Review: John Rambo

When I heard a year ago that Stallone is making another ‘Rambo’ film, I immediately went ‘WHAT THE FREAKIN’ F**K??!!’ Omigod, I mean, it was like saying that the ‘New Kids On The Block’ are making a come-back and they are gonna rock. Furthermore, Stallone is 60 years old for God’s sake, I do not want to see a Grandpa kicking ass, furthermore on the big screen. I also believe that the ‘Rambo’ franchise had ended with the Russians in ‘Rambo 3’ and everyone should leave it at that, and to respect that. C’mon, Rambo in Iraq? Rambo in North Korea? No way. It will become a joke that no one will laugh at. But a year later and here we are, with ‘John Rambo’, and it’s Stallone with his big bulging biceps, now with additional streaks of grey hair. Everyone, start your laughing. This is gonna suck.

WRONG. I saw ‘John Rambo’ over the weekend and it rocked. HARD. Why? Because this is not the super-greased Rambo with the red bandana. No, this is the Rambo in ‘Rambo Part 1’ & ‘Part 2’, this is John-with-psychological-problems-Rambo, the disturbed war veteran with devils living inside him just waiting to burst out from his mind. This is the mentally disturbed Rambo in ‘Part 1 & 2’, not the hero-riding-into-the-sunset Rambo. This is the ORGINAL Rambo, and I love this film for that.

Mind you, if you disliked ‘Rambo Part 1 & 2’, you are gonna hate this film. This is not to say this film is a character study with Rambo, heck no, you will indeed get action, violence and deaths. LOTS OF THEM. Heads get blown apart, body parts ripped from violent explosions and throats get cut from Rambo like a hot knife through butter. The feel of this film is a return to the original feel of the earlier Rambo films and it is a nostalgic joy. And for that simple reason, this latest ‘Rambo’ film should be considered as the ideal fit into the ‘Rambo’ saga as THE definitive conclusion to the ‘Rambo’ fable, and not ‘Rambo 3’.

Don’t get the wrong here, the plot is shallow and virtually non-existent. The story is straight-forward and simple. The acting is simple, there is no avant-garde editing ala ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ and there is nothing smart in here whatever. This is not a re-boot or a re-invention like ‘James Bond’ or ‘Star Trek’. This does not try to impress new fans and wants to build a new fan-base. This is simply a ‘Rambo’ movie for ‘Rambo’ fans, and if you are indeed a Rambo fan, then God bless you, this will rock your balls to its very core. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Verdict: 7 / 10

Reviewed by: Raymond Choy

Syabu Syabu @ Bandar Puteri, Puchong

Weekend of 26th & 27th January

This weekend’s highlight is definitely my gastronomic visit to Puchong’s Shabu Shabu restaurant. At RM 25 bucks, it’s all you can eat with non-stop helpings of baby octopus, generous slices of pork, mussels, fresh fish/meat balls and all sorts of stuff that will fill up your stomach happily. The drinks are on free-flow too, so no worries on the liquid requirements. The crowds can be big on weekends however (I have to wait for 40 minutes to get my seat. UUGGHHHH!!!!) But I guess the longer the wait, the tastier the food? Me, TK and SL sat there for more than 2 hours and until our stomachs had been filled to the last millimeter, we left with a few photo I captured:

WHat you see here is just a quarter of the full size of the whole ‘Kaiten’ belt. It's super long!! I think it’s the longest I’ve seen in Malaysia!!!

Generous slices of pork. Can’t get enough of it? Then just order another plate, it’s all you can eat!!!

The easy to use controls let’s you master your soup’s temperature to perfection.

Michael Veerapen @ Alexis, KL

Weekend of 19th & 20th January

The highlight for this weekend was to attended Michael Veerapen’s performance at Alexis Bar & Bistro at Menara Great Eastern. If you don’t know much about him, he is basically one of most renowned pianist in the Malaysian Jazz circle and his lively and brilliant showpieces can really entertain you until your heart is content. For a solid 2 hours that night, he gave his usual best with a superb show of melodic talent, wonderful chemistry with his live band members and bodily movements to rival Michael Jackson. OKLAH, he did not dance but the vocalist did dance and he was boogie-ing all over the stage floor. I honestly forgot his name but he had a row of ear-rings all across his right ear. Anybody can tell me he is? He was superb as his vocals were top-notch and he was so energetic he nearly stole the show from Michael. But of course, the star of the night will not be deterred away from him as his talent, reputation and chemistry with his band members will everlastingly elevate him to the altars of the Malaysian’s greatest jazz performers. More info about Michael Veerapan and Alexis' performer schedules can be obtained here.

Oh yeah, and the Tiramisu at Alexis is to DIE for. In-house made apparently with a generous dash of their in-house red wine, it is prepared to perfection. Yeahlah I have to admit I was abit hungry that night but what the heck, just to try it if you are dropping by there soon. Enjoy!!! Here are a few photos I (tried) to catch at Alexis:

Yummy drinks by the candlelight. Very romantic!!!

The crowd enjoying a blistering performance by Michael Veerapen and gang.

It's so good, even the waiters can't help themselves to admire the performance.

...and yes, it's absolutely free!!!

A Zoo Escapade

Weekend 12th & 13th January

This weekend, I did something that was not done for almost 20 years in my life. No, I didn’t make kittens do summersaults and toss them up into the air (I honestly did that when I was a kid. Sorry), I actually went to the zoo. Yup, it’s the trip to Zoo Negara. What in the world make me go to the zoo of all places? No, it’s not the guilt from tossing all those kittens when I was a problem child, but it was because of all the hype and controversy surrounding ‘Manja’ the puma that apparently clawed a kid. So I decided to do some little investigation of my own for the sake of ‘Manja’ the puma, to do my part as a responsible citizen of KL that I am. So where is how it went:

Arrived!!! And it costs RM 15 to enter. Crap. It was RM 2.50 in those days when I was a kid…

Took a picture of the zoo’s map, just in case. They didn’t provide maps to visitors, so Zoo Negara, this is something you should take immediate action on!!!

