Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Journey, a Destination

Living in a suitcase leaves me too little breathing space. The idea to travel to Kelantan was thrown to Kamal and I by my parents too promptly. So much so, I did not manage to catch it as I would like to, firm in my grasp. Kamal initially hesitated to join the trip as his in tray was overloaded. His business partner is in the Kelantan wagon though, so, he jumped in as decisions are easier to achieve in a face-to-face meeting. Hesitatedly, I jumped into the wagon, too, with the sight of laundry baskets filled with washed but unfolded clothes from the six-day Brunei trip and dried dishware on the kitchen counter needing stacking in their respective cabinets from a gathering two days before the Brunei trip, trailing behind the wagon. Following them closely is my excitement over this Friday's personal training appointment.

Half of my heart wanted the luxury of spring cleaning while Khalish was still in Rembau as my mother trained the new maid. Another part of the heart told me to go to Kelantan, not because it wanted to, but because my parents have brought Khalish and the new maid with them early this morning while Kamal and I planned to depart from Bandar Baru Bangi later in the afternoon because he needed to attend an important meeting. No part was left for volunteerism. 

My bad. Such predicament caused my inner-self to wilt, resulting in a late morning as the soul was too weak to wake me up the way she has always done for the past 27 years of my existence. It consequently diminished my plan to tag along Kamal to the meeting area for a quick retail therapy. 

Have I devoted my whole heart for enjoying the Kelantan trip, my inner-self would be breathing positivity. Yes, it is positivity that matters, not space. In the past, I would jump at every travelling opportunity, despite challenges. I always believed that such opportunities were created for me to grow as a being.

Take death for instance. When it is one's turn to go, one goes. No delay. No capacity to cancel the journey to another world even if a nation depends on the person to salvage a doomed economy. When it is destined, it is happening for the best reason. To compare the best reason with everyday tasks is menial. 

Another thought. For a healthy change, I am creating the best for me instead of merely realising the best created by The Almighty. I am in control of my reactions. I am conscious of my being.

Azmi & Nora: Babadak


The fact that I have not packed for tomorrow's trip to Kelantan is the reason for merely one post on the Brunei experience. Kamal has always known that I am extremely sentimental about travel memories, thus the abundance of photos and the precise posts. For a start, presenting my cousin's first wedding ritual, Azmi & Nora: Babadak, interwoven with stories on Kamal, Khalish, and I.
The three of us flew by Air Asia to Brunei on April 22, 2009, together with my parents. Upon arrival at Brunei International Airport, we concluded that the journey would be better with Malaysia Airlines, particularly with an infant and a lot of items, which were mainly wedding accessories, to handle. The warm greetings from our Bruneian relatives instantly eradicated such thoughts though. We were fetched by Mak Lang (my mother's elder sister) herself, Abang Uci (Mak Lang's eldest child), Airul (Mak Lang's youngest child), and Abang Firdaus (Mak Lang's son-in-law).

Within fifteen minutes, we were served with sumptuous dinner spread at Manggis. Sumptuous spreads were indeed served throughout the stay at Pak Lang & Mak Lang's abode, which was until April 27, 2009. Then, there were ever ready smiles. Khalish, in particular, loved the melodious Bruneian dialect. He automatically swayed his head left and right each time my cousin, Kak Noni, spoke. A body sway ensued if she sang. My uncle, aunt, and cousins' amicability was also reflected in the children, and as we later discovered, ran in Pak Lang's family from Tutong as well.

April 23, 2009. Thursday. Majlis babadak commenced after Maghrib. During the day, Airul volunteered to drive Ayah and Kamal around Bandar Seri Begawan. Kamal came back with lovely architectural shots. I decided to chill in Manggis, enjoying the final preparation for the wedding while letting Khalish warm up to the new surrounding. My mother spared half an hour to prepare a week worth of rice, dory, and carrot puree for her grandson, who has always loved her cooking. She even ironed our clothes for the evening, and I of course reciprocated by ironing my parents' clothes for the rest of the four-day wedding.

Remembering my previous visit to Brunei for Kak Nina's wedding, during which Mak Lang requested that I wore a veil for certain reasons, I put on one for the ceremony. To my surprise, someone did not prefer the look. Khalish. The negative reaction was most probably caused by confusion as I appeared totally different in a full veil, as opposed to the usual casual scarf.

