Saturday 30 June 2012

The Captivating Camellias of Japan

While in Japan last April, apart from the beautiful (though transient) cherry blossoms, other spring flora that we were lucky to be able to admire and appreciate were the almost perfect camellias. The Camellia Japonica actually flowers from late winter to spring, and the tree may be 6-12 feet tall. The tsubaki are in white, red and pink, with hybrids in various combinations of these colours. (Note: The tea plant is Camellia Sinensis)

Pink camellia in Ueno Park, Tokyo CNB 2012)

(CNB 2012)

Red camellia at Ueno Park, Tokyo (CNB 2012)

Red camellia in Yokohama (CNB 2012)

Red single layer camellia at Korakuen (CNB 2012)

White single layer camellia at Korakuen (CNB 2012)

April 2012

The Shah Alam Blue Mosque

Dome of the Shah Alam Blue Mosque at night (CNB 2012)

My first encounter with this beautiful blue mosque was way back when I was a librarian in USM (Pulau Pinang) and was in Selangor for the International Association of School Librarians' Conference in early 1989. At the time it had just been completed (March 1988) but with some foreign delegates, we were taken there for a visit to this biggest mosque in Malaysia, and 'second biggest mosque in Southeast Asia'. It is reputed to have the world's tallest minarets at 142.3 m, and biggest dome with a diameter of 51.2 m. (But now superceded by other mosques).

A view of the Blue Mosque at dusk (CNB 2012)

This state mosque, officially known as the Masjid Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, is strategically located in the Shah Alam City Centre. Now that we live in Shah Alam, this mosque is special to us.

Friday 29 June 2012

HRH & HRC, Pulau Pinang

A t-shirt from the Rock Shop (CNB 2011)

The Hard Rock Hotel (and its HR Cafe) in Pulau Pinang is fairly new - it opened in September 2009. This resort (the first HRH in Malaysia) is in the famous Batu Ferringhi beach area. As usual with HR establishments, the resort is adorned with images and memorabilia of pop culture. We were there last year and really, for me, it is the sunset in Batu Ferringhi that proved the main attraction. 

A, HRH staff and niece Ina (CNB 2011)

A quirky sign: Do not dive from the balcony of your room
at the HRH! (CNB 2011)

MJ and moi at HRC Pulau Pinang (AB 2011)
September 2011

Straits Quay, Pulau Pinang

Straits Quay is Pulau Pinang's latest attraction - a retail marina/waterfront mall; and touted as a must visit destination. The last time I was in the Pulau (last year), I did check it out. Here are some photos of the not so nearly ready (then) marina/mall.

The Marina area (CNB 2011)

Boats at the Marina (CNB 2011)

A seafront retail marina in progress (CNB 2011)

The Lobby area of Straits Quay Retail Marina
(CNB 2011)
September 2011

Thursday 28 June 2012

My Sri Lanka: Portraits

I have already written four blog posts on Sri Lanka (between 22 - 27 March 2012) but I thought that I would add another one, especially on her very interesting people we came across when we were there.