A manly monkey posing for my camera. EEEEE!!! Hairy armpits!!!

Monkey’s ass. Told you to go easy on the Mexican food buddy. That will burn an eternity!!!


He was the one talking to Lingam!!!

Our national basketball coach giving a few pointers to our players. (Haha, sorry bad joke).

Hakuna matata…no worries under the sun, mate!!!

“Excuse me Mr Bull? Can you tell me where I can find ‘Manja’ the puma? Excuse…Hello? Hello?! Nevermind…”

“HHHmmmmm, nice ass.”


Honey bears. Drank a bit too much from the honey-pot ehh buddies?

New species spotted: headless tortoises coming out looking for food.

Posing with Grand-pa!!! Hi grand-pa!!! Oh wait, it’s just a tortoise.

The ‘feng tao’ tiger. Don’t play play with this tiger ‘tai kor’!!!

Pimpin' my ride!!!

Oh my, that's alot mukus you got up your nose there my friend!!!

Finally, we found ‘Manja’!!!

‘Manja’ nooooooo!!! Not my hand!!!! Actually, she was just cute.

Leaving at last!!! Leaving the zoo with all fingers and hands still attached (*phew*)

The Official 'Star Trek' Teaser Trailer

The official 'Star Trek' teaser trailer has hit the nets. And it looks bloody awesome!!! Check it out below:

I think when Leonard Nimoy's voice came on, I literally had goose-bumps. Your thoughts? Love it? Hate it? Tell me about it!!!

Bond 22 Will Be Titled...

The highly anticipated title for the up-coming ‘Bond 22’ actioner will be called ‘Quantum of Solace’ as confirmed by Here’s the other juicy bits from the beeb:

* The title is from one of the 1960’s Ian Fleming short stories of the same title.

* The title refers to Bond’s broken heart after the loss of Eva Green’s character at the end of ‘Casino Royale’. Due to his loss, Bond did not attain that ‘quantum of solace’.

* Because of this hole in his heart, he will be out for revenge on the persons responsible.

* But the title will refer to something ELSE in the film. You will just have to watch the whole damn thing.

According to, co-producer Michael Wilson said that the title was only decided days ago, and ‘Quantum of Solace’ will begin just hours after ‘Casino Royale’ ended.

Director Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, Monster’s Ball) will helm Bond’s latest adventures and will have a scheduled November 7th release.

...And Here Are The Nominees.


The nominations for this year's Oscars race had been announced. Here are the nominees:

Performance by an actor in a leading role:

George Clooney in “Michael Clayton”

Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood”

Johnny Depp in “Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

Tommy Lee Jones in “In the Valley of Elah”

Viggo Mortensen in “Eastern Promises”

Performance by an actor in a supporting role:

Casey Affleck in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”

Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men”

Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Charlie Wilson’s War”

Hal Holbrook in “Into the Wild”

Tom Wilkinson in “Michael Clayton”

Performance by an actress in a leading role:

Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”

Julie Christie in “Away from Her”

Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose”

Laura Linney in “The Savages”

Ellen Page in “Juno”

Performance by an actress in a supporting role:

Cate Blanchett in “I’m Not There”

Ruby Dee in “American Gangster”

Saoirse Ronan in “Atonement”

Amy Ryan in “Gone Baby Gone”

Tilda Swinton in “Michael Clayton”

Best animated feature film of the year:

“Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud

“Ratatouille” by Brad Bird

“Surf's Up” by Ash Brannon and Chris Buck

Achievement in art direction:

“American Gangster” Art Direction: Arthur; MaxSet Decoration: Beth A. Rubino

“Atonement” Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer

“The Golden Compass” Art Direction: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock

“Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” Art Direction: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo

“There Will Be Blood” Art Direction: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

Achievement in cinematography:

“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” by Roger Deakins

“Atonement” by Seamus McGarvey

“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” by Janusz Kaminski

“No Country for Old Men” by Roger Deakins

“There Will Be Blood” by Robert Elswit

Achievement in costume design:

“Across the Universe” by Albert Wolsky

“Atonement” by Jacqueline Durran

“Elizabeth: The Golden Age” by Alexandra Byrne

“La Vie en Rose” by Marit Allen

“Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” by Colleen Atwood

Achievement in directing:

“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” by Julian Schnabel

“Juno” by Jason Reitman

“Michael Clayton” by Tony Gilroy

“No Country for Old Men” by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

“There Will Be Blood” by Paul Thomas Anderson

Best documentary feature:

“No End in Sight” by Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs

“Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience” by Richard E. Robbins

“Sicko” by Michael Moore and Meghan O’Hara

“Taxi to the Dark Side” by Alex Gibney and Eva Orner

“War/Dance” by Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine

Best documentary short subject:

“Freeheld” by Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth

“La Corona (The Crown)” by Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega

“Salim Baba” by Tim Sternberg and Francisco Bello

“Sari’s Mother” by James Longley

Achievement in film editing:

“The Bourne Ultimatum” by Christopher Rouse

“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” by Juliette Welfling

“Into the Wild” by Jay Cassidy

“No Country for Old Men” by Roderick Jaynes

“There Will Be Blood” by Dylan Tichenor

Best foreign language film of the year

“Beaufort” from Israel

“The Counterfeiters” from Austria

“Katyń” from Poland

“Mongol” from Kazakhstan

“12” from Russia

Achievement in makeup

“La Vie en Rose” by Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald

“Norbit” by Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji

“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” by Ve Neill and Martin Samuel

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

“Atonement” by Dario Marianelli

“The Kite Runner” by Alberto Iglesias

“Michael Clayton” by James Newton Howard

“Ratatouille” by Michael Giacchino

“3:10 to Yuma” by Marco Beltrami

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

“Falling Slowly” from “Once” - Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

“Happy Working Song” from “Enchanted” - Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz

“Raise It Up” from “August Rush” - Music and lyric by Jamal Joseph, Charles Mack and Tevin Thomas

“So Close” from “Enchanted” - Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz

“That’s How You Know” from “Enchanted” - Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz

Best motion picture of the year

“Atonement” by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Paul Webster, Producers.

