Tuesday, January 31, 2006

ah, back on the rocks again!

After 4 months hibernating due to monsoon season, today was the first day back out on the rocks. Eric text me yesterday afternoon - "Shall we go climbing?" The dry season's back, the rocks are in shade at this time of the year... hell, yeah! Let's go climbing!

I've been rock climbing a good 9 years already. Started out after completing university in Sydney, took up climbing with the persuasion of a hunk (oh, but of course it had to be a hunk!). I got hooked on it pretty quick; it's a sport where I could excel at my own pace, with no finish lines, no points to score, no competition with anyone except my own abilities. Out of interest in the sport, I'd even put up therockpod.com, a website with as much information on rock climbing in Malaysia as I could get my hands on. Hmmmm... which reminds me, better get those updates in soon.

I used to climb twice, thrice weekly when I first started out; now as the years have flown by, I've picked up more outdoor hobbies, and these days find myself stretched thin trying to keep up with all of them. Thank goodness rock climbing was something I could do on weekends without much hassle, since Batu Caves is just 30 minutes away from my home.

We decided on Damai (also known as Cave Rock) today - relatively easy routes, good to get the muscles going again after such a long period of inactivity. Oh but first, we stopped by Ho Choong Tuck coffee shop at Uptown for a little dimsum breakfast. Guess what I had? LB, this is for you!


Also had prawn siewmai, chee cheong fun (hongkong-styled), charsiew pau, and wu kok (yam dumpling). The three of us - Eric, Veronica and myself - digged in, but didn't fill our tummies to the brim in case we couldn't get on the rocks after that.

We reached Damai around 10.30. Geared up as quickly as we could, and to my great relief I could still fit into my harness... LOL! I was worried that I'd put on too much weight the past 4 months that I might've not been able to fit into my harness again. Thank goodness they were as snug as ever... or perhaps a little too snug now due to a slight "padding" all around me... *blush*!

After contemplating on the routes available, we picked Sweet Maria to be our warm-up route. Now, normally I would've just sailed up like a walk in the park, but this time, I was actually nervous. I'd not lead-climbed for awhile and I could feel a teensy-weensy flutter in my tummy as I tied the rope to my harness.

Up I went, setting up protection with the quickdraws as I moved along. I reached the so-called crux of the climb - this slightly bulgy ledge which I had to go under and over to the top to get to the next bolt. I gripped up as high as I could over the bulge, hanging on to the rocks as tightly as I could. Legged up with my right, but whooops... My hands felt shaky, I had to back down! I lowered myself a little, hung off my hands for a few seconds, then attempted the move again. This time I reached even higher, got my right leg up on the tip of the ledge, pulllllll... Yay! Got over the bulge! I could feel my legs doing the "Elvis" just a tad. I quickly clipped and continued to the top and anchored in.

I was doubly cautious of threading in my rope through the rings and doing the knots at the top; I had a slight phobia that I might've done it wrong, so I checked and re-checked my knots again before I called out to Eric to lower me.

Eric on Sweet Maria

Ahhhh... sweet relief to be on the ground again! Veron and Eric had a go at the climb on top-rope, cleaning the route (i.e. removing my quickdraws) as they went.

We lazed around for a bit before doing a second, easier climb. The butterflies were gone; I gained a little bit of my confidence back after that first route to lead again. Virgin Climb was definitely easier... phew!

Veron on the rocks

After that, Eric and Veron decided to call it quits (the former complaining about aching finger joints, and the latter saying she was tired). I was still game for another climb, but my laziness got the better of me and we packed up for the day. It was already 1:30PM, time for lunch.

Despite doing just 2 routes in a span of 3 hours (if you were a climbing freak, you could fit in at least 10!), it was enough to satisfy our itchy fingers for now. People who know us and have climbed with us know that we talk and chill out more than we climb anyway, ha-ha! The picnic climbers, that's what we are.

It was a good feeling though, getting on the rocks again. Now that the sun is out, I guess it's time for me to come out of semi-hibernation and go outdoors.

