Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Living online

I just received the first online-shopping home-delivery order in my life.

Being that living here pretty much requires owning a car, sorting out larger amounts of groceries can prove to be quite tricky. When I go to the store, I'm pretty much limited by whatever can fit in my backpack, and even then I have to make sure I don't tip over on my bicycle.

A couple of people told me they do the same, especially because you don't have to deal with lines, people and whatnot. I piled up on milk, toilet paper, cleaning stuff, cans and all the stuff that takes up a lot of space. This way, next time I have to go get groceris, I can only get bread, veggies, fruit and other perishables.

Sounds good to me!

Aside from feeling pretty lazy, I have to admit I also feel quite satisfied.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Out of this world - the Shwe Dagon Pagoda

I think the time is here when I need to start posting about my Myanmar trip. I'll start off with one of the most amazing places in the country, the mind-blowing Shwe Dagon Pagoda.

And landing and a taxi ride to the wrong hotel, we dropped off our luggage and headed toward the Shwe Dagon Pagona. The hotel is conveniently located right next to it, so we used to opportunity to check it out in night time, with all that gold glistening under the lights.

It was Peasant's Day, so the temple was packed with families coming to pray and light incense sticks, and to thank for the (hopefully) fruitful year. People are walking around the Pagoda, with numerous smaller temples along the circular route and the small alley ways branching out, incense sticks all around, sounds of bells in the distance, groups of pilgrims chanting, singing, praying...

That place is mind blowing indeed. Just thinking about how it was built, how people decorated it all (and how long it took them), what it means to people, being the most sacred temple for Buddhist in Myanmar and worldwide...

To mention only some of the details regarding the Pagoda, it is probably the one zedi or stupa you want to check out. It's been around for approximately 2500 years, and is comprised of the main zedi and 82 other buildings. It's been built on the place that contained Buddha relics, including eight of his hairs. Over the years the zedi has grown to 99 m tall and has reportedly accumulated more than 53 metric tonnes of gold leaves.

The ancient Burmese dug a hole on a hill near Dagon, built a tomb and covered it with a golden plate. Several stupas made from different materials were erected on top of it one by one - golden, silver, tin, copper, lead, marble, iron, and brick. The main zedi is made completely out of gold, with another 5000 diamonds and 2000 gemstones covering its surface. It's no wonder it has been repeatedly plundered and that some parts of it are missing.

It was just overwhelming at times, so I had to take a sit and soak it all in. Going around the Paya with all those people gives you an incredible feeling of being part of the whole thing. You take a photo of a cathedral or a Hindu temple, but that's pretty much as far as it goes. Listening to all the changing, smelling all the incense, being part of the human flood - it really sound reasonable for it to be life changing.

Even with people chattering, I felt at peace. The ambience is just mesmerising, making you think about yourself, your life, your purpose, your goals, your ideas, your thoughts... It's actually a bit scary and feels as if someone's looking straight into your soul...

There are several entrances into this pagoda. We took one that seemed the most convenient, and convenient it was. And yes, those are escalators.
Besides the Shwe Dagon Pagoda, there is so many more temples around it, so you can make a circular round and visit temples along the way.
Only a couple of numerous Buddha statues around the temple. Buddha is, of course, worshipped in many temples, where people come and pray. I'm not sure how come some are more visited than others, but it might be something similar to patrons - each family worships a specific one and prays to it as the protector.
The tip of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda, said to be the most sacred pagoda, because it contains relics of four Buddhas within: the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Koṇāgamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa and eight strands of hair from Gautama, the historical Buddha.

The pagoda is partially made of gold plates, covered in gold donated by monarch and later on added by devotees. The top is tipped by a 15 g diamond.
One of my favorite shots, especially because it's quite hard to get the shy monks into a photo.
Travelling to Myanmar, you're supposed to be aware of your manners. You're not supposed to touch a monk's robes, touch anybody on the head (being it's regarded as the most sacred part of the body) and, among many others, sit with your feet sticking out.

That's why everybody tucks away their feet while sitting on the floor, praying, eating and similar. It's a bit hard to get used to (even though they have similar rules in India), especially when you're as bony as me and sitting down on marble.
Bling bling, isn't it? The details are amazing, but the surface of the whole thing even more.

Actually, today

I've got so many things on my mind I'd like to put in writing.

Maybe it's the weekend's fault, spending a couple of days lazying around and thinking about everything and nothing.

Maybe it's the feedback from people, talking to them on Skype, or just some things random people say. Something that amazed you, as well as something that annoys you.

Good ideas, interesting plans, amazing places.