“Juno” by Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick and Russell Smith, Producers.

“Michael Clayton” by Sydney Pollack, Jennifer Fox and Kerry Orent, Producers.

“No Country for Old Men” by Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers.

“There Will Be Blood” by JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Lupi, Producers.

Best animated short film

“I Met the Walrus” by Josh Raskin

“Madame Tutli-Putli” by Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski

“Même les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)” by Samuel Tourneux and Simon Vanesse

“My Love (Moya Lyubov)” by Alexander Petrov

“Peter & the Wolf” by Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman

Best live action short film

“At Night” by Christian E. Christiansen and Louise Vesth

“Il Supplente (The Substitute)” by Andrea Jublin

“Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets)” by Philippe Pollet-Villard

“Tanghi Argentini” by Guido Thys and Anja Daelemans

“The Tonto Woman” by Daniel Barber and Matthew Brown

Achievement in sound editing

“The Bourne Ultimatum” by Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg

“No Country for Old Men” by Skip Lievsay

“Ratatouille” by Randy Thom and Michael Silvers

“There Will Be Blood” by Christopher Scarabosio and Matthew Wood

“Transformers” by Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins

Achievement in sound mixing

“The Bourne Ultimatum” by Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis

“No Country for Old Men” by Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter Kurland

“Ratatouille” by Randy Thom, Michael Semanick and Doc Kane

“3:10 to Yuma” by Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Jim Stuebe

“Transformers” by Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin

Achievement in visual effects

“The Golden Compass” by Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood

“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” by John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and John Frazier

“Transformers” by Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier

Adapted screenplay

“Atonement” - Screenplay by Christopher Hampton

“Away from Her” - Written by Sarah Polley

“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” - Screenplay by Ronald Harwood

“No Country for Old Men” - Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

“There Will Be Blood” - Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson

Original screenplay

“Juno” - Written by Diablo Cody

“Lars and the Real Girl” - Written by Nancy Oliver

“Michael Clayton” - Written by Tony Gilroy

“Ratatouille” - Screenplay by Brad Bird; Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird

“The Savages” - Written by Tamara Jenkins

So what are you guys are waiting for? Place your bets now!!!
My bet is that 'No Country For Old Men' will sweep the Oscars, with the exception for Daniel Day-Lewis winning 'Best Actor' for the movie 'There Will Be Blood'. As for 'Transformers', I guess it will win most of the Technical awards, i.e. sounds, special effects, etc.
The event will be held 'Live' (fingers-crossed) on the 28th February '08.

Review: Cloverfield

After all the hype, after all the teasing and all the talk about it being ‘the’ monster movie to surpass the greatness of ‘Godzilla’, was it a ‘Cloverfield’ of wet-dream monster goodness or a miserable victim of over-cooked marketing exaggeration? The answer is a ‘hell-yeah’ scream of approval. This is a genre-busting effort that is not seen on our cinema-screens ever, not even the likes of ‘Godzilla’ (American and Japanese versions) and ‘Independence Day’ had balls to do what ‘Cloverfield’ just did to us with this film. This film had literally invented a format that combines the point-of-view from ‘The Blair Witch Project’ and the monstrosity that is ‘Godzilla’. And the cool thing is, the combination worked. It worked extraordinarily well, which gave the audience a truly terrifying look into how a catastrophe develops, the emotions that the victims go through, and the decisions and actions that needed to be made for survival. You do not know what you are in for until you sit in that cinema chair and be taken for a ride of sheer-terror and witness realism that is achieved to near perfection.

This film contains an idea that is so simple but yet effective, I wonder why it was not used or done before. Shown from a point-of-view from a single camcorder that recorded the traumas and tabulations of a group of young New Yorkers, particularly a Japan-bound Rob that was celebrating his farewell party with his buddies when the monster attacked, the story pursues their efforts to rescue trapped loved ones and escape from a destroyed New York City. It all sounds simple, but when you see it from the street-level angle of the survivors, the images conveyed are so real it is chilling to the bone. Add that angle with the shaky-cam effect that makes the ‘Bourne’ films look like a sunset shot from ‘Baywatch’, the realism is astounding and the emotional connection with the main characters on screen are bridged to the your senses seamlessly.

But we did not part with our cash for an emotional ride, did we? No siree, nope. We want a monster ride and it did appear for the majority of the film, although only glimpses at first. See, with the unique point-of-view from the camcorder, we see what the characters on the streets see, which are usually only parts of the monster that really puts your imagination into overdrive. Was that a torso smashing the skyscraper? Or a tail? We do not see the full view of the monster until the end quarter of the movie, and believe me, not seeing it fully was the best moments of the film. Not because that the monster was lame, no, in fact it was cool in a unique way as the monster is one freaky amalgamation between a bat and other funky body parts that is indescribable except for the word abomination. With the very effective sound design that lets the cinema’s speakers do their maximum damage, the shrouded glances of the monster effectively keeps the viewer mesmerized with exhilaration until the very end, when the full monster is revealed.

But I think the master-stoke of this film was the director Matt Reeves’ sophistication in filming it with a camcorder. As simple as it may seem, Matt and his cinematographer cleverly fill up the screen with as much information as possible to allow the audience the necessary comprehension needed to understand what was being unveiled on-screen. The merger between actual shots from a camcorder with special effects of the monster and chaos around the city is flawless. Couple that with realistic movements of the camcorder, such as what a person would do when holding a camcorder and at the same time running, screaming and dying, the total effect from this is a surreal visual style that is authentic, frantic and distinctive.

