Short Getaway to Lukut, Port Dickson

by Ruby Gege

Here is how it started – one week ago, I blurted out to Palah that, “damn, I need a short getaway to someplace near. The long hours at work have been killing me and I just need to escape.” Two days later, Palah – being the efficient planner that she is – informed me that there are lots of cheap but good hotels around the Port Dickson area. I was surprised – “are we going this weekend?” I asked. “I was thinking about April or May.” Palah laughed at me, telling me that this weekend would be the best time. Unprepared yet excited, I obliged. Come Saturday morning (which was yesterday), Palah, Jeep, my little sister and I took off to Negri Sembilan in my brother’s Perodua Myvi.

It turned out that the amazing hotel we’ve booked, The Guest Hotel & Spa, is located in the area of Lukut, which is a small town a few kilometres from Port Dickson. So, you see, we did not actually spend our time in PD at all. Lukut, though quiet, is a lovely town – peaceful with quite a number of interesting places to visit. We can safely say that our 24 hours spent there has been unexpectedly pleasant. We thought we were going to spend our getaway hanging out by the seashore but we actually did not. We took a lot of much needed rest, visited museums and went to a cafe, of course. I myself drank countless cups of coffee. The only beach we went to is Bagan Pinang, which is quite a nice beach.

We also went to the Country Cat Cafe. Palah and Jeep really loved it there. Since I’m not into animals, haha, I won’t talk about it here. Do contact Palah for more details about the cafe.

Here is a brief overview of the places we went.

1- The Guest Hotel & Spa

 Palah told me that the hotel is of a 3.5 star standard. The service is good – we booked a family suite that can fit 4 people and even got coupons for breakfast though we did not pay for it through Expedia. The place is very clean overall – from the breakfast area, the room to the swimming pools. We spent many hours resting in our room, literally refusing to leave the place.

Another plus thing about the hotel is its location. Since it’s not situated at the heart of PD, it has lots of parking space and places to eat around it. So yeay for drivers who are lazy to look for parkings anywhere!

2 – Muzium & Kota Lukut

The first place we visited in Lukut is its Museum. We were a bit baffled when we saw the signboard for the place. Even though we considered ourselves to be museum junkies, we have literally never heard of this museum’s existence. We were so impressed with the museum! The exhibitions inside explain the history of Lukut – how it started off as a tin-mining area. The wealth of the place had caused many conflicts between the royal families led by one Raja Jumaat and his prince, Raja Bot and the miners. Apparently, lots of battles and bloodshed had happened here, which were unbeknownst to me and my friends. Yeay for museums for giving us extra historical knowledge!

The building is a beautiful fusion building of Colonial and Malay style. It is quite well-maintained (kudos to the curator for this!). The courtyard is damn huge but too bad the weather was unforgivably hot.

3 – Alive 3D Art Gallery

Our second visit to the 3D Gallery! The first one we went to is in Langkawi Island. The entrance fee is RM 20 per head. Even though the gallery in Lukut is smaller, we had more fun taking photos here as there were not many visitors. The best thing about it is that it is not more than 50 metres away from our hotel! We took our time, choosing our best poses and literally went all out! The paintings are mediocre, really, but for the sake of funny Instagram photos, who the hell cares! Some photos we took really turned out great!

 

4 – The Army Museum

On Sunday, after two hours of free breakfast and one hour of lounging around the swimming pool, we checked out of the hotel and drove to The Army Museum 10km away. Since I had been here around 6 years ago, I expected the visit to be quite meh. However, upon reaching the place, I was so shocked to see the new updates on the exhibitions. There were more impressive display – at the Malacca Sultanate section, they had a replica of a ship, A’Famosa and Stadhuys buildings. I was going ‘whoaaaah’ for the whole hour I was there. The part which we enjoyed most is the underground tunnel below the ground floor, which is meant to be a replica of a Communist Party hideout.

 

There are most pictures we have in our phones but putting them all here would be too messy. Do visit our Facebook page  – Ruby Jusoh or the Three Chinguz Facebook page if you want to see more pictures.

Overall, we had a great weekend getaway in Lukut. Even though we spent only about 24 hours there, we did more things than we could imagine, mainly because the area is a small town with substantial history. Now that we are back in KL, my friends and I are feeling the omens of returning to our ‘real life’ – the obligations of work, the responsibilities and facing up to life’s burdens. Ah, how we wish we could live by the seaside, enjoying the peacefulness of a small town, all day, everyday…

No. I am joking, of course. I’d die of boredom if that happens. Nonetheless, a short getaway is always necessary. As I mentioned before this, the chaotic lifestyle in KL drains your soul. An escape does not hurt and Lukut, Port Dickson is one of the place you can do it!

Nirvana In Fire/Lángyá Bǎng/琅琊榜 (2015) – C-Drama Review

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by Ruby Gege

Hello all! It has been a while since I last reviewed something here. Work (and laziness) have unfortunately been occupying most of my free time. Other than that, I am simply just a horrible human version of a seal, preferring to lie on my bed all day long instead of thinking hard about the quality of dramas and films I just watched. But then, a few weeks ago, I came across this Chinese drama called Lang Ya Bang or Nirvana In Fire and decided… hmmm this seems interesting. At this point, the whole international fandom was going crazy over this wuxia historical drama and I was like whatttttt???? Of course I had to check the drama out and hell yeah, I was not disappointed!

My review of this 54-episode drama can be summarized in the following hypothethical conversation I’d have with myself –

Me – Eh, so how’s Lang Ya Bang? Hao bu hao (good or not)?  

