Sunday, August 31, 2008

Food Changes.

I've been experiencing a strange transition phase in my diet ever since a few months back. Don't worry, I haven't evolved into one those food-hating, holier-than-thou, health freaks, counting calories inanely and abiding to the bible of diets (Atkins is it?) religiously while constantly telling on the people around them about health facts and secretly despising the normal human for even eating. Not yet, at least. In fact, I've been oddly craving for things that I used to loathe before and recently developed a strange penchant for my all-time sworn enemy in food, the vegetable (a.ka. the greens) which I used to take pride in in declaring myself a carnivore, as could be seen on the blogger profile.

1. I eat vegetables (and secretly like it!)
One of the many tags that came along with my name when mentioned was that I hate greens and personally, I really hated greens. It has become mutual understanding among family members even, having them already given up on trying to feed me greens. Growing up, I've never much taken greens - except for an amazingly small range of selection which I was usually tricked to consume, cleverly disguised by amah in her dishes and later which I got used to (think long beans). Other than that, I've always had it in mind that vegetables make me hurl and I completely hated the fact that I couldn't discover anything nice in it, despite having everyone telling me to try it often given its "sweetness". Well, I never got the hang of it and I guess, psychologically, my brains did a splendid job in telling my innards to churn or my throat to gag when green approaches. Sorry, I was (and still am!) a very proud self-declared carnivore!

But things changed somewhere along February or March this year. I started taking vegetables out of no substantial reasons that I can't even explain to myself. It's like I woke up one morning and had an odd craving for the crunchy texture and the bitter taste of vegetable - result from accidental consumptions or tricked meals, traumatizing enough for me to remember it - to go along with my meal and voila! it was there, so I picked it up and I've never looked back. I've gotta confess though, I'm relatively new to this experience, therefore, my selection of vegetables are still on the narrow path given that I only recognize them by their physical appearance when I try to relate to mom what kind of veggies I prefer on the table. Mom being mom, already remember those few choices by heart and has been slowly trying to introduce other new types to me.

And yes, I still get a little nauseous from time to time when I have a head-on collision with reality. One of those "omg-what-am-I-doing-eating-veggies" reality check and then I hold back my breath to stop me from puking. Overall, I'm glad to say I can now actually have cravings for veggie, even simply prepared ones like cabbage in soy sauce which is a big change from what I used to be. Oh, I even have lettuce and tomato in my own-made sandwiches now though still richly slapped with mayonnaise and other cholesterol boosting stuff.

2. I like assam laksa (and I don't know why!)
I've never liked assam laksa before in my 18 years of life. Well, I don't really fancy laksa to begin with. My closest encounter with laksa would be when amah used to cook it and that was only on rare occasions when I succumb to her lemak laksa (a vast variant from the above mentioned) and that was even served without the necessary garnish - a selection of mint leaves, ginger buds, pineapples and etc. All I had was noodles and the soup and that was as far as I went with laksa, meaning that I've never had a bowl out of the home-made one.

That was up till about a month or two ago when I just had an inexplicable craving for assam laksa, which was totally weird beyond my wonders. The thing about it was that it came so randomly too. I was at the stall with the rest of the family when I just gave in to my urge while chowing down on something else and practically finished mom's bowl of assam laksa at the name of trying, having my face drenched in sweat by the end of the spicy ordeal (and even craving for more!). That particular bowl of assam laksa even came completely garnished and the surprising thing was that I didn't even seem the least bit bothered about them. Can anybody help explain this sudden phenomena? I remembered that I enjoyed it too, if I'm not mistaken since I haven't had a chance to have another bowl after that fateful day. Still, the craving do come on and off.

I'm just hoping this stays cause if it does I can finally be in the ranks of jie and mom where I can freely accompany them for their occasional laksa indulgence. I still gotta find out.

3. I like my Char Kuey Teow normal (cause I'm bored of mine!)
As I might've mentioned, I don't do spicy and greens and my greens used to include bean sprouts. All these while, I've always ordered my hawkers delicacy with the two elements removed. I've used the line so much that sometimes I think the hawker might already know what I'm going to say, especially the ones I visit often. The result of my bizarreness is to have my order like char kuey teow looking sickly pale in comparison with the normal ones and the greater gravity of this is to have nobody wanting to share it with me. At one point, I even felt childish as most children I saw in hawkers have the same pathetic looking char kuey teow as mine, which I managed to get out of my system since I really couldn't tolerate the spiciness and the raw taste of the chili and bean sprouts.

Again, I had one of my inexplicable random revelations and suddenly craved for a regular char kuey teows. This one has been going on for quite sometime but I only dared took the plunge about 2 weeks ago where I ordered a normal one (oh, the liberty of not needing to say anything extra besides "a plate of char kuey teow"!) and had a kick with it. Minor beads of sweat breaking out at the forehead was all the trouble I faced. Important thing was, I managed to gorge down a complete plate of regular char kuey teow and am looking forward for the next one - until I find one whose chili I can't bear, then I'd probably re-think it again. I always got my line learned, "No chili and bean sprouts!" memorized clearly in Hokkien dialect. Come to think of it now, was all the hissy fit and tantrums I used to throw at my parents when they get my order wrong necessary? The regular one doesn't taste as bad as I thought it would. Oh, and from my observation, some shops do add bean sprouts and reduce the noodles which annoys me totally.