He bawled. He even struggled out of my embrace. He refused the milk bottle or simply anything that I handed to him. He continued the riot until my mother took him from me. Way far from me. She soothed my frustration by encouraging me to shoot photos with Kamal, seeing him carrying two cameras.

I actually missed two third of the ceremony. The procession of the bride, Nora, from her room to the dais, assisted by the elder sisters and the Penganggun, who observed the traditional customs in Brunei. The marhaban. The babadak ritual that bore a slight similarity with majlis merenjis in Malaysia. The same ritual for Afeeq, Abang Firdaus and Kak Noni's five months old son. Then, there were the other cousins' children, who were earlier warned by their parents not to tire themselves out, passing favours to guests who performed the rituals. 

I was thankful though that I managed to capture Nora's glowing beauty in traditional babadak attires through the lens later. Too bad I was occupied with Khalish during the badak-badak mandi ritual held each morning throughout her wedding days.  I have only witnessed it once, before Kak Nina's sanding ceremony.

About Khalish. After a number of shots, I could not concentrate on getting more as my mind raced back to him. So, I went to the room where my mother and Khalish were, only to find him asleep. I passed my camera to Kamal, carried Khalish to our room, changed him into sleep attires, and ensuring that he was deep in sleep, quickly cleaned myself at the restroom. That was when Nora went upstairs with the official photographer to have a photo taken with me, to no avail. For the next sessions, I made a point to join the queue for a group photo as soon as the formal do was over.

Khalish, he continued to weep lightly even in his sleep. I patted his back and after a long while, he stopped weeping. I asked my cousins if it would be appropriate for the following ceremonies if I did not put on any veils. It was alright, alright. Nevertheless, although Khalish had his mommy back for the next sessions, as opposed to the woman in veil who claimed to be his mommy, my mother volunteered to babysit him to provide a space for me to shoot more photos for personal collection. I can't thank you enough, Mak.

The woman in veil who claimed to be Khalish's mother, and the upset son.
More of Azmi & Nora: Babadak here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Here, There, Everywhere!

It has only been two days since we came back from Brunei, yet the same set of we will be travelling to Kelantan tomorrow. My parents, and my family of three. Plus a maid. Kamal, particularly, is supposed to be strapped in the office cubicle. Nonetheless, who could resist a public holiday that falls a day before the weekend?

Meanwhile, there are:

+ laundry from the Brunei trip; to be washed, dried, folded, and for some, re-packed;
+ items to buy, namely formula milk, diapers, and more clothes for Khalish who is growing up so fast;
+ a need for running shoes, which means a mall raid soon;
+ a quick trip to my office, despite a long leave from work, to settle important matters; and
+ a call to the gymnasium to cancel my personal training appointment on Friday.

Yes, the trip to Kelantan was an impromptu decision. And yes, I have eventually joined a gymnasium. More importantly, I have also signed for personal training. It was scary how I endlessly craved for sweets and a lot of cheese the past one month that my favourite pair of denim pants were too snug when I wore it to dinner yesterday. Please, premenstrual syndrome can't be the reason to every negativity, eh.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I am guilty of not updating the links to the blogs I frequent.

Today is a Tornado Tuesday. You would find me at various places. I wish I could be at Bazaar Buluh Kubu as well.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Scene, a Story

Khalish and I, Pa&Ma May 2009

There, Khalish and his Mommy, featured in Pa&Ma May 2009 in the Topik Menarik Bulan Ini: Apa Kata Mereka column. I have bought three copies of the magazine. One for Kamal and I, one for Kamal's parents, and one for my parents. If Khalish is featured on the front page, Kamal and I might buy all the magazines for our loved ones as soon as they are printed. Exceedingly vain parents, these Kamal and Aishah are.

It was March 2009. I had an appointment with my gynaecologist, and Khalish, turning eight months old that day, was due for another jab of pneumococcal vaccine at the paediatrics clinic, beside the gynaecology clinic. As soon as I have confirmed the numbers at both clinics, and ensuring that I was comfortable with the napping Khalish despite my discomfort due to an aforementioned surgery, Kamal excused himself to attend to important matters. He also prepared Khalish's formula milk as the boy's drink time was around the corner.

That was when everything happened in a whirlwind. As soon as Kamal was gone, Khalish woke up from his nap. He became the life of the gynaecology clinic with his babbles and laughter. After ten minutes, I found out that his diaper needed a change, yet a nurse approached us to tell about patients who cancelled their appointments at the paediatrics clinic, thus an immediate slot for us. Simultaneously, I was merely three turns away from my own appointment.

