Monthly Archives: September 2010

The Life & Times of A Spoilt Doggie (1)

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Aren't I gorgeous?!

August 15, 2006

It’s quite unheard of for us to keep diaries, but I’m different.

It’s true (I meant the being different bit), at least where Mummy’s concerned. She thinks I’m confused because I paw like a cat (god forbid!), skip like a rabbit and gallop like a horse. To be honest, I take offence to such horribly pedestrian comparisons. And, quite frankly, she’s the confused one: she’s a flamingo, swan and hippopotamus combined.

Let’s make this easier for you to understand: Mummy tries to be as elegant as a swan and as poised as a flamingo, although in reality, she’s as clumsy as a hippo. For the record, Mummy says porcupines are clumsy animals, although I never did think so. I wonder where she gets her info from. Check your Internet and you’ll see I’m right: hippos are the clumsy ones.

Oh, don’t get me wrong — Mummy’s got some class (you can’t be too classy if you’re clumsy. Mummy, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry, but the truth hurts) and she’s no prima donna. She’s a decent-looking broad, but she has her occasional blonde moments which makes me want to bark some sense into her thick head. Not that it would do much good; she ignores me half the time anyway.

Did I mention that Mummy is vain, too? She is. Extremely.

But, all that vanity is quite a waste if you consider her strange ability to slip and fall even while watching her step. And she has the gall to laugh at me when I sometimes crash into the door! If only she thought about it a little harder, she’d realise whom I take after. Again, sorry Mummy. The honesty-is-the-best-policy applies here, too.

You might think I’m being harsh but, really, Mummy is a hazard to herself. I’ve seen her close her car door into her thumb, bang the hammer on her own finger while trying to put up a picture on the wall, run into a pole, and there’s more, but it’d fill up another post.

But I love her. I can’t wait for her to come back from work. I can’t wait for that look on her face when she sees me as soon as she walks through the front door, weary from a long day.

Sometimes I get so over-excited, I pee! I can’t help it because sometimes, I can’t control myself. But, Mummy’s a darling; she never frets. The most she does is cluck her tongue in exasperation or sigh like an old lady and then clean up the mess.

She can be quite daft, though. Not daft in an irritating way like how Uncle Ben can be, but just daft in an adorably idiotic way.

Some weeks ago, she took me home with her for the weekend (I live with dad; yeah, it’s a weird joint custody arrangement they have there), and as is the usual practice, she’d take me for walks from her apartment to the gravel where I can play and perform my, err, daily ablutions.

(Can I just say how lucky humans are to be able to take a pee or poop in the privacy of their own toilets. Us dogs have to do it in public in front of people and insects and the horrible creatures they call cats. Where is the dignity in that?!)

Anyway.

At the time, she had just taught me how to walk the stairs, and because I was new at it, I was a little slow. Call it being careful. But what made it extra difficult was that I absolutely, desperately had to go because Mummy woke up late that morning. I thought I was gonna explode! What’s a little doggie to do but let go a few turds on the way down the stairs, right?

Needless to say, she was totally oblivious to my predicament, so bent was she on hurrying up so as not to be late for work (note to Mummy: next time, wake up earlier). Naturally, she found it difficult to drag me along and I think she was about to grumble when she realised what happened.  And all she did was laugh. How cool is that? I bet your momma would give you a hiding if she caught you pooping on the stairs.

Now, if it were up to Uncle Ben (he lives with daddy), he wouldn’t even bother to take me for a walk or, at least, even open the door for me so I can run out and take a dump. See, daddy lives in a house. So he’s got a porch. So all Uncle Ben has to do when he babysits me is to open the damn door. It’s not like I don’t make it clear enough. All that pacing and sniffing and whining and, in the worst case scenario, barking (!), should account for something, innit?

Like I said, that guy is a strange one. He gets a kick out of showing me stupid monkey faces and trying to con me into playing catch with him. But, when I try to get his attention so he can take me to the toilet, he wouldn’t budge. Not. An. Inch. And then I’ll have no choice but to let go on the floor because I can’t hold it any longer.

And what does Uncle Ben do? He says it’s my fault, then leaves the mess for daddy or Mummy to clean up.

