it. Fortunately for us, on Saturday 28th March 2009 at 8:30pm, we can do something to make a difference. We could switch off our lights for one hour in support of the Earth Hour global event to express our desire to see a unified action on climate change within our lifetime. It may not seem to be much but with 1 billion people around the world pledging to do the same, our voice will have weight in an effort to change policies that affect the environment that we live and depend upon.

For 1 hour on the 28th March, individual and groups who have pledged to support this event are asked to switch off unused lights in nonessential areas within our houses and businesses. Electrical appliances that are on standby mode should also be switched off for that hour as the still consume electricity even in that state. Supporting the Earth Hour even doesn’t mean that you have a total blackout during that hour. One would not really have to turn off the refrigerator or security lights, for example, during this time to fulfill the pledge. It would be sufficient to at the very minimum to switch off all room lights between 8:30 – 9:30pm to show your support.

Change start with the one person who says that change must happen. Everyone can be that one person to initiate change. For Earth Hour, interested parties need only to register their support by logging on to the Earth Hour website at http://www.earthhour.org.my/ and filling up their details online. Once registered, fulfill your pledge by voluntarily switching off your lights and standby electrical appliances on the appointed hour. Think about ways of continuing message of the Earth Hour after 28th March by changing our consumption habits and ways of making our household more energy efficient as well as environmental friendly. We owe that much to ourselves and our future generations.

Pledge your support today at http://www.earthhour.org.my/
For more info on the Earth Hour 2009 event, browse their FAQs section at http://www.earthhour.org/mediacentre/my:en/article?id=eh1503222967117284609

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cambodia Trip '08 – Day 06: Getting back

Our last morning in Cambodia started really early as we had to check out of the hotel at 6:30am. After having the last breakfast at the hotel’s café, we loaded up our minivan with our collection of bags and proceeded to the Siem Reap International Airport that was about 10 minutes down the road where our hotel was. We said our goodbyes to our Cambodian hosts and thank them for their generosity while we were in their care. Once all the farewells have been said, the group proceeded to the flight check in area to check our bags in.

(Siem Reap International Airport Departures drop-off point)

The airport was quite empty when we arrive but the crowd soon grew as more people started to show up to check into the same flight that we were on. It was a good thing that we decide to start our day at the airport early as we did have 2 trolleys full of bags to check in. While waiting for the bags to be processed, I went and sat at the side to update my travel notes and take some pictures of the airport interior. After all the bags have been checked in, we went to pay the USD25 airport tax and proceeded to clear immigration which was quite a painless experience. There was not much to buy at the duty free shops there so we ended up just waiting until they called for flight boarding.

(Airport interior - nice decorations)

Our Air Asia flight back to KL came in about 10 minutes early that day and other than a little bit of turbulence over the Gulf of Thailand, the flight back was uneventful. We touched down at KL LCCT about 10 minutes earlier than expected arrival and said goodbye to the group that I have been travelling with the past 6 days in Cambodia. Since we were not looking forward to deal with buses and trains to get back, we decided to take a budget taxi back to Sunway and arrived safely at 2pm.

(Leaving Cambodia)

Cambodia was all that I expected and much more. It was an eye opening trip to see how they lived and the hardship that they had to go through in their recent history for myself. It was very inspiring to see that even after all that hardship, they are still surviving and for some even thriving as the country recovers from the dark national nightmare. There were many unspoiled beauty to be discovered in Cambodia and I was only able to scratch the bare minimum while I was there. It is definitely a destination that I plan to come back to again to spend more time when I am able to.

Travelling in such a big group was also a different experience that I was used to. Accustomed to making decisions on my own while travelling, it was a change to let someone else to do it and allow myself to enjoy the experience as they came. The outreach activities that they had planned allowed me to experience a side of travelling that I probably wouldn’t be able to experience on my own. In my own small way, I got the satisfaction that I was not only travelling but also helping those that I meet in my travels. I would definitely explore more ways of giving back to the locals when I travel in future destinations.