Gear up, guys. It's rock climbing season once more!

p.s. Apologies to the readers who aren't familiar with rock climbing - I didn't quite explain the jargon and it's quite hard to follow if you aren't familiar with the sport. I could write a few more posts talking about it; there's just too much to say in just a single one! Hope the links to the glossary pages helped!

p.p.s. No photos of myself in action, sorry. Can't really take self portraits when I'm hanging on for dear life with both hands now, can I? *grins*

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Monday, January 30, 2006


The first day of Chinese New Year had just ended slightly more than half an hour ago. My relatives are here again; I can hear the chatter in the hall and the excited cries over a card game in the dining room. My 2 nephews are squealing with laughter, playing with these soft toy balls. The TV is tuned to a football match.

Yet despite the din below, it seems quieter this CNY, somehow. I can't help but feel that something seems to be missing. It gets me wondering, is it because we - all the cousins who made the most noise - have grown up?

Gone are the boisterous sounds of our youth, the days when the youngest of our cousins (who are now 18 and 20) used to play their imaginary guitars, do a Whacko Jacko rendition and sing "I'm bad! I'm bad!".

We don't get excited over the simple game of "sam cheong" anymore, and graduated to black jack years ago. Now it's poker (which I don't participate, I'm so bad at keeping a poker face), where the games stretch longer and the stakes are higher.

Three of my cousins are married; two are dads with children, and one quite heavily pregnant mother-to-be. Soon there'll be a little baby girl to fuss upon.


Where have all the years gone?

Hmmmm... time to dig up some old photos from the store room...

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

a plea


Leave me alone.

What have I ever done to you?

Why are you telling everyone lies?

I really have nothing to do with you.

You've done this more than once.

I've not done a single thing to retaliate.

Yet you keep doing it.

It's so degenerating.

It's uncalled for.

Why are you doing this?



Leave me alone.

portraits of a four-legged hao-poh

Guess who came to visit us on the first day of Chinese New Year? My aunt's dog, Punky! She's such an adorable little mutt of mixed Pekinese Shih Tzu and Daschund parentage. Since it's the Year of the Dog, thought it befitting to grace my site today with our four-legged little friend.

introducing hao-poh, Miss Punky

the face of an adorable little mutt

and this is why she's called Punky!

"scratch my belly, please, scratch my belly!"

"arf! what's that I hear?"

tired after all that posing

"life doesn't get any better than this..."

"okay. show's over. buh-bye now!"

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

the reunion dinner

Hello, my dears! Time to wind down and relax after a heavy spread. Thought I'd share some yummy photos of what we tucked into. Let's see, what did we have for our reunion dinner?

the spread on the table

sambal prawns

turnip in foo chook rolls


stir-fried vegetables

strips of abalone mushrooms with baby chinese cabbage

My family seems to love chicken. We had...

curry chicken & potatoes...

chinese mushrooms & chicken...

"tungku kai keok" (mushrooms & chicken feet)...

...and more chicken!

And how can we not have yee sang?

the yee sang platter

getting ready to "lou hei"

"louuuuuu heiiiiii...!!!"

Ok, now... Let me introduce you to a few family members. Let's go to the hall and check out what they're doing.

Grandma and her first great-grandson, Danny

long-distance call from her son in Oz

relaxing after dinner
tv time! watching kungfu hustle

the youngest, baby Adam

"goodnight... zzzzzz..."

And a little deco to finish it off...

flower basket

They're playing cards right now... hmmm, shall I try my luck? *grin!*

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the eve of the lunar new year

Despite today being the eve of Chinese New Year, we seem to be slightly less busy than before. My brothers and I accompanied Mum to Jaya Jusco earlier this morning to buy a box of yee sang for tonight's reunion dinner. It's so convenient these days - all prepacked and ready to go, just add fish. They also had varieties that came with slices of salmon, but that was RM10 extra which wasn't quite worth the little amount they packed in. We bought a whole fillet for a higher price, but at least there's more fish to chew on.

The last-minute spring cleaning got done today -
Wiped the shelves (and everything on them)...
Cleaned the furniture...
Put up the decorations...
Got the basket of oranges out...
Ah, will put out the cookies later.