I took another painkiller to enable me to brisk-walk here and there with a 9.5kg infant in my arms, sans any discomfort. I managed to change Khalish's diaper before Dr. Arbaiyah summoned us into her clinic. I also managed to calm a usually wriggly Khalish for the jab. When I returned to the gynaecology clinic, I was only a turn away from the appointment. Khalish, meanwhile, demanded for milk.

As I was about to feed him, a woman with a notepad and a pen in her hands walked towards me, accompanied by a man with D3 strapped around his neck. They smiled from afar. Khalish, seeing friendly strangers, became excited and refused the bottle near his lips. The woman introduced herself and her colleague as journalists from Pa&Ma magazine. They were there to cover about 'Panduan Memilih Hospital Bersalin'.

I was interviewed. Khalish chipped in once in a while. Following the brief interview was a brief photography session. I smiled for the camera, but, surprising the whole clinic was Khalish and his excitement. He laughed each time the flash gun popped and that derived "oooh" and "aaah" from those who were watching. He has always loved camera although I despised the sight of it during the second trimester of my pregnancy.

Kamal only came back to the clinic after my appointment. Otherwise, he might be able to record the scene with the telephone video. Oh, I can't wait to go back to Rembau after work today to hear such laughter from that funny boy. A photo shoot to commemorate his ninth month, perhaps. Vain parents, these Kamal and Aishah are, particularly the latter.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

(S)he's Just Not That Into You

Marry someone only if you are sure you love him or her and the feeling is mutual on the other side.

Just a general summary of He's Just Not That Into You by a woman who is experiencing yet another premenstrual syndrome.

An addition to the general summary: refer to Justin Long's portrayal of passion through his character, Alex, who eventually realised that he loved Gigi, if you are unsure what love is.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nine Months I

Khalish is now nine months old. To think that he will turn one within three months. He:
  • has shown innumerable signs of crawling on all fours, but is contented with combat crawl (because he knows he has saved Mommy from mopping task).
  • would attempt to stand up by climbing on people around him.
  • is adventurous with food; his favourite being grilled salmon with steamed broccoli in cheese sauce.
  • is adventurous with his tongue indeed.
  • knows how to bid farewell with hand gestures, and when he is happy, the farewell would be accompanied with "ta ta."
  • has been babbling "da da da da di" and "ma ma ma ma ma" a lot, and has amused us with more complicated sounds like "kla kla kla kla kla."
  • loves being moved like a pendulum, during which his eyeballs moved accordingly, too.
  • has never failed to amuse us with his version of peekaboo, during which he would hold a handkerchief over an eye while another eye cheekily peeks at us, complete with excitement on his face, before putting the handkerchief down, expecting us to say "cak!"
  • is super lesek, as the Negri would term a very active child.
  • wants his water straight from the cup, never mind that 70 percent of it would end up on his top.
  • could be easily amused with the surrounding, particularly when Kamal and I bring him for a ride in the car or to a brightly-lit place.
  • refuses anybody else when the mommy is around.
  • kisses you when you least expect it.
  • is sleeping less and less during the day, which is fine with me because he will be so knackered by 9:00 p.m. and sleep throughout the night.
  • sleeps like he owns the Vono, or in his case, the Safe n Sound, kingdom. 
By the way, the maid arrived today.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bali 2009: The Finale


The last of the series. Uluwatu. The venue was not in our travel itinerary initially, but Kamal and I insisted to photograph the sunset there. Our superb tour guide obliged, resulting in a major change of day-two programme, which was adjusted to suit the new route travelled. To those who want great tour service in Bali, do contact Pak Made at +62852 3708 8489 or e-mail A full-day tour in a comfortable Kijang, that sits six persons, cost us Rp500,000. Other vehicles and other tour guides are also available.

Early that morning, I changed my plan to shoot the sunset with Kamal. Instead, I bought a ticket to watch the famous Kecak Dance at Pura Luhur Uluwatu, mainly for different photo opportunities as the performance started earlier than the one at Pejeng, Sukawati. Therefore, it was more amiable to an amateur photographer like yours truly who lacked experience in low-light photography. Once the dance commenced, I knew the exact reasons for its fame: location, location, location. I even speculated that a shoulder lift in the choreography was devised to highlight the sunset.

