Monthly Archives: November 2008

Who’s your favourite Bond?

james-bond-2

Who’s your favorite Bond? I can’t make up my mind between three. They are Daniel, Pierce & Roger in no particular order at all. LOVE them as they play or played Bond during their time.

What inspired me to write this blog is that people tend to compare Bonds ALL THE TIME! Frankly, what IS the problem? I think the latest film, Quantum of Solace , starring Daniel Craig as Bond, is pretty exciting. Action packed! The Bond character is edgier, less flamboyant that the old Bonds, more cold, more calculated ….. but relevant to the times. !!!!! The key word being ‘relevant’, especially since we’re right in the middle of the Bourne-sque era. Even the publicity picture has changed with times … more 3 dimensional, more depth of field … Syiok!

Interestingly, here’s a list of NO’s for characteristics quintessential to identifying a Bond movie which was found lacking in Quantum of Solace. 

  • NO FANCY GADGETS
  • NO LOVE INTEREST (ONLY 1 FLING)
  • NO CHEEKY SMILES, TWINKLING EYES (nope, not even when he was picking up Agent Fields … he just asked for the stationery .. very seriously)
  • NO OVER THE TOP DISPLAY OF FANCY SPORTS CARS (besideS the Aston in the opening scene, it was actually a range of 4WD Fords & Range Rovers … fancy that)
  • NO GROTESQUE IRON JAWED VILLAINS
  • NO SIGNATURE INTRODUCTION – I’M BOND, JAMES BOND……

OK, I admit, I do miss the list of NO’s to a certain extent, more so the absence of fancy cars & the signature intro …. but the action scenes in Quantum of Solace more than made up for what it lacked. Not to mention edgy, sexy Craig playing the lead role. No complaints there!!!!! The plot was a bit iffy, but I guess it was tough to live up to the benchmark set by Casino Royale. Critics were not overwhelmed by it with only a 66% positive rating. People even complained about the movie title, calling it lame & hard to remember……. on the back of impactful ones like Moonraker, Thunderball, etc. Perhaps “Another Way to Die”, the title for the theme song sung by Alicia Keys had a better potential as the title. Corny but more effective, no?! Check out the music video here. It’s pretty cool!

The Quantum of Solace picks up from where Casino Royale left off actually. It mainly focussed on Bond seeking revenge for Vesper’s death and this eventually leads him to meet headlong with the formidable gang leader of Quantum (played by highly acclaimed French actor, Matthieu Amalric) who ironically fronts as an avenger of the environment. He holds Bolivia’s water supply at ransom by damming and blocking it up. OK, so this guy is peanuts compared to shark rearing, iron jawed villains of the past. He’s actually more real. But like I said, relevant, remember? One thing for sure, the acting is superb. Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Matthieu Amalric. Olga Kurylenko, who played the mandatory female role expected in Bond films … well lets put it this way, is pretty & athletic looking, not the sexy bombshell types that you typically find in Bond films, especially if you compare her to the ones during Roger Moore times … Again, relevant!

Whatever the film’s shortcoming is, I will remain a loyal supporter of the James Bond franchise. Perhaps it is because it’s been around since forever. It’s a piece of my past, a piece of my present and for sure will remain a piece of my future. Viva la BOND!!!!

I’ve made up MY mind, its DANIEL CRAIG! Love his craggy faced, ugly cute looks – it’s cool &  sexy & hey … he does his own stunts … so that puts him right in front of the list, for me anyway! So back to my question, who’s YOUR favourite Bond?

HAVE A GREAT TIME AT THE MOVIES!!!!!

 P.S. If you’re one of those who’s not a fan of the franchise … see if this trailer video can convince you!  

Our virgin A1GP experience…

I only need 3 words to describe our virgin A1GP experience from 3pm to 4.30pm in Sepang last Sunday, the 23rd of Nov 2008 …… Pure adrenalin rush!

There were 5 of us at the race – Fat Dragon, KC, Faith,  Shawn & myself – all of whom have never been to a motor race in our lives. The only thing we knew was that we have a circuit in Sepang and there are F1 races held there in March every year (we know coz there’s a MEGASALE accompanying this event all the time). We know that F1 pits different car makers against each other. A1, pits nations against each other, so they drive cars of only one make i.e. Ferrari.  Well, that is all the information that the 5 of us (put together) knew. Kind of, pathetic, right?

So, why on earth would we brave the jam to go see an A1GP Feature Race (the 3rd race for the season)… a race we knew little about. Did we not have anything better to do than to watch 19 cars from different countries go round and round 34 times through the whole length of the circuit for an hour and 10 minutes? Does not make sense. You might say.   