The editing is stupendous, for example inter-cutting scenes of carnage and destruction with clips of Rob and his love-interest during times of togetherness, reminding us why Rob is so determined to go back into the city to save Beth when everyone is going out. The pacing is excellent too, as when the monster do attack, the velocity is relentless and holds up just at the right moments for a breather and it put you right back into the roller-coaster hot seat.

But for all the support for ‘Cloverfield’, it does have its weak points. I for one found it to be too shallow as there was no veiled meaning to all the carnage and provided no reasons for the monster attacks. Unlike ‘War of the Worlds’, it was simply a recorded footage found from a bunch of New Yorkers trying to save a fellow member’s injured girlfriend and their attempts to flee from the city’s destruction. And that’s it. It also felt B-grade, as despite the impressive monster CGI, all the hallmarks of a B-grade sci-fi movie were there to see, from the trigger-happy generals shouting orders to annihilate the entire city to nerdy scientists and to stereotypical good-looking yuppies as the main characters (two screaming damsels, a goof-ball cameraman and the handsome jock that is trying to rescue a pretty chick), the feeling is eerily B-grade from the actors and its clichéd characters.

But let’s all remember what we are there for: thrills, spills and monster carnage in a big city. And you will get that, in a big, loud and cool way. Cool to the point that I noticed audiences had to make multiple trips to the washroom and ease themselves of bladder pressure all tensed up from the thrills and chills of a monster movie. I’ve not seen such washroom-visiting frequency since ‘Jurassic Park’ first opened its jaws to the mass Malaysian public, and this will go down as a movie that will rival it as the monster movie to remember.

(By the way, whatever images of the monster I’ve posted on my blog, or whatever you may have seen on the net, it’s wrong. So wrong. You will not have seen this monster until you have seen the movie).

Verdict: 8 / 10

Reviewed by: Raymond Choy

What do you think? Like it? Hate it? Tell me about it!!!

The Loss of Heth Ledger

It was all over the news these past few days, and I am still in a state of shock into why such an unthinkable thing had happened: Heath Ledger is gone. Passing on leaving ex-wife Michelle Williams and their 2-year-old daughter, Heath is one of the most promising actors with highly-notable performances in his Academy Award nominated performance in ‘Brokeback Mountain’, ‘A Knight’s Tale’ that won him rave reviews for his comedic performance and with his highly anticipated take on ‘The Joker’ in the sequel ‘The Dark Knight’, he leaves us at a time when he was just reaching his pinnacle of his talented capabilities.

Only yesterday that an autopsy had been performed on Heath and the results was inconclusive. It will take a few more days before any concrete results will be announced. But it is now more or less confirmed that he was overdosed with sleeping pills and NOT with any heavy drugs like cocaine or heroin as reported earlier, as police reported that only prescriptive medication was found in the room. He was found face-down in a normal sleeping position. Earlier reports that there was a folded 20-dollar bill, suspicious that it could have been used to snort drugs. However, no drug residue was found on the note by the police. There was no indications of suicide either, as there was no note, no pills scattered around the room and no sign of any struggle.

As for his current work, it was reported that all his scenes in ‘The Dark Knight’ had been completed, so there will be no re-shoots with another stand-in actor. The film is now in post-production, so it will go ahead as scheduled without any interruptions. However, the same cannot be said with his work with Terry Gilliam’s ‘The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus’ which is his most recent film attached to star. Although he is not the lead actor in that movie, Heath’s passing will definitely interrupt proceedings with this film.

Heath Ledger was born to the name of Hethcliff Andrew Ledger and resided in Perth during his early days. His first American film was ’10 things I Hate About You’ in 1999 that drew critical attention from the media and young girls’ hearts. He then took up a more serious role in ‘The Patriot’, and then moved on to a lead role with ‘A Knight’s Tale’. He got his first Academy Award nomination with the critically-acclaimed ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and was poised to explode to super-stardom as ‘The Joker’ with ‘The Dark Knight’. But unfortunately, this recent event cut short his road to glory, and he will be missed tremendously, not only for his talents on-screen but also as a person that was noted for his kind, caring and gentle soul. He was 28.

Rest in Peace, Heath Ledger.

Police standing guard by the entrance of Soho, where Heath's body was found

The New Year Road Trip @ Pangkor Island


After many months of yearning, after much efforts in planning and after many ponderings in various kopitiams, finally our journey to Pangkor had come, and then gone in a blink of a mind’s eye. Smooth sailing it was not, as many weird and wonderful problems that needed to be immediately disentangled popped up even at the very last minute (thanks Theva). But in the end, it was sweet that our efforts bared fruition, and reminiscing the everlasting memories still swimming lazily in my pleasured mind after the trip had ended, I can safely say that the fruits bared from our hard-earned labor never tasted so sweetly. It was a trip that was completely fun and was enjoyed completely together as one.

Consisted of mainly Akurian (with the exception of one), it was a road trip that was in fact, conceived as an idea for many a distant period ago, way back a few years that a road trip for the Akurians and enjoyed only by the Akurians was in order. After all, we did many wonderful things together since the Secondary School days, from ‘ponteng’ class just to chat on IRC in a cyber café to playing hide-and-seek in school compounds to even throwing tables and chairs from the 3rd floor of our school for reasons only knew by no one, we were together in times of disobedience to times of examinations. So it was only a matter of time before we spread our brand of exuberance from the confines of our school compound to other areas of target, and Pangkor was a destination primed for assault. However, at that time, things then did not go as promisingly as many Akurians could not make it due to various factors, so the plan was abandoned. Until now.