The Kecak Dance here was too commercial though, in my opinion. While it was a good idea to invite tourists to dance along during a number of scenes, but more attention should be paid on the whole choreography. It was too brief. Nevertheless, I love, love, love the spirited, varied kecak chanting. And not to forget, the vividly dramatic expression of the lead female character.

Kecak Dance.

At Pura Luhur Uluwatu.

To conclude our tour with Pak Made was supposed to be a seafood dinner by the beach, but it would involve a detour. Moreover, by having Minang meal on the way back to the hotel, our tour guide could have more time for Galungan preparation as Nyepi was two days away then. We actually missed him on the last day in Bali. It was his calm presence that made the whole stay more memorable. I particularly missed him when the tour guide we assigned for our spa retreat refused to drive briefly through Kuta, citing Ogoh-Ogoh Festival as a possible cause to a late arrival at the airport, even after I quoted a newspaper report that the aforementioned festival would not be held this year due to Pemilu. So, we definitely will base our stay in or adjacent to Kuta next time.

The spa retreat at Sanur was so refreshing though, that I forgave the tour guide of the day for nonchalantly refusing that Kuta drive-through. I managed to catch a beach procession organised by a hotel nearby in accordance to Nyepi, from the massage parlour. Lunch was at Natrabu, a rather posh Minang restaurant that surprisingly offered affordable selection.

Back in Malaysia, as much as Kamal and I missed the romantic getaway in Bali, we relished our time with Khalish. I look forward to Brunei trip when he will be a part of our travelling experience. Until the next travelogue, do enjoy more of our humble photos here.

Sampai jumpa lagi.

Bali 2009: Day Three, Part II

Dreamland Beach.
Eventually, the beaches. A visit that I looked forward to simply because I have always loved the beach, and, witnessing surfers in Bali was the closest I could get to my ultimate dream vacation in Hawaii. The first beach, Dreamland. Sparkling turquoise sea and sexy people. Enough to inspire me to keep on clicking the camera, despite the heat. Comparing the heat and the slope that descended and ascended to and from the beach, I preferred the former because it gave Kamal and I a reason to indulge in ice cream. The latter, brought images of the Crocs at Tanah Lot, hence a sense of regret. Heh.

According to Pak Made, "ini semua Tommy yang punya; kaya itu orangnya Tommy." In my opinion, Tommy could have done better with the landscape and architecture surrounding Dreamland. Virgin Beach, meanwhile, stayed true to its name. It remained untouched, except for a simple restaurant perched at an edge, that greeted Kamal and I the moment we reached the end of the tunnel, which was the only way to the beach. Kamal and I could picture ourselves having picnic there, with our little circle of close chums.

Virgin Beach.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Bali 2009: Day Three, Part I

Pura Taman Ayun, Mengwi.
March 24, 2009. Tuesday. Refreshed after a morning walk at the villas compound, and a king-worthy breakfast at our private lounge, Kamal and I were ready for another day of speedy tour with Pak Made. Our first stop for the day was Pura Taman Ayun, yet another breathtaking temple, located in Mengwi. The place was such a classic beauty that I wished for the umpteenth time we could stay in Bali for another day, if not another week.

Once we were back in the car, I expressed my unnecessary worries to Pak Made. I did not mind skipping the next destination as the beaches were my priority. Kamal agreed. Not Pak Made. Instead of "bisa", he flatly said, "enggak bisa, karena Bedugul itu sungguh indah." Azmel and Lida should be given generous commissions for recommending Pak Made. He knew what would be best for our cameras. Perhaps, it sticked well in his mind that I was not like other women who would prefer to lug shopping bags rather than camera and lens. In actual fact, I find shopping therapeutic, but Kamal and I were pressed for time.

Bedugul then was full with Balinese in their traditional attires as they attended a religious ceremony at Pura Ulun Danu, Lake Beratan. Just the types of subjects that we had been visualising. In fact, the ceremonial mode was in the air with colourful flowers everywhere, including at the edge of the lake. Kamal commented that it was more scenic than European water landscapes. Photos express the beauty better than I do though, so here goes the images:

Pura Ulun Danu, Bedugul.

It was sweltering hot when we arrived at Tanah Lot. Fortunately, Pak Made had advised us to don light clothing materials and bring along face towels for he had foreseen profuse sweating. By lunch time, all I could think about was coconut water. I did think about buying slippers, but none of the shops along the way to the restaurant had size 40, except for the Crocs boutique. In the end, the Clarks wedges stayed as I already had a pair of Crocs Adara back at home.

