Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2013s gone????



Wait didn't we just celebrate the new year for 2013?????

Whoa where did that year go! it's been one hellava crazy year. I went back to the agency life at the end of 2012. The first few months weren't so busy as the nation stood at standstill waiting for the 2013 elections to happen. The very next day, calls started coming in and businesses went full drive into catching up the lost 5 months. So imagine a year crammed into 7 months! yeah crazy but good.

I've loved every moment of it though they have been times all i wanted to do was curl up and sleep for days!

My trip to Hatyai happened just after 3 months of crazziness. another week of that and i would have been totally burnt out. That trip to the beautiful Koh Lipe island was god sent.

I travelled a fair bit this year. am trying to post the stories before i forget them but times an issue. The birthday was celebrated in beautiful Kota Kinabalu. thats paradise on earth, i can't wait to go back. but be warned once you step into the beautiful waters of KK, the underwater sea life every else will pale in comparison. And i've yet to head to the crown jewel of Sabah - Sipadan! I loved the road trip i did to mount kinabalu - the croker range is so amazingly beautiful and waking up to the view of mount Kinabalu is up there on the most beautiful things ive seen list.






I came back to the shocking announcement of the colleagues wedding and before we knew it we were throwing her her bacholerette night and what a celebration it was. Actually it was a series of celebration from Christmas to the time she left.



Then i shot Thaipusam in Ipoh and drove back to Batu Caves for the KL leg of the festival - yeah i know crazy ;p But i had fallen in love with thaneer malai Murugan and wanted to see him during Thaipusam - and it didn't disappoint. different but nice. though Ipoh folks have a thing for weird kavadis.

Heehehe im actually referring back to my trusty old google calendar to figure out where the year went ;p



I flew to Varanasi for Shivaratri and fell in love with the city. the experience at the ganges was unbeliveable and i went there as a through skeptic. i sat at the steps everyday, heading before dawn to a different ghat and watched the world unfold as the sun rose on the ganga. every evening i watched the arathi - my fav spot being on a boats roof away frm the crazy crowds.



Loved kolkata too but the smog in the city kept me indoors mostly and as we joked - the airport had the freshest air!



i did a short road trip along the border of Selangor and Perak - nothing much but it fits my aim to see every town in Malaysia.



I headed to the land of cats Kuching and had a lovely time there. Did a road trip around the state. We were rewarded by this beautiful sunset one evening.



I call the city the garden city for all the amazing big trees all over the city.



this year i cancelled 2 trip plans as i was in a transition period with some of the clients i took over. oh i got interviewed as a photographer and appear on the cover of the inner pullout section of one of the leading english papers here! that was an awesome moment. seeing yourself on the cover is just an AMAZING feeling.



I still managed to drag myself out of bed for the Merdeka Parade. Love this photo



by the time i went for my next holiday it was September. that was how busy i was! that too it was a 3 day trip only. ah but what a trip! i swam with sharks! not one but 4 baby sharks! for 20 minutes! omg what beautiful creatures. i went n got myself an underwater cam just for this! i so wanna go back there again just to photograph those beautiful creatures!

the school i visit every year for navarathri did something totally different this year - they had a devi procession on the last night. it was such a beautiful moment and of course afterwards the fun element came into play as ppl got smeared with kunkumam.



The Petronas Twin Towers turned pink for one weekend as part of breast cancer awareness month and what a sight it was!





then it was to Hatyai where i found my favourite Buddha. Hes so prettyyyyyyyy.


And the beautiful island of Koh Lipe. Sadly just days ago a bombing took place in Hatyai. i remember the numerous checks the police did when we were in the city centre and despite that this happened.





we headed to Phuket a month back for the company trip and had a great time though Phuket didnt seem as magical as the first time i was there. the beach i had been before was so different and the waters were empty. i remember fishes in that water. where had they all gone?

work has been amazing. i achieved more than i had targetted to do, which was to do better than the previous ROI set for some of the accounts. some issues but what is life without problems. but all in all a brilliant year where am satisfied with what ive achieved. I am my biggest critic and competitor. i have to be one of the best in whatever i do and that was definetly achieved.

Hey i'm a workaholic - i truly love to work!

its Christmas eve and I turn 34 in a matter of days. I don't feel a year older! it doesnt help that ppl generally think I'm 25! lol i think at some point i have to stop telling my age to ppl. something my mom has to do.

I built my dream library shelves last year, and now theyre briming with more books. i've read a gazzilion books this year and more to come in the next few weeks.

this years Birthday will be celebrated with music ;) Tell you when i get back. 2014 is gonna be another crazy year - i can already feel it! ;p

Alrighty Merry Christmas and Happy New year.