I could take liberties with Uncle Ben and he wouldn’t be responsible. For instance, Mummy wouldn’t even let me play in the grass cos it’s dirty (yeah, she’s ridiculously anal about hygiene), but Uncle Ben’d let me out (usually not when I feel like peeing or pooping, mind you: the dude’s got his timing all wrong!) and I’d get my paws all filthy and caked with mud.

Then when Mummy comes back, guess who gets punished? Me. Cos Uncle Ben would say that I ran out to play in the garden and wouldn’t come in when he told me to. Moron.

Oops, I gotta go. Mummy’s calling me for din-din. God, I hope she’s not giving me anymore of those awful organic things again. She oughta do something about her culinary skills and add some kidney in there for me. Anyway, gotta run.

Catch yawl later.. woof!

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If A Dog Could Talk

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Cleopatra: the sweetest doggie ever

I’VE often wondered what Cleopatra would say if she could talk. For the record, Cleo is my pet Miniature Schnauzer. Would she have a British accent? Yeah, let’s give her a British accent…something like Jamie Oliver’s. How would her voice sound like? Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Cameron Diaz? Queen Latifah? Maybe Cameron for now, until I find someone better (I’d prefer Meryl, but take a look at Cleo and you’ll know she ain’t gonna pull off a Meryl).

Having Cleo has been one of the most wonderful experiences ever. It’s an incredible feeling knowing that when I leave for work in the morning, she misses me. When I get home in the evenings, she is waiting by the door to jump at me and lick my hand or face in dizzying welcome — the lonely hours she endures when I am away all forgotten.

Cleo’s an early bird..err.. dog. She’s always awake before I am. I know, because despite the fuzziness that accompanies those moments when I’m stirring from sleep, I can hear the patter of her footsteps as she circles my bed, waiting for me. The minute my alarm clock rings, she shoves her furry little face into mine and attempts to lick my nose so I’ll get off the bed and take her for a walk. Sometimes, she resorts to desperate measures like pawing me or jumping on the bed.

She always stops by for a goodnight gaze and a pat on the head every night before slipping to her usual spot (under my bed). As always, I can see part of her little head or bits of an ear peeking out below. When it’s particularly warm and balmy, she sleeps out in the open — always within an arm’s length from me.

Cleo knows when I’m sad. Many times, she’s sat patiently while I cry into her fur, not minding that my tears are capable of  leaving her quite damp. And always, she looks at me with those grave, solemn eyes, never judging; always my biggest fan despite my screw-ups.

I first had Cleo five years ago; she’s the best thing that ever came out of a past relationship. Yet, I am guilty of sometimes taking her loyalty and love for granted; I forget.

A friend of mine sent me an e-mail recently, which reminded me of the many ways to show love to my pet. Thanks, Jean, for the Pet’s 10 Commandments. It left tears in my eyes.

A PET’S TEN COMMANDMENTS

1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation from you is likely to be painful.

2. Give me time to understand what you want of me

3. Place your trust in me. It is crucial for my well-being.

4. Don’t be angry with me for long and don’t lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainment, but I have only you.

5. Talk to me. Even if I don’t understand your words, I do understand your voice when speaking to me.

6. Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget it.

7. Before you hit me, before you strike me, remember that I could hurt you, and yet, I choose not to bite you.

8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I’m not getting the right food, I have been in the sun too long, or my heart might be getting old or weak.

9. Please take care of me when I grow old. You too, will grow old.

10. On the ultimate difficult journey, go with me please. Never say you can’t bear to watch. Don’t make me face this alone. Everything is easier for me if you are there, because I love you so.



Where are Katy Perry’s Boobies?

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CERTAINLY not on Sesame Sreet.

The well-endowed, cleavage-flashing singer didn’t get the green light from parents who chanced upon her singing ‘Hot N Cold’ with Elmo online recently (you can read more here).

In the video clip which was shown on Sesame Street’s YouTube channel, Miss Perry wore an acid green dress with a very generous décolleté. Now, if Elmo were real and a heterosexual male, he would be a very happy man indeed. After all, he kept getting a nice eyeful of the bouncing twins.