4. I can take spicy food now!
Well, not all that spicy, but from all that assam laksa and regular char kuey teow, I guess its safe to say that my spiciness tolerance has improved. At least I hope so. I'm not sure if it's the beefing up of my senses or that this is part of my unconscious chase for the excitement in life that I've been missing - the adrenaline rush to downing noodles (or whatever) which causes a wildfire in my mouth seems encouraging enough for me to keep on going instead of having to put my tongue out in defeat. A real difference compared to a few months back when I won't even give spicy food a second look but now even McDonald's Double Spicy Chicken McDeluxe or KFC's Zinger Burger suddenly looks inviting enough, though I have yet to muster the courage to take that feat down. Haven't really taken the car out for a real ride, you know. I've even adapted a new found tolerance for the spiciness of nasi kandar dishes and even regular mee goreng at mamak stalls. I still sweat during those meals, but not as much as I used to and my dependency on iced water during those meals has reduced also. I take less sip in between my chewing.

I don't know. Am I suppose to feel proud about this?

Ok, so I realize even with me appallingly accepting vegetables, it still won't counter the amount of unhealthy rubbish ranging from fast food, hawkers and mamak stalls (nasi kandar) that I consume on a daily basis. However, I'm still equally baffled to what might've brought about such drastic changes in my food intake. Is this psychological or is this for real, real? I wonder if its got anything to do with turning 18 this year. I've heard people say in my defense over the years of taunting from others that my herbivorous nature need not be forced but it will eventually come in time. Is this the time? Or am I facing something bigger - a personality change perhaps? I know for one that I'm not succumbing to the pressure of the community who associates spiciness tolerance with the coming of age and maturity or even worse, the parent's training. Correct me if I'm wrong but I've always thought that it's a matter requiring more complex explanations regarding the uniqueness the human body and how it is special and different from everyone.

Well, it should be - so that others in the same boat wouldn't have to go through the belittling and mocking of an ignorant community. What's so wrong with not being able to take spicy food? It's not a crime. And to those who've always linked me being overweight to my habit of not taking greens, time's a changing now.

Wait, doesn't that mean I'm going to have to come up with a new 'About Me'?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Deadly Driving.

I've never been a fan of driving. The thought of having to control the knobs, the pedals and the wheel simultaneously while having to check all the mirrors, the sides of the vehicle, oncoming vehicles and pedestrians just gives me the chills. Despite the fact that I can multi-task, I've always thought that this would be the one multiple task I'll never accomplish. Which is why I've always told people that I prefer being driven than drive. Seriously, why bother about the traffic when I can just sit back and enjoy the view? Though I do admit, I sometimes imagine that I could speed like Paul Walker ala Fast and Furious or drift like Lucas Black ala Tokyo Drift after watching their movies - just for the adrenaline rush of course. Then again, occasionally, I do feel responsible for my own that I shouldn't be relying on mom or dad to chauffeur me around to places I wanna go but the feel of guilt alone isn't enough to drive me to, well, drive. Plus, I wasn't one who's affected by peer pressure.

Nevertheless, dad made me do it given that I'm almost over a year late from the legal age of driving in this country. If what I just mentioned wasn't clear indication, you can bet that I wasn't at all keen about getting my driver's license, knowing the full responsibility lying ahead - for starters, mom and dad are going to expect me run errands or pick/send people/things. Not to mention, the dangers of driving - verging on paranoia here but what other reasons could I give to stall? Anyway, late April, dad signed me up with a driving agent (one which previously got jie her license) given that I'm way past my legal age and the simple fact that I have some free time in my hands to kill since I have no computer to hog on. I wouldn't doubt that it has something to do with growing-up-and-being-a-man thing too. So, in order for the entire process to take place - the numerous listening courses and theory and practical examinations - dad spent approximately RM700 and at the end of the day, I'm still baffled about why people would actually want this.

Right after that, I've been making frequent back and forth trips to the driving agent's for listening courses on road safety, road law and generally, about the mechanism of cars. Naturally after those painstakingly and boring long hours of listening about Malaysian road rules, I had a simple computerised law test to pass to get a learner's license so that I can be behind the wheel for the practical part of the learning. After passing the law test, a driving instructor (mine was a friendly Malay chap whom I address as cikgu) was then appointed for me to have some hands on action. It was early May when I started driving in the training circuit, going up and down a training hill, parking and doing 3-point-turns while the instructor sits beside me and has his foot ready on the trainer's emergency brake. In this country, I'm supposed to have a practical training of an accumulated 8 hours before I could actually take a driving test with a government official. In reality, the process is much more complicated than what I've just placed, plenty of time wasting, unnecessary procedures and waiting involved but it doesn't make much of a difference now.