The magic word is FREE. You see, we had FREE GRAND STAND TICKETS, thanks to KC. Who could pass up on that? AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!

We seriously did not deserve to be at the race – We had no inkling what was going on. A sample of the conversation we had between each other was – “So who’s leading, ah?”, “Ummm, the fluorescent green car!”, “No. 2 is also green.”, “Which one is Malaysia’s car?”, “Umm, the yellow one.”,  “What’s the driver’s name?”, “Ummm…. Fairuz something.” “Wah, damn good lah the green car! Nobody can catch up with him man!”, “The orange car is following Malaysia so closely – dangerous!”, “Fuyoh, Malaysia just overtook the white grey car!” ….

Tak ada respect betul! We reduced Ireland, Portugal & Italy to a flurry of fluorescent green, the ‘No. 2 green‘ & the White Grey  images without batting an eye lid ….. ! That’s what you get for not doing research before embarking on something foreign….. & poor Roaring Forties eyesight of course. You see, the names of the countries could be found at the back of the A1 vehicles but hey … its not easy to read something printed on the back of something traveling in the regions of 200kph ok?

Following this, you might think, those jokers must have been BORED stiff. Wonder if they left early.

Actually, we sat through the whole race – all 34 laps. Unbelievable, right? .. But, I can’t begin to describe to you the feeling you get when you’re there witnessing the LIVE event … 

Your ear drums feel like they’re about to burst when the cars race past. Your jaws seem to vibrate. Your heart seems to be jumping out of your rib cage. What an ADRENALIN RUSH to the power of infinity! I cannot explain it. Maybe it was symbolic of the skill & precision required in winning a race, the endurance & strength of the drivers, the power of the engines, the sheer raw guts, the glamour …

100% of our attention was on the track. We kept an eagle eye on each and every car (even though it was identified only by colour) whenever they came to the circuit stretch facing our seats. Look at the map below for an idea of our position. We were seated in the Grandstands facing the 14 to 15 stretch. Must say it offered a great vantage point as we could see & hear the cars coming once they reached point 7 itself.

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We held our breaths when cars tried to overtake at the 9 & 15 corner stretches. We were awed by the top speeds (up to 240kph) in the straight stretch between 14 and 15. Last but not least … we were carried by the ROAR of the engines …  it was simply MAGNIFICENT. We were cheering & clapping …. for YELLOW of course..ahahaahaah!!!!!

Believe you me, what you see on TV is NOTHING. It does not come close to anything that you experience when you see a race LIVE, albeit just an A1 race.

Not one complaint came out of our mouths. No one complained of boredom. No one complained about the dirty seats. No one complained about the heat from the afternoon sun. No one regretted coming. Fullstop.

Conclusion: We left Sepang with a very satisfied feel & a new determination to learn more about the sport. We did have a few contentions with the organisers on how they could have stepped up the facilities in the circuit a bit more. The displays should have been working so that the spectators were aware of lap numbers, times, car positions. The venue should have been better maintained. The traffic jam and parking facilities better managed. But hey, those things were secondary in our minds. To use motorsport analogy, our engines have been revved,  a combustion of sorts has been ignited …. I have a feeling a FAN, i.e. moi, is born ….!!!!!

I’m still on a high as I type of this blog…my head is still reeling (in a good way, of course) from the experience. FUYOH!

VROOOOOOM VROOOOOOOOM VROOOOOOOOOM VROOOOOOOOOMMMM 

P.S. I have a confession to make, the 5 of us were so hooked that we watched the feature race again on Astro that night in our house after dinner for race reviews & highlights! Believe it or not.

P.P.S. Oh FYI, the YELLOW car – the one driven by Fairuz Fauzy for Malaysia… It finished 10th, thereby earning 1 point in the championship. He could have had a podium finish as he was in 3rd placing for quite a few laps but he made a bizarre pit stop on the 17th lap. Apparently he thought he was called in by his team but it was a communication glitch. The call was made by another country’s team to their driver but Fairuz heard the radio call instead. Drama drama betul! Oh, and the fluorescent green car driven by Adam Carroll for Ireland went on to win the race that afternoon. Check out the highlights on this link.

P.P.P.S. Next race, Taupo, New Zealand. Jan 25, 09. Till then….

 

Hmmm … there’s a checklist for midlife crisis symptoms?

I read with amusement that day when a local newspaper did an editorial on the human behavior of people suffering from mid life crisis. 

Now, this social phenomena can impact homo sapiens from 40  up to 60 years of age. Hmm…. wouldn’t that mean the Roaring Fortiers fall into the early stages of this band ….. YIKES!