Permit me to slip into Malaysian colloquialism for a moment.

Aiyah… this is a kids programme lah, sister! What were you thinking? Ya lah, kids are growing up faster these days, but this is Sesame Street lah! Kanasai!

I am not a puritan, not by any standard, but there are some things that should remain sacred — childhood, being one of them. It’s bad enough that kids barely capable of caring for themselves are fathering children at a rate that leaves some of my married friends frothing at the mouth in envy! Suggestive dressing on a squeaky clean show like Sesame Street sounds like an endorsement of childhood decadence.

What I didn’t quite get was why Sesame Street picked her in the first place. I mean, every time I have seen her on the telly, she’s showing off her cleavage. And even if they had to, why didn’t they make sure she was appropriately dressed before the shoot?

Anyway, the segment was yanked from the show. Kudos to the parents who sent in negative comments on the outfit. There is still hope of preserving the innocence of children. Or am I kidding myself?

Marvin’s World: Latest Happenings

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picture courtesy of Marvin Chan

 

IF you were to study the history of Malaysian art, you will notice a dearth in figurative studies in the 1970s as a result of an Islamisation policy formed under the National Cultural Congress of 1971. Thus figurative works and portraits took a back seat; in its place, a concentration on arabesques, repeating motifs and other Islamic design elements.

I remember doing an interview with Bayu Utomo Radjikin (artist and member of the Matahati outfit) some years ago following his return from a two-year hiatus in Britain. At the time, he was co-curating a group exhibition themed Mind, Body & Soul 2 at the Wei-Ling Gallery with owner Lim Wei-Ling.

We were discussing, briefly, about the disappearance of figurative studies in the local art scene and Bayu had reasoned that one other cause was a lack of focus on the subject in local art schools — perhaps an inevitable and related outcome, in hindsight.

Thankfully enough, this was not a permanent phenomenon. For what would art be without the artistic deification of the human body?

“There are angles, proportions and even calculations involved. Contrary to popular assumption, drawing a human body, in any artistic interpretation – even abstract – is a challenge,” Bayu had said during that interview.

I couldn’t agree more. Particularly since my artistic talent encapsulates all of stick figure drawings and other sketches and doodles of indeterminate nature. It would be sad if people like me could no longer admire the talents of those who can do (far) more justice to the human figure.

 

picture courtesy of Marvin Chan figure.

 

Ostensibly then, Mind, Body & Soul 2 was meant to resurrect artistic appreciation of the human body.

I’ve always loved figurative and portrait paintings — not the sort you find at Central Market, mind you. No offence meant to all CM artists, of course. I do respect their talent; however, I am no fan of such..umm…’literal’ art. I was referring to works of our crop of contemporary or ‘higher’ artists, for want of a better term: there is that much more flair in their painterly oeuvre, so to speak.

But, I digress.

It was at Wei-Ling Gallery that I first came across Marvin Chan; I was there to do an announcement piece on a show entitled 3 New Voices in 2008. His series of works entitled Letters to my Unborn Child — Mercurial Times, was shown alongside those of two other emerging artists, Hasanul Idris and Liong Mei-Yin.  A self-taught artist with an illustrious (and award-winning) advertising background, Marvin concentrates mainly on figurative paintings.

I was awed by the detail of his work, his talent and the fact that a man with so much going on in his day job would give it all up for the unpredictable world of painting (yes, and while we’re at it, let’s go back to the word ‘self-taught’). While it’s rather trite (and disparaging) to presume that full-time artists barely make a decent buck, it is a fact that not all artists earn a huge packet from their work. Not everyone can command a five- or six-figure paycheck  like, oh, say… Syed Ahmad Jamal? Ibrahim Hussein? Jai? Jolly Koh? Latiff Mohidin? Or Bayu. The road to creating a painting worth more than the total sale of me and my grandmother is a long and arduous one. For some, it is virtually impossible. Heh.

Marvin, to me, demonstrates a firm grasp of his subject. He has used various approaches to depict the human form and, at times, humanity through the human body/expression — from paintings and backgrounds of bold colour and full form  to monochromatic and chiaroscuro-esque hues, or that which include white spaces, unfinished lines and some degree of effects.

