Thursday, November 24, 2005


I've been reading this fascinating book for our next meet called "Made in America" by Bill Bryson. Though some parts were draggy and factual, there were some genuinely brilliant moments.

The book started on a hilarious note on how the legendary Maytflower landing at Plymouth never landed at Plymouth.

Like how he describes Benjamin Franklin as a notorious lecher in his day whilst he is immortalized to this day as America's most venerated forefathers.

Or how Edison leeched off his employees' invention and claimed most of the credit for himself.

Or how most American names are a misnomers of indian, dutch, irish, french words- the most hilarious is the State of Idaho which was named by Congress just because it sounded native american.

If you're a fan of Bill Bryson's, travel writing, America, cafe americano's and lattes then why not make it to this Saturday's meeting at 12 noon, November 26th, La Bodega's Lounge.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


After reading the book I read reviews on IMDB that the movie was equally riveting. The star rating was a 6.3/10 and described as follows:

"truly mesmerized by this film's approach"

"(Steven Soderbergh) finally gets one of his cinematic experiments right"

"With a tremendous cast, beautiful production design, excellent direction, and one of the best film scores in recent years"

Contrary to all the above quotes, I guess I didn't really like Soderberhg's interpretation of the movie. The saving grace is that he (Soderbergh) didn't turn it into a 'deep space nine' remake. It was thoughtful in its own right but the 'spirit of science' which for me, the core of the story, was not emphasized here. Soderbergh chose to focus on the love story bit - moving at the pace of 'In The Mood For Love In Space' - could be torturous to go through. As someone said, it's a "You either love it or hate it" kind of movie.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. "
- Aristotle


"Opportunity has a sly habit slipping in by the back door, and often it comes undisguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat. Perhaps this is why so many fail to recognize opportunity"
- Napoleon Hill


"There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. This little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative."

- Clement W. Stone

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Wild West (Jawa)

I can't believe I hardly blogged a book but I daresay i will blog Lonesome Dove if it kills me (and my LOMA 351 exam tomorrow which I haven't studied for yet). On the road from West to East Java, this was such a fitting read - travelling and roughing it out in the 'wild' country. I was torn to choose either Small Island (which i've yet to finish) to accompany me or pick up Larry McMurtry's 945 page novel. Somehow, the Hat Creek outfit story suited the occasion and I was too darn right. Yee Haw!

The pages flew by and I hardly noticed that the back end of the book was drawing near. I must thank Krishna Kumar for recommending this gripping read - I swear there were two parts of the novel where my tears blurbled (ala cowboy style) - it had of course something to do with Deets and Augustus but I won't say what. Living it in the rough, the lesson learnt was this "The best way to deal with death is to get on with it as fast as you can". Amen to that.

Surabaya November 5 (Saturday)

0930h Last Day. Bus ride to Kamal - Madura is a shanty-town - dust on the roads, dust on the shacks, dust on the laundy hanging on the road sides, dust on the fruits at the market, dust on the man resting in the shade, dust on the children running barefoot.Bengkalan (the town on the way to Kamal) is full of goats - goats in the fields, goats tied to a tree, goats riding the becak. Funnily enough, they're all white in colour.
In the van, my skin gets sticky all over -it's hot. The roads are potted, Indon heads are bobbings, small brown, 'songkoks' sway from side to side as if dancing to the beat of the dangdut playing from the radio.
1530h An Ice Cream - at last! (A&W's not McD's)
1730h Surabaya airport reminds me of the Kota kinabalu airport excluding the airport tax.

Pulau Madura/Sumenep November 4(Friday)

Pulau Madura November 3 (Thursday)

2200h Sticky, hot, finally in an air-cond room after going through a hell-ride from Kamal to Pamekasan. Harrassed by cheating bus drivers, over-friendly Indons. A kind Indon drove us for free to Hotel Putri. Arrived there but they were fully occupied. I remember the stickiness and the flies of Surabaya bus station, the 'pong' of the waiting area, a lady asking me where I was going and then asks me for money, shanty towns along the whole stretch of road and the wind blowing in my face.

Mount Bromo November 1 and 2 (Tues and Wed)

I didn't seem to write any notes in Bromo. The weather was so lovely I must've forgot.
All I remember is the majestic sight of the puffing mountain Bromo, Mount Batok cone and the horses.
I remember too the other backpackers, who had to sit in the barely workable cramped van for 5 hours. Fortunately Philippe and I didn't take this van.
The sleepy dorms of Cemara Indah -and the sleepy town along the road down (which was a challenge to walk up again)

Prambanan Temple November 1(Tuesday)

1955h Breakfast in Bedhot Resto Terrace. Pigeons cooing, water trickling, train hoots and plane rumbles from a distance. Sun shining warm.
0930h Prambanan Temple: Old Buddhist and Hindu mythology on black rocks.
1100h Sitting tired and hot waiting for....
1130 Still waiting...

Dieng Plateau and Borobudur October 31 (Monday)

1200h The Dieng Plateau - Windy, sleepy hills dotted with vegetable terraces among misty volcanic hills
1715h Rain on Borobudur - black volcanic temple. Ancient, old, of days long gone, Boddhisatvas, shapely women, epic tales, look down on the twenty generations past.
1850h Hotel Amonjiwo - most expensive hotel in Jawa. It costs USD900 a nite here. No one amid the marbled walls in the middle of the Javanese jungle. Two little girls in sarong and flowers in their hair greet us with a bowl of frangipanis in their hands at the gate. Calls of the Maghrib amid misty hills.
2200h Indecision!
2230h Broke!

Jogjakarta - October 30th (Sunday)

0745h Yogja is a cleaner, neater town.
0900h Breakfast after a good shower (phew)
1130h Detour of the batik man (can't imagine why I wrote this)
1210h The Kraton - nice Balairungseri (sultan's audience room)
1530h Yogka weather is so nice that everyone sleeps oustide in their 'becaks', under the shade of their mango and jackfruit trees, on the street....
Free Guide: Edi -dancer in the Kraton.
2030h The Ramayana Ballet - slim Javanese girls
There's a strange thing called Lesehan appearing on the streets of Yogja past 10 at night. Low tables and place mats appear on the side walks with make shift kitchens and pots providing your evening 'supper' - bebek ayam, sate kambing, soto, bakso etc.

Jakarta - Oct 29th (Saturday)

0725h It started with a lot of waiting. Woke up too early - Malaysian Time 1240pm: Sukarno Hatta Airport - dim.
1935h Jakarta - city of decaying buildings and human bodies -social decay, lepak, living to exist, flaking paint on the walls, rotting rubbish, broken pavements every step of the way.
2050h Kota Bus Station - crowded, huddled, noisy, chaotic, tired, bloated, feel like peeing.
All Night and All Morning- Cacophony of various musical merchants singing their own ditties.


These are my jottings exactly as I wrote them