Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Time I Discovered...A Place Where Time Stood Still

Written for World Nomads

I was not sorry for staring intensely at the wrinkles folded around her gleaming eyes. What is it like to have peepers that have captured one hundred years of images? It is not every day that I come across a 100-year-old human being. Her visage was worth inspecting even at a price of being perceived as rude. The flesh on her face receded over the years, reducing her looks to nearly a skull wrapped in well preserved skin. Her face broke into a million lines when she smiled. She was a native who never left Taoping Qiang Village- a place that managed to stand against currents of modernization.
The 100-year-old native
I smiled back and gestured if I could enter a room. She mumbled in her native language which I assumed was green light for me to go ahead. The lower-than-normal door made me hunch before I arrived in a dim space with musty smell. I looked up and for a moment, thought that I would never make it out of the room alive! It was a whole carcass of a yak hanging from the ceiling, mouldy and unnerving. I then realized I was in a medieval freezer. The villagers still used air drying in place of refrigeration.  Their way of life remained the same as it was 1000 years ago.
Drid yak meat
Although there was no need to, I walked stealthily around the room. I touched the very walls that protected the people from wars and earthquakes for 56 generations. The walls were still burning with the same spirit it had a millennium ago but it felt cool. Fresh water from the mountains channelled through the house underground and flushed heat way. As if apologizing for the initial scare, the ancestors decided to impress with their intelligence of creating bill-free air conditioning. It is funny that everything was managed to be inherited in this village except the technique of building their houses. What a waste of a precious tremor-proof solution that could even put some modern construction to shame.

Taoping Qiang Village building structures were unintentionally built to withstand earthquakes
Narrow passageways
The kitchen 1000 years ago was pretty much how it is today
It is pretty bizarre to me that this part of China was stubbornly unconsumed by urbanization albeit being just next to a highway. Coming from a fast-paced life, it was an eye-opener that time stood still in Taoping Qiang Village. I am glad to have travelled 1907 miles away from my wi-fi radiated home to discover how people lived in the past and more amazingly how irrelevant the things we modern people chase are to the dwellers whom have never left their village.
Unconsumed by urbanization although next to a highway
Backdropped by pristine landscapes
Animism portrayed in the marble statue that is believed to protect homes 
Corn dried as animal fodder
Olden locks are still used
The goat is worshiped as provider of life
What used to be stairs
Thanks for being a little lenient on me
Traditional costume
Handicrafts made by villagers
Panoramic view of Taoping Qiang Village in Sichuan Province

Sunday, June 26, 2016

No to Condominium at Taman Rimba Kiara @ TTDI

'Sayangi Kuala Lumpur' they say. Those words are right there at their official portal and yet signs of demolition are erected at the city's very own gazetted green lung. Taman Rimba Kiara in Taman Tun Dr Ismail has been serving the people for years as a sanctuary where all walks of life come to jog, jungle trek, cycle and enjoy other recreational activities. Recently, there has been announcements that the park has to make way for condominium development. 
Save Taman Rimba Kiara
Taman Rimba Kiara was zoned as an 'Open Space' area over 15 years ago and is Cabinet-approved Taman Awam Berskala Besar Bukit Kiara (TABB) for the public. Taman Rimba Kiara is designated as a green lung but somehow the developer has approval in principle from DBKL (subject to public hearing) to build not only residential but commercial lots that will raise the existing population ratio of 60 persons per acre to 979 persons per acre! Even if the project was to provide homes, are these condominiums affordable? What about the more needy community who are still living in makeshift long houses just adjacent to the park?
The faces of those who care at the Taman Rimba Kiara protest on Sunday 26th June 2016
I personally love parks. As a nature person, I take them as treasures inherited from Mother Earth. Parks are where I head to to shed weight and to rejuvenate from the tiresome weekday grind. Taman Rimba Kiara is one of my weekend destinations since I was in primary school. Nature reminds me that there is still sincerity in life. Plants earnestly play their role providing shade, food, oxygen and soothing landscapes throughout their existence. Then come humans with their bulldozers. 
If we do not care, who will?
Our neighbour, Singapore, may be deficient in land but it was not difficult to come accross parks and green patches. What are the lengths that human will go for profit? To those who think that trees and grass are just a waste of space, you will be defeated by your ignorance. If we do not preserve the already scarce nature that is left, where will our children play in the future? Are we lobbying for the extinction of picnic? Are condominiums what is left to be shown to our grandchildren in Kuala Lumpur?
Public park for rakyat
The people's protest on Sunday 26th June 2016 at Taman Rimba Kiara itself gave me the opportunity to meet many like-minded people. By witnessing how they are willing to take time off their precious Sunday to join the movement, I felt that there is still hope. Some came even from Nilai to strengthen the people's voice.  
Placards made by protesters
Of course I encountered a few individuals whose schedule or sleep matters more than the future of the park. One said that development is inevitable and the protest will fall on deaf ears. Another said that there was fear of getting arrested during the rally. Well, I really could not decide if these were self-coaxing excuses or the result of suppression in the country.
I find this very true
All I know is that it will be a little too late to complain about the lack of trees to sit under when I retire later if I do not do something now. I chose to do my part, reaching the park at 11am and contributing to the headcount of the protest. At least I stood up for my beliefs and can be proud to tell my children that I once fought for their inheritance.

This is how 'Saya Sayangi Kuala Lumpur'

One hour of my Sunday sums up to nothing if the park survives for my children to learn cycling and to have walks with me. When was the last time you fought for something you strongly believed in?