Me 2 – OH MY GOD YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS DRAMA I CAN’T EVEN TALK PROPERLY THIS DRAMA IS LIKE SO FUCKING GREAT HELL IT IS SO DIFFERENT FROM OTHER DRAMAS I’VE WATCHED IT’S LIKE AMAZING SO AMAZING YOU’VE NEVER EVEN WATCHED SOMETHING SO AMAZING THE STORY THE CHARACTERS THEY ARE ALL AMAZING IT IS LIKE A RELIGION OH MY GOD I DON’T MIND WORSHIPING THIS DRAMA DAY IN AND DAY OUT OH MY GOD! 

Me – Are you crazy? *smug face*

Simply put, this drama is everything their fans, viewers and critics alike have made it out to be. It is one of the best Chinese dramas to ever been made.

Why? Ah… so many reasons, I am not even sure where to start. Let me just mention 2 reasons here – 1) the story and 2) the characters.

STORY – 

The premise of the story is of a young general of an army, Lin Shu, who survived a battle 12 years ago. After his whole clan and followers, the Chiyan army, were declared to be traitors of the kingdom and were massacred, he changed into a new identity, Mei Changsu and became the Chief of the Jiangzuo Alliance (some sort of a kungfu/warriors’ group or something). And during this 4th century China, apparently there was also a ranking system made by the distinguished Langya Hall – a think-tank that ranked all things important from wealth, intelligence and warrior skills. Our Mei Changsu here was given the title of the Divine Talent by the Langya Hall and was pursued by the Princes competing for the throne. However, when Mei Changsu entered the capital city using the name Su Zhe, he chose to serve the least powerful prince who was his best friend when he was little. The story revolves mainly around how he worked to increase the best friend’s influence in the imperial court and how he manipulated the factions of power around him in order to put his best friend on the throne.

CHARACTERS – 

Since the drama is also famous for having a shitload (and by shitload, I really mean shitload) of characters, I will only talk about the characters I feel most attached, in a good and bad way.

Lin Shu/Mei Changsu/Su Zhe

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The man here had 2 sides of him – the caring, kind Lin Shu and the brilliant, manipulative strategist that is Su Zhe. With people he trusted around him, he was their beloved leader and friend. However, as a strategist, he was damn cold and distant. The first twenty episodes will get you thinking – aiya, this guy so heartless one arr? Why you never think of other people’s feelings? But that is what makes his character to rationally brilliant. He entered the capital with only one goal in mind – to put his friend, Prince Jing on the throne and consequently clear his clan’s name. He had to cut ties and destroy lives in order to achieve what he wanted and that, he did ever so confidently. He is, by far, the only hero of all the dramas I’ve seen to be unaffected by sentiments and emotions. It is fun and fascinating to watch both sides of him and oh my God, Hu Ge’s portrayal of this character is awesome. He, as other people would say, lived and breathed Mei Changsu – from his style of walking, his words, his mannerism and his facial expressions. I literally felt that he carried the whole drama by himself. Can someone award this man with a Golden Globe, please?

Prince Jing, Xiao Jingyan

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He is one intense dude. Like, really really intense. In the beginning of the drama, Prince Jing was a military general not involved in the competition for the throne. His father, the Emperor disliked him for his bold and brave nature, especially when he chose to stand true to his belief that the Chiyan army and his brother, the late Prince Qi were innocent of the treason charge. With the help of Mei Changsu, he slowly rose to the ranks, eventually succeeding the throne. The relationship between Prince Jing and Su Zhe is the main focus of this drama. Unbeknown to him, his advisor, Su Zhe, who had been supporting him through thick and thin, was actually his best friend and cousin who had been declared dead years ago. Prince Jing as a character is fiercely loyal and righteous, too righteous for his own good, to be honest. Without Su Zhe restraining him, he would have not achieved half the things he accomplished.

Princess Mu Nihuang

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Representing the subtle romantic element in the drama is our Princess Nihuang, Lin Shu’s fiance and also the general of the Southern Army. Alongside Prince Jing, she was among the few who believed in the Chiyan’s army innocence. Nihuang, though a character of moderate importance, is awesome and I love love love her immensely. She is a high-ranked military personnel, powerful in her own right, fearless and extremely respected by the people in the capital. Similar to Su Zhe, we only get to see their softer sides when they were with each other, somehow becoming their younger betrothed selves. She was also one of the few persons (Prince Jing included) that could unnerve Su Zhe of his calm collected self. Several of their scenes had made me cry, especially the part where the Princess brought Su Zhe to Lin Shu’s old house just to test his reaction once she suspected his true identity. Even though I wished so badly for her to have more scenes in the drama, I do understand why the writer kept her the way she was. It made more sense, story-wise. In the end, though, she remained our main character’s true love and despite unable to be together, their relationship was one based on trust and unconditional support.

Yan Yujin and Xiao Jingrui

 

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Even though most fans went gaga and huha over the bromance between Mei Changsu and Prince Jing, it is the friendship between Yujin and Jingrui that I find to be able to relate most. The fact that their fathers belonged to different sides does not hinder their bond. Before all the crisis in the drama began, they were travelling buddies in the martial arts world and brought Mei Changsu into the capital. Their personalities differed so much – Jingrui was the goody-two-shoes, serious son while Yujin was the carefree cheerful one. They spent their days hanging around the capital, visiting their friends and celebrating life in general (this was before all the crisis happened, of course). Not to mention these two are the most consistently good characters from the beginning to the end. The one touching scene I remember most is when Jingrui was about to leave the city with his sister and Yujin chased after him with his horse, asking him to come back without even asking him why he was leaving like all best friends would do. Despite being side characters, I love watching their moments together compared to our main bromance couple, whose affections for each other are just too intense for me to handle. (Aiyo, will shippers of Prince Jing and Mei Changsu kill me for saying these? Haha)