From what I gather, you can actually formulate a checklist of sorts for symptoms of this ‘it-which-cannot-be-named’ mental ailment ……… Now, if you’re between 40 – 60 years old & you answer YES to one or more of the questions below, …. it signals the onset of … umm…, for lack of a better word, the ‘crisis’ …..   Don’t cheat ok? 🙂

check-list-for-mid-life-crisis-white1

Hmm, its a YES for me on the brushing & flossing (that’s 1), checking for white hair (2)taking supplements (3), umm …..  & the bungee jump thing (4) did come across my mind but my back disagrees …  Wow, 4/6 (two thirds majority, in election jargon) ……  Does that mean I ‘pass’ with flying colours? … Oops – That’s not exactly good, is it?! 

You might agree or disagree with the list – but … I’m seriously wondering, how did you fare??? Don’t be shy, tell me – TELL ME!!! Ahahahaha ….. let me be the first to start the ball rolling, I, moi, …… am supposed to be suffering a MID LIFE CRISIS!

WOO HOO!!!!!!! Bring on the bungee jumps!!!!!!!!!

Short getaways from KL are not so difficult to come by…

 

broga

Had a tough week? Took crap from your colleagues or your boss? Need a short getaway from the concrete jungles of KL? Catch some peace and tranquility in Broga. Only about 40 km from KL.

Ahahahahah….sorry, I know I risk sounding like an advertisement, but I just can’t resist sharing. Fat Dragon and I caught a sunrise up at Bukit Broga last weekend. It wasn’t breathtaking but it was nice and peaceful enough (after the crowds left, that is). And the trek up was, shall we say “Kacang Putih”. Only half an hour (if you take the short route)!

To get to Broga, head towards the Semenyih campus of Nottingham University. Check out this link for the map to go there. Semenyih is about 30km from KL. So it is not too long a drive.

Picking up from the map in the link above, drive straight on from Nottingham University. About 3.5km later, you will then see a Rabbit Fun Park on the right. Immediately after, you will see a dirt road leading to an oil palm estate on the left. Turn off here & park your car. Now this is the tricky part. There are two routes leading to Broga Hill. The shorter one is the first dirt road (that you parked in). There is a second dirt road, about 500m down the road, which is the starting point for a longer route.  

I recommend the shorter route up first. Time is of the essence if you want to catch the sunrise. The path is actually a dirt road, wide enough to take a car. Be careful, there are huge potholes along the way.  This path takes you through the oil palm estate. Not long after, this veers off to the left, and the path eventually narrows. You will be faced with an incline thereafter through jungle and then lalang. The tall grass signals that you are nearing the peaks of the rolling hills of Broga. There are 3 peaks which you can perch yourself on to soak in the sights of Broga. It is up to you, which you want to park yourself on. Total time for this climb – Half an hour. Do arm yourself with a torchlight and insect repellent if you’re doing this in the dark.

For the return route, you can back track the way you came or you can take the longer route which loops back to your original starting point. This means you have to move onwards past the 3 peaks and start your trek through jungle, rubber estates, an orchard and oil palm estates to go back down. Take note that you will have to traverse across 2 huge boulders after the 3rd peak. No worries though, there are knotted ropes secured to these 2 rocks to help you climb them, thanks to Hash activities in the area. Now this route has also got worn out paper markers strewn along the way & when I say worn out, I mean they are REALLY worn out. So, do keep a keen eye out for them. Time for this part of the trek – 1 1/2 hours. Be warned though, during the dry season, this trail is infested with mosquitoes.

Beware of a crowd during weekend mornings. However, I guess you can take comfort in knowing that there is safety in numbers – security wise ….. more so, if you’re unsure of the route in the dark.

How short is short…? Well, FD & I woke up at 5am. Left home about 5.45am. Reached Semenyih about 6.30am. Started to climb and reached peak about 7am. Relaxed, had breakfast and took photos at peak (FD even managed a little nap). Started down about 9.30am. Finished trek abt 11am. If you drive home immediately after, you’d be back in KL before 12 noon.

HAPPY TRIPPING!

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P.S. All estimates for trekking times are based on our own fitness levels i.e. MEDIUM FITNESS, not super fitness. So, you probably need to give or take some time off … as who better would be able to gauge your own fitness levels but yourself.  🙂

 

 

 

 

The American Dream lives on…

barack1I am a cynic where politics is concerned but I take my hats off to America.

Clichéd though it may sound, they have proven to the world that the American Dream does exist.  Let’s take a look at Barack Obama. He’s  a 47 year old Illinois Senator with  only 4 years experience. He was born in Hawaii. He  lived in Indonesia during his early adolescent years ..  AND he has Hussein for a middle name. And guess what  ….. he will be the 44th US President come January 20, 2009. The first black president in the history of the U.S.A.