A plate of rice with Ayam Bakar Bumbu Bali and a serving of coconut water later, I was ready to roam Tanah Lot. How surprised I was to find ducks on the beach. I actually spent almost half an hour photographing the ducks while Kamal focused on the scenery. Hilarious me.

Temple on the rock, Tanah Lot.

Before finally going to the beaches, Pak Made made a brief stop at Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, Jimbaran. At first glance, Kamal and I could not understand the hype about the site as there were innumerable statues of those sizes around the world. Nevertheless, once we saw the statue prototype, we were enthralled by the aspiration.

Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, Jimbaran.

More of Day Three, Part I here.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Bali 2009: Day Two, Part III

More of Kecak Dance at Pejeng, Sukawati.

Day two in Bali was ended with Kecak Dance performed at Pejeng, Sukawati. Believing that cultures maketh a society, and this belief is not confined to traditional cultures only as lifestye is also a culture in my dictionary, I really looked forward to appreciating the dance. At least, through my lens. At most, through full understanding.The performers did receive a great applause at the end of the dance.

I watched Kecak Dance again at Uluwatu the next day, hunting for different photo opportunities. Therefore, I could not help but to compare both performances. While the tour guide, Pak Made, preferred the one at Uluwatu, I loved the one at Pejeng. Although the kecak chanting at the former was more energetic, with more variety, the dance at the latter was very, very graceful. Particularly the choreography executed by the petite dancers. My only wish was for the fire scene at Pejeng to emit less smoke.

Before concluding the first-day tour with a Minang dinner by the roadside, Pak Made suggested that we buy a connector for the power sockets back in the villa, for our mobile phones and laptop. At the supermarket parking lot, a guard noticed that one of the Kijang tyres was flat. Must be the speedy tour.

More photos of Day Two, Part III here.

Bali 2009 Interlude II: Street Shots

Street shots by Kamal and I. Kamal used 14-24mm lens and I used 70-200mm lens. The next time I spend long hours in a moving vehicle, I am going to use 24-70mm lens.

While Kamal intentionally produced a good shot of Balinese in red traditional costume on a yellow lorry, back from Galungan celebration at the beach, and many more, I was lucky to get merely two decent street shots. One was of two children peeping through the high wall of Hindu temple, while another was of men in white traditional attires, with shades, on motorcycles.

The 70-200mm was still my favourite lens in Bali though as I managed to capture interesting moments without intimidating the subjects.

Bali 2009 Interlude I: Kecak, Backstage

Kecak, Backstage. 
At Pejeng, Sukawati.

Pak Made stayed true to his promise. We were among the earliest to arrive at the Kecak Dance center in Pejeng, Sukawati. I was playing with my camera features when I realised that Kamal was missing from his seat. "Maybe he is photographing the grazing field nearby" I guessed. No.

He went to the backstage, something that never crossed my mind. Looking at the photos, I was inspired to go there as well. With Kamal's persuasion, I went. Just to photograph the Kecak chanters chilling out on the stairs right behind the stage. They probably have seen Kamal but did not get the chance to bid him nearer, therefore, they did so seing me being unsure whether or not to go further for I preferred not to hinder their preparation for the performance.

With their encouragement, I ventured further and further, from the stairs right behind the stage, to the dressing area. Busy putting up final touches to their make-up and costumes, most of the cast smiled at me, and said a simple hello. Except for one man who immediately stopped combing his curly hair, which did not need combing in my eyes, as soon as he saw my camera. Two girls, who witnessed that, teased him. They then encouraged him to be natural. He smiled at me, but did not pick up the comb until I put down the camera.

Bali 2009: Day Two, Part II

Puri Saren, Ubud.

Mount Batur & Lake Batur, Kintamani.

Farmland, along Kintamani stretch.

Goa Gajah, Bedulu.

Still at day two. On the way to Kintamani, Pak Made made a pit stop at Puri Saren Ubud, a palace with grand Balinese architecture. During our visit, a sacred ceremony was about to take place at one of the centers within the palace. The main entrance was open, but the furthest we could get was a peep of the lenses through the crack.

Lunch was at Grand Puncak Sari Restaurant, Kintamani. Delectable buffet spread, particularly those big chunks of Sate. Most importantly, clean restroom was available. But then again, clean restrooms were easily accessible throughout the venues we visited.

