27 August 2006

Sliding tofu sellers...

In an rather refreshing turn of events, I ended up at a race track last night, watching some people whose cars seemed to be facing the wrong direction whenever they entered a corner:

"Look! It's that guy from Initial D!!!"

The starting grid. It's a grid. Cars start on it. Yes, they do.

Yup, it was a drifting event. Organised by Angle D5, it's a Saturday night event held at the PLUS speedway near the USJ toll plaza. We discovered it by accident, though - it was near Warren's house and we can hear the noise at the track from there. So, we decided to have a look.

That's me

Some old Toyota hatchback with a helluva good drifter behind the wheel...

What struck me about the event was the variety in the types of cars used - there were both brand new cars as well as crummy old 1970s Japanese sedans (and most of the better drifters seem to prefer the latter). The audience was pretty diverse too, with Malays, Chinese and Indians freely mixing together, both youngsters and even entire families with baby prams and stuff...

A Skyline R33 - presumably, the owner is affluent enough to risk pranging it.

"Oi! Why got traffic jam???"

An old-ish Skyline R32. Looks completely shagged

We spent about 2 hours looking at these cars go round and round the track, laying about a few tonnes of rubber into it. It seemed fairly well-organised too - with bilingual deejays, track marshalls, ambulances on standby and pretty girls with ultra-tight tops prancing around the main entrance.

Of course, after you pay the RM5 entrance fee, you'll walk in only to find that there aren't anymore big-breasted women inside (apart from some visitors, of course). Darn.

A Nissan Skyline R32 and a Nissan 180SX - crummy old cars, but excellent for drifting!

A participant from Singapore. Can't wait to see his tow-truck bill...

And there you have it. Apparently, they've got another event on Merdeka eve, which - coincidentally - is exactly a year since I've started blogging. I think I'll be there... ^_^

16 August 2006

Silly Microsoft Word... :)

One of my cranky old lecturers in university once ranted about how Microsoft is trying to change the way we speak English, by enforcing its grammatical rules on our documents through spell-checkers, autocorrect tools and other functions spawned by Satan himself.

Now, I think I believe him - Microsoft doesn't seem to know proper English either. Please click on the following screenshots for a closer look:

In this screenshot, it tells me that the word "bulletproof" is wrong (underlined in red). Rather, it should be written as "bullet-proof". Fine, I make the changes suggested by the all-knowing word processor.

But then, I get this:

Now it tells me that the word "bullet-proof" is grammatically wrong (underlined in green), and I should write it as "bulletproof" instead.


10 August 2006

Belum Temenggor National Park

Holy Cow...

Didn't realise how busy I've been - haven't updated this blog for over half a month! And to make matters worse, I've not even finished uploading all my Japan trip photos and I've already gone on another two.

This is the first one.

It was a trip organised by Sony Malaysia, Click! magazine, the Malaysia Nature Society and the education ministry. I won't go into details, but let's just say it's a rare opportunity.

Temengggor Lake

Temenggor Lake is an artificial lake created after the Temenggor dam was erected in the late 1970's, flooding the area with water from various rivers in Perak. This resulted in a huge lake that's over 100km square, over a hundred tiny 'new' islands, the destruction of countless flora (such as the raffelsia) and the displacement of people and animals.

An ex-tree poking out of the water.

The good news, though, is that the whole area is now a protected forest reserve. Which is good because there are a countless number of animal and plant species - some of which are native only to Temenggor forest. Such as one particular species of Malayan tiger, of which the exact name has eluded me.

There are an estimated 600 tigers left in peninsular Malaysia, compared to over 3,000 in the 1950s. With conservation efforts in place, it is hoped that the Malayan Tiger population will grow.

Me and Calvin Goh directly above the former Kampung Temenggor. (Pic courtesy of Mr. Allan from Click!)

The local guides claim that you can take a dive into the lake and see the old buildings - mosques, houses and schools - of Temenggor village, one of the villages and settlements that were flooded by the lake.

Of particular interest are the Orang Asli (natives) in the area, who had to adapt to island life all of the sudden.

Me at a Temiang Orang Asli settlement

The Orang Asli here are of the Temiang race. I don't know much about them, other than the fact that they didn't seem very pleased to see us - mostly because we forgot to bring gifts.

It's not that they're materialistic or anything - rather, it's a custom to bring gifts when visiting someone. So yes, we were being rather rude, which prompted some people in the group to sacrifice boxes of cigarettes, sweets and some money.

Middle-aged orang asli woman

The Orang Asli have really beautiful facial features, even with age.

Tough-looking hunter taking a break from polishing his blowpipe. Ok... that sounds wrong

If this dude looks strong, it's because he is. He claims to habitually hunt all manner of wildlife for food and he can hit a target over 240 feet away with his blowpipe. So no, he's not the sort of person you'd want to piss off. Ever.

The wall of an orang asli house. It's made of something.

View of the islands from the lake. That's haze, by the way...

The trip to the settlement was part of a tour of the lake, which offered a fantastic view. Malaysia is truly one of the most beautiful countries in the world - it's a shame most of us don't bother looking.

Pulau Pendidikan - a fairly long drop if you miss a step. The living quarters are at the top of this cliff.

We stayed at one of the many islands - Pulau Pendidikan. It's basically a facility made by the government to conduct talks and to educate the public on wildlife conservation. Nothing much to shout about, although the cook is fantastic - he makes some of the best grilled fish and mutton I've ever tasted!

Sunset at the jetty

The view here is fantastic, although the sunset on the day before was even better - looking just like the rising sun of Japan. Problem is, I missed it - walked down to the jetty without my camera. It would've taken 5 minutes to hike up the hill again, retrieve my camera and get back down, and the sunset would've been over by then. At least I saw it with my own eyes, which is the whole point, really... :)

Jungle ants/termites carrying bits of wood/stones to some other location. No, I haven't got a clue what they're doing.

While Temenggor is literally packed with all manner of exotic wildlife, Pulau Pendidikan itself is relatively fauna free. It's a small island, so there's no way an elephant or tiger would survive, although there are flying foxes, gibbons and ants.

Dead photographers: buoyant

Generally, I had a great time - thanks to the fantastic company of the Click! guys. It's always nice to spend some time with like-minded people who share a common hobby.

For more information about Belum Temenggor: