Monday, October 31, 2016

Poland | By chance… It was Iceland’s fault!

The most underrated country in Europe.

There’s so many to say. So many to share. And so many to shout about.

My ultimate advice is still, allocate 1 week and visit this country. Krakow and Warsaw; the 2 cities you should (dis)cover. The very least. You will not regret it. Trust me.

Having been traveling since the last 10 years or so, covering many European countries, Poland has always been out of the radar, omitted even at the preliminary stage, losing to neighbouring countries such as Czech Republic, Germany and the Baltic countries. So one might find it strange, if it is always a miss, so the mystery was, how did I end up in Poland and fallen head over hill with her. Well, here my journey… my love story.

How we (Poland and I) met was by chance, thanks to the supposed-to-erupt-Iceland-volcano-but-did-not. The original plan was to spend approximately 10 days in Iceland; doing the Golden Circle route, either self-drive or tour. Just 1 week before our departure, the Met announces that the plate shifted and the Iceland volcanos show sign of activities. Googling this lead to another miserable finding which validates the news… few volcanos around the world has emitted a faint cloud of grey smoke.

An initial indication that…

The dragon mouth (volcano lah tuh) has awaken. Jeng jeng jeng…

Worried that the history might repeat itself; 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallaj√∂kull thick ashes covering Europe air travel for a period of 1 week. It was a catastrophic phenomenon as 20 countries closed their airspace to commercial jet traffic which affected about 10 million travellers. Us both don’t want to be in the same boat, knowing very well that the cost of living in Reykjavik gonna damage our bank account for the next few years. Will share more on ‘How to survive in Iceland with a small budget’ in my next entry *wink*.

Just 3 days before departure, we formulate a plan, a MASTER-FOOOLPROOF-PLAN we call it, with no  back-up plan (whatsoever, yeah… #overconfidentmuch). We shall decide upon arriving Europe on our next country of visit and the amount of stay per country (smart sangat kannnn). After monitoring the news, we both decided to cut down our Iceland trip (calling it a recce trip instead) and our action item was…

Anna : We google with flight travels to any Europe country that we both haven’t been to, the cheapest of course.

Lily : Set! (Looking at the map, identifying the possible countries )

And in the tiny Air BNB room we set, amidst Reykjavik cold and chilly weather, we googled and nailed down – Krakow! Quickly we search for a room in Air BNB and bam we found one to our liking, 3 station away from Old Town (anywhere near an Old Town [in any countries that is] is superbly good).

Since we are already geared up to be adventurous and spontaneous, we felt that it is only right that the whole 16 days of our trip (or whatever left of it) are planned in the same manner; deciding the next country best on – (i) cheapest mode of transport, (ii) a country we both have yet to set foot and (iii) the shortest and fastest journey. And we did just that, the whole trip.

But I only felt in love with one country. Poland.

(Lusa sambung)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Puteri Lindungan Bulan

Guest Writer
Maira Madihah

Azul Photography

As part of Istana Budaya’s Malaysia Traditional Arts Showcase 2016, the dance play Puteri Lindungan Bulan was held at the Malaysian Tourism Centre (MaTiC) on the 14th and 15th of October. This play is the third installment for this showcase. The first being Mak Yong, also held at MaTiC on the 19th and 20th of August earlier this year and second, The Colours of Malaysia, held on the 2nd and 3rd September.

Puteri Lindungan Bulan is a legend that originates from Kedah. It chronicles the story of the Sultan of Kedah, Sultan Sulaiman Syah in the mid-16th century and his two daughters, Puteri Mariam and Puteri Zaleha. The former has red blood and the latter, white. 

Visions of these princesses appeared in The Sultan of Aceh’s dream one night and as a result, he became infatuated with the white-blooded princess, Puteri Zaleha. He sent a proposal party to Kedah to take Puteri Zaleha’s hand in marriage but because of his known reputation of taking up multiple wives, Sultan Sulaiman Syah gave away Puteri Mariam, the red-blooded princess instead.

The wedding happened but when Puteri Mariam suffered from an injury, all hell broke loose. The Sultan of Aceh was deeply angered and sent the Aceh military to attack Kedah and to look for Puteri Zaleha. However, Puteri Zaleha was hidden by her father in a bunker under the castle and was never found. 