Oh, back to Grand Puncak Sari Restaurant. It was not the buffet spread we were after though. The venue offered two-in-one experience to us, the compact travellers as firstly, we had only two days to tour a quarter of the island, and secondly, we would love to focus on photography, thus more time needed for a place of interest. Eat, we did, and photography, we included. Despite the scorching sun at Ubud Palace, Mount Batur and the nearby Lake Batur were clouded when we were seated at a table on the restaurant verandah. Nonetheless, the low black clouds actually accentuated the majestic physical of the mountain. With Pak Made's help, we noticed a vast area covered with hardened, dark lava. The volcano was no longer active though.

After a hearty lunch, we really appreciated a walk through a farmland, consisting of tea, coffee, and cocoa plantation, as well as fruit orchard. Like majority of tourists in Bali, we were given free samples of drinks. My favourite being hot chocolate and lemongrass tea. The latter reminded me of the lemongrass bath my mother prepared for me as soon as I got to spend my postnatal confinement period in Rembau; refreshing.

Kamal loved the lemongrass tea, as well, that he bought a packet of it to be shared with one of his best friends. He also indulged in vanilla-scented cigars, to be enjoyed while lounging about in the private pool back at our little villa. Kopi Luwak was also available. I wondered if the man whose task was to simmer coffee beans, as pictured in the third photo mosaic, had Luwak in the frying pan. Anyway, the guy pictured sipping a cuppa was Pak Made.

The farmland was laidback enough for us to linger longer than we expected we would. Oh, the greeneries, the fragrances, and the farm owner's beautiful voice crooning poetic lyrics. The light and easy mode remained when we reached Goa Gajah, a place devoted to meditators. I imagined myself meditating in one of the little chambers within the cave, but my mind would surely swerve towards the holy pools adjacent to the cave, which were only unearthed in 1950's, Google search revealed, and the river that descended a gorge bedecked with statues.

The beauty did not stop there. We traversed through a lush paddy field on the way back to Pak Made's Kijang. The real beauty, however, lied in the custodians' warm words. Kamal and I would post one of the caretakers' photo to Goa Gajah as our thank you note.

The highlights of the day were, firstly, this:

As I wrote in Facebook, Kamal teased me, calling every little boy he saw, "Khalish". Pak Made heard it and stopped his car so that I could photograph this cute little boy, one of the many Khalishes.

Moment captured on the way to Goa Gajah, from Kintamani.

And, secondly, this:

Cultivation along the street, on the way to a Kecak Dance venue, from Goa Gajah.

More photos of Day Two, Part II here.

Bali 2009: Day Two, Part I

Barong Dance, Batubulan.

Craft Centers.

Rice terrace and paddy field.
From this trip onward, I vowed to have a travelogue, first written in my travel journal, and then, the edited version here. Due to work and family commitments, the transfer was delayed, but it is never too late to share, eh. Here goes Bali 2009, Day 2, Part I:

March 23, 2009. Monday. The second day in Bali, but the first day of a two-day tour arranged with Pak Made, as suggested by Azmel and Lida. At 8:30 a.m., a friendly face and a Kijang greeted Kamal and I at Furama Villas and Spa lobby. We immediately felt at ease with his unforced pleasantness, as compared to the tour guide who was assigned by Malaysia Airlines to fetch us at Ngurah Rai Airport the previous day. True to Azmel and Lida's words, Kamal was invited to sit in front of the vehicle with Pak Made, instead of at the back, with me. Kamal loved it there though as the front screen provided better view of Bali, hence better photo opportunities. After looking at his street shots, I let Kamal sit in front with Pak Made for the rest of the tour.

Our tour commenced with Barong Dance at Batubulan Village. As we were early, we managed to secure the front seats, that enabled our lenses to capture the colourful scenes vividly. I could be kiasu when it came to photography, as opposed to the professional photographers who could secure impeccable shots wherever they are stationed, so I asked Pak Made whether it was possible to be early for the next shows. He smiled and said, "bisa, bisa." "Bisa" turned out to be a word he regurgitated often as more questions followed the first.

"Pak, bisa kita berhenti di sini?" 

"Oh, bisa, bisa." And he immediately stopped the vehicle.

Next stop: Celuk Batik Bidasari. A brief stop it was, as Kamal and I would like to focus more on the scenic venues. In my opinion, it was genius of the painters to directly paint batik motifs onto tourists' clothes. A number of shots later, we proceeded to a batik house, where I bought hand-painted batik for Mak and Mok. No hole in our pockets as Kamal and I have planned to shop for Balinese products during the next trip with our friends.