See, the beauty about being a self-taught artist is this: you have nothing to lose, not as much as those who have gone to art school or who descend from a family of prodigious artists. You can experiment however you wish and none of those toffee-nosed gits can say “Hey, don’t you know this colour/stroke/technique is not right?” because, well, you didn’t know! Ignorance is bliss and you can pretty much try out whatever and wing it. And if it works, whoa, that’s what we call talent and a great eye. But if it sucks, you never knew anyway since you’re pretty fresh on the block. Nobody could blame you. Still, being a freshie and going at it with guns blazing into the fray with old-timers and their brand of politics can be pretty daunting.

Not that Marvin is too perturbed (some degree of thick skin doth go a long way). He’s plodded on since, hasn’t he? In 2010, he began to concentrate solely on the face and its myriad expressions. “Faces in some ways are a kind of anamorphic mirror showing us our location in their perception, by showing us signs in their expression or the way they turn their faces,he says. Compared to his earlier work, the 2010 collection of portraits are executed using thick brushstrokes against stark, white background. It’s all about beauty in the ordinary; the expression of the face telling a million stories to the viewer.

Come Oct 25, Marvin will be graduating into a different hierarchy, so to speak: his first solo exhibition will be showing at Wei-Ling Gallery. The solo collection — fresh off the mint — is the result of a self-discovery process which unfolded amid his desire to have children and the realisation of how his mind works. The show, entitled The Inconsequential Consequence of Hope depicts close-up images of children’s faces constructed through a collection of multi-hued triangles — a reflection of how the artist triangulates marks to locate and render an image (watch video here).

What makes Marvin’s work interesting is also his fascinating personality. Behind the quirky, playful facade and witty banter, lies a highly critical and creative mind.

A recent participation in an art residency programme in Vermont this year resulted in another slew of cleverly executed and ‘interactive’ paintings of his fellow artists-in-residence. This, for me, has taken Marvin a step further from the academic, conventional style of portrait painting. The Vermont works are constructed or accompanied by recycled material which describes his perception of the subject’s idiosyncrasies, personality and character — to a certain extent.

“These works are a combination of painting, recycled materials and found objects which I put together to make portraits of people I meet. I use the packaging from the things they use or consume, I sometimes supplement the work with found objects to underscore an aspect or a story of the person. I did these in Vermont studio center to make a cumulative representation of the artist community there,” Marvin explains. And because these boxes contained the food consumed by the artists, there is therefore a more personal connection with the subjects. Oh well, but that’s just be me trying to sound clever 🙂

 

Ginny constrained in the wholesome goodness of a Puritanical life

 

For instance, Ginny S. who comes from a long line of puritans, covers herself with layers of clothing and walks with a slouch to hide her well-endowed body. Marvin describes her character as being “closed up”. His commentary of the ‘restrictions’ she lives with is depicted through a wine box framed around her portrait, on which he has also pasted labels of wholesome food products in a deliberate pun on the contradictions which seem to form part and parcel of her life. Yep. Ginny in a box.

 

Homage to a shared moment with Vic and Uncle Jack

 

Now, this particular piece is one of my favourites from his Vermont series. I find the concept of painting on a bottle so quaint! Here, Marvin takes a more personal approach with his then house mate, Victor Castro, a Peruvian who is currently a curator at the Tamayo Museum in Mexico. Instead of boxes and labels, Marvin pays tribute to Victor with a Jack Daniels bottle. “We shared a moment and that was the bottle we drank from,” he says. Suffice to say Marv and Vic had some great times together in Vermont.

 

"Being around Almaz is like treading on eggshells."

 

Not all Marvin’s residency mates got their mugs on his wall of fame, however. Almaz W. was one of them; an egg box was used as a substitute. “Being around Almaz is like treading on eggshells,” Marvin remembers.  He recalls their first encounter: “When we first met, I complimented her on her beauty — her hair, her eyes. She immediately accused me of objectifying her. The eggs represent the delicate relationship we shared in that brief moment.” The statement he had painted on the wall next to ‘Almaz’ (“Network interrupted. There has been an error in connection”) is indicative of the delicate nature of their friendship. Perhaps Marvin did right to refrain from painting her.