He will be the most powerful man, in one of the most powerful nations in the world, for the next four years…at least.  

There’s no denying that  bigotry and prejudice exists in this vast continent. It exists everywhere for God’s sake. But it appears quite a few Americans managed to look past the colour of his skin and his middle name and voted for change.  It was not about the individual. It was about the cause.

349 electoral votes vs. 162. A clear endorsement. 

Some say that the Republicans got voted out as a result of the economic crisis. Brushing critics aside,  the majority of Americans scored high in the department of racial acceptance.  It was only 45 years ago, that the height of the civil rights movement brought on by Martin Luther King came into play. Those were times when segregationist policies in the South were still being practised. And yet today, … America has voted for a black President. A black president in white America. A historic moment indeed.

The NST reported yesterday that Obama once said at the 2004 Democratic National Convention: “As I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my two precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all those who came before me, and that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.” …  “Only in America.”

I couldn’t agree more. Only in America.

Will there ever be a similar story told in Bolehland … the land that I live on …, I wonder? Only if you believe in miracles, I suppose.

 

Blood feast …

 YES, A BLOOD FEAST!  ….. FOR THE LEECHES, that is!

It all happened last Sunday. The occasion being a river and jungle trek up Sg. Ampang in Kemensah Heights, Hulu Kelang. The objective of the trip was to cover 4 waterfalls, the main one being the Kubang Gajah falls in the area.  It involved a series of jungle treks, river treks & climbing of steep slopes in order to achieve our goal.  

It was a memorable trip for all 34 ‘Waterfall Survivors’ members who went for the trek. Not only was the trip invigorating as we dipped into the cool (cold for some), clear waters of the falls … we also provided a feast galore for a certain inhabitant which thrives in wet & damp trekking trails – the leech. Pacat in Malay.

We might as well have sent out invitations to these creepy crawlies for a 7 hour blood fest from 9am to 4pm. We were ‘bled’ throughout the trail. Small price to pay since we were in their territory, I suppose. Each one of us was assured two to three bites (at least) throughout the trip. No one was spared. They latched onto our arms, our legs, in between our toes, our torso’s. One guy reported that he had three leeches feasting on his leg, side by side. Another discovered one latched onto the jewels in between his legs, when he reached home later. Hmm .. yummy? Ahahahaah!!!!!!    

Before they feed on you, leeches take on an innocuous, string like appearance. But after they feed, they grow into fat peanut sized monstrosities. They can sense your presence from the heat emitted from your bodies & they fall onto you from the leaves above or they can latch on to your feet from the ground below. Actually, if they don’t freak you out, you can just let them suck on your blood until they have had their fill. They will drop off once they are full. But …. if you do mind their presence, then you could bring salt water concentrate or a  cigarette butt with the tobacco end exposed with you. Once the leeches come into contact with these items, they will fall off of you. Check out this video for a visual on how they move about. Notice they have suckers on both ends of their bodies.

Leech or no leech – it was a GREAT trek! The waterfalls were breathtaking. The river trek was relatively easy. We could get a firm foot grip on the river bed which was sandy and the rocks were not too mossy. The Gods were kind to us too. The whole day was sunny and turned gloomy only at about 4pm. By that time, we were already at the end of the trail and on the way back to our cars.

Well, they say – leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photographs – in the jungle, but I beg to differ, you get to leave some bloodsupply besides your footprints! 

      

HAPPY TRIPPING!

P.S. Directions: If you’re interested in going to Sg. Ampang’s, Kubang Gajah Falls, drive towards the Zoo Negara in KL. After that. Drive into the road that leads you to the Zoo from the MRR2. Once you’re on this road, you’ll be driving beside the zoo. Drive straight along this road right to the very end (i.e. no more road left) and you will reach a private compound. Park there and access the trail from within the grounds. There will be guards there and a fee of RM10 pax to be paid at the entrance of this compound. Numbers to call can be found in the pic below.

P.P.S. Trail Map (not to scale). Note that the trail is not so clearly defined in some areas especially on the ascent route after the 3rd fall. There is a bit of a climb after the 4th fall to approach the descent route. This part is a bit steep so you have to be prepared to go on all fours especially for novices if you’re afraid of losing your foot grip.

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P.P.P.S. The difficulty level is subjective. If you’re fit, it’s probably an easy trek.  For those who are not fit, if you’re armed with a sense of adventure and if you’re not afraid of getting wet & dirty, then I highly recommend it! It certainly is not for those who faint at the sight of blood though, fit or unfit notwithstanding 🙂