The plan was resurrected during Emma’s wedding dinner at Vincenzo’s, when a sudden and a rather joking quip from Emma resulted in a serious contemplation and consideration from Uncle. Without deliberation on the outcome of such entertainment to these imaginings, Uncle proclaimed with a confidence that was honestly I find shocking, retorted back: “We shall plan it out! Pangkor it is!” Oh dear. Re-collecting our failed attempt in organizing a similar trip years ago, skepticism was my only response and a voice in my mind screeched menacingly out like a de-raged school boy: “Here we go again!!!”

People must be thinking, why Pangkor? Well, why not? After all, it was cost effective and its location was ideal for a road trip since we wanted a road trip, not a plane trip. And along the way there must many places we can pause to embrace the unique food, culture and surroundings. Hence, “Pangkor it is”.

Oh well, what was I to do, throw in cold water onto Uncle’s proud and loud proclamation of a trip that was doomed the first time round? But ‘here we go again’ it was, but with a reserved feeling of doubt. I attended and helped to organize the meetings anyway, helped and successfully found an accommodation that was (I hope) worthwhile (not too steep a price to scare away people again), and helped to mould the journey into a voyage that was hopefully fun, and at the same time, meaningful. In the end, most of the bolts and screws were successfully attached and the machine called “Pangkor Trip” was ready to roll. Lumbering with faults here and there I have to admit (the infamous ‘mee rebus’ in Teluk Intan tops that list), but in the end I believe we have assembled a contraption that achieved many things that it was set out to do, and in the end we concluded our travel to Pangkor leaving nothing but footprints, and taken back home many things, but most importantly the precious joyous memories together with us. (Actually, ‘leaving nothing but footprints’ is not entirely true. Read on for details!)

Day 1

Before Day 1 even began, Theva already set our hearts palpating with panic. Theva and Uncle were the designated drivers but apparently Theva’s car passenger side window got smashed up somewhere in Cheras (not just his car, but apparently the entire row of cars. You all never pay the ‘jaga’ any money one ahh?) I received the panic call around 10:30pm ETD minus 1 day, but when you are in a profession such as Logistics, matters of complication like this are as common as a jammed printer. “The printer is jammed? Then print on another printer!!!” Hence, I had to switch drivers. Not so easy as I had to find not just a driver, but a driver with an actual working car! Uncle was out, as he was already contributed a car already, I was out too as my dad’s car was rammed from behind recently and they had to use my car to travel to Pangkor (they were there too). Ah Nei was a no-no too, so it was down to Majidah. I made the call only the next morning as she was probably already resting. And by next morning, she agreed to drive which was welcomed with much thanks and appreciation (we shall belanja you one day, Maj!)

By approximately 10:30pm, all cars were rolling, albeit a few hours late according to our desired schedule. The schedule was to stop-by at Teluk Intan for brunch and visit the famed ‘leaning tower of Teluk Intan’. I think we arrived there just in time before anyone died of starvation (what a way to start a trip, eh?), and tucked in the infamous ‘mee rebus’ that was so vigorously promoted by Uncle. Starving with anticipation, I slipped in my first mouth-full and…well…it’s…all I can say is…well…at least it was spicy. They say it’s the best in town, now I can see why it was so: the best in town only, but not the state or country. And I think it was a pretty small town too so…(I can find a ‘mee rebus’ that is even nicer in Subang SS19. The best in Section 19!!!)

After that, we adjourned to the leaning tower for some merry picture taking and upon arriving at the place, we found out that…the tower gave us the arse. Such nice local hospitality, I thought. See, in front of the tower is an empty space where it is ideal for picture taking. And some genius placed the bloody tower’s arse facing it (the front with the clock was facing the road and a row of busy mamak stalls). Local humor at work or just plain architectural malfunction? You decide. Of course, I took the funny side of it and merrily took pictures of it anyway. And if you look real closely, you can even see a ‘hole’ in the middle of the tower somewhere. Arse-tounding view, isn’t it? Not satisfied with our anatomical finding, we decided to go all the way up and climb the tower for a better view. And lo and behold, at the top of the tower, we encountered the spot of all G-spots: An alien punani. Behold!!! :

Tell no one where we have been!!!

After our anatomical discovery, we departed the arse-tonishing tower of Teluk Intan and duly entered a shop that sold the local delicacies in the forms of ‘heong peng’ (fragrant biscuits) and ‘lou po peng’ (wife biscuits) and many more. After happily testing most of the biscuits freely without a care for the loses they are making (they said free-try mah), I have to say that the biscuits are indeed very fresh and yummy. Comparing the ‘heong peng’ with the ones from Ipoh, I can dare say that the Teluk Intan ones are better. Don’t ask me why, it just tastes better. The shops is located next to the tower, called 'Siang Hoong' or 'SGT Food Industries' . Go there and try it out for yourself!!! You must!!!

We headed back to our cars and off to the Lumut jetty for our sea crossing. A few hours later, we arrived at the jetty and we were pleasantly surprised to find that the jetty has improved its image. Everything now is surprisingly clean, organized and concealed with a modern look. Well done! Stopped by for some ‘cendol’ and 30-minutes later we were off to board the ferry.

The ferry set sail and we arrived not too long later (45 minutes perhaps). We duly hailed a van to transport all of us to Seaview Resort, our hotel for the trip. We checked in, showered, and came down to the hotel’s restaurant to find a gigantic heap of offering called lunch. Blimey, it had fresh prawns, fish, vegetables, anything and everything. Just for lunch. But that’s not the best part. The best part was that the food was actually good, it was tasty and even though you are full, you wanted to eat some just to taste it. We tried our very best to tuck in as much food as possible, and moments later we were already bloated. Tired and stuffed silly with seafood, we adjourned to our rooms for a quick nap before we met later that afternoon for a visit to the beach.

The rooms were fairly decent, with minimal amenities that worked and it was all that was asked for really. We were not expecting the Ritz, so our expectations (mine anyway) was very grounded and down-to-earth. The beds were fairly comfy, there was no funny smells (except for Theva’s and Uncle’s, their original rooms smelled as though a diarrhea dog had shitted and pissed in it, locked it up and marinated in there for a few good months. They changed rooms later), and wonder of all wonders, the water heater was working perfectly fine. So, no complaints there!