And then I sit down, start typing, and with it I start yawning. No wonder, as it's almost 1 AM. The jet lag is still here.

And tomorrow is the start of another week.

Another week of researching, planning, meeting, writing, e-mailing, discussing, worrying, forwarding, ringing up, meeting up, calming down, eating out, passing out, waking up, taking off, crawling back...

Actually, today.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Another airport, another story

C from work has, very rightfully, commented that Kuala Lumpur’s Low Cost Carrier Terminal is mental after I posted a snapshot while waiting in line for check-in.

It’s a perfectly appropriate word for an airport that is considered one of the busiest in south-east Asia, especially when it comes to low-cost airlines, hoards of backpackers and schools of lost pensioners, disco-balling their gaze around in a chameleon-like manner, looking for directions or, simply, someone to save them.

I’ve travelled before, but this airport just left me speechless. The feeling that came to mind was raising my head to see a gigantic building or a sight – no previous knowledge and experience mattered here (except the one from there). The organizational system here is obviously mind-boggling to any westerner, especially when one realizes what it takes to go through the airport.

As soon as I got off the plane, I knew it was going to be an adventure. Bilingual (or even multilingual) signs don’t really help, because you end up going around in circles, roaming the airport in search of numerous and countless counters. People, similarly as in India, consider themselves rightful of extinguishing the signs, so they send people around to where they’ve been before. It’s a bloody maze.

Even thought I had plenty of time, I started having my concerns when I realized how long it’s taking me to get through passport check – an hour fifteen! You need to go T8, but go here first, clear customs, get the stamp, get out in the street, come back in, go to R07, go through the security x-ray, check in, get the exiting-Malaysia stamp, go to the departures terminal, then in the secured area (thirsty and hot), look around, sit down and take notes. By the time I was done and near gate T005, I felt like I have three atoms of energy left in me.

Couples take turn in electric massage chairs, Buddhist monks walk around with electronic equipment on their trolleys, a young Muslim strolls around, dressed fully in white-laced robes, wearing a matching white hat and carrying an, of course – matching, white iPad Mini.

Teenage boys all look like they were teleported from a Gangn-whatever video, girls don’t move around in groups of less than four, and they can always be located by simply following the giggling, a herd of mask-wearing Japanese just warped by me, obviously running for their flight – so much for punctuality.

The half or so hour that I spent out of the airport was so hot and humid that I’m concerned what Myanmar’s going to be like. The extended weather report went up to 40, which will probably prove to be very challenging when it comes to walking around all day and visiting sights.

I thought it might turn this trip into a lazy and laid-back one, which I didn’t think anyone would mind.


Something totally different

I'm a bit of a geek. Not the classic type though.

I don't get numbers. I have no strategy. I react too slow.

People play with me and go bonkers when, instead of taking part in the fight, I start waving my hands when I'm talking about something of interest to me.

I've played one game for almost eight years now. And that was, until a couple of months ago, the only one I've ever played (not counting playing Playstation with mates).

I know people I play it with in person and it's turned out to be more of a chat with a game running in the background than anything else. And even though I don't play that often anymore, I go online every couple of weeks and check what the guys are doing.

I play Panda in game

It's a bit of a connection with a bunch of people I don't have as friends on Facebook too, and it's always fun hearing what's going on where they live. Especially now I've moved, it's like another level of keeping the communication running.

I've dealt with some assholes, but I've also met one of the smartest, nicest and genuinely good people in it. Even though work keeps me busy, I still try to keep a steady and constant contact, and it gives me pleasure in hearing back from people.

It's a place where you chat to people and do your own thing, but you also help each other out and do things together. There is much more to it than just clicking the mouse, maybe because it's quite similar to the real life - only it's virtual.

People who don't believe in online friendships will never get it, but that's not the point.

There's nice people out there, and there's assholes. You'll have plenty of the latter, I'm sure - or I just attract idiots most of the time, have to be rude and then it's all okay. People are sometimes scared of meeting weirdos online, while I can say the most of them I know spend their lives right next to me - on the train, in the store, at a concert...

The problem with online communication (gaming, social networks and especially forums) is that people suddenly have the stones to say anything they want when they're behind the keyboard. That makes my stomach churn. I just despise it.

Forums are, as I mentioned, the most fruitful soil. I've experienced situations where people would shit on me online and smile widely in person. Ewww. It makes me shudder.

And it happens all the time. Then I tell them they're boring, but they don't give up. They go around in circles and keep proving my point, but they don't get it themselves.