See you lot in 2014!!

The video below is quite an interesting take on the events of 2013 though i believe its missing the most important moment of 2013 - Malala. what an inspiring young women who definetly deserved the Noble prize. If you havent heard her speech go google her and you will get the links and be amazed.



ps: if you really want photo updates go to the facebook page. that gets regular updates!

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Flashback

was suddenly reminded of this route i did years ago in the western ghats of karnataka - winding bendy roads with nary a person, beautiful green forest, with a luchious river running through and at one point there were beautiful bamboos lining the river but we couldnt stop coz it was raining ice on the hottest day in summer ;p

bloody hell i wanna do this route again *slaps self for being a travel addict

I wrote a post on that trip (those days i was such a diligent travel writer) but all the photos are missing and i'm too lazy to replace them 

ps: the video does not do this place justice



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Sarithira Payanam

I have no idea why it took me so long to discover this song by Juvan Shiva but this is one of the most brilliant songs I've heard and the lyrics are amazing

Sarithira Payanam (Historical Journey) a tribute to unsung heroes of the past - within you is an epic, a story from the past. Yours is a story of courageous warriors, who sailed dark uncharted waters with hopes for a glorious life on the soil of Malaya. They arrived with hunger for a new destiny - a destiny only possible as blood-drenched slaves chained to the mercy of the British Rajahs. Blood and death was the sacrifice made for generations they would never live to see. The destiny you real today arose from seeds of endless miseries.

You can listen to the song at the link here and the lyrics are as below

Vocal, lyrics and song composed by Juvan Shiva
Music: Boy Radge

Kappalgal yehri kadal kadanthu intha mannil naamum vanthom,
Rattangal sinthi uyiraiyum koduthu intha mannai valarthom,
munnor seitha thiyagangalai indru nenjil naamum maranthom,
vanmurai seithu valimurai thavari vantha paathai ilanthom,
Indian endrah naamam, ini nenjinil endrum vendum,
Orumurai thirumbi paarthal, vantha sarithiram unakku puriyum,
Indian endra naamam, ini nenjinil endrum vendum,
Ithuvarai pirinthathu pohthum, anther sarithiram uyirpereh vendum...

Chorus

Kadkalai kadanthu mudkalai mithithu andru avargal uzhaithaargal,
Noigalai thaangi sonthangal maranthu intha mannai vithaithaargal,
Sanjikuliyai iravum pagalum vellaiyan aachiyil puthainthaargal,
Thalaimurai kaatke thiyagangal seithu nammil indrodu kalanthaargal.

Andru sinthiya ratthangal sinthiyathen...
Indru sinthanai seiya nee maruppathum yen?
Nam munnor seitha thiyagangalai nenjil kaadpom...
Andru sinthiya ratthangal sinthiyathen...
Indru sinthanai seiya nee maruppathum yen?
Nam munnor seither thiyagangalai ini meedpom...

Kappalgal yehri kadal kadanthu (kalanthu) inther mannil naamum vanthom,
Rattangal sinthi uyiraiyum koduthu intha mannai valarthom,
Munnor seither thiyagangalai ini nenjil naamum kaapom,
Vanmurai thagarthu valimurai kaathu vantha paathai meedpom…

Indian endra naamam ini nenjinil endrum vendum...
Orumurai thirumbi paarthaal vantha sarithiram unakku puriyum...
Indian endra naamam ini nenjinil endrum kaapom...
Orumurai thirumbi paarthaal vantha sarithiram unakku puriyum...
Indiya naamam indiya naamam nenjinil endrum kaapom..
Orumurai paarthaal marumurai paarthal sarithiram unaku puriyum...

Indiyaa naamam...... ini nenjinil endrum kaapom......................

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Saturday, November 09, 2013

The paradise called Lipe



Sitting outdoors under the moonless light as Chet sang beautifully in heavily Thai influenced English pronunciations over dinner is high up there on my list of things I loved to do. I was sitting at Pooh’s restaurant in beautiful Koh Lipe an island 4 hours by sea and land of Hatyai. Ever smilling Chet provided the much needed live music that suited the islands laid backness. Of course midway rain suddenly decided to invite himself and rained in a matter of few minutes as all of us scrambled into the indoor area as rain and wind lashed at us.


Ah Koh Lipe what a lovely place to be.

We were staying right at the centre of Walking street, the main area where all the tours and restaurants were. Everyday we would walk towards Pattaya Beach, about 8 minutes from our hotel passing by my favourite dessert and breakfast place – Thai Lady pancake where you take of your shoes, wash your feet and sit at the chairs or on the wooden ramps on short Japanese tables. They served my all-time favourite breakfast bacon, sausages and eggs as well as some yummy sandwhiches and thai pancakes in whatever topping you wanted.