Prince Yu, Xiao Jinghuan

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Among the many princes fighting for the throne (Prince Qi, the Crown Prince, Prince Yu and Prince Jing), I enjoyed the character of Prince Yu the most. He is multi-dimensional – evil yet rational, calculative yet intelligent. He does not push for the throne directly yet worked to amass support and build his network of power meticulously. Prince Yu felt like a dual-role for the actor, Victor Huang, whose performance was convincing. Prince Yu was charming and noble from the outside but merciless and cruel from the inside. It was his battle of wits with Mei Changsu that made me so attached to the drama – wanting to see how Mei Changsu would defeat Prince Yu’s incomparable influence in the royal court. A part of me did not want him to die – I would love to see how Prince Jing fight him once Mei Changsu is out of the picture. Sadly though, that is not going to happen. Isk, isk… Prince Yu.

The Emperor of Liang

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My favourite character in the whole drama is… unexpectedly… the Emperor himself. As the drama progressed, I found myself not being able to support or hate the Emperor in entirety. Is he kind? Yes, he can listen to reasons. Is he cruel? Yes, he sentences people to death very easily. Is he a good father? Yes, he awards his princes accordingly. Is he a bad father? Yes, he made his princes fight against each other. Is he a powerful ruler? Yes, he is extremely charismatic, energetic and clever. Why, then, everyone around the emperor viewed him as if he is the cruelest man on earth? He said it himself in the drama – because he is the emperor and being an emperor, people changes. Everything in the drama – every events, conflicts and achievements – all of those boiled down to one thing, that is appeasing the emperor. In the end, it is his word that mattered, his order to be followed and his graces to win. He was the root of all the problem (he ordered our hero’s clan to be executed) and he was also the solution for it (he ordered Prince Jing to re-investigate the case).

Consort Jing, mother of Prince Jing

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Mother of Prince Jing, Consort Jing had endured many years of being a low-ranked concubine. Like her son, she remained mostly ignored at the beginning of the drama, which seemed to be her strategy of survival in the royal court. Prior to being a concubine, Consort Jing was actually a female doctor. Even within the confines of the palace, she still practiced her medical skills regularly, studying herbs and medicines. Unlike her son, she is the epitome of grace and resilience. She never let her emotions defeat her and embraced every challenges and praises with calmness. The only time she ever cried was when she discovered Mei Changsu’s real identity (she was actually Lin Shu’s aunt). Despite her personality, she is a sharp woman, knowing how to detect traitors and spies in her palace.

CINEMATOGRAPHY 

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I know this is not one of the main point BUT Lang Ya Bang would have not succeeded without the supreme cinematography. Every angle and every shot made me feel like I was watching a wuxia film, only that it lasted for 54 hours. The crew must have put in a lot of thought and ideas behind each frame, for all of them seemed to be conveying a meaning – from the way Mei Changsu moved his fingers to the way the wind moves inside the palace area. Among the things to look out for  are any tea-related scenes. It seems that even people during 4th century China took their tea culture seriously. The way the hand moved the pot, the way they poured it to the way they drank it.

ALL IN ALL – 

Lang Ya Bang is a drama centred on human relationships, revenge, court intrigues and the fight for power. A lot of dramas had tried to use the same formula before but what set the drama apart is its brilliant execution. Anddddd the crew made the right decision not to drag any of the story-archs.The drama ended nicely at only 54 episodes (other wuxia/historical dramas usually got dragged until 80 to 100 episodes). However, be warned though, the mental exhaustion of watching Lang Ya Bang is real! It made you feel so many emotions, think and analyse so many conflicts and doubt your affections for every characters. Never had I experienced this as a drama-lover before since the 2011’s Empresses in the Palace. It took me a whole week of my Chinese New Year break to finish this drama, without any distraction and commitment. It almost felt, guys I am not joking, like a short-term marriage with this drama. Hahahahahahahaha…

Ola Bola (2016) – A local film we all can relate to.

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

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My Rating : 4/5

Kudos to the director, casts, staffs and all who were involved directly and indirectly in making this film. For me, though I found certain flaws in the acting but it is forgivable considering the theme of this film is peculiar and not similar at all with local films. Lately, racism has been a famous topic in Malaysia and it is repeated all over again by politicians, media and social networks. Using ‘you will believe again’ as the film’s trademark, one will not easily convinced to watching this right away. I was a bit skeptical but then I watched ‘The Journey’ film last year. It was an excellent film although it focused mainly on Malaysian Chinese Society. The director and script writer didn’t neglect the part that (as Malaysian) other races pretty much involved in our daily life. They (those irrelevant people) could argue that it’s not Malaysian film but for me, it pretty much is. Exploring how their society’s perception on inter racial marriage as a platform in the film works really well. So, what trigger me to watch Ola Bola (as I seldom watch local films unless it really is promising and brilliant at the same time) is this film shared the same director of ‘The Journey’ movie.

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Our National Football Team

It’s a about the journey of Malaysia’s National Football team in the year of 1980. This is inspired from true event. The intensifying journey of the team in qualifying the team into 1980 summer Olympics in Moscow, Russian is featured as a main story in the film. Why we need such film? That’s because we never had any film to reminisce us that we used to be incredible and fearless football team. We talked about ‘Malaysia Boleh’ but where it came from actually? This is one of the events that can take us back and recall that we are undefeatable as a team. This film did a lot for me personally. I don’t even know we beat Korea and our national team qualified to enter Olympics in 1980. I was ashamed for not knowing that. Maybe some of you felt that watching this film might not change anything; that once the film is over, we went back to our life and go on with our life. This is true but it does give me hope. Don’t you see? This film tried to revitalize the Malaysian spirit that ‘We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided’ as JK Rowling put it nicely. I watched this film last Saturday and the cinema was packed with people with different races and varied ages as well. It was such a heartwarming to see that many Malaysians felt the need to support our local films.