For my part, I did a 2hours session for 4 times, spread across the month of May before I took the test at the 29th of May, which is considered pretty fast by my standards considering I passed all of it in one attempt. Yeah, I didn't drag on, re-sitting tests. To be honest, I didn't believe I could even do it. Ask mom and dad and they'll tell you how silly and nervous I got prior to each test I had to take. My palms were sweaty, my heartbeat was up a notch and I began to gag while waiting in line for my turn to take the real test. I truly didn't think I could pull through any of it but I did and now, I've already gotten my probationary driver's license
(and also a humongous letter 'P' stuck onto the rear window and the windscreen of dad's car) which I have to drive around with for 2years before I could get my permanent one. Still not thrilled. I mean, yeah, it's cool that I can drive and all but I don't feel any different. I honestly think that I shouldn't even be granted my license in the first place seeing how haphazardly I control the wheel. You know what I mean? I don't possess the urge to grab the car keys and speed off to somewhere. I don't feel any older or macho for that matter. I'm pretty much still the same.


Failure to launch? I'm beginning to freak out. I know that getting their driver's license seems so ordinary for most people out there (namely, peers) and it appears like I'm making a big fuss out of it here. Well, I'm not, at least not even trying to. It's probably because I still don't believe that I can drive.
Not believing in myself is one thing mom could never live with but to not have the skills to drive is another. Yes, I know how to work the clutch and the gear and the wheel but I don't think I could survive in the real road out there, apart from the road route we were taught to drive on during driver's ed. I still find the flashing lights and zooming vehicles a little too much to handle. Sure, I passed driver's test and that's gotta count for something but if you were me, you'd know that the driving test was almost bogus. As long as you get past the hill, park nicely and do a 3-point-turn successfully, you're done and as long as you go the route you've been trained on without crashing into another vehicle, you're done. I mean c'mon, my tester was half asleep when I drove him around the route we were trained on.

Still think that I can drive? Dad for one, could testify that I've got one too many almost-run-over-someone moments during one of the few times he gave me extra lessons on driving. It's like this with dad: I don't care if you've passed your driving test, you're not getting the car unless and until I say you're ready. Of course, dad is an excellent driver and I've always looked up to his driving skills and if he says so, there ain't no arguing. Truly, dad not only has the experience, but the passion to pass them down, seen here with jie. Where'd you think jie got her skills from? With him, he really opens my eyes and shows me my flaws in driving. There's no way I could argue with the things he say with the meagre time I've got at driver's ed. It's been 2days since dad has allowed me behind wheel and for that course of time, I discovered that I have zero estimation, I handle the steering wheel like a prick and that I'm still not used to the pedals. Thank God dad's letting me drive his auto instead of a manual. Tried that with jie's car and oh my, what trouble I got myself into even though the only cars they provide at the driving school are manuals. See, the whole process was barely helpful in real driving.

Well, slightly more than a month has passed since that dreadful day I had to sign myself up for driving and it seems so long ago that I was fretting over the Malaysian way of acquiring a driver's license. Just for the record, I'm still not excited about getting my license even more now with the recent petrol hike in the country. Great timing to start driving isn't it? But now that I can legally drive and I have dad to help me with my confidence in driving, I can only hope that I could get better in time. For the time being, other Penang drivers should watch out for another driver from hell (oh I'm bad!) - ultimately, pedestrians and aunties on bicycles or hot mamas with baby strollers, try your best to stay away from me. Oh, and also, I think other drivers should give drivers with "P" stickers a break and not honk that much. You'll never know how many people who are like me out there and being a little patient once in a while wouldn't kill. In other words, be nice to probationary drivers. After all, we are on probation. Either way, let's just hope I become a law-abiding driver and that no lives will be harmed in the process - cause heaven knows the roads do not need another reckless-driver!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Digital Lockdown.

The unsettling thing about losing my computer for 2 entire months wasn't that it took excruciatingly long for it to be fixed but the pure fact that I could actually still stand to breathe and wait for its return. Yeap, I'm proud I survived it - which isn't an easy task to achieve considering that I'm quite dependent on that electrically-charged machine. Basically, what happened was that, I return from a holiday trip just to discover that the computer has gone mute for no apparent reasons and after numerous and various futile attempts at reviving its volume, I had to go to jiu for help. Well, I wasn't prepared at what was going to happen next. So get this, he came and collected the computer after officially announcing its muteness and I've not seen or heard of it ever since up till about a month ago. I did, however, receive phone calls occasionally informing me about the arising number of problems, therefore prolonging the "hospital stay". It was one thing after another (take a deaf ear, coupled with a few strokes and a kidney failure - figuratively speaking of course - it only took time before it dies) and before I knew it, I was on my knees begging for mom and dad to get me a substitute.