There is more, but then there’d be no end to this post. But since a picture says a thousand words, here’s more from Marvin’s Vermont series:

 

Mark Hallet

 

 

Max Naff

 

 

Chepequadra

 

 

Kendra Denny

 

This year, I nominated Marvin for the Sovereign (Asian) Art Prize. No news yet. Keeping my fingers crossed.

For a glimpse of Marvin’s Magical World, check out http://marvinchan.tumblr.com.

Wanted: National Unity

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“To achieve our dreams, we need national unity”.

The Minx calls on all Malaysians to demand for what’s right — not for our individual selves, but for all our countrymen: Malays, Indians and Chinese, serani and orang asli. Vote for leaders that have their eye on the greater good of the country. Aim for checks and balances in the system. Let’s not allow corruption and racism to tear us apart. Let’s not forget how proud we have always been to be a melting pot of many cultures; a single Malaysian identity formed by different ethnic groups.

For more reads on a fairer political system et. al., check out the Tindak Malaysia website. I’ve also inserted below an interesting article from the Time magazine which touches on the proposed National Economic Model in the midst of escalating problems stemming from growing racism and outdated affirmative action policies. Keeping my fingers crossed that the NEM will make things better for all Malaysians. There is no harm in being optimistic…

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Click. Save an Animal’s Life.

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SOME years ago, the newspapers highlighted an incident of animal cruelty at one of the larger pet stores at a shopping centre in Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya. Apparently, a sick pup under the care of the store was left in a cat cage by a secluded fire exit without receiving medical treatment for two days. A concerned individual called on my friend, a hack, who wrote an article on the issue.

When my friend visited the store to investigate, she found the puppy already dead, its legs hanging through the cage bars. A puddle of bloodied and watery stools lay underneath the cage.

Bad enough that a representative from the pet store had come up with lame excuses; what’s worse was that the Veterinary Services Department director had announced that action would not be taken against the store because the officers had not seen anything despite the existence of witnesses and photographic evidence. Needless to say, (no) thanks to persuasive muzzling and gentle pressure applied by the right muscle on the right quarters, there were hardly or no follow-up stories on the issue — the pet store is still thriving today.

How that  director could be in the service of saving animals is beyond me. How ignorance and apathy prevails among pet store operators (and their employees) is just as unfathomable.

See, I have no issues about granting second chances, but wrongdoers — in this case, the pet store — should not only admit to their wrongdoing, but also take it upon themselves to champion the rights of animals so that the public can see that they are trying to make a difference. It’s a way of public apology or righting a wrong, so to speak. It also educates the staff in the process. See? Win-win situation. Nothing like this happened, of course.

The trouble is this: people forget.

In another incident last year, a stray dog was caged to a fence near a train station in Kepong, a stick rammed down its throat. It was reported in the Malaysian Insider that the dog was tortured by KTMB workers. The dog was subsequently rescued from a Selayang dog pound by the SPCA and handed over to a canine welfare group (Malaysian Dogs Deserve Better), which ironically named it ‘KTM’ . The abuse took its toll on the dog, however. KTM died not too long after that.

Animal cruelty doesn’t just happen to dogs. It happens to animals across the board, all over the world.

Let’s remember that animals deserve to be treated right, too — regardless if they are pets or livestock. There are proper ways of ensuring that animals are not subjected to cruelty, and this includes strays taking a snooze under a tree on your street, or at the pavement by the restaurant that you frequent, and even those on their way to being served up on your dinner plate.

This blog supports People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the largest animal rights organisation in the world with more than two million members and supporters.

PETA focuses on four areas in which the largest number of animals suffer most intensely for the longest periods of time: on factory farms, in the clothing trade, in laboratories, and in the entertainment industry. It also works on a variety of other issues, including the cruel killing of beavers, birds, and other “pests” as well as cruelty to domesticated animals.

PETA works through public education, cruelty investigations, research, animal rescue, legislation, special events, celebrity involvement, and protest campaigns.

All you have to do to join me in supporting the rights of animals and preventing animal cruelty is to click on the PETA2 logo on the right. That will help to mobilise the right people/organisations to raise funds for the cause. Oh, you get brownie points in heaven, too.