Other craft centers that we visited were Pusat Kerajinan Emas dan Perak Motif Bali as well as our favourite, a fine art gallery in Ubud, where we haggled for three paintings but decided half an hour after the haggling that more time would be needed if we wanted better pieces. So, to the rice terrace and paddy field we proceeded.

Goodness, the rice terrace and paddy field were breathtaking. As rice was not Bali's main product, the paddy planters still used traditional methods. Oh, they even wore cone shaped wicker hats, something rare nowadays.

My only regret for the trip was forgetting to put on flat footwears. Kamal and I had to pack at the very, very last minute because of the surgery, gathering, and feverish Khalish mentioned earlier. The Clarks wedges were comfortable, but not as friendly as flat sandals, particularly at narrow paths lining the paddy field we visited, and later at the steep way to the parking lots from Dreamland Beach and Virgin Beach.

More photos of Day Two, Part I here.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Bali 2009: Day One

Furama Villas and Spa, Ubud, Bali.

Since Melbourne in 2005, Kamal and I never went abroad on a plane together again due to work commitments. Having Khalish, on top of our work commitments, made our schedule more hectic. After two months of being back at the office, I realised that Kamal and I would never be way away from home if we were to commit ourselves merely to work and to Khalish, with no efforts to make us-time.

To Bali we went then. The March 22-25 trip was planned in February. Within a span of those months, I endured a surgery which resulted in a three-week recuperation period, my parents hosted a last-minute gathering, and Khalish contracted a fever on the day Kamal and I were supposed to depart to Bali. We nearly did not go. Not until my gynaecologist certified that travelling was safe with light activities, and my parents assured us that Khalish would be fine with them, with my youngest brother around to assist with the post-gathering mess.

As much as Kamal and I missed Khalish, we agreed that a romantic escapade would be ideal once in a blue marriage moon. To our surprise, despite the initial worries, we managed to enjoy the now, much thanks to the ambience of our private villa at Furama Villas and Spa. The swimming pool was a step away from the boudoir and the bath, with shower experience beneath star-lid sky. Then, there was a massage parlour that enabled a couple to enjoy spa session in the privacy of their own villa, serenaded by melodies from the fountain and the birds. Not to forget were the details adorning the place. My favourite being the bonne nuit wish tucked at the bed every night and the coffee table books on everything Bali. Fresh frangipani surprised us even in the drawer where I kept my travel journal.

Kamal and I chose to have the complementary Italian three-course dinner upon arrival, at the restaurant that overlooked the public swimming pool and the whole area where the deluxe private villas were. Similar place for breakfast the next day. We only opted for the complementary breakfasts to be sent to our villa the last two days, which was more recommendable as ones could spend more hours lounging about. Exactly the activity we opted on the final day.

Except for that final day, we were up and about by dawn to enjoy the paddy field scenery surrounding the villas. A majestic mountain could also be seen from a mini tower bordering the deluxe villas and the royal villas. Along the way, friendly staff greeted us with genuine smiles. How we cherished the stay at Furama Villas and Spa, thanks to the choices provided by Malaysia Airlines Golden Holidays. Nevertheless, it is either Kuta or Nusa Dua for our next visits, as suggested by our favourite tour guide, Pak Made.

By the way, please bear with the delayed posts. Which reminds Kamal and I of the delayed flight on the way to Bali. For our patience, Malaysia Airlines served Baskin-Robbins as additional dessert.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Cerita Cita-Cita

Which is Which
A masterpiece thought of by Lida

A conversation at The Big Screen, last evening.

The Big Screen Director, upon reading Kamal's business card that bears the company name, X Engineering on it, said, "so, you are an engineer as well." 
Cousin-in-law, an engineer, upon seeing Kamal's sheepish grin, replied, "yes, we are all engineers, who recently discovered that there is more to life than childhood ambitions."

Ditto. Childhood ambitions in Malaysia, up until the 80's, written on personal profiles in public secondary schools, lacked ambitions. Most parents believed in the government service and stable incomes, no matter what their children were inclined to. Of course, there is nothing wrong with being in the government service and receiving stable incomes, but as my cousin-in-law mused, "there is more to life." These interests that children could be inclined to, if properly groomed into ambitions, could produce the so-called stable incomes as well.