If that wasn't agonizing enough for a modern day teenager who's 80% of his daily activities has to deal with the computer screen, the television set broke down about a week after the demise of the computer. Not to leave you in murky waters, if I'm not hogging the computer, I'd be a couch potato. Apparently, my next source of entertainment and connection to the outside world has also failed me. Astro (satellite TV decoder) came to a screeching halt all of a sudden - and I mean, total blackout. After deciding that the breakdown of 2 electrical appliances at once has got something to do with the bone-chilling storm (think thunder and lightning ripping the skies apart while I was unaffected in KL) dad did send it for a repair. Well, the old man needs his TV too, I suppose. The repair took about 4 days and when it came back, it still wasn't working well. It was just in and out of the hospital (figuratively speaking again) and since we hate the idea of having your show get cut off all of a sudden, we stopped watching TV. Till now, the decoder's a bit off, I have to admit, suffering sudden aneurisms. So what's a poor boy like me gotta do at a time like this?

It's true that I felt lost at a time when my digital world came crashing down. With nothing to click on or type on, I resorted to books that I've successfully neglected all these times with me putting it off thinking I have more important things to do on the computer (like downloading music). Sadly, I am one of the many procrastinators out there. Thankfully though, there were more than a few books for me to devour at a time of loss. Managed to finish about 3 novels at the time without my computer (the TV came back earlier) and that is saying something given that the average Malaysian only read about 2 books a year, so I've heard. Other than that, I got reconnected with outdoor activities like cycling and badminton. Photography was impossible considering I had nowhere to upload the pictures to or edit them. But most of all, I did rekindle my almost forgotten relationship with mother nature and am still trying to keep that fire burning in me. Surprisingly, the sores and the body aches at first (it was natural since I don't play much) didn't stop me from having fun with Edmund with a frisbee. I had to get used to sweating all over again, I tell you.

Although, I must say that I have quite the supportive family. Ah jiu and Adrian was kind enough to allow me to use their computers anytime I needed to. Initially, I had scholarships applications to print and such which I went to jiu's place for and subsequently, jie's assignments to help out with which had me utilizing Adrian's computer instead. I did however check my emails regularly at jiu's which is just a 10minutes walk away from my place, which I think was what triggered the outdoor mojo in me seeing that the park was just the same distance as ah jiu's place. But all in all, I didn't have my inbox flooded with spams over the months and I'm still pretty updated with the latest releases of music artists, even more so compared to Adrian at one point. I also had the time to read blogs which URL I remember and even got t hang around at Flickr. It was more than I could actually ask for for a digitally crippled boy. Though, I think anyone would agree, it's never the same feeling on someone else's computer. Yeah sure, jiu even allowed me to create a folder of my own to keep my junk (which is a very rare thing for him to do) but that couldn't keep me from missing my own computer and long for it to come back.

So, after having it back, I had so many updates to do which pretty much kept me busy for the next 2 weeks - downloading program updates, drivers (some files were messed up during the repair), restoring files, catching up with bookmarked blogs and emails and etc. etc.. Well, I must admit that I was trying to push blogging to the bottom of my list up till one point when I got really convinced I've lost it and was thinking of a new blog and all that nonsense. I mean, there were too many gaps and empty spaces to fill, events and emotions that I've forgotten about along the way, which became frustrating in the end to even try to fill or remember them. I even tried jump-starting my groove with a new template (the old one with a few changes) but to no avail. Somehow, I convinced myself that I owe nobody any explanations and that I'll be able to fill those missing pieces sooner or later and I guess it pretty much explains this particular one I'm writing here. The blog is mine, after all.

Oh, and I have to mention, I had to play host to a string of visiting friends and relatives after the 2 weeks I took returning my computer to the way it previously was. Let's just say I had to stop and breathe a bit. Life was just speeding on and I was just on it, striding along. And after all those crazy stuff, I had to go straight back to my former life with the beginning of a new school term. Now, if that isn't hectic, I don't know what is. Looking back, I can even convince myself that I really didn't have the time to sit down and write on my blog, instead of me putting it off. But what's important now is that I'm back and ready for action. I know, it's been quite a few times I've used the term "I'm back" but never seem to fully return. Well, I honestly hope this would be the last time I might need to use it. Then again, you'll never know when the lightning's gonna strike, right?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Backstreet's Back Alright!

If there's anything a person should do before he/she dies, attending a concert would be one of them. Speaking from a first-timer concert goer's point of view, of course and judging by the Backstreet Boys concert which I attended with jie. At least that was what we came up with while driving home all busted with our voices and adrenaline drained. And we were glad we actually made it for and to the concert despite of everything else. Frankly though, seeing that it was our first time attending a concert, we really didn't know what to expect - from the right shoes to the right time to the right gear to bring to the concert, we really weren't sure so we just followed what our instincts told us. And based on my instincts, we arrived 4 hours earlier before the actual stated time of the concert. Not surprising either, there were already a small crowd building up when we arrived.