Sultan Sulaiman Syah died while held as prisoner of the Sultan of Aceh and Puteri Zaleha died in the castle's bunker. Both the royals were buried in Puncak Bukit Kota Seputeh.

I have to say, in some scenes, the way the choreographers chose to translate the story into dance was in more of an interpretive way. The dances weren’t straightforward aids in presenting the story but more of a representation of how the characters felt. 

My favourite parts of the play were the live music blaring from the speakers. I could see the musicians playing in the corner, clad in traditional Malay clothing, which contributed to the overall experience. Another thing I enjoyed was how there was a lot of audience involvement. The dancers treated the whole theatre hall as their stage, not just the actual stage.

In some scenes, you felt like you were in Kedah in the mid-16th century because the music and stage presence made it feel real. Not to mention, some characters made the play especially memorable. They were playful and relatable- everything a character should be.

One downside of the play was that I found it to be too short. Only spanning a period of an hour, the audience didn’t really get to warm up to the characters as much as we should’ve. Despite that, though, it still was an enjoyable experience.

A tip you should know if you wish to attend any future MaTiC performances with free admission, is to come early. But bear in mind, that even if you come early, it might not be possible to get the best seats because most of the hall is reserved for university students and members of the press. This won’t pose as a big problem if you come early because we all know the early bird catches the worm.

The Malaysia Traditional Arts Showcase 2016 is a commendable effort by Istana Budaya and the Malaysian Tourism Centre. I hope they do this every year and I'm excited to see what new showcases they'll bring to the table in the future.I kinda wanna be a princess now. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Fishy Story of Salmon and Whale (and Herring too) of Ryekjavik, Iceland

Mind the shaky photos.
I was fishy on the fishes’ intention.

(Stare suspiciously)

As many might know (or don’t), I just came back from a long 16 days trip (kinda long if you have day/pay job). As I scroll my trip album, trying to pick and strategise on whether to post what inspired me the most, or which touches me the most, or perhaps do the normal way ie by day or even by destination. After pondering for awhile (bear in mind that am yet to complete India post and perhaps a few other tiny post (The craftsmanship of a Lion Dance and The Story Behind Kampung Baru), I decided that I write best and fast when the topic touches the very heart and soul of me (drama giler). So goes…. The Fishy Story of Salmon and Whale (and Herring too) of Ryekjavik, Iceland.

The plan is to have a fancy (basically it is a non-self-cook-meal that we usually have in order to save money) meal at every city or country we visit. The idea was good until we found out the cost of having a so called fancy meal in Scandi, mahai ya’mat. Plan terkubur makanya. So we tweaked the plan a little, we will (must) have a meal in Iceland and it MUST be fish centric, salmon specifically as we both love salmon. So we did just that. We had a seafood buffet in Ryekjavik. The start of our fishy story.Hem……

Started with Anna wanting to take a full day Golden Circle Package that I forego as I feel that the Golden Circle trip should be done in a spread of 1 week or so and for me, it must be a self-drive (kengkonon adventurous giteww). Claiming and vowing ‘I WILL BE BACK’ to Anna, I embark on city exploration on foot, on my own for the whole day. We went out separate way. As time running short, Anna did what she do best, asking tips from the operator on where best to experience local cuisine and we were advised to head to Restaurant Ryekjavik in the city / near Harpa. A yellow colour barn like restaurant that has a wide spread of seafood buffet among others. Upon scanning the menus and price, we agreed to splurge here (since we did not in Copenhagen). I guess why not kan.

With Anna’s loyal Google Map and Waze, we walked from Harpa bus stop to the restaurant, a short and quick 10 mins walk. But of course we took 30mins to 45mins as we stop at every souvenir shop we see (souvenir sini mahal giler-giler ok so jangan lah mengharap). We found the shop and start enquiry at the counter, the options was kinda interesting. Well, you have whole buffet course, the main course without dessert and etc. So we made a wise choice of having on the main course (partly because we are kedekut. Ahaks). Without further ado, I hearby present what we saw, and ate…. (picture heavy).