(Next destination - end March 2009)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Cambodia Trip '08 – Accommodation Write-Up: Princess Angkor Hotel, Siem Reap

As in Phnom Penh, our accommodations in Siem Reap were already organized by the trip organizers. Like the hotel we stayed at in Phnom Penh, the Princess Angkor Hotel was easily tracked down on the web using my trusty Google search engine. Their website was fairly well laid out and was helpful for me to have an idea of what to expect at the hotel. They do list their rates and promotions on line so I would assume that making reservations on line would be possible with the contact information provided.

Princess Angkor Hotel was located on the road heading towards Siem Reap International Airport and was about 15 minutes drive from the city center. Looking at the hotels around the area, I assume that the hotels here cater mostly for business travelers and families rather than the normal backpackers set that would probably be staying somewhere closer to the city. We were welcomed with the customary sweetened iced tea upon arrival while our bags were collected from our minivan and the organizers arrange the rooms for us at the front desk. The hotel lobby was quite spacious and benefitted fully from the floor to ceiling glass frontage that allowed maximum natural light to brighten the area. Beautiful teak furniture at the lobby/waiting area completed the serene scene that welcomed us after our long journey.

(Lobby area at the hotel)

(R: Teak furniture at the waiting area, L: Aspara Cafe entrance)

We were assigned a standard twin sharing room which was fairly big with all the standards that one expected to come with these types of hotels. The view outside of our window looked down towards the open air parking area which was not really that interesting. Due to the location of the hotel, taxis and tuk-tuks were waiting just outside the hotel entrance to pick up anyone from the hotel to go into the city. Since we already had our transportation around Siem Reap arranged, I did not get to try those transportation options out while I was there. As we droved it, I notices that there were a number of restaurants, both of international and local fares, nearby the hotel as well as a number of health centers that offered traditional messages.

(Our room at Princess Angkor Hotel)

(View outside the windows)

While we were there, we did get a chance to visit the hotel’s Health Center for a traditional Khmer full body message. Reasonably priced, visitors should drop by and make an appointment as there might be a wait for masseuses especially during the evening. The evening that we went for our message, we were told that they only had 2 masseuses on duty and they already have 4 people signed up before us. I would think that they would be tired after giving messages to that many people before us but fortunately they were professionals and their messages were very relaxing.
(Mini gym at Princess Angkor Hotel)

The hotel also had a reasonably equipped gym that I stepped in but did not get a chance to try out as well as a fairly decent sized outdoor swimming pool. They also have what I think was a mini casino accessible from the open air parking area of the hotel. I did not get a chance to take a look at the mini casino due to time constraints but based on what was advertised on the outside, the mini casino consisted mainly of a few card tables and electronic jackpot machines. I’m fairly certain that they only accept either credit cards or US dollars there to try your luck.

(Night shots of the hotel)

Like the hotel that we stayed at in Phnom Penh, the Aspara Café which was located in the hotel offered halal cuisine for the Muslim travelers. We had to try their dinner and breakfast buffet spread at the hotel while we stayed there and I was quite satisfied with both. The spread that was provided was reasonable in both variety and tastes. Since breakfast was already included in the room rate and our farewell dinner there was organized by our Cambodian hosts, I didn’t really get to check how their food prices were.

(Hotel's pool accessed from the lobby on the ground floor)
The Princess Angkor Hotel in Siem Reap is definitely an easy choice to recommend as a place to stay at for visitors coming to the area. The comfortable rooms, good amenities, a halal food source in house and easy access to local transportation make it a convenient place to stay. While slightly on the expensive side, you do get your moneys worth staying here while you explore the surrounding and temples at Siem Reap.

Full Contact Details:


National route 6, Siem Reap
Kingdom of Cambodia

Tel: (855-63) 760 056-60
Fax: (855-63) 963 668
Reservation No: (855-63) 963 667

E-mail: info@princessangkor.com
URL: http://www.princessangkor.com/

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Stage Beckons !!!

Ever dream of being on stage? Acting in a play? Directing a play? Or even writing the next Great Malaysian Screenplay? Here's your chance if you fit the description

between 16 and 25 years old?
interested in theatre & the arts?
want to know how to get a leg in?
and have some fun?