My instincts would've been perfect if it actually came with a weather forecast. Only, it didn't and while queuing in line to be the first few to get in, a heavy downpour (lightning, thunder, strong winds, the whole package) came and left me drenched and soaked in both perspiration and rain water. Which was pretty disgusting considering my underwear was soaked as well, leaving me, literally dripping from head to toe. Jie was lucky cause she went to buy some food while I stood in line. So much for instincts. Being me, I pulled out from the crowd in the middle of the downpour, thinking that it would be pointless either ways to stick around with a crowd which wasn't that big yet, and instead, run for shelter. Besides, I had my camera in the bag and I couldn't risk it getting wet any further with the bag already half soaked.

But thanks to the rain, I got to meet VJ Alvey from Channel V at the front of the hotel and even got a picture with him.

Back to the concert, it was just plain amazing. Yes, even though I had to go barefooted because of the rain prior, causing my shoes to be uncomfortable, resulting in me taking them off and go barefooted instead and thank God, all my toes are still intact at the end of the concert! Also, having considered that I pulled out of the growing crowd during the downpour and continued queuing after, jie and I still managed to stand a good distance from the stage where the boys were still visible and not a distance the zoom of my camera couldn't compensate with. At one point though, during entering, the crowd got a little impatient due to the incompetent management of crowd flow and a little riot almost broke out. "Don't push", "We came first", "Let us in" were the only resounding phrases heard amongst other angry shouts and grumble of people cramped and confined in a small area while drenched in rainwater and sweat.

In spite of that, the concert was still sensational. The energy was there, the response were good and the boys were great! There was so much hype even before the boys came out, making the crowd look as if they were just insanely screaming at big black curtains covering the backstage. For that, you could really feel the dedication and love from the fans. A true fan couldn't even contain their joy when the boys finally hit the stage 45 minutes later than the stated time. At least, I couldn't when I was screaming and jumping along with the crowd when the Backstreet Boys made their opening in matching kick-boxing outfits. They connected really well with the crowd and you can definitely feel their love as well. They made it feel personal for everybody out there because you can just tell they handpicked the songs they performed that night. I mean, c'mon, their signature hits like As Long as You Love Me and I Want It That Way? They sure melted a lot of girls' heart that night. Me on the other hand, was just moved to tears by nostalgia.

Backstreet's Back from matrianklw on Vimeo.

Everyone from matrianklw on Vimeo.

Any Other Way from matrianklw on Vimeo.

You Can Let Go from matrianklw on Vimeo.

Unmistakable from matrianklw on Vimeo.

I Want It That Way from matrianklw on Vimeo.

Show Me The Meaning from matrianklw on Vimeo.

Oh, and I shouldn't mention my horrendous singing along to the music as I was partially shouting
, straining my voice, while jumping along to the other rhythmic numbers. But then again, who cares? I wasn't the only one singing out of tune and the focus was on the Backstreet Boys whose voices easily drowns mine in the crowd. Though, I did feel a sense of togetherness when BSB sang along to the music. It was just fantastic and beautiful. Besides, I was more careful towards the camera than my singing. Which I should mention that I wasn't focusing on even taking still pictures, instead, I wanted videos and given that mine isn't a video camera, all I got was clips in minutes and seconds which was much to my satisfaction already since those videos don't come in mini size. I did, however, max up two cards that I have and even had to delete a few on the spot to make way for other performances. And do pardon me for the shaky videos as I couldn't really refrain from moving along with the awesome crowd but look on the bright side, my camera zoom did quite a good job. And below is a wallpaper I created from one of th best shots, I got that night!

Oh, and did I mention that I got that pair of tickets for free? Absolutely no charge! Thanks to The Star, we didn't even spend a dime. Not bad for the experience, huh? It was all worth it - the rain, the crowd, the 6 hours on foot and definitely the Backstreet Boys! Which is the first reason I'm still here in KL to begin with.

Life's good!

P/S: I know there's an awful lot of videos posted, but if you're a fan of BSB, you should definitely want to check them out. Just be patient with the loading. Plus, it won't take that long. It's just a few minutes long.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Backstreet Boys Unbreakable Tour.

BSB ready to ‘bowl’ over fans

Gorgeous and cool: (From left) Dorough, Carter, McLean and Littrell posing for photographers at KLIA yesterday.
PETALING JAYA: The Backstreet Boys love sports, and they wasted no time hours ofter arrival here when they were seen bowling at the Mid-Valley Megamall last night.

Despite their tight schedule and with their concert tonight, they were scheduled to play a round of golf this morning.

Looking gorgeous and cool on arrival at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at 2pm yesterday from Jakarta, Indonesia, they were sporting enough to pose for a few pictures for The Star.

With a large entourage, the group, comprising members Brian Littrell, Howie Dorough, A.J. McLean and Nick Carter smiled and promised an excellent show at the Sunway Lagoon Surf Beach tonight.

“We are excited to be here and are looking forward to meeting our Malaysian fans,” Howie said. “It is good to be back.”

The concert is part of the foursome’s Unbreakable World Tour 2008 which follows the release of their sixth album Unbreakable.

Tickets are available at the Sunway Lagoon Ticketing Counters (Surf Beach and Main Entrance).

Sunway Lagoon Theme Park is the official venue while The Star is the official newspaper.