Upon waking up a few hours later from a very welcomed rest, we headed off to the beach for a sunset swim that was truly serine and relaxing. Everyday at this hour, most usually the typical KL person will be facing the traffic jams. But now, instead of a sea of cars, it’s the actual sea itself. And a spectacular sun lazily fading for the day amid green spots of islands scattered across the sunset panorama will accompany the swimmer too. Blissful sensation, floating on the sea in calm motion. Relaxation cannot get better than this:

Sunset Paradise

While waiting for the sun to set (and pretty darn slow too, for some weird reason), Uncle and Theva found a rope swing attached to an overhanging tree branch nearby. Us being the natural descendent of apes that we are, we started to climb and swing on the rope like some 10 year kid even though we now weigh 10 times more since those days. But that did not bother us or deter us, and Theva gave us his very best impression on why he is the Monkey King and as for Uncle, well, I guess his age is truly catching up on him as he did not manage to fully climb on the rope at all. I joined in later and I never had so much fun with a rope for a long time since Vick taught me goat catching with ropes in Aussie ages ago. But anyway, each of us took turns to swing on it, and we felt like kids all over again. The feeling was priceless and the memories will be eternity precious.

I told you we were natural monkeys, and we climbed up whatever our hands and feet can grab on to. Even trees as old as anyone that can possibly imagine was not spared:

Feeling like a kid again!!! Oh wait, i'm still like a kid!!!

After climbing up that tree, everyone got off from it easily and safely. Me and Maj jumped down directly from the tree, however a certain Uncle seemed to have a practise of crawling aong the tree truck like a cat before he jumps down. Unless he has secret gens of a cat in him, what a way to get down from a tree:

Our primate ancestors must surely be smiling proudly in their graves. And remember the rope swing I mentioned just now? Returning to the same spot later that day, we found the rope swing was broken and the tree branch lay dead on the seaside floor. I guess we are indeed too old and too heavy for this stuff. Hope no small kid cried over this. Sorry we destroyed your seaside playground kids!!!

After a gargantuan dinner (actually, the food provided to us was meant for 10 persons. We had only 6. We had to immediately grow extra stomachs and another reserve stomach just to nearly finish the food). The food was part of a package with the Hotel (RM100 bucks per room per night per pax which includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A good deal? You bet!) Either the cook saw us as sickly obese people with a wicked appetite for seafood, or as little children still having the potential to grow much more, the food kept on coming like there was no tomorrow. Just when we thought a particular dish was the last, OOOOOOPSS, out pops another dish on our table. I mean, I’m not complaining, but while eating these generous food, you just can’t help to feel guilty. Not for my weight of course, but for all those poor kids out there on the streets with no food at all. And here we are, eating to near death. But I got over my guilt after a mere few seconds and walloped anything that I can lay my hands on. Seafood gastronomy at its most generous!!!

At night, we took out our bottles of alcohol that we brought over (Uncle brought Smirnoff Vodka, I brought a 1992 Merlot red wine & Maj brought over some Sarawakian long-house rice wine which was absolutely yummy). Together, we drank, talked cock, played cards and laughed ourselves out like some silly alcoholic monkeys until the early hours of the morning. Uncle introduced to us his very-own card game called ‘bluff’, and I’m sure you have played this game before, but not the way Uncle told us to play it. Just imagine: someone would need to throw a card out, covered of course, and claim it to be a ‘3 of Diamonds’ for example. The next person will have to declare that it is either a bluff or continue on with the game, BUT this person will need to continue with a ‘3 of Diamonds’. Now my question is, how many ‘3 of Diamonds’ are there in a deck of cards??? SO, when it’s the 3rd person turn, all that person need to do is declare a bluff to win as the second person must be bluffing!!! We laughed at ourselves like mad and the game was immediately abandoned. Uncle was completely banned from introducing any more silly games like that and bottles of alcohol were taken away from him as far away as possible. Hours later, after feeling satisfied with card games and laughter, we adjourned to our beds for the night.

Day 2.

Me and SL woke up early to find just the 2 of us at the breakfast table. Undeterred, we went on with our breakfast (English breakfast and Asam Laksa. Tasty to the last drop!) Moments later, Ah Nei, Maj, and Uncle emerged from their sweet slumbers and joined in for breakfast. Joining us for our morning breakfast were also some ‘Hornbill’ birds that provided us with some nice extra company. After breakfast, it was time for our island hopping session.

Being the lazy worm of a gutter that he is, Theva did not manage to wake up at all in the morning (or is it a hang-over? Hmmmm.) So the gang minus Theva boarded the boat, along with some of my cousins, to many spots of Pangkor that provided the audience with funny rock formations (some looking as sweet as like apples, and some are just downright foul, i.e. a penis-like formation bulging out from the surface of the rocks. Either it is a work of natural wonder or it is just happy to see us. Mother Earth would be pleased). Our boat was darn fast, zipping through the Pangkor seas like a missile on a mission for total destruction, and according to the boat-guy, it is the fastest boat in Pangkor. And we are on it. How cool is that! I tried to capture some photos or videos of the boat ride but the boat was shaking so wildly, I did not want to fly into the sea and be the first casualty so I only managed this video:

Mermaid on board!!!

We dropped-by at a spot for fish feeding too, but sadly the water was not all that clear and the fishes were somewhat limited in variety so only a short time was spent with the fishes. It was dangerous too, with speed boats zooming past our feeding ground every few minutes, so snorkeling with our faces down in the water was not all that smart in terms of safety. Approximately 15 minutes later, we departed the scene and left the fishes to their natural proceedings.