Those who would like to join the petition can sign online via the link below:
My share of protest
Protesters gathering at Taman Rimba Kiara
People signing the petition to stop development of condominium
Notice at the park
Cannot imagine all these greeneries gone
The serene road to Taman Rimba Kiara
Trees providing shade and cool air
Where will our children go picnic if this park is gone?
Trees that existed for a long time
Large plots of grass
Where will our children play when this is gone?
Appreciating the beauty of nature
Showing the real meaning of 'Sayangi Kuala Lumpur'
Send all your objections to:

Pengarah, Jabatan Perancangan Bandaraya, Tingkat 7-10 Menara DBKL 1, Jalan Raja Laut, 50350 Kuala Lumpur

TTDI Residents Association: 
Dewan Pusat Komuniti TTDI, Jalan Athinahapan, Taman Tun Dr Ismail 60000 Kuala Lumpur

Local MP:
Mr. Lim Lip Eng 

Encik Suzaini bin Ahmad,
Ketua Penolong Pengarah,
Bahagian Pembangunan Tanah,
Pejabat Tahan dan Galian WPKL

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Seafood Market and Restaurant @ Bangkok

A simple nod to my friend's dinner invitation became a ticket to a captivating gastronomy experience during my trip to Bangkok. If you happen to be in the Land of Smiles and looking for a place for a memorable meal, flag a tuk tuk to Sukhumvit Soi 24. The Seafood Market and Restaurant in Bangkok offers something out of the ordinary sans the fear factor.
Seafood Market and Restaurant Bangkok adds no MSG to their food
The first dish that was served was a dish of confidence! "If It Swims, We Have It!". True enough, there is nothing that swims that is not available- fish, squid, crustaceans. And nothing can get fresher than seeing your dinner swimming before ending up on the table. The restaurant is walled up by aquariums and are the first things customers notice. It is no wonder that no MSG is added. Freshness must have taken over the whole role of flavouring the food.
I like the tagline-If It Swims, We Have It
Although taking pride on its vast array of swimming creatures and freshness, the seafood restaurant still endeavours to impress guests with piquant flowers and enticing fish decoration 'swimming' above diners.
The cheerful and uplifting set up of restaurant
Oceanic atmosphere will certainly prep your appetite
This place requires its guests to contribute a dash of effort by shopping for their food, something which I don't think they mind anyway! There will be a staff assisting with every trolley and in case guests have questions. 
Personal shopper for you
My friend, M.C. decided to start with fiber. It is miraculous that marketing does not feel like a chore here.
Starting with veges
Mud crabs looks delicious even before cooking
Bound to be dinner
Huge chunks of fish meat
Variety of fish
Maine lobster
Alaska King Crab legs!
Succulent squid
Gargantuan fish tanks for unrivaled freshness
Dinner almost collected
To those who fancy seafood ala Japanese, there is a counter that proffers ready-to-eat dishes. Understanding that seafood can be better appreciated with wine and spirits, there is a section with racks and racks of alcohol for you to select your drink from.
Ready-to-eat Japanese dishes
Wines and spirits to accompany your meal
After payment, trolley will be pushed to your table for a little discussion on cooking methods. If you are out of ideas or choose not to wear the chef's hat during your holidays, the restaurant staff will feed you with suggestions and ideas before pushing the cart away to the kitchen. However, do be prepared for the cooking charge.
Now to discuss the choice of cooking
Pineapple Fried Rice raised the curtain of the seafood affair with its fragrant wafts of curry. Rice was loose and evenly stirred with cuts of pineapple, squid and prawns. The hints of fresh pineapple added zest to the comforting platter.
Thai Pineapple Fried Rice
The Tom Yum Talay (Seafood Tom Yum) stole my heart that evening. My heart melted with the balmy soup that inherited enough zing from lime and essence from crabs, prawns and squid.
Tom Yum Talay
The Baked Mud Crab needs no interference from other seasoning. Meaty and juicy, every bite of the flesh is divine. I was speechless savouring the innate flavours of the crab.
Baked Meat Crab
Just look at the glorious crab eggs!
Tiger Prawns were apty barbecued to perfection. The slight char did no harm to the taste and texture of the succulent prawns. Freshness was sealed and so was satisfaction.
Barbecued Tiger Prawns
I would have done my Calamari in a sourish manner instead of deep frying such freshness. Flour was a little too overpowering masking the sweetness of the squid. The fried batter also took up a lot of stomach space.
Becareful when you order Sweet and Sour Crab in Thailand. It is not doused in thick sweet and sour gravy which you can mop with a man tau like in Malaysia. The crab is first fried and buried under a mix of cut vegetables covered in a thin film of sour sauce. The dish was a disappointment and a waste of quality seafood.
Sweet and Sour Crab
We were then consoled by the unambitiously blanched cockles that could not go wrong. We allowed its untainted taste to cheer us from the sweet and sour disaster.
Blanched cockles
Stir fried vegetable was done humbly with garlic. This simple dish was passable but with no outstanding impression.
Stir fried vegetable
We finished our dinner by cleaning our palates with the famous Thai mangoes that were so rich with sweetness. These too were the products from the cart earlier.
Cut fruits
Drink list and price
Cooking methods and price
The Seafood Market and Restaurant in Bangkok indeed got me hooked on its freshness. The immensity of seafood supply is impressive with interesting marketing concept. It gives your itinerary a memorable note. However, be prepared with a bulky wallet before your visit. Many corporate groups were spotted that evening. Methods of cooking is subject to local taste. Therefore, stay with simple cooking methods like steaming, barbecueing and baking to enjoy the best of your chosen seafood. Sawadee kaa!
Admiring the view of Bangkok from my hotel room after a hefty meal
Seafood Market and Restaurant 
89, Sukhumvit Soi 24 (Kasame)
Sukhumvit Road,
Klongtoey 10110
Bangkok Thailand

Open daily from 11.30am-11.30pm

Tel: 0-2661-1252-9