Tuesday, May 14, 2013

This is being grateful...my Phuket escapade

"What do you mean by you cannot check us in? We have a flight to catch!"

And there goes my vacation...actually, the end of my vacation. Being stuck on the dreamy vacation touristy island of Phuket ain't too bad, just that the airport was abysmal and I need to get back to Singapore (there is always some life-saving business to attend to, u see)...

Anyway, the extremely hectic month of April (yes, the duo terror of exams and research report) was interspersed with this gift from our hotel in KL. We flew to Phuket for a pre-wedding photoshoot with one of the most eminent photographer in the wedding circle in Malaysia, remarkably un-prepared and casual for 2 OCDs. Needless to say, being spontaneous means we thoroughly enjoyed our care-free, unpretentious cheerful photo-session -  with major credits to the ever-professional Jim Liaw and team.

I suspected I may have sabotaged myself by getting an outfit totally unsuitable for my shape/size but who cares when you are actually enjoying a photoshoot - and to be truthful...it has been a long, long time since I've gotten so much of fun in front of the camera (normally we're the ones behind it!). Of course there was this fleeting sense of envy when I saw how the other beautiful brides looked in their long, flowing bridal dress but all sense of inadequacy was washed away on the remarkably warm, clear seas of Kata beach as we jumped into the water during our final shot; totally splashed sand all over the semi-formal attire. Ah, the bliss of thrashing a dress in the sea. Hahaha!

Thailand is of course well known for flowers and upon arrival to Hilton Arcadia Phuket, we noticed there were fresh flowers everywhere. We asked for some as accessories and we were immediately given some. Thumbs-up to Hilton hospitality!

The flight to the island was extremely pleasant and we were the first couple to arrive as we travelled on an earlier flight from Singapore. Weather seemed excellent in early April. Only rained on the last day as we leave the island.

We were armed with not one but TWO lonely planet book on Islands & Beaches of Thailand, and a special laminated map of Phuket for the remaining part of the trip. Highly-recommend the map. The books aren't that helpful, to be fair.

This is the (in)famous Patong beach - sun, surf and sex(trade) all souped-up in a heady haven of hedonism. This is where I learnt the phrase ping-pong but didn't see the show. We also noticed the amount of male tourists outnumbering everyone else in this town.

It was also the Phuket Motorcycle week so the whole town was jam-packed with tourists, bikers and their accompaniments (read:hot bikes & gals).

In the meanwhile, i also took one whole day off to settle some work - sounded crazy - but I was supposed to hand-in some assignments right during the vacation. The mysteries of life as a hyperactive cilipadidoctor ain't easy :-P

As a reward, we went to Phang-Nga bay. Initially, we thought we could do some sea-kayaking. Turned out that the majority of the arm-work was done by the Thai guides while we lounge about in the kayak. At least we managed to do some canoeing at the end of the 'cruise' but it is not the same as Halong Bay, I can assure you. I was mildly disappointed. I guess I missed how we travelled from one mini-island to another in Vietnam.

IMHO, Halong Bay is a lot larger than Phang-Nga and somehow more authentic. If you come from a land far-away, I would suggest going to Halong rather than this area. I think there are a lot more hawkers in Phang-Nga as well and the food at the Muslim sea-village sucks.

James Bond Island. More famous for its' appearance in the movie rather than anything else. Not much to do here except take a picture of the island, sit back and observe the tourists.

More islands to gawk at on the way back at the end of the day. This is after we swam on a tiny island. As we leave this really nice island, I would say the airport was a real let-down but everything else was quite good for a short break. I guess I will come again in the future once I get my PADI license refreshed. Apparently, i heard the diving off Phi Phi Island is really good. Anyone's been there?

Caught this aerial view of one the islands in the beautiful Andaman Sea on the way back to Singapore. Time to say goodbye...to a wonderful island escapade in the midst of a crazy month!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Will 'UBAH' sweep through the land?

"You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." - A Lincoln.

Change is inevitable. When there is a clarion call for change, a chain of action is unleashed, whether for the better or for worse. In a way, change can be more devastating to a mammoth organization that is unwilling or unable to embrace change, forever mired in the status quo.