Are you going? Cause I am! See you there?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I Sleep Better With Chipster.

Ever get a sudden craving for something particular in the dead of the night? I do, most of the time. Especially recently, topped with my late night escapades on the computer or TV, I get hungrier as the night goes further, usually heightening as the hours go by when I'm still going to continue the next episode of Grey's Anatomy as the show gets more intense. Seriously, the cravings get crazier and crazier each night. One night, it could be pepperoni pizzas and the next it could be dairy milk chocolate bars or instant noodles the next. Talk about the epitome of bad health. Of course, given the ridiculous hours, I usually sleep it off and forget about my cravings, often downed with a bottle of plain water.

Lately though, there's been a gnawing at the back of my head, prompting me to get Chipster, whenever I stay up late and I realized that the later I stay awake, the more my mind will steer towards Chipster. I won't deny, I've been having this "Chipster Crave" for the past few nights now, only it has been growing stronger and stronger that it's beginning to turn into desire. More like a need, actually. You have to know though, I'm not the kind of guy who snacks on junk food every chance he gets. No way. As a kid, mom and dad has always monitored and limited our intake on junk food, contrary of what other people think. Which is why you won't be able to see a lot of chips, cookies or any other packeted food any children would go crazy for, lying around at home on ordinary days. Yet, the only reason we have a lifetime supply of chocolate in the fridge is because they come as gifts from visitors and relatives. Even that has become a favourite among my cousins whenever they come over. So till now, even when there's an enormous amount of junk food (courtesy of hampers and such) at home, my siblings and I just couldn't be bothered to snack on them.

I don't get my size from junk food, baby. It's real meat (if you know what I mean)!

Anyway, minus the occasional splurge on a packet or two of chips during grocery shopping, I've still been thinking about Chipster. Started the whole Chipster crave about two months ago, and now, I find myself unconsciously (and discreetly) purchasing packets of them at the oddest times. Twice already, I bought them when dad was filling up his tank and about a couple of times I've secretly stash them underneath the groceries. Even jie and Edmund likes it! Honestly, I don't know why I do that because it's not like mom would detest but it's one of those inexplicable thing you do, you know. Very strange. And I even have this odd habit of stocking them up. You know, reluctantly eating it because its so good. Almost like wanting to keep it till when I'm dying for it and not leisurely take it. Probably it's because I wanna heighten my enjoyment the best that I can.

Which is why I think that because I've only just finished my last packet of Chipster that this craving's been coming to haunt me in the night. The worse thing is that this particular craving just could not be put away with sleeps or countless bottles of plain water. In fact the craving's so strong that I've even been dreaming about it in my sleep, causing undesirable amount of drool to appear on the sheets the morning after. It's been clearing away my other cravings though. Seriously, no more pizzas, instant noodles or roadside burgers. Considering that, I let myself cave in to the craving and went out in the middle of the night, hunting for Chipster at the nearest 7-11 store without even bothering to change from my night clothes. Thinking that it'd be weird for one to go to 7-11 in his pajamas, jie dragged the camera along and shot me. Really weird situations, I tell you. It got me going so much that I can actually ignore the stares and bemusement of other late night shoppers.

Where is it?!

Hey, maybe we should just get instant noodles instead.

Oh wait! Hell yeah! Found them!!

Hold on, I need to pay first.

Of course, the above shot was a a posed one. None of us could retain our excitement to dig in into them. I only used the only sanity I have left just to visualize that I sleep better with Chipster before opening them. I couldn't resist or you'll probably notice saliva stains on this newly changed sheet. It gets ugly when I do though. Just imagine two hands in a bag of chips and crumbs all over the face. Funny though, how come I've never had such a craving for any other chips I've tried. Immense.

And naturally, I had a good night's sleep after that.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Chinese New Year '08 - Day 4 & 8

Come the fourth day, most relatives were already packing their bags to go home to their respective states, literally. As I can recall, the only reason why they were still here was because of the reported traffic congestion at the bridge which of course, resulted in their reluctance to return. Jie on the other hand has returned to KL the night before on a hitched ride with a friend. Most of us were still gathered at apoh's place, eating, chatting and of course, gossiping. Seeing that our mothers are in deep conversations, we children didn't do anything much than to play with fireworks. At least they did and I only recorded them.

At one point though, out of boredom and Carina's persistent, or shall I say, annoying whining, I did grab apoh's bicycle and took Carina out for a ride. In fact, we ended up hunting for a river which we both knew existed but just out of sight. We were literally, riding through the thick forestation and turning into every little road we could see and stopping at all the houses which they lead us into just to take a peak at their backyard for the hidden river, while Carina was meddling with my camera behind me. By the time we found it, we were both covered in grime and perspiration and almost out of breath, due to the burning sun (the trees didn't do much shading) and also spotting several bite marks from the mosquitoes. In the end, we found out the river was way too down below for us to even dream of climbing down and taking a dip.

Adventure. from matrianklw on Vimeo.

Road-show. from matrianklw on Vimeo.