Our dog Jessie (actually, it's JC but that's another story) got a bath a couple of hours ago. Even she is prepared to usher in the New Year... heheh!

Mum's preparing dinner downstairs; Dad's giving her a hand; my brother's gone out to the car wash. Me? Busy snapping photos around the house, of course!

sunset in the hall

the Japanese doll sweet tray

mini tangerines in a basket

mystical knot hanging on my room door

Time to hit the showers before the guests come.

Gong Xi Fa Cai, my dears.

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Friday, January 27, 2006

the man behind galleriiizu

I had the pleasure of visiting the owner of galleriiizu a couple of nights ago. Izuldin Hani, or better known as just Izu, has been in the gallery scene since 1998; his patrons and friends would remember him having his gallery in Bukit Tunku, Kuala Lumpur a couple of years back (and before that, Bukit Antarabangsa and Titiwangsa). Now, galleriiizu occupies a space at UOA Centre, Jalan Pinang. Read more about the philosophy behind the gallery here.

Izu was interested in doing exhibitions and events to heighten the awareness of the very talented local artists, and foster art appreciation. His exhibitions display works of the undiscovered as well as the up-and-coming and veterans in the industry. He's currently running a series called 7, where 7 shows would be held on the 7th of each month, for 7 months. I hope to write more about these 7 shows as they approach; they're really worth a visit, or at least have a thought of.

Two nights ago I dropped by Izu's gallery to learn more about the show that's coming up on 7th February called "UseAgain-Asia Exhibition", a focus on graphic design. To create more exposure for his shows, he was interested in starting a blog himself, and perhaps a blogging community to discuss about and appreciate art. Having blogged myself, I was eager to share what I've encountered and how he could go about setting one up for his business.

I'd like to pause for awhile before I plunge in further to what I'd intended to post about. I'll admit that even though I frequent Izu's gallery every once in awhile with my fellow colleagues, whether to say hello to Suzanne (his assistant and our ex-colleague) or to see what new artistic knick-knacks he had to offer, I didn't know much about the man himself. In fact, I didn't (and embarrassingly still don't) know much about art until I had started working in the creative web industry. Every time I visit brightly lit galleriiizu, new works of art are on display, new items are on sale. Sometimes you'd see the man catching up with his visiting friends, or busy organising the next show. But no matter how busy he is, he always has a little time for us, to hear what's new, up and coming, the current goings-on.

So, back to my story.

As we chatted that night, our conversation took a turn towards his business and how he started out many years ago in an advertising agency. He told me a tale and a piece of advice that I hope, someday, I'm able to say I had heeded. It goes like this -

He was quite a high-flyer in "those days" when he first started out. And, like most of us, his nose followed where the money trail was. After a short time working in the first company, he soon hopped from one place to another, wherever the pay was more. Jobs only lasted for a few months, at the most a year and a half, before he moved again.

Izu was doing this for some time until one day, someone whom he referred to as a "coach", said to him, "Hey, wait a minute, son. Where are you heading? Do you know what you're doing? Is money so important? Hopping from one place or another, you're not gaining anything. If you're not careful, it'll be your downfall. Let me give you a piece of advice."

"Don't chase after the money. Chase after the work. Build your portfolio. Let it speak for you. The money will be the one chasing after you in time to come."

"Portfolios are important. Build them while you can. Don't keep going where the money is; by hopping places too often at any one time, the portfolio doesn't have time to grow. You hold nothing in the gaps between jobs. All it takes is one firing at the last job that you're at, and you've nowhere to go. Everyone whom you've worked for knows of your reputation of not being loyal, being fickle, being greedy. So go back to the beginning - build your portfolio.

"Remember to go where the work is. The money will follow."

Izu took on that advice. He joined an agency and landed himself with an account that was considered a failure. No one wanted that account; it had the lowest priority in budget and time. It was tough getting it back on its feet, but together with his writer, he designed a campaign to turn the account around from zero to hero within a few months. The sales shot up, revenue increased tenfold.

Needless to say, Izu was a star.

And yes, the money chased after him. He had calls from other agencies to rebuild accounts. Look where he is now.

Good advice, don't you think?


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