There are no cars on the island just golf carts and bike taxis which we only used when we arrived and were leaving as everything was pretty much in walking distance from our hotel.


Now the beach, what I read online was different from what I saw. Pattaya was touted as the best beach while Sunrise wasn’t but it was pretty opposite in terms of white sandy sand. Also theres a lot of development taking place at Pattaya so that was dampner. We had also arrived on a moonless day and on that evening the waters were a bit murky, clear but murky which was a bit unusualy coz 2 days later the water at Pattaya was crystal clear. So mind the timing when you head to the beach, the water seems different according to the moon.


 

We spent a whole day snorkelling at the little islands off Lipe. We were supposed to head to 5 islands but had only time for 4. We missed the black pebble island but it just means I have another reason to come back ;p I can’t remember the islands accept for Koh Rawi where we stopped for lunch but all the islands waters were stunning emerald green and filled with fish. It was lovely to snorkel there but the sealife was still nothing compared to what we find in Malaysia. But anytime spent in the sea is awesome ;p
 

I was walking around after lunch taking photos when I got out of the water to find a black crab hanging from my shorts. Luckily it hadn't found my flesh and dug in ;p

We got to see some beautiful sunsets and no we didn’t bother with the sunrise.

The people on the island are pretty nice. Walking by the streets everyday you’d get smiles from everyone and no one trying to sell you something.


One evening there were this kids running around the streets growling at people and turned up at me growling so of course I growled back. So kid decides to follow me and growl a few times. On the third growl, I took of my glasses and gave him one of my scary big eyed growls. Poor kid ran away. Later in the evening I saw him again and tried to take his photo but he refused to be photographed  ;p

At dinner most of the restaurants had grilled seafood made to order so one night when we were looking at where to eat we found one shop with a huge swordfish at its grill. I stopped to take a photo and finally decided to eat there. My fish arrived yummly cooked and melting off the skin with a lovely homemade lime sauce.  

 
And so ended our lovely beach holiday before we headed back to Hatyai. Now that was an interesting adventure. On the way back we were put on a medium sized speedboat instead of the ferry we arrived in. midway through the boat stopped as the driver started yakking in thai to someone on the phone. Next thing we see two big fishing trawlers pass each other and we stopped right next to it. Apparently the driver was buying fish in the middle of the sea. Lol that kinda freaked out the rest of the travellers, a big group of fellow Malaysians.

 

Some time later the boat stopped and this time it was engine trouble. Somehow they managed to get the boat running again but it happened again and luckily they got it solved and we finalled reached land. Only to find my bag soaking wet and smelling of fish! I quickly bought another plastic bag and dumped all my clothes into it. Luckily the clothes weren’t wet but I had to wash my bag the moment we reached the hotel.

Note to self never let your bag go into the boats underneath compartment.

Can’t wait to head there again even if it takes 4 hours to get there.

Ps: Don’t think I’ll edit the photos on time so enjoy the instagram photos – and oh you can follow me on instagram just look for @visithra

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Glorious Bangkok

window gazer

I’ve been to Bangkok twice and I still haven’t seen the famous Wats and Palace.

The first time I was there it was a really short trip but I absolutely loved it so this time I spent a few more days here hoping to see the temples but guess what, we were too busy doing other things to go.

I'm so cute!

We stayed in this lovely gorgeous harem like hotel. The lobby was decorated with plush pillows and in a morrocon and Indian theme. We spent some time lazing in the icy cool water of the pool and the couches. We also got our massages there as well while facing the pool ;p

morning doze on the barbers chair

The staff were also really nice so we enjoyed staying there.

We spent one whole day at Chatuchak though besides the beautiful painting I got, wasn’t worth our time at all. Got better deals along the night markets in the main town.

Shy

We walked around Sukhumvit exploring the little areas with less tourist, the river area where people were waiting for something (a boat it think) and just watching the town go by. Then we picked stations and got down to explore the area just for the fun of it. Was pretty interesting.

snip snip 


One night we headed to the pub area for music and were entertained by this band with a really good drummer and guitarist though the singers weren’t really that good or creative. Still it was an enjoyable night ;p

Didn’t really take much photos on the trip coz we were doing a lot of hanging out ;p

We spent our last day there just lazing around and getting a relaxing massage just before our flight back to KL. Must say that was an awesome thing to do ;p

You called me? Siesta Life Ice cream please! Hello Sweetness a window in bangkok Tattooted men of Thailand

ps: story from a trip in 2012

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Friday, August 30, 2013

Happy 56th Malaysia


My Cambodian neighbour has been flying the Malaysian flag for a few years now. They’ve been living a few doors away for nearly 10 years and they’re constantly the only ones who fly a flag.