We did however, on the way back, saw something grotesque on the road which made me turn the bike around to get a better view and a closer shot - and below was what we came across.

Oh, below is my favorite shot of the day.

4 days later, on the 8th day of Chinese New Year, I got them another gathering at apoh's place seeing that I still had a few bottles of sparkling juice (I can't tolerate alcohol!) stashed in my fridge since Christmas. I just needed another reason for toast and to finish the bottles of sparkling juice, since Chinese New Year was the only big occasion left till we don't know when. I picked the 8th day of Chinese New Year because the kids have no school the following day, coinciding with the 9th day where Buddhists and Taoists hold their religious ceremonies to appease their deities and gods. It's a big event for most Chinese people and therefore, most Chinese schools get an extra day of holiday. Being Catholics, I took the opportunity and hold a fake gathering to appease our hunger and thirst instead, and also because amah wasn't doing it this year.

Yam Seng. from matrianklw on Vimeo.

Cork Popping. from matrianklw on Vimeo.

Besides having fun toasting and later, posing with the wine bottle, I followed them outside to watch a display of fireworks again. At first, I was getting my hands dirty too considering how long it was since my days of spending near to a thousand ringgit on fireworks. By the way, I only have the guts to stand the kiddies bombs nowadays. I just seem to have lost the ability to withstand deafening explosives anymore. I reckon it must be the age that's to blame and all the years of being dormant from the fireworks. Kinda lost interest in risking my fingers to dynamites after 15, I think. After that, the lights and the motions only sparked interest in me with the camera again. Below, the biggest shot is our best attempt of drawing '2008' with the fireworks, which goes to show, the rest of my attempts were close to mud.

Firecrackers from matrianklw on Vimeo.

Having said that, surprisingly, I still have my favorite shot of the day below. =)

And that pretty much is my celebration for the year of the rat, in a nutshell.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Chinese New Year '08 - Day 3.

So, on day three of our celebrations, things were already toned down. Partly due to the overdose of carbonated drinks, cookies, extravagantly prepared home cooked meals, firecracker smoke and of course, sleep deprivation, we were all pretty bummed up to have to wake up at 10a.m. just to do more visiting again the next day. Plus, with the conscience that holidays were running out and school and work are setting back (for them) could pretty much dampen the celebratory mood. On a short note though, growing up in the family, I've never done anything else on such days except visiting. Really, can't think of any other "family" thing to do. Drinking, gambling and partying with friends like every other regular 18 year olds? Not my cup of tea. Don't have that many friends to start with and also, an idiot with cards. Well, a good boy, I am. Fulfilling filial piety and visiting the elderly seem more appropriate after all on Chinese New Year. 

Broadcasting. from matrianklw on Vimeo.

Anyway, Carina and Adrian, as usual spent the past two nights over at our place - just for the fun of it, in the name sake of 'holiday'. I should mention of course, they were more wrecked than I was when the night before this, both of them could barely keep their eyes peeled when Edmund wanted to watch Bee Movie - which was the only reason why I went to bed quite early too. It's not like we don't meet enough throughout the year, but still, their the closest cousins we can relate too. Besides, it's fun to be hurried up in the morning and queue for the bathroom and trying our very best to color co-ordinate our outfits, no doubt. It's not like we even try that much. It just so happens that all of us had the same color outfits and we just decide to put them on on the same day. We'd be walking out of the room and go, "Hey, ur wearing this color too! High five, man!". Except for one person, of course.

Basically, we only did one house together as both our families had our own plans to carry out and different people to visit. Plus, jie was going back to KL already. After that, not much cam-whoring for me with them. If you haven't noticed already, I barely cam-whore by myself, it's always with somebody and I'm not even hiding it on my drive. There really are no pictures of my smiling by myself. Still, I won't blame you if you're probably sick to your stomach already for seeing so many pictures of me. Oh well... below are some of my favourite shots of the day. 

The black gang!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Snake Spotted.

A little diversion from the Chinese New Year postings. Well, not exactly since this was spotted during one of our visitation to our near-forsaken relatives in the depths of thick forests amidst lush greeneries and unknown wilderness. Anyway, during one of our visits and while the cousins were busily blasting little plants with firecrackers, one of my uncles spotted a snake on a short palm tree, which, I should mention, I was standing dangerously close just moment before watching them blast a bowl. By the looks of it, a sudden appearance of a green serpent (or other creatures of yet to be uncovered species) at the front yard seems to be a daily thing - almost like the evening news broadcaster appearing on TV daily - since my distantly related grand-grand-uncles looks pretty much unperturbed.

City folks like me was, of course, intrigued by such phenomena that all my mind told me to do was to photograph it. It's not like everyday, we get to see a snake at such close proximity without it being captives in a cage or behind a glass wall, or even worse, pickled in a jar. Despite the fact that the creature was small in size (probably still young) with the species unknown to us and without any knowledge of how venomous its fangs could be or how fatal its bite would be, they were practically prancing around the tree watching it. Me, being not that comfortable around creatures that slither, of course, kept a good distance and put the camera's zoom to good use.