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The cinematography is gorgeous. It captured Malaysia really well. The script is not bad for a local film standard. There are a few lines which is corny and some sound forceful to make it echo unity and harmony but that’s just it. It was bearable and they didn’t overdo the script. The acting is not flawless (I have to be honest) there are certain weaknesses to it but I don’t really care for it. Not because the casts are attractive but most of them are not an actors. Some of them are football players turned amateur actors just for the sake of the films. For some people who loudly criticized that some of the actors in the film are ‘kayu’, you guys should give them a credit for trying. Most of you can even watch an unbearable local drama with irrelevant plot filled with talentless actress and actors, why feel the need to diss the film? This is pure gem compared to what you guys watch every day. Bront Palaree’s performance is brilliant. He carried his role as a sports commentator really well. The other actors like JC Chee, Luqman Hafidz, Saran Kumar Manokaran, Marianne Tan, Katrina Ho and Frankie Lee also not disappointing in portraying their characters.

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Bront Palarae portrayed the role of Sports commentator, Rahman.

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Saran Kumar Manokaran as ‘Muthu’

It touched a little bit personal struggle of the football players in their real life. The film is not 100 percent revolved around football or you silly American called it ‘Soccer’. Muthu is Portrayed by Saran Kumar Manokaran showed the struggle of being an eldest son in this family. His father wanted him to focus on helping the family. Being in a National Football Team back then and now is different. I read some interview given by the former national player saying that sometime they don’t even get paid and if they did, it is not as much as what the current player got now. Muthu is in a big dilemma; he wanted to quit the team to help his family but playing football is his passion as he stated ‘It’s the only thing that he knew’. JC Chee portayed as ‘Chow Kwok Keong or Tauke’ is the National Football Team Captain. He has been offered to play for a club in England but he refused to do so. He wanted to be champion in his own country. While we (as an audience) should laud his patriotism, his decision of not going causing his family especially his sister devastated. If he did go, he can easily earned money and help his family. He was also in torn of choosing to do what he believes in or helping his family. Maybe now we couldn’t feel the struggle but it is real as it can be back them.

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‘Tauke or Chow Kwok Keong’ Portrayed by JC Chee

I assure you that it’s not all sad and sappy in the film. Muthu’s younger brothers really incited non-stop laughter from the audience. They were very natural for child actors. Their foolishness and wickedness is refreshing in the film. Ong Thiam Cai or Ah Cai character is also unforgettable. He has been in National Football Team for 8 years but he entered the field to play not more than 5 times. He is quirky and skillful on the field but never been given a chance to show off his skill. He has been teased a lot by his team members but he laughed with them. This is a story comprised of the characters with diversified races and backgrounds. They are courage, gutsy and ‘nothing is impossible’ attitude. Along the way, some spirits might have been broken and shattered but they managed to get it together and rise like a phoenix from the ashes.

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The Characters in the film is inspired from true event.

Last but not least, watch it not because your friends recommend this film; watch it because you want to believe again.

Langkawi & Us – The Unforgettable Trip

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

I guess i should at least update something on this blog. It’s been ages since ive been here. (As a threechinguz’s representative) Pardon us , dear followers, as all of us failed to update and review something for the past 4 months. We’ve been busy with work and all kind of adult stuffs. I wish i could say more than apology but whats done is done. Alright, lets get back to real stuff. We have been planning this trip for over 3 months. We picked Langkawi because Fatma never been there and last time ive been there was in 2003. I brought along one of of my best friends, Jibah in this trip. We met in USM and she can get along pretty much with my other best friends so i dont see any harm in bringing her in one of the best friend trip (thats what we called it, its a bit tackly but hey, dont judge). We spent about 300++ per person for 3 days 2 night in Langkawi. It’s pretty much affordable considering we are not effing rich.

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We went there by ETS. From KL Sentral to Arau, it took us about 7 hours to finally arrive. According to Jibah, taking a ferry from Kuala Perlis is quicker than taking it from Kedah. Hence, why we choose the train in the first Place. The ticket price cost us each RM 86 per person. Well, I am not complaining because we cut 12 hours of driving if we decided driving there or going there by bus. Look at us, all happy. Honestly, we killed the time by talking, eating, talking and taking a picture. Brace yourself for a lot of photos and we are addicted to having a selfie or wefie everywhere. Selfie and Wefie is a must for this trip.

We arrived at Arau around 9.00pm. No, we are not going to Langkawi right away. As we are all tired, we planned to spend the night at Megastar Vacation Inn. We’ve got 1 room with 4 beds with affordable price. It was comfy and clean making its hard to believe that for RM 90.00 per night, we can get such room. I forgot to mention that staff there are  nice and friendly too. Its hard to beat our expectation on the Hotel that we are going to stay later in Langkawi.

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For RM 90 per night, you got 2 queen beds at Megastar Vacation Inn.

25/12/2015

We could go to Langkawi by flight but seeing that all of us are feeling a little bit adventurous, we went to the Island by Ferry. Ferry service charged each of us RM 18. I didnt have time to compare price with other ferry lines but i choose Ferry Line Ventures because they have online ticketing service. It makes my work easier as self proclaimed trip planner. Haha. We felt nauseous a little bit when ferry bumped with a big wave but thats just it. Nobody puke. Its a little bit dizzy but all is good in the end. We arrived at Langkawi after 1 hour in a ferry.