Lucky for me, I have a best chum who believes in being very ambitious. A strong support system could bring one further. By the way, a strong support could also be in the form of a state-of-the-art birthday cake, like what Lida ordered for Azmel's recent 33rd celebration into life. No wonder the D33C, as Azmel lovingly named the D700 lookalike, is still refrigerated. It is not only a masterpiece, it is also a symbol of support that anybody, and everybody, would deeply appreciate, and most, like me, would love to receive.

Apa cerita cita-cita kamu yang tersirat, tetapi belum pernah tersurat?
The Big Screen is a new photography and recording studio belonging to Azmel & Lida's friend. It was where Kamal, Azmel, and I learned about a nano-fraction of studio photography from Aliaskhal, with Kayla as the model. Great experience the class was. The gist of the lesson, to me, being limitless creativity within limited capabilities. More of yesterday's adventure later, including a portraiture assignment Kamal and I had prior to our lighting lesson.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Eight Months

Three hours have passed since midnight and Saturday has been planned with numerous activities that would only end at another midnight. I need my sleep fix, but not until I have written a little something about eigth-month old Khalish, who is at the moment sitting on his Daddy's lap, surfing the World Wide Web on a bigger computer after toying with Mommy's notebook. Excuse me, I need to wipe Khalish's saliva off the keyboard first.
Now, back to the eight-month old Khalish. A lot is the adjective phrase that best describes him at this age. He babbles a lot, consumes milk and puree a lot, smiles and even laughs out loud a lot, loves water a lot, plays a lot, and, excuse me for a graphic fact much associated with Khalish, does number two a lot, which was exactly the thing he did half an hour ago, and lots more.
He has mastered combat crawl, but he can't sit on his own for too long. Nonetheless, he has started to stand up while holding on to something and that something is often the mommy. Kamal and I usually let him roam the house until he was so tired that he could sleep through the night. With six ounces of formula milk right before bedtime, he would only wake up at 6:00 a.m. for the next feed. Sometimes, if we were lucky, he would only be awake while being carried towards the nursery opposite our place.
If he did wake up earlier than us, our grogginess would be washed away by his cheerful greeting. Even if he was as groggy as the parents, he could be his cheerful-self again if he Eddie the Elephant, a piece of Mega Bloks, the Rubik's Cube, or even a pair of infant socks balled up to perfectly fit his tiny clenched fingers. It is time to proof the house.
He even moves a lot in his sleep. The pack and play pen has been lowered because he could climb over the rail, and that resulted in him not having his own bed. Back to co-sleeping with us for the week until we find an infant cot that could be converted to a toddler bed.
Right now, he is sleeping with the right hand holding my arm and the left leg spread across my bolster. Lullabied by the songs his daddy searched online, he would flash a toothless grin at me, eyes shut, before shifting to another hilarious position. With that, good night, everybody.


Reaching home from the aforementioned appreciation dinner at midnight, Kamal and I wondered how could we make it to Kuala Lumpur International Airport to fetch Khalish's grandparents and uncle, whose arrival from Johannesburg was scheduled at 6:30 a.m. Thanks to Khalish who wailed for milk at 4:30 a.m., we managed to wake up and most importantly, to stay awake. At 6:45 a.m., my parents and my younger brother were already in our vehicle, recalling their Johannesburg - Cape Town - Buenos Aires trip. 
Back in Rembau, the house was very clean despite being left for ten days. A sign that my youngest brother was home. He would only be sailing again mid April. Yay. 
Yay was in store for Khalish as well. He got to play with his grandparents all morning, letting the parents to have breakfast at ease. Then again, my mother wanted me to have extra rest after knowing that I had just endured another episiotomy. Yes, that was the minor operation mentioned in the recent posts. My anatomy down there could have changed since delivering Khalish, thus major discomfort felt at times, hence the minor surgery. 

Team X: Appreciation Dinner

:: March 12, 2009 ::
:: Highlight: A vibrant girl who loved the camera and the dance floor ::

The Beginning

I promised Tuty to update Chech:Eccentric on Friday. Not that she cared, but I promised that to her because I needed to. Or else, the blog would be like a certain Camus'. Heh.

My Friday was occupied with work, work, and work, but the gist of the promise was to update Chech: Eccentric. Where do I begin. With photos, of course, as they say a thousand words. Not here. Later.

They say the words better, too, as my mind is mainly filled with the letters s, l,e, p, and y at the moment. Which is definitely not conducive for blogging. Nevertheless, a promise, albeit being about an hour late, is a promise.