My family occasionally puts up a flag at home around Merdeka. When we used to drive a Kancil, every August we would doll up the car with flags as the flag would fit perfectly on the bonnet of the car. I always have a few sizes of the flag at home which I fly or carry along with me as I travel or to football games. Yes I sometimes travel with a Malaysian flag, especially on a long trip away from home. Nothing beats the feeling of waving your countries flag during a football match, and singing the national anthem.

Back to my Cambodian neighbour, few months back I noticed his flag was starting to show wear and so I dug up my own flags, and gave him a flag. Now I rarely talk to my neighbours, we just have a hi and polite smile relationship. But I think I made his day that day when I gave him the flag.

On Election Day, I hung up a Malaysian flag at home coz I was so annoyed to see so many people waving political flags and not even one Malaysian flag. There is no way I would fly a political flag by my own account unless I’m involved in some promotional work. The only flag I would ever fly is the Malaysian flag.  And so I voted and headed home to hang up my flag which has been flying over house since then.

Tomorrow is the 56th Merdeka or Independence Day for Malaysia and in two weeks time we will celebration the formation of Malaysia.

I have been attending and photographing the annual parade nearly every year since 2007. I think I missed 2010 and 2011 as I was shooting weddings back to back on both years. In 2002, I got to achieve one my dreams – to take part in the annual national parade something I had missed out while in school. That was one of the most cherished and exciting day in my life. My parents were glued to the tv, trying to see if they could see me on screen. That’s how big a thing Merdeka is to my family. You see my mom and her brothers had been there when they lowered the union jack flag as well as the next day when my uncles took part in the first ever National Day parade as my grandfather who was a cop stood in duty as one of Tunku’s personal bodyguard.

I’m a fifth generation Malaysian, a point I mention a lot as I am damn proud to be one and our family has been calling KL home since the mid 18 century.

So I never understand when people say I don’t feel “the Merdeka” spirit this year and funnily this phenomenon is not isolated to Malaysians. I hear this from people in other countries to.

A country’s Independence Day is the celebration in memory of breaking free from your former rulers. Every year we celebrate that day to remind and cherish the sacrifice our people made to gain independence.

We all have things that we don’t like about our country and many who do not like or agree to the government in rule but how does that change how you feel about the day your country gained independence?
A country should be seen as an entity different from the party that is ruling it. One should always be proud of flying your country’s flag or singing your national anthem regardless of who represents the government. These are symbols of your country not the ruling party so why aren’t we taking ownership of them?

Of course if you have no hate nor love for your country this shouldn’t mean a thing to you.

You know why I love to attend the national day parade?

For every year I see a sense of pride and thousands of beaming faces so proud to celebrate our independence. No they weren’t paid to be there nor were they there just to see our soldiers march past. The feeling of standing there and singing Negaraku with my fellow Malaysians is a feeling that I cannot describe. Even writing about that moment gives me goose bumps. I love singing Negaraku with a large crowd – which is why it feels so electrifying at a football game. Perhaps I'll record one tomorrow of how it feels on Merdeka morning.


While I’m so not into the recent national anthem singing before movies ruling – anywhere else and I’ll proudly stand up and sing along whole heartedly.

So you don’t want to be there with people from the ruling party that you detest?

Cool, why don’t you gather your friends and have an independence day party instead and sing the Negaraku while raising our Jalur Gemilang?

There are so many things that can and should be changed and we should work towards that but that shouldn’t deter us remembering and celebrating our independence from our former rulers.

So to all my fellow Malaysians – Selamat Hari Merdeka and Happy 56th Malaysia ;)

Love you lots my old country.

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Happy birthday MJ

Happy birthday MJ - you are sorely missed - not a day goes by without thinking what if you were still around



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Sunday, August 25, 2013

The blind care not

The blind care not

I doubt the old blind cared if the guy guiding him was a Bangladeshi.

This is my favourite corner in KL – I absolutely love these Zebra crossings and so I decided to sit and watch the world go by and in that time I saw six or seven patrol cars circling the area.

People complain that they have taken over KL. That’s not true, we abandoned KL and they embraced it. I walked for close to two hours as the sun set, stood and watched people go by and I barely saw Malaysians on what was a beautiful breezy evening perfect for a stroll.

It seems that we don’t want KL for we prefer our shopping malls so why complain when someone else calls it home?

curious ?

I saw many heart warming scenes like this; people stopping to embrace each other, a man picking up an abandoned piece of paper, people stopping to great others – it was home for them and I was but a stranger watching them. 

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