Snake Spotted. from matrianklw on Vimeo.

Below are two photos that I've turned into wallpapers. By turning, I mean resizing, touching up and adding text. Please feel free to download, especially if you're a fan of snakes or if you're favourite color happens to be green.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Chinese New Year '08 - Day 2

Yee Sang. from matrianklw on Vimeo.

So, after discovering (or rather, re-igniting) my passion for cam-whoring and the plain joy of taking photographs, you could bet I just couldn't wait for the 2nd day to take off. As long as traditions go, the 2nd day of our new year is allocated for the maternal side of the family and I was sure it wasn't only our family who kept the tradition alive, seeing that all the aunties and uncles were there alongside with the whole troupe of cousins. The long portrait above pretty much sums mom's siblings up. Being as Malaysians as we are too, what other better things to do when gathered at such an auspicious day but eat and drink? Frankly though, the new year's eve and new year's day itself have been reserved for reunion dinners and lunch with amah (paternal side), so the gathering on the 2nd day is like another version of a reunion dinner lunch meal. A relatively big one too!

Lion Dance '08 from matrianklw on Vimeo.

This year, splendidly enough, apoh managed to arranged a lion dance troupe to grace her home with and to help her usher in the new year and on the 2nd day too! Usually, these troupes couldn't be bothered much to your preferred time and they'd just drop by whenever they can since ours wasn't the only home to be "graced" but apoh somehow managed. I've forgotten though, why we didn't have one last year. Or did we? But anyways, the lion dance was a blast, despite the fact that it wad dancing in the small confines of the apartment. I mean, c'mon, we even drew neighbors and passersby to watch - though it still remains a mystery if their attention was caught by the beating of the drums or the euphoric screams and yells by us cousins. Nonetheless, I had loads of fun recording it on video, instead of sweating my ass off, trying to figure out various ways to avoid the lion dancers' path and still get good still shots.

As traditions are concerned as well, after all the devouring of Hakka (mom is Hakka) Chinese New Year dishes and unnecessary yelling at the lion performance, we'd dutifully visit far-off and almost-forsaken/deserted relatives. The reason being, we only do that once every year and as I said, almost like a tradition already. Even the relatives themselves look forward to our presence. It's pretty apparent from their relief uttering of phrases like, "Wah, this year you all so late only arrive!" or "Wah, I thought you not coming this year lah!" Of course, they only converse in Hakka with apoh. Of course by far/distant/almost-forsaken/deserted, I was talking about houses on top of hills and deep in jungles where electricity comes from a generator, activated only for a few hours in the night and where water source comes staright from the mountains and where daily trips to the market require patience and physical fitness that most city folks don't possess. Still, we've been doing this as far as any of us can recall and thus, every year, we look forward to it - although, I still doubt the sincerity of some who curse under their breath when we have to hike up the rest of the way where vehicles can't access. =P

Fast Drive Down The Hill from matrianklw on Vimeo.

Boom from matrianklw on Vimeo.

And of course, after collecting the red packets and after reaching the point where we've empty out multiple boxes of cold drinks (understandable after the tiring hike
under the scorching sun), almost finishing a wide variety of Chinese New Year cookies and delicacies laid out for visitors and leave the jungle with resounding explosions from firecrackers, we part farewell and turn back to mindless, insensible, vain and narcissistic cam-whoring.

Look, I'm barely ashamed anymore!

4 by 4s: They can even do it by themselves!

Posed and candids, how can you not love them?

And here, I would like to introduce Ai Ai, our so called "aunty" according to the family hierarchy, whom after all these years of growing up together, we barely address as aunty. We kind of reached a mutual agreement that to add the address of aunty in front of her name would be tremendously speed her aging process and increase our awkwardness between her, given that she's my age in real life. Thanks to us, now she still looks her age! Of course, from time to time, we do remind ourselves of her status in the family tree through minor jokes we make, especially, when she gives advice - "Oooh! Hail, the aunty speaks!" - stuff like that. Now, the one reason we're all so fond of her is because she's cool with us and our antics. I mean, she's the one who can accompany us till the wee hours of dawn during a sleepover, she's the one who loves shopping trips with us and visits to the movies (she's a good companion for horror movies, by the way!) and she's the one who gets our jokes and the one who cracks jokes! It's truly a wonderful thing to have such a close relationship with someone of a higher level in the family tree. Oh, and did I mention, her real name's Eva (glamorous, ain't it?) - Ai Ai's just stuck with us since we were children.

Below is my favourite shot of the day. It was so random, so pure, so joyful. Photographer: ME.

T-B: Jie, Adrian, Ai, Carina and me

P/S : I'm aware that the are quite a number of videos and it might take some time to load. If you're patient, then wait. But if you aren't, just make sure you don't miss out the 2nd (cause it's fun to watch!) and the 4th (cause it's just really short) videos. Oh, the 3rd video is just to illustrate my point of having relative who live in remote areas of the island.