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Review: Friends In High Places

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GUIDO Brunetti is enjoying the weekend off and time to himself when a young bureaucrat pays him a visit to discuss issues relating to his apartment.  A few days later, the young man dies after falling off a scaffolding at a construction site. The circumstances of his death and the events preceding it compel Brunetti, a commissario of the Venetian police, to look into the matter. His investigations lead him to the crimes of drug abuse and loan sharking, neatly overlooked by the authorities (it appears that the criminals have friends in high places) and he is compelled to use his own connections to solve the crime.

‘Friends in High Places’ is the ninth book in Donna Leon’s Guido Brunetti series and is an easy read, suitable for adults (including teens) interested in crime fiction. It took me two days of leisurely and irregular reading to finish the book.

Although the plot is suitably intricate, I couldn’t help but feel it was over too soon and wished there was more. I must commend Leon for giving the reader an adequate background of Venice (Leon is American), and makes the city even more appealing for its ancient structures, abundant waterways and the lifestyle of the Venetians. She makes Brunetti a real and accessible protagonist — something I find especially endearing. It’s nice to read about a crime buster who has a normal family, has squabbles with his wife whose father is a member of the upper echelons of the Venetian political hierarchy, who has a boss he doesn’t quite like and who struggles with the apathy and lackadaisical attitudes of the people he works with.

Interestingly, I learnt from a website that Leon’s books were originally only published in Great Britain. Apparently her books were too intellectual for the American market. Odd, that.

Leon was born in New Jersey in 1942, but lived abroad since 1965. She has worked as a tourist guide in Rome, a copywriter in London, an English teacher at American schools in Switzerland, Iran, China and Saudi Arabia. She moved to Venice in 1981.

Eat, Drink & Live @ Epicure Malaysia 2010

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Eat, Drink, Live!

Interested in learning … how to make chocolate? How to cook classic French cuisine? All about golfing? All about beer or fine Italian wine? Where to find roofing or swimming pool specialists?  All of the above?

If you are — or fancy yourself — an epicurean, particularly one who is  educated, of the upper income bracket, lifestyle focused (wannabe snobs/snobs-in-training can take lessons here), block out your dates from Sept 17 to 19 and mosey on over to the Sime Darby Convention Centre for Epicure Malaysia 2010.

Epicure Malaysia is back for the seventh time and is the venue for all lifestyle products and services, from fine dining, wines and cigars to wellness, home entertainment and property. We’re talking about greening your house, kids scuba diving, Japanese tapas, the finer points of etiquette, First Aid (??), slimming — you name it.

Besides the assortment of exhibitors, the fair will also include cooking classes, workshops on wine and cigar appreciation, investments and many more. Bookings can be made at the website.

Additionally, you could check out the brochure here.

OR,

If you are not inclined to reading too much, and prefer a shortcut, here’s a TVC you can check out:

I am a snob-in-training, so chances are you’ll see me there. I wanna eat (burp), drink (blurb) and live (whoopee)!!!

*photo credited to Epicure 2010 website.

The Allure of Avillion

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SO there I was in desperate need of a holiday. I’d been entertaining fantasies of going somewhere quiet, private and not too expensive…and it seemed like the most viable plan was to go local.

And so I headed to Avillion, Port Dickson for a quick getaway. The place was comfortable, the staff friendly, the food better than decent, and the open shower super glorious (too bad I have no photos of that).

It was, sadly, a holiday that ended too soon. Would I go there again? Absolutely. I’m still craving for the herbal chicken soup and fried cod fish with rice.

From the balcony

Each room comes furnished with a balcony/veranda. Depending on which chalet you are staying in, you get a view of the pool, garden or the wide open sea. A lover of water and the beach, I chose to stay in the Tumasek chalets, as they offer you a wide vista of the sea and is more private than the other chalets. It is a bit of a walk from the main area of the resort, but that was hardly a price to pay for solitude and a better view.

Lookout Point

The Tumasek chalets stretch right out from the beach, hovering right above the water.

Low Tide at Sundown

Dusk is particularly beautiful in Avillion. I remember walking around and taking in the differences in light and colour at various areas around the resort.