We arrived at Langkawi on time. Boy, we went to Langkawi at the wrong time. It is packed with people. I know that i shouldnt expect the island to be empty but man, even the toilet formed a long queue. Its like people are seeking protection from Zombie attack at Langkawi. I blame me for picking the wrong date and i blame all of us that we are being bloody optimistic its not going to be filled with a massive amount of people. What can i expect, we’ve got 2 public holidays plus weekend, of course its a full house. We faced a little bit difficulty with Car Rental Service. We have to wait for 2 hours for the car to arrive. Thank God, it arrived. My mind scared me off by imagining that we have been deceived or scammed. Turned out on that day, those who came to Langkawi without any plan, they couldnt get any car rental. Booking and paying deposit early wont kill you, i guess. We rented Viva Produa from ANON car rental service for the price of RM 180 for 3 days. We slept at Joy Motel near Pekan Kuah. It was not in a good condition comparing to what we have at Arau but we are not going to spend our time in a Motel. Weve got long list locations and places that we’re going to visit. As long it got 4 beds and the toilet is working, we are okay with it. Joy Motel charged us RM 110 per night for family room.

and the trip began….

 

Underwater World Langkawi:

Makam Mahsuri :

Tengah Beach, Langkawi:

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3D Art Museum :

Langkawi Sky Cab:

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Wat Koh Wanaram Temple:

Wildlife and Birdpark Sanctuary :

Langkawi Legend Park:

and the journey ended here…

Again, we took a ferry to Arau by Ferry. I’m telling you that i’m not going anywhere on Public Holidays. It made me realize how overpopulated our earth is.

We made a brief visit at around Arau and Jibah’s house before we went back to KL.

The 12 hours journey began. I cant avoid this trip because all ETS train ticket are SOLD OUT. I managed to get only this even though i turned up early at ticket counter. T___T However, it cost us RM 41 only per person. Its cheaper though.

Men Who Save the World/Lelaki Harapan Dunia (2014) – ‘An unapologetically honest’ local film

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

My Rating : 4/5
My Rating : 4/5

        I seldom watched local films. There i said it. No offense but with a shitty content, mediocre actors and actresses, i rather shove a poison in my mouth and die than watching them. There are some of good actors and actresses in Malaysia but i felt like their potential remain hindered in local film industry. Having to play the same characters over and over again and being forced to conform on the standard of local film (which is majority of them are so sub par and repetitive story line) leaving them no choice. The situation is no different for directors and script writers as well. There are young and promising talents out there. They are trying to enter the industry with a new and fresh ideas but failed to make any mark for their careers. Some of them decided to take a path as an independent film makers. They managed to attract a small amount of crowd but that’s it. Some people recognized their films but how many? They have their own niche for their films but to put their films in big screens is risky business and many are not ready to take it. Statistically speaking, most ended up flop in cinema.

         Facing international films as a stern competition is one thing but attracting younger generations to watch a sardonic film like ‘Men who save the world’ is another thing. To begin with, it doesnt have what malaysian youths usually enjoy ; action or romance films. It doesnt even embrace what typical malaysian directors love to do which is recycling horror tales and calling it a new and upgraded horror flick ever released. This film is opposite of everything typical local films usually possessed such as a) Its not necessarily has a love theme B) It does’nt have glossy factors like a good looking actors or hot actresses C) It’s revolves around cultures, values and morality that we often forget D) It’s mocking our society’s bad habit in a sarcastic manner. Hollywood and even bollywood is way past making satire films but Malaysia is practically an infant at this. Why? Because we are too defensive about everything. We are too busy being offended for many things. If we are not busy being offended, we are demanding government to ban anything that might offend us.

Because we all know what 'kompang' is, right?
Because we all know what ‘kompang’ is, right?

               Take a chill pill, will you? Take this film as an example which is instead of focusing the content of film, they are fighting and arguing that this film is an insult to Malay’s dignity. Why? because the director is not belong to Malay Race. He is chinese and some malays cant accept that.  Seriously, How can you be stupid than you already are right now?  Many failed to highlight the intention of both writer and director in this film. ‘Muafakat’ and ‘Angkat Rumah’ culture is at the brink of extinction. Currently, Malaysian youths preferred to migrate searching for better opportunity rather than staying in a rural area. They even chose to live in the city and leaving the elders behind. They went back once or twice to visit the elders and truth be told, they forgot the culture they were raised in (including myself). The elders still practicing it but these culture will be gone with them to be honest. However, this is not the thing they are discussing once they watched the film. They kept dissing that the director is a chinese. They kept insinuating that Malays and Islam has been portrayed in a bad manner and it was unforgivable for them. They even went on asking all Malays to boycott this film. What bad manner? Which one? Shaman, ‘Bomoh’ or Tahyul belief has been long existed and deeply rooted in our culture. Sorry but not sorry, admit it that some of our relatives still go and seek their counsel. Although you yourself dont believe it anymore, people around you still do.

Bomoh, Bomoh & Bomoh
Bomoh, Bomoh & Bomoh

                Before those morons started imposing this boycott on all of us or before we blindly following their order, i urged you guys to watch the film first. Give this film the benefit of the doubt, watch it without any pre conceived notion that you have regarding this film, keep an open mind and you can see what actually the film is all about. Sometime we watched film for an entertainment, to make us laugh but sometime we watched it because it is realistic and speaks to us in a direct and sensible truth. This film is one of them. You can enjoy watching ‘Hantu Mak limah’ or ‘Polis Evo’ (no judgment here though i will not watch them) but save some time to enjoy film like this in the future. Hopefully, we can save our local film industry by showing adequate support to high quality films like this in the future.