No, there weren’t any pork dish served at the buffet (at least not when I was there), I saw only chicken and lamb, and apparently the lamb dish in Iceland is to die for. I wouldn’t know as I did not try any.

One of the key reason on why we agreed to this resto was that it also serves whale meat. I guess it kinda narrow our options, reasons and excuses pretty fast and easy. *wink*

All I can say is, I have never sampled so many type of salmon dish in one meal in my life before. It was a fish overload day / week for us.

So, should I recommend this to you or/and should you give it a try?

A definite yes.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

#Citrawarna2016 - Eat | Travel | Write | Doodle


That is all I can say.
(Picture heavy. I warned you)

Mine experience might be slightly different from some of you that attended #Citrawarna2016.

You see, I attended last year’s Citrawarna and aren’t to thrill about the showcase, upon receiving this year’s invite, I was torn between to attend and be disappointed the second time or attend and hope (and pray hard) for the best. And I opted for the latter.

I received the invite on Citrawarna program while I was in Europe (or perhaps just before I depart), after debating with myself (as I touch down on Saturday and the event itself is on Sunday; the next day), knowing how exhausted I am, wanting to support Malaysia and tourism in Malaysia, I agreed. Preparing myself for attending a Fam Trip while sleep-walking or stoned-groggy if not dead asleep. As if #Citrawarna2016 knew about my disappointment in 2015, as if they knew I will be tired, as if they know I want to support, push and highlight one of Malaysia’s best event, they executed, showcased and presented the MOST IMMACULATE performance ever. The rest. Is. History.

As I said earlier, I was speechless. That was how good it was.

You know how a blogger or a writer works? If the story is meaty, if the story is good, if the story has value… writing it is a breeze, like the speed of light (Superhero ‘Flash’ will be impressed), no pause, no nothing. And this is what I am doing know.

The showcase started with a dragon. Yup! A dragon…. Something that is close to my heart. Pahang’s most Myth and Folklore – Naga Tasik Chini or Lagenda Tasik Chini (Lake Chini Dragon or Lake Chini Lagend), a story about a group of Orang Asli or natives/aborigines clearing a land for them to plant their crops, then came an old lady saying that she is the owner of the land and that they can proceed harvesting her land with a condition to NOT to pull out her cane. As suspected, her cane was pulled out by an ignorant local and the village was doomed. Water fountained the whole village hence the birth of Lake Chini.

What impresses me was that the dance itself and the dragon that emerge from the stage… the timing, continuity and transition were seamless.

Then there was the Lagend of Puteri Hill from Terengganu, the legendary princesses from mystical land above. This is when everyone eagerly waited for the unforgettable Ulek Mayang which was sang at the end, giving and adding the drama. Nice touch I thought.

Aside from performance from each state, we were presented with dances representing the largest ethnic group in Malaysia namely Tarian Bunga Teratai or Lotus Dance, symbolizing peace and happiness by the Chinese ethnic, the upbeat Bangra Dance and Indian Classical Dance by the Indian and Sikh community in Malaysia, Sawai by the Orang Asli or aborigines  which caught everyone by surprise as it was rarely being showcased. The Sawai dance represents the Negrito, Semai and Melayu Asli in Malaysia.

Citrawarna this year was unique in a way as it also took into account the neighbouring country that influenced our culture, Raja Naga dance or Dragon King dance from Thailand was also being performed. A dance of a dragon king that appeared in human form and fell in love with Taravadi Princess.  This bewildered the villages as they have not met the Dragon King before this.

The event ended with a grand fireworks and later continued with a concert performed by Ayda Jebat, Datin Alyah, Bunkface to name a few.

Overall I feel Citrawarna 2016 is a huge success that it kept everyone upbeat, curious, intrigued and in awe with its performances, the unspoken heritage (in terms of myth and folklore) and its overall arrangement. I was satisfied as this year’s team has set the bar high for the next year. I can’t wait for next year’s Citrawarna, I bet it will be overwhelming!

Eat | Travel | Write | Doodle in conjunction with Citrawarna 2016 Kuala Lumpur Media Fam Trip is in collaboration with Motac/Tourism Malaysia and all its sponsors with #GayaTravel as media coordinator.

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