Sunset

Sunsets are not crazy spectacular; not like something you would expect from the peak of a mountain, but the simple wonders of nature is certainly worth looking at.

Trudging back to Tumasek

The walkway to each chalet has a rustic, fishing village feel to it. Something I appreciated, particularly since it was such a change from the city.

Avillion by Night

I particularly enjoyed walking around the resort at night, watching the interplay between darkness and light and the reflections they cast on the water.

Wash your feet, kampung-style

I love the beach, but hate the sand. Unfortunately, you can’t have one without the other, but Avillion makes going to the beach bearable (and leaves less work for housekeeping) with these thoughtfully-placed water ‘tempayan’ at the entrance of each chalet cluster.

Poolside

The restaurants are located right at the pool edge (foreground). This was a much appreciated convenience for lazy (pool) bums like me who refused to leave the water.

Mommy and Daughter

I was not the only one spending so much time getting my skin busted by the unforgiving UV rays of the sun 🙂

Animal Farm

If sitting by the pool and reading for countless of hours makes you feel like you will lose your mind, go play with the animals in the pet farm/petting zoo. Opens at 10am.

(L-R) Miss Donatella, Miss Speckles, Mister Crowalot, and Miss Warble.

I chanced upon this motley crew catching up after their morning feed on my way to the poolside.

Food Frenzy

Food is provided by friendly Avillion staff. Watch out for your fingers while you feed the little ones, though — they could be mistaken for food.

Feeding Frenzy 2

You have been duly warned. The animals are a hungry lot.

Me and my Bunny

You get to hold the animals, too!

Putra the Peacock

I tried making friends with Putra, but he snubbed me.

Stairway to Nowhere

There is also a jogging/mini hiking trail for guests. You might not want to get your hopes too high where visiting the Fair Winds Hotel is concerned.

The End

Aku Anak Malaysia

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YESTERDAY, Malaysia turned 53. Yesterday, we celebrated our freedom from colonial rule (and that of the Japanese, Dutch and Portuguese before that) — an event our forefathers fought so hard for. Yesterday should’ve been a celebration.

But yesterday was a lacklustre affair. Sure, there was the usual celebration at the Stadium Putra, but the streets were quiet. There was little hype and fanfare. Fewer Merdeka ads on TV. Far less Merdeka banners or Malaysian flags on buildings. No Merdeka ‘feeling’. Throughout the entire month of August, I could count the number of cars with the proverbial mini Malaysian flag attached on the side; previously, numerous cars were decked with numerous mini flags. Previously, I saw people waving full-sized Malaysian flags on the backs of pickup trucks.

This year’s National Day, sadly, is laced with apathy, anger, and racial discrimination. This year, some have been heard to threaten the increasingly fraying harmony of my country with a repeat of May 13. This year, some of us have been unfairly labelled as ‘pendatang’. This year, those who spoke up against injustice and bigotry in the country were threatened with bullets in their mail, had multiple police reports lodged against them, were harshly branded as traitors to their own kind. This year, principals are turning a blind eye to unity by sowing seeds of discord among students. This year, a few Malaysians walking the streets on Merdeka eve were suddenly attacked by a bunch of youths and told to “balik ke negara asal”, simply because they were Chinese. This year, Namewee is placed under investigation for being vocally critical (in YouTube) over a principal’s racist remarks against Chinese and Indian students in her school.

Perhaps, it’s because Yasmin Ahmad is dead and there is none left capable of carrying the torch. I hope not. Perhaps, it’s because the likes of Perkasa and MPM, namely Ibrahim Ali and his bunch of bigoted cohorts have not been duly muzzled. Perhaps, Malaysians are forgetting what our forefathers fought for; truly fought for. And that, perhaps, is the fault of the powers-that-be.

I am of Chinese-Indian parentage. I make a halal living. I love my country and its multiple ethnicities. I love the peace and harmony here. And I am saddened by what has been happening of late.

Aku anak Malaysia: I am Malaysian, and I am not ashamed of it.

I call on all Malaysians to remember
that united we stand; divided we fall.
Happy Merdeka!
And peace to all

My DailyLit