Anyway, back on the boat, our funny man boat-guy even showed us live seas cucumbers and sea erchants. But moments later, I overhead a conversation between him and someone else over his handphone and it seems that there is a group of tourists looking for a boat that would pay big bucks. Immediately, from funnyman to greedyman, he made up a story and suggested to drop us over at a beach-side somewhere for 1 hour and pick us up later. But he showed up almost 2 hours later. No matter, the beach-side was beautiful with clear waters and champagne sands, so we stripped off our wet clothing (guys only anyway) and dipped ourselves into the cool welcoming waters. Besides swimming, we also did:

Rock climbing!!! You jump I jump ok!!!

You climb I climb ok!!!

Sandman with the shortest wee-wee?

The latest blockbuster from Bollywood: "Muthu Bulu Babu"!!! It's about a love story between 2 guys and a girl. And in the end, the guys fall in love...with each other!!! INSTANT HIT!!!

Everyone managed to climb the rocks. But the problem was not the climbing, but actually getting down!!! And for Ah Nei (the middle one in blue shirt in the photo above), it was a fairly interesting challenge...

After retuning back to our resort, we had another monster lunch and went back to our rooms for a rest. A few hours later, we re-grouped at the seaside to experience some of the rides that they can offer. Fresh from our rest and full of self-confidence, we selected two: the ‘Airhead’ and the ‘Banana Boat’. We started off with the ‘Airhead’ first, since it looked so easy and should have been a perfect ride to ‘warm-up’ for the ‘Banana Boat’. How terrifyingly wrong we were. All the 4 riders had to lie flat on our bellies in full horizontal positions on top of a round float, and there will be a speed boat to pull us all over the sea. Sounds easy and fun, but it is NOT. It was actually hell. Hell on a float, pulled by a demonic speed-boat with the Daredevil as a driver. You see, it was kinda fun at the beginning, but when you start to get tired, that’s when the stress comes in. It’s not easy to hang on to the float as the speeds we were going was fast, and when the boat makes a sharp turn, we get swung into the sea like some helpless unprofitable fish being thrown back into the sea by disinterested fishermen. But this is just the view from the middle. Maj and I lay in the middle, while Uncle and Theva lay at the side. Just imagine the terror and stress the guys at the side need to go through to survive, when the boat swings to a side, the first people to flip are definitely them!!!

Just for the record, Uncle fell TWICE and Theva once. The middle guys did not even touch water. Bwwwhahahahahaha!!!

After the ride had ended, we abandoned all hope for the ‘Banana Boat’ ride. It was too much for our weary bodies to handle. In other words, we are too damn old for this shit. But we hanged around the beach taking pictures as proof of our endurance and survival from ‘Airhead’, collecting as much photos as possible so that we got something to show to our friends and grandchildren. OKlah, we are not that old but anyway, at least it was proof that we went through hell and back again in one piece.

We stayed awhile longer, lingering around the sandy beach, observing the many other visitors playing out their versions of fun on the beach. Not long after, the sunset of Pangkor finally greeted us with its lazy presence and we welcomingly embraced its charm. We absorbed its aura of warmth so contently and marvel at its colors so vividly. Sinking dreamingly below the horizontal plain that contain scatters of many greening spots of diminutive islands, we observed the hues of the sun’s orange change leisurely as time ticked by, changing from stark bright shades to a dark tint. It changes so slowly until it changed no more and as unhurriedly as it appeared, it withdraws slothfully away from sight. Shying from the sight of the observers, the sun melts away completely as it announces that it is time for the show to end. A curtain of clouds replaces the spot where the sun now rests, the lights go out and the sunbeams hide, waiting until the next day, when morning mists appear with hazy zest.

Changing hues of the orange sun.

But we are not done for the day, are we? No-siree Bob, hell no. After a short rest, we directly went for the assault on our resort’s swimming pool. In it there were races, back-flips, flipping-over-our-heads-under-water, cannon-balls, you name it the swimming pool received it. We took loads of pictures for this session on Uncle’s camera, but unfortunately, Uncle lost his camera during the New Year’s countdown celebration. I’ll tell you more about that later.

Now, after the swim it was time for our New Year’s dinner buffet. Admittedly, the food was not as good as what we enjoyed during our stay so far. Apparently, the resort wanted to do a buffet for other guests not attached to the resort so the regular cook took a day off and they ordered buffet instead. So, the food lacked the usual zest and generosity. To be fair, the buffet had lots of variety, including turkey and ham, but due to the sheer numbers of guests that day, the food was somewhat limited. Even the alcohol, which was supposed to be free-flow, stopped pouring halfway thought the dinner as the number of guests was way above expectations. Oh well, at least it was still a fulfilling dinner. Accompanying the guests was a stage performance from dancers and a deejay that was, in my opinion, completely annoying and he played a super bad mix of Cha Cha first, then switched to Country, and suddenly turned to Pop, and so on. The guests were all perplexed into what they should be dancing to. But a majority of the music was Cha Cha and whatever, so it suited the aunties and uncles best. We, the young(er) bunch retreated to the back of the floor and opened up our bottles of alcohol and amused ourselves with the folly of the deejay and the dancing of happy aunties and uncles.

But there was one person in our group that seems to be turned-on by the music. As you guessed it, it was Uncle. He is not a real uncle as you think. He has the same age as us. But his personality and charisma resembles an uncle (not that it is a bad thing) so the uncle-like music gave him itches in his feet and he was exploding to shake his bon-bon all over the dancefloor. He likes to move-it move-it, so we joined him on the floor as well. He even taught us a few moves on line-dancing, which is not as easy as it looks to be. When everyone manages to be in-sync with the country music, the feeling can be exhilarating, so it’s not as stupid as it looks. We danced away until the clock was nearly to midnight, and then the party really began. Ah Nei daringly requested the deejay to play some techno music, and duly the deejay obliged and out of nowhere, the dance floor was suddenly flooded with teens and young people. Where the heck did these guys come from?? No matter, the revelers were going berserk with the music and was super-energized by the impending countdown to 2008.