Events of the past 1 week in Malaysia has strongly indicated that the behemoth called National Front (BN) has been rejected by the majority of the urban population, heralding a wave of change across the nation. From black 505, to the inspirational black Wednesday, emotions are running high on how best to dethrone a government supported by the minority.

However, we must put on our thinking cap and reflect on both side of the political divide. BN has a big armamentarium of national resources due to 56 years of uninterrupted rule over a blessed, resourceful land. Is the People's Alliance (PR) ready to challenge the 'Death Star', a juggernaut firmly entrenched in the ideologies of yesteryears, the ideology of divide-and-rule? Until and unless the evil doctrine left behind by our so-called colonial masters half a century ago is firmly eradicated, we cannot move forward. According to the principles of root cause analysis, we cannot improve unless we look into the system and eradicate the root causes. Otherwise, we are only treating the symptoms and not the disease, the root issues.

 Is the opposition without it's faults and fallacy too? We are all human with feet of clay, fallible and humble creatures. Of course the vast majority of their supporters know that too, but from the events in KJ Stadium, where the unity of all people are on show, PR is on the way to unite, instead of divide-and-rule. Their leaders ain't perfect, and as human, we will never be.

Yet, we are firmly behind them because of the hope they represent. Normal reticent Malaysians are no longer waiting patiently at the backstage. We are ready to take on the juggernaut at a higher level. We are ready to be a beacon of hope and change in a region filled with entrenched monopoly of power in various countries. We are ready to be a mature democracy, with a clean electoral commissions and fair judiciary. We are ready to experience sound, transparent governance and eradication of the silent apartheid.

How about the other root causes? I would say it's economic and social development. If our rural friends are in different stages of development, both socially and economically, who are we to blame? We can only blame ourselves for years of apathy, for letting our fellow Malaysians struggle in making daily living. We can only blame ourselves for electing the current government into power over the past 12 elections. The political divide is only reflective of the social divide we have let ourselves drift into over the years. Public outcry and demonstrations are the loudspeakers, but empty vessels make the loudest sounds. Action speaks louder than words. Action needs to be translated into tangible results.

My dear fellow Malaysians, go into every corner of the country and reconcile. Not only to reconcile the political differences but tackle the root causes. The government may be illegitimate in the eyes of many, but long periods of instability would only make our country weaker and exposed to external danger. I plead to the leaders on both side of the political divide to decide maturely, wisely, peacefully and for the good of the people. For in the end, what we hope for is the peace, freedom and prosperity of our country.

"Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth."  - A Lincoln.

The article began and ended with quotes from President Abraham Lincoln, one of my favourite leaders of all time. Let the change to a better government begin, from the hearts of the people, the cries on the streets to the mightiest palaces of the land.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


This is really an out-of the blue post. Probably not gonna put any pictures. I'm not sure when I'll have the courage to post this up. Maybe today is the day. I mean, why wait another 5 years?

I spent 90% of my life in KL, another 5% in Perak and another 5% in Singapore. My entire biological family is still in Malaysia. Although I'm not residing in Malaysia now, I'm definitely coming back to stand in the queue on 5th May 2013 in my polling station and exercise my rights as a citizen. Yes, INI KALILAH!

My appeal is for those of you who are registered Malaysian voter - please make arrangements to come back to vote. There is so much of fraud and intimidation ongoing that we need to make the voice of truth be heard. We don't want to go the way of violence or chaos. We want a peaceful, clean elections.

Civilizations rise and fall. A government ruling in a hegemony that lasted for more than 5 decades has bogged itself down with internal and external strife, corruption and divisive policies. From a promising country endowed with natural resources and beautiful people, we now have questionable governance and policy, leading to massive financial losses, security breaches, rising crime rate and pathetic brain drains.

International spotlight will be cast upon this Southeast Asian nation this Sunday. Is hope still alive? Looking at some unbiased report online, it seems so. Hope is alive. Hope for the future. Hope against the archaic, divisive policies akin to silent apartheid in Asia. Hope rings eternal.

Of course, a promise made must eventually turn to a promise kept. As this final, rousing theme song from Les Miserables keep on ringing in my head, let the song of angry men be the song of righteous men in the hallowed halls of Putrajaya, come 6th May 2013.

Let us humble ourselves and pray for the right decisions to be made by the 13 million people. Godspeed, leaders with integrity and honour!