There is a difference between being honest (which I respect and appreciate, even though it might bruise my ego) and not being capable of shutting your mouth. And, even worse, meeting up in person and being all lovely.


Anyway, I've tried some games, partially because a friend of mine started playing one and partially because it's a bit of a mind meadow for me, and it always beats the TV. I just started playing, so I'm a noob, but I have to say I've never felt so unwelcome.

I understand that it's probably kids playing the game, with no idea of real life whatsoever, and I get it. But I'm also not going to keep quiet. It's always easy to blame someone else (apparently), but I've never done it. I'm the maximum level in this other game, I've played for so long, and yet I'm still okay with helping nubs because I was given help a long time ago.

It just makes me wonder what does kids think and how they deal with issues in the real world? Just spamming the chat window and acting like brats? Good luck with that.

I'm not so comfortable in conflicts, be it in person or something else), but I'm also not going to let myself be stepped on. And if I'm playing with my best mate, for fun and for chats, and someone keeps being an asshole, so my mate becomes an asshole as well, yelling and asking stupid questions, am I going to listen to it?


Am I going to be seven and act like a brat after school and before I finish my homework?


Am I going to look forward to finally skyping my mate and talking about what's happened in the last couple of weeks, and instead be yelled at?


Fuck that.

And fuck you, little French brats whose English knowledge boils down to 'nub'.

Va te faire foutre, connard...

I ain't gonna be getting none of that shit!

Especially not from my mate.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Stay tuned

Okay, so I've been doing my laundry, eating my fridge out and watching the latest episodes of the Big Bang Theory.

The best.
I did start going through the photos yesterday, but I gave up after I only managed to get them down to 1200. Maybe I'll do better tomorrow.

Being that I've been taking some notes while travelling and writing down my thoughts, I'll try to link it in the text and use it as a reminder while I do all the writing up. I hope.

Memories and feelings will hopefully come up without problems, otherwise I'll just type it over and add a bunch of photos.

Stay tuned. In the meantime, here's two teasers.

An old lady at the #Mahamuni Pagoda, where men adorn the #Buddha statue with gold leafs, while women watch it on the big TV screen and pray...
An old lady at the Mahamuni Pagoda, where men adorn the Buddha statue with gold leafs,
while women watch it on the big TV screen and pray. I asked her if I can take a photo,
to which she signalled me to take one, sure. I showed it to her, she laughed and blessed me
by putting her hands on my head... Such a cutie!
The #Petronas Twin Towers, #KL, Malaysia.
The Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Back and tired

A couple of teasers from my recent trip to Myanmar and Malaysia.

An extensive set of posts is planned. I hope I keep it up.


Fluffy Gulf of Thailand... #AirAsia

A quick glimpse of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda in Yangon. @dozster

Finally in #Mandalay! Pa-ram-pa paaa-raaa-ram-pam-paaa...

Cheating a bit and ordering room service. The menu says it's 'grilled fish in prawn'... ;) @dozster


Friday, March 1, 2013

Myanmar Crash Course

Trying to go through some info before I take off tomorrow.

Myanmar is also known as Burma, derived from the majorly Burmese ethnic group called Bamar. Being that the British have trouble pronouncing stuff in general, they spelled it as Burma.

The country's official name is ပြည်ထောင်စု သမ္မတ မြန်မာနိုင်ငံတော်, transliterated as Pyidaunzu Thanmăda Myăma Nainngandaw, and the population is about 60 million.

Its culture and tradition is one of the oldest in south-east Asia, stretching back into the 9th century. Dotted with literally thousands of Buddhist temples and known for its laid back atmosphere, it's grown into a famous destination, even though it has been run by a military regime for half a century.

It has had many capital cities, some of them being Mandalay, Yangon (also called Rangoon) and others, but the present one is Nay Pyi Taw, spelled in numerous ways and loosely translated as the royal capital, seat of the king or abode of kings.

Myanmar (which Australians pronounce as Mauh-yaaanh-ah-moaaarh - it's ridiculous!) has finally opened up its borders and, even thought there's states you're not advised to visit or need a permit to go there (just like India and many more), it' supposed to be a very friendly, safe and amazing country, with always smiling people, an incredible blend of cultures and cuisine, and an experience that will change your life.

A lunch and a berry juice later, all my blood has gone south from my brain, so I'll leave it at this.

Bagan temples, Myanmar (photo found on DeviantArt, by sevenths)
Someone's photo from the Internet.
Probably not going there (the temples in Bagan), but anyway...
Looks amazing!


Trying to get myself through the rest of the week. No clue why it's so damn hard.



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