1. Young visitors to the Gangarayamaya Temple, Colombo

CNB 2012

2. Exuberant schoolgirls at the National Museum, Colombo

CNB 2012

3. Pretty Ms. Rizana of the Galle Face Hotel Front Desk

CNB 2012

4. The ever smiling Doorman at the Galadari Hotel, Colombo

CNB 2012

5. Our helpful guide at the Kosgoda Spice & Herbal Garden

CNB 2012

6. A man and his pet primate on the Madu Ganga

CNB 2012

7. Another man and his pet reptile at the Fish Farm on the Madu Ganga

CNB 2012

8. Fishermen at Weligama (err... except for the foreign one with his shirt on!)

CNB 2012

9. A pensive Bulath (betel quid) vendor at a street corner in Colombo

CNB 2012

10. A radiant bride and her friends at her wedding in the Galle Face Hotel

CNB 2012

11. Another beautiful bride and her bridesmaids at the Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct, Colombo

CNB 2012

12. Her proud groom in his wedding finery

CNB 2012

15-21 March 2012

Thursday 21 June 2012

Life in an Aquarium

Many an evening in Ampang, the family would sit around and just watch the 'fishy' antics in the small aquarium that B keeps. B started the aquarium with an Oscar cichlid, a catfish and a little lobster. She also had a decor piece with green and other coloured plastic plants placed in the tank. She later introduced some other tropical fish (including Rainbow) into the tank but over the next few weeks the smaller fish 'disappeared', cleaned up by the little lobster after the dominant Oscar had probably terrorised and killed them. Medium sized fish (Midas cichlid?) seemed to be charging and nipping at each other even as the bigger Oscar did the same to them!

Oscar and Lobster (CNB 2011)

Then the other day we read an article in the latest National Geographic magazine about 'Life in a fishbowl'. Biologist Ronald Oldfield's study indicated that pet fish behaviour is greatly influenced by tank size and decor. The fish usually nip and charge at each other in the small typical home tank (like B's), and the attacks subsided in bigger tanks with decor of alcoves and plants. He explained that in the small home tank environments 'aggression becomes cost effective' because fish have nothing else to do in their confined spaces.

Oscar and 'friends' (CNB 2012)

Oldfield's findings means that B has to reduce to a minimum, the number of residents in her little aquarium so they have enough individual space. And the family (read: moi) will not get so worked up about pet fish dying well before their usual life span of 2-3 years!
** Update: 7.6. 2013 Oscar, RIP.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Books I Love: The Travel Book

The Travel Book (CNB 2012)

The Travel Book; a journey through every country in the world, is a book I dip into every so often. Especially if I am about to go somewhere, or even to nowhere! (Like now when I am being grounded under circumstances beyond my control).

There are 196 independent countries in the world (193 being member countries of the United Nations). But in The Travel Book (a Lonely Planet publication) there are 229 entities because some administrative regions of China (for example), have their own entries and deservedly so because they are unique - Tibet, Macau, Hong Kong ... another example is the United Kingdom, listed under England, Scotland, Wales ... (though Northern Ireland is listed under Ireland with the Republic of Ireland). Never mind about how many countries there are in the world - the politics of countries is so volatile anyway!

This very large coffee table book is a very good introduction to the various countries, with brief citations of the capitals, areas, populations and languages, plus 817 beautiful images of peoples and places altogether. (The book has been classified under 'Travel Photography'). But my favourite sections are the 'Top things to do' and 'Top things to see' in each country, which can serve as part of anyone's plan for their 'been there, done that' experiences around the world.

Ex Libris CNB 1518, 1862

Sunday 17 June 2012

Happy Father's Day

My father and I (1951)

To all men who are fathers, a Happy Father's Day and may you and family be blessed today and everyday.

Tuesday 5 June 2012

World Environment Day

Go green! (CNB 2012)

Sometimes I lose track of what day it is. But today I know is World Environment Day, so how green are you? Do you at least do your bit by recycling? (Or reusing, refusing even?). I guess if we all try to do our little bit, it will help in the long run. Just a little reminder ...

* Do not waste electricity or water (In fact do not waste anything!)
* Manage your household rubbish; recycle what you can of paper, plastic or glass
* Dejunk your possessions properly - donate/give away/sell
* Grow a garden - even if only in pots/containers
* Practice other green initiatives ...

Every day is World Environment Day! The state of the environment could do with a little help from us all. My tribute to my late mother-in-law Qanum Jan, who taught me the rudiments of recycling.

Note: The above picture is a close-up of the Cyperus involucratus or Umbrella plant that grows in my garden.

Sunday 3 June 2012

Permaidani Api

pada pagi yang berdebu
aku menemukan
sebentang permaidani
kelopak api,
yang luruh dari kemarau.

aku berdiri
saksi kepada bara bunga
yang berkelip dan
terus pudar di atas rumput.

Oleh Muhammad Haji Salleh
dari "Sebutir Zamrud di Deru Selat; Sajak-sajak Alam USM"
Ex Libris CNB 1591