Head to klpac for the

Open Audition for The T4YP Ensemble 2009

what is T4YP all about?

klpac's T4YP young people’s theatre programme is basically a platform for young people between the ages of 16 and 25 to express themselves by creating meaningful theatre. We provide a safe space for you to experiment, the guidance needed to learn, the support network to grow...

We welcome all young people to be part of the T4YP Ensemble for the 2009 Season. Previous theatre experience is not essential. However, commitment, creativity and dedication are …

when are the auditions?

Sunday, 22 Mar @ 10am - 1pm, 2pm - 6pm & 7pm - 9pm
IndiCine, Level 2, klpac

(psst...first-timers: CLICK HERE for driving instructions, public transport options & map)

what do i need to do?

please come prepared with:

a Classical monologue (2 - 3 minutes)
text in verse by Shakespeare, monologue must be memorised

and a Contemporary monologue (2 - 3 minutes)
text in prose from any contemporary 20th, 21st century playwright or any movie screenplay, monologue must be memorised

and/or a Song
sung acapella (minus accompaniment)

Audition is by appointment only!
call our (very friendly) production manager Ashraf on 03-4047 9037 or e-mail ashraf@klpac.org
perks of being part of T4YP ensemble...
  • All T4YP 2009 productions will be casted from T4YP ensemble
  • Be part of up to 8 productions part of T4YP 2009 season
  • Exclusive place in T4YP Brainery "drama school" programme
  • Chance to write or direct via T4YP Sweatshop programme
  • Get an insider's guide to how an arts centre like klpac works
  • Be involved in klpac productions

    MEMBERSHIP IS FREE - no registration fee.

    Visit http://www.klpac.org/ or t4yp.wordpress.com for more info on T4YP and its 2009 season

Looking for suitable monologues? Visit T4YP website for helpful places to start.

Further write-up : RAGE Article at http://tinyurl.com/b8qhaa

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cambodia Trip '08 – Day 05: Tonle Sap Lake & Cambodian Cultural Village

After our short morning at the Angkor Wat temple complex, we drove back to Siem Reap and stopped at a Muslim neighborhood to have lunch at a Muslim restaurant near the Al-Nikmah Mosque. Our host in Siem Reap treated us to a local spread that consisted of a coconut milk base fish soup dish as well as something that the locals there called “daging lembu naik bukit” (roughly translated as “beef going up the hill”. At first we were all scratching our heads trying to figure out what it was but when we saw the special wok that the dish was cooked in, we sort of figured out why it was called that way. After days of eating things that were familiar to us, this dish caused quiet the stir among the group who have never seen it done before.

(L: Special beef dish being cooked, R: End result)

(The restaurant where we had lunch at Siem Reap)

The dish was basically thin slices of beef marinated in a marinade mix that I think included lemon grass, garlic and eggs which was then cooked on the specially designed cookware. The cookware looked like an upturned wok will perforations on the dome of the wok and a deep channel running around the bottom part. The cookware was placed on a tabletop stove and the top part was drizzled with peanut oil to cook the slices of beef that would be placed there. Salt and pepper would be added to taste and while the beef was cooking, the fat from the beef would flow down to be collected in the channel area around the upside down wok. Carrots, mushrooms and greens peppers would then be cooked here using the collected beef drippings as the beef was being cooked to added flavor to the vegetables. The dish was served right from the cookware once the beef was cooked.

After the wonderful lunch, our group proceeded to the shores of the nearby Tonle Sap Lake for a chartered 1 hour cruise around the lake organized by our hosts. The largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, the Tonle Sap Lake was also home to a floating community of Cambodian and Vietnamese living most of their lives on the waters. Unlike the other attractions in town, the shoreline of the lake seemed to be still under construction as at the moment as the charter boats were berthed at makeshift piers. Looking at the progress of the permanent pier under construction at the site, I think this tourist attraction would have its own permanent visitor’s center and pier.