Some scenes you shouldn’t feel offended at all even if you are malay (because obviously it was true) :

  1. Believing Shaman’s word over their own rationality.
  2. Trusting an illicit-substance addict words rather than checking the old house itself.
  3. Too quick to pass judgment before investigating it thoroughly.
  4. (There is no insult on islam or attack on islam whatsoever) The Animal slaughter in eid-ul-adha might seem ordinary in our eyes but imagine kids (i know i cried when i first saw cow’s got slaughtered), people who are vegans saw it, their brain might exaggerate the scene and perceived it was barbaric. The director seems to portray the scene in kid’s perspective. You saw in that scene that the kids cried so hard. You shouldnt felt offended instead make it as a responsibility that if any people asked why the slaughter seems barbaric, explain it based on Islamic teaching. We don’t simply cut animals and make it suffer. Thanks to Wikipedia and its information ; i would love to clarify this to my fellow Malaysians (Non Muslims especially) that one of the rules to slaughter cow in ISLAM is that the knife must be sharp and the cut must be placed on specific location so that cow can face a quick death.

This method of slaughtering lawful animals have several conditions to be fulfilled: (1) The butcher must be Muslim, (2) The name of “ALLAH” or “In the name of Allah” must be called by the Muslim butcher upon slaughter of each halal animal separately, (3) it should consists of a swift, deep incision with a very sharp knife on the throat, cutting the wind pipe, jugular veins and carotid artery of both sides but leaving the spinal cord intact.

Plot :

'Angkat Rumah' Culture
‘Angkat Rumah’ Culture

              The story started with Pak Awang ( Wan Hanafi Su) intended to remove his old house to a new location. He intend to finish rebuilding the house before her daughter get married (She was never shown in the film, FYI). He was planning to give the house as her daughter’s wedding gift. The old house has been left for few years and some part of it beyond repair. Together with his friend, Megat (Harun Salim Bachik), they consulted a local religious leader who is also house builder known as Tok Bilal (Jalil Hamid) for some advice. At first, he was reluctant because of it is nearly impossible task to relocate the house. However, he agreed to assist and by using his influence to ascertain a quite number of villagers to lend their hand in this matter. The story then shifted to an immigrant African man (known as solomon) who’s working as a hawker for counterfeited goods like belts and wallets. However, without having a license to sell, it causes problem to Solomon. All his goods has been confiscated by the authority and he ended up being beaten mercilessly by them. Fortunately, he managed to escape and hide in the lorry. Authority currently searching for him but he successfully fled right into the nearby forest before security checked the lorry.

Solomon hide in Pak Awang's old house.
Solomon hide in Pak Awang’s old house.

                Solomon ran as fast as he could before he stumbled upon Pak Awang old house. He used the house as his shelter before his presence is noticed by ‘good for nothing’ villager, Wan (Sofi Jikan). Never seen a black and African man before, he panicked and alerted head of village and others that the house is haunted. The rumors has been spreading around but the ‘moving house’ activity still continued despite the rumors. Pak Awang intended to finish the moving in 5 days. Villagers kept gossiping about it and related to certain incidents befell to some people is due to the house curse. First, Megat step on fragile floor and sprained his ankle, then Wan saw the black figure in the house, the daughter of one villager has been allegedly bitten by ghost and now, the camel that will be sacrificed for Eid Adha is currently missing. The ghost theory kept getting stronger and villagers are being restless because of the house. In turbulent time like this, we always used Shaman or ‘Bomoh’ to connect the link. It’s in our culture to refer our problem to them. Although this is not widely accepted anymore because Islam forbids it, still few of Malays continuing the beliefs. The shaman concluded based on his prediction that it was ‘Orang Minyak’, one of malay ghost myths. His guess was solely based on Wan’s description and the bitten mark on one of the villager’s daughter. Some of you may not know what is ‘Orang Minyak’ or to translate directly as ‘Oily Man’.

The orang minyak of the 1960s was described as human, naked and covered with oil (supposedly to make it difficult to catch). However, there were also stories of the orang minyak where it was supposedly supernatural in origin, or invisible to non-virgins, or both. The mass panic has also led to unmarried women, typically in student dormitories, borrowing sweaty clothes to give the impression to the orang minyak that they are with a man. (All Credit goes to Wikipedia for this description).

To lure 'Orang Minyak' , all male in village has to cross dress.
To lure ‘Orang Minyak’ , all men in village has to cross dress.

                 The shaman then asked all villagers to cross dress as to lure the demon out. Its somewhat a bit chaotic seeing all male wore baju kurung and vice versa in this village. Thats what Solomon felt when he saw this. He dont understand but he didnt say anything. He made himself remain hidden. The male villagers , on the other hands, remain vigilant to the current situation. Pak Awang failed to convince the rest to not heed what the shaman and Wan said. It might be their imagination, he assumed. Pak awang resorted to bribe Wan seeing that he failed to convince the villagers. He asked Wan to revert his statement and admitted he never saw the ghost around his old house. Wan refused to do that though he did took the money from him.

                Did Pak Awang managed to move his house on time? Did they ever found out that the ‘Oily Man’ is not really an oil man? I wont write the ending because i wanted you guys to watch it.

I (2015) – A modern Beauty & The Beast Tale

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

ai-movie-poster-shankar-tamil-movie-6
My rating : 4/5

Puli is bad. Nope, I think bad would be an understatement, its worse. I’ve been misled that Puli will be the next bahubali (which is it failed miserably and its story was failed to grip the audience utterly). Maya will be the new breath take to Tamil Film Industry but Puli will be their damnation. I hated it and I walked out of cinema in the middle of movie. I’ve never done that. That is my first time (and i intend to make it the last one). However, i cant get over the feeling of how bad Puli is causing me to search few highly recommendable Tamil films. This is the way to win back my confidence in watching Tamil films again. Luckily, i found it. Through I (2015) i discovered that Vikram is a big deal in Tamil Film Industry and one of critical acclaimed actors in Kollywood.