Half and hour before the countdown, there was a surprise in store. Not for the revelers, nope. It was especially for Uncle. Since he is having a blast of a time so far, why not elevate his enjoyment further? I secretly brought over 4 cans of snow spray and quietly I planned out an attack on our beloved Uncle. 10 minutes before countdown, I distributed the cans among our gang under the cloak of darkness, unbeknownst to our clueless Uncle. 5 minutes to countdown, our Uncle is still happily dancing away. We silently entered into attack positions around Uncle. 1 minute to countdown, we loaded our cans, and the caps were all off. Hiding the cans away from his view, we waited, slowly waited for the right moment. 5 seconds. 4 seconds. 3. 2. 1. Right at the moment when Uncle shouted ‘Happy New Year!!!’, he was snow-sprayed from all directions, he tried to block the foams from hitting him, but it was too intense. Covering his face was no use, the attack from 4 cans was too overwhelming, he ducked for cover, but still the spray blitz striked his every move. It was non-stop and continuous; he had no time to even scream. Victory was at hand, and Uncle lay in silent defeat!!! Hahahah, actually it was all for fun Uncle, don’t take it too personally. We know you are so sporting to just laugh this off so, it was all for New Year’s fun. We would like to thank you for not even showing a sign of tantrum and even continued to take pictures with us!! Uncle ROXXX!!!

Drunk with Happiness!!!

After the party, even when the entire group of revelers left the place, we were still in a party mood. So we whipped out whatever alcohol that was left and drank until our hearts were content. A few hours were spent just chit-chatting on everything but particularly about nothing, and Uncle, I guess still dazed by our snow-foam attack plus alcohol, was obviously looking tipsy and ‘high’. He was balancing himself on the metal fences, and for a few moments I thought he was going to fall to his New Year’s death. But nope, he was still steady enough to know which way was up and down.

Hours later, it was time to adjourn to our beds but something happened that was completely out of the blue. I saw a few nice empty bottles on the next table, some French red wine bottle and another that I totally don't remember, and the bottle designs was kinda cool. I said “Hey look! Empty bottles we can take home as souvenirs!” Uncle immediately strutted to the table. He released all personal items from his hands (an empty Smirnoff bottle and his digital camera) and examined the bottles in shocking detail. Unimpressed, he decides not to take it home and puts it back on the table. NOW, maybe he was still in a wine bottle mode and his mind was all swimming with empty bottles, he picks up the his empty Smirnoff bottle, but NOT HIS CAMERA. He even held the empty Smifnoff bottle like a baby with his two hands and goes off to his room not knowing that his camera is still ON THE TABLE. The next morning at around 10:30am, he comes down from his room and says to us: “Where’s my camera ahh?” WAHLAUUUUUU EHHHHHHH!!!!!

Day 3

Obviously and expectedly, the camera was not retrieved back. We even left our contact numbers just in case any kind angelic soul finds it and decides to return to us. We are still praying for this person to appear. It’s an Olympus camera!!! RETURN IT DAMMIT!!! Uncle sportingly declares that it is lost and says that what is most heart-breaking about it was not the fact that the camera was lost, but the photos inside it will be forever gone. AAAaaaawwwwww!!! How touching. Luckily I took a lot of photos, but photos of the swimming pool session and the delicious resort seafood will be gone eternally. God rest those beautiful photos. Amen. It was Day 3, and it was time to end our stay with ‘Seaview Resort’. We packed our stuff and headed for the jetty, boarded the boat and took a few photos while aboard the open deck:

All aboard the love boat!!!

The guys and Majidah, with her sparkling charms.

I'm not even gonna comment on this!!!

Upon arrival on the other side of the sea, we went for some last-minute seafood shopping, boarded our cars and duly got lost along the way. No matter, a simple U-turn solved the problem and headed straight for more food stuff at the place we all began our journey: Teluk Intan. We wanted more biscuits so we went for the best that we can find. Unfortunately, finding it was the hard part. We wanted it fresh so instead of buying from the shop, we went to the factory: biscuits freshly baked direct from the oven. But when we got there, we found not just the factory, but a sign that said: “Go back to that shop to buy your biscuits there, fools!!!” OK, it was not that blunt but you know what I mean. The factory is no longer selling the biscuits and it is now selling them at THAT shop instead. Well done, Uncle. We tried to look for other factories but to no avail. So, back to square one, back to the same shop we went for the 3rd time. No more messing around now, we raided the place with boxes of ‘heong peng’, ‘lou po peng’ and ‘kai cai peng’. Satisfied with our shopping, we now have to satisfy our stomachs as its high noon and food is much on the wanted list.

Considering what happened by following Uncle’s recommendation with the now-infamous ‘mee rebus’, we were scared that another case of ‘mee rebus’ would occur. But we were too hungry so we set our fears aside and placed our trust on Uncle. Again. He suggested ‘Nasi Beyani’ but when we got there, it was finished. Sigh, things not going so well by following Uncle but there was retribution as the fried chicken was available in abundance and was satisfyingly crunchy, like crispy bombs of flavor melting in your mouth.

With our bellies full, our shopping adequate and our wallets starting to empty, we finally boarded our cars and headed home. The way home was quick and satisfying as we longed for our familiar home comforts. But at the same time, as our cars inevitably approached distinctive locations that gave identifications that we are nearing KL, hints of sadness crept in as we slowly realized that our road trip was very soon near its unavoidable end. After so many months of yearning, after much efforts in planning and after many ponderings in various kopitiams, finally our journey to Pangkor had come, and then gone in a blink of a mind’s eye. It was a trip that will forever be etched in my memory and will be continuously enjoyed repeatedly as it lingers forever-more in my memory as a journey that was completely fun, and a journey enjoyed completely together as one.

The End!!!

From the Corner - A Musical Companion

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