(Boats for charter on the shores of Tonle Sap Lake)

(Making waves on Tonle Sap lake)

(Sunny day on the water)

From the lake shore, we were taken out to the areas where the boat houses were located. There were 2 groups of people living on the lake, the Vietnamese on one side and the Cambodians on the other side. Most of the houses on the Cambodian side looked more like permanent structures floating on water compared to the boat houses used by the Vietnamese group. Both communities live their lives on the lake complete with shops, schools, petrol station boats, fishery and even the occasional floating animal pens to rear their pigs and chickens. Some of the houses even had TV antennas which I assume were for TVs powered by car batteries or generators as I did not see any power lines connected to the floating houses.

(Boat houses of the Vietnamese side of the floating community)

(Floating grocery store)

(Boat houses on the Cambodian side)

It was interesting travelling by slow boat through the communities and see how their lived their lives. The way that the boat houses were built, we practically could see the insides of their houses as they would open all doors and windows to let the lake breeze to blow through the house to cool it down. We could also see how the people there lived from watching them cooking their food on floating kitchens to seeing how the children of the area would casually jump into the lake for a swim that afternoon. One might think that they must have been born swimming as I could see even the youngest of them could swim in the lake.

(Cambodian children at play on Tonle Sap Lake)

(Fishermen harvesting the lake's bounty)

After spending the hour at the lake, we returned back to the shore and drove back into town. Our final destination of the day was the Cambodian Cultural Village which was located about 5 minutes from our hotel. We had to pay USD 11 per person for entry into the huge complex that showcased displays and performance pavilions related to Cambodian history and culture. We walked through the section for plaster dioramas detailing periods in Cambodia history which, surprisingly, omitted depictions of Khmer Rouge rule. Most of the displays had description in Cambodian, French and English which helped us understand what it was we were seeing. Thanks to our Cambodian hosts, we got even more details from what they were able to share as we walked through the displays.

Thanks to the public holiday while we were there, the complex was filled with holiday makers taking their family out for a nice evening out. Public performances which were held in the scattered pavilions were jam packed by the throngs of visitors although it was surprising that we saw very few foreign tourists among them. The performances that we saw that evening were folk stories told through dance, song and comedic dialogue. Since the shows were performed exclusively in Cambodian, we were left to figure out what was happening on stage for ourselves. The crowd looked like they were having a good time so I assume that whatever the performers were performing went well with the local tourists.

We left the Cambodian Cultural Village at about 6pm as the skies grew darker to return to the hotel for our last dinner together on the trip. Dinner was a simple buffet affair with a reasonable spread which after the long day was a welcomed relief. We had the rest of the evening to ourselves after dinner and while some of the group decided to go back into town for some last minute shopping, we (my travel companion and I) for our appointment for the full body traditional Khmer massage at the hotel’s health center. Unlike the more vigorous Thai style of message, the Khmer equivalent consisted of deep muscle kneading and pressing without using any message oils. The resulting effect was a quite enjoyable message which helped smooth out all the travel kinks that had been accumulating during the day from our bodies. Refreshed after the message, we turned in for an early night as we had another early start the following day to catch our flight back home.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

“Talentime” is coming!

Yasmin Ahmad’s latest movie titled “Talentime” will open nationwide in Malaysia on March 26th. I’m definitely going to be in line to see her latest offering as it’s the only Malaysian movie that I’m looking forward to watch this year.

(Trailers from Yasmin's YouTube page)
In additional to the usual suspects, the cast includes new faces including Jaclyn Victor and Pamela Chong (from Amazing Race Asia). Looking forward to see how they fare on the big screens. For more details, check out the official website at http://www.talentimethemovie.com/

I’ve pencil a viewing of the movie in my schedule. Have you?

Friday, March 06, 2009

Cambodia Trip '08 – Day 05: Bayon Sights and Scenes

Additional pics from the Bayon temple with 216 serene faces

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Cambodia Trip '08 – Day 05: Ta Phrom Sights and Scenes

Additional pics from the Jungle Temple

(L: Stepping stones across the moat to Ta Phrom, R: Ta Phrom Temple)

(L: Bas-relief at Ta Phrom, R: Gateway sculpture)

(Close up of the tree roots that cover the inner gallery)

(Sights of the Jungle Temple)

(Exterior of Ta Phrom Temple)