Vikram as Lingesan
Vikram as Lingesan

Of course a mainstream movie will have a love story as their essence. In this film, the magical true love story happened between Lingesan (Vikram) and Diya (Amy Jackson). Lingesan has been a simple guy all his life. He owned a small gym and having a passion in a body building . He is completely obsessed with Diya which is a supermodel and actress in India. Being her biggest fan, he will buy every single product that Diya has endorsed and even stopped whenever Diya’s commercial film is on air. He entered a Tamil Nadu district Body Builder competition and won the first place. However, There was some jealousy incident occurred and Lingesan has made some enemy out of it. Lingesan become famous right after winning the title and started to do a small scale commercial films on his own. It must be a fate for Lingesan to meet Diya on her film set. Diya treated him like a normal fan but Lingesan fell head over heels for her.

Amy Jackson as Diya
Amy Jackson as Diya

Diya is the rising star in the industry. She is a very hard working and talented artist. However, after she rejected the offer to sleep with one of her co-stars, her offers starting to reduce. She get replaced by other new models instantly. Diya is scared that she might losing her popularity. She asked her agent to help her. She wanted to recruit her co-star to avoid such issue happened again. She found Lingesan advert in newspaper and managed to convince Lingesan to change his appearance. Lingesan transformed from a rural body builder to the urban male model. He even changed his name to ‘ Lee’. Lingesan dropped his dream to win ‘Mr India’ Body Building Competition and followed Diya to shoot commercial film in China. Being a newcomer in modelling industry, Lingesan has caused some of prominent models to lost their contract. Without his realization, the number of his enemy has been increasing. He is not aware of it and proceed with his life without any worry.

Vikram-I
Lingesan changed his name to Lee after the transformation.

Lee and Diya has been such a lovely pair in television and billboard. People enjoyed their chemistry and public demand to see them together on screen. They enjoyed the popularity and attention that has been given to them. Lee has been asked to do a commercial film for a cool drink belonged to one company which he indebted to them for giving him a chance to be a model. Lee rejected it due to some controversy that product has. That cool drink apparent has a high level of dangerous substance that may cause death. Lee replied honestly regarding the toxicity level when reporters probe him to ask why he rejected to do that drink commercial film.  Due to this, the company suffered a major setback and suffered market crash. The company owner planned to make Lee suffered because he almost make his company went bankrupt.

Lee and Diya is enjoying their limelight.
Lee and Diya is enjoying their limelight.

(Spoiler) The most unexpected villain in this story is Diya’s doctor. I didnt expect it a bit. He looked like a decent person and never betrayed anyone. I was wrong. This doctor dotted on Diya and wanted her all by himself. He managed to shoo away all the man that are interested in Diya but failed to keep Lee on a leash. Filled with hatred towards Lee, he banded together all people who hated Lee and plotted their own revenge. Lee is injected with some hazardous substance called “h4n6”. The effect of it has caused Lee to transformed into a hunchback person. Lee suffered heavily from his deformity and remain hidden from Diya. When Diya is getting restless, Lee staged his own death so that Diya will believe that he is no more and she can move on. It all change when Lee is diagnosed by other doctor. He suggested that what Lee is suffering is not from Genetic Disease but a Virus. The doctor said someone might have injected him with it.

Lingesan turned into an ugly monster after being injected by hazardous virus.
Lingesan turned into an ugly monster after being injected by hazardous virus.

Lee finally discovered that Diya’s doctor is not someone he can trust. He kidnapped Diya and plotting his vengeance to all who has done wrong to him. He didnt kill them but he let them suffered from being deformed exactly like they did to him. Diya recognized Lee despite his terrible look after spending a few days with him. Diya refused to go and promised to care for him until he recovered completely. With the help of kind doctor, Lee is recovered partially. His skin return to normalcy but his hunchback is not disappear completely. Diya and Lee stayed in a very isolated place and enjoyed each other company without any regards to their past. They left their world behind and choose solace over fame.

I’ve nothing much to say about Vikram and Amy Jackson. Vikram for all i know has been praised by the critics for nailing both role as Lingesan/ Lee and the monster perfectly. Amy Jackson also received nothing but a positive review for her previous films both for her acting and her deliverance in Tamil language. She is a foreigner but people appreciated her effortless way in speaking the language well.  People who complained that this movie  has a long duration and so many unnecessary scenes has been put in it, they are being unreasonable. Every single scene for me has been put together so well with a story line. A soundtrack composed by A.R Rahman is so addictive especially the first track titled ‘Mersalaayiten’. The video of this song is featuring Lingesan and his vivid imagination turning Diya into every single thing that he saw or touch ; from mobile phone to a bubble in a laundry room.

MAYA (2015) – A WELL-MADE TAMIL HORROR FILM

BY THE GORGEOUS PALAH CHINGU

My Rating : 4.5/5
My Rating : 4.5/5

If it wasnt up to ruby, maybe i wont watch this film ever. First reason would be that Tamil films has a tendency to have a sloppy camera work and the quality picture usually is a sub par compared to Bollywood films. This is how my perception went and truth be told, i’ve watch quite few Tamil films that had a nice story line but you just cant ignore the hideous technical part of it. Sorry but not sorry, that’s how i felt. However, it was about to change. If Tamil film industry can maintain their quality and kept producing the good quality film like this one, i am sure they can even surpass Thailand (that most of us knew that they are the king in making a horror flick films).

Aari as Vasanth/ Arjun
Aari as Vasanth/ Arjun

The story began when 2 guys ( Vasanth and His friend) sitting in a living room playing a poker game. They are having a conversation about a girl named ‘Maya’. Apparently, this ‘Maya’ has been accused of poisoning her husband and she has been submitted to one of a mental institution in a forest named ‘Mayavanam’ due to her insanity. At that time, she was pregnant. Little did she know that her life is going to end there. After she delivered her baby, her child got taken from her. She pleaded and begged but nobody gives a damn. A few days later she was found dead and whether she committed suicide or someone pushed her, the hospital didnt care. They have been using that hospital as a base to test sickening experiment on those patients and one dead patient doesnt bothered them at all. ‘Maya’ story also have a freaky chant  that goes ‘ Maya, I dont have your baby‘ which legend told if you say it out loud 3 times, you are going to get a visit from ‘Maya’. His friend decided to chant it and calling out for Maya. At the third time, a dark figure shaped like a lady showed up behind Vasants, his friend was so shocked and fell behind from his seat. It turned out that Vasanth was doing some prank together with his friend’s wife who showed up dressed like a Maya ghost.

If you watch this film later, you might be wondering why there are some scenes in a black and white color and some are in normal color. Rather than giving you the sizzling spoiler, let me just tell you that there are 2 stories in this film and somehow , they are going to be converged together to make sure you understand the ending. To completely say this film is not a cliche horror film, i will not dare to. If you look at a mental institution, musical doll, lady ghost flying a few feet above the ground, its all there but how director reinvent those cliche that how he left me impressed.

Nayantara as Apsara
Nayantara as Apsara

Another story revolved around Apsara who just recently separated with her husband. She was miserable and at her wit’s end of trying everything to make her life works. She pursued her dream back which is acting but nothing seems to do good for her. Swathi, Apsara’s friend try to help her as much as she could. Apsara’s husband kept coming back and ask for her forgiveness but she remain cold and distant. She tore the check that her husband gave and doesnt let her husband to meet Meera, their daughter at all. What causes Apsara to be so indifferent with her husband, it remains a mystery until the end because thats when you can connect the dots in a story line that director has scattered all over the film.

Lakshmi Priyaa as Swathi
Lakshmi Priyaa as Swathi

Where is the connection of this 2 story that i just mentioned above, you might ask? Swathi, Apsara’s friend is an assistant director for  ‘MAYA’ film that slated to be released in 2 weeks. The film is based on the ‘Maya’ story that has been circulated around and considered a scary one because of some mysterious death related to it. There are rumors saying those who entered ‘Mayavanam’ couldnt find their way out and the tale of headless body cutting a tree in a middle of night happened there. The film production is having some trouble in getting the film distributors and try to market their film via contest approach. In order to generate interest among the audiences, they put up a price of 50 grand to anyone whom dare to watch this film alone in the middle of night at the cinema. The company also monitored a CCTV and heart rate monitor in case the participant cheated (close their eyes during screening and so on) and if anything like heart attack ever occurred during the contest.

Apsara has been avoiding a loan shark for over a week. She promised to pay him but failed to do so because her check bounced back. Her work in a commercial advertisement didnt deliver the payment although they promised her. She remembered about the contest that Swathi told her and decided to try it herself. She was scared but she has to do it in order to pay the debt and feed her daughter. She doesnt want to live under her husband’s assistance. She sat through a movie all alone although Swathi warned her not to to do it in the first place. Swathi told her about the first participant that has met his unfortunate death here. Swathi was convinced that this film carried a curse but Apsara wont heed any of her warning. Apsara calmed herself and watched the film from the beginning. She was scared but she has to endure it. A few minutes of watching the film, Apsara found herself in appeared  in the film.

After being so disappointed with Sinister 2, i thought i will never find  a good horror film this year. I was wrong. The storyline is a little bit complex and it requires you to think what are the connection of 2 stories that shown alternately in the film. The whole film is on point. The cinematography just screamed perfection from the start. This is not an exaggeration. The way they played with scenes in 2 different color tones is amazing. They even captured some of the scenes via shadow to kept the mystery alive. I would love to congratulate the technical department on such brilliant takes. It was a marvel to see takes after takes creating a movie magic. The soundtrack also shouldnt be left behind without any praise because they didnt play safe by playing the tune of cliche horror sound like a women’s laughing or shrieking. They keep it minimal but full of impact in certain scenes. The song featured in a film also not over the top in order to keep the audience in a horror mode. The performance by Apsara (Nayantara), Vasanth/ Arjun ( Aari), (Ram) Amzath Khan and Swathi ( Lakshmi Priya) is laudable and together they made a great ensemble casts.  The way Nayantara carried the film is award – winning performance . They stay true to their character  and managed to convince the audiences to feel the emotions together. You can feel empathy towards Apsara and you can feel angry when Ram dug Maya grave wihout any respect in a ‘Mayavanam’ Forest. Last but not least, The director of this film, Ashwin Saravanan who made a debut with this film, you are truly a gem. I will definitely looking forward to watch your next film. You played ‘fear lies in the unknown’ very well in this film. You let us into our own imagination on how ‘Maya’ will looked like. You didnt throw the cliche ending of how ghost will exposed herself at the end of story. You just produced a glimpse of Maya and finished it with a bang.

p/s: Usually, my post will be full of pictures but its hard to find any picture of Maya in google (either it was too early because it has just been released or this film keeping it simple in terms of promotion and advertising). I dont know but one thing i do know, please go watch this film, its worth your money and time. Trust me on this one.