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Saturday 27 October 2007

When an Angel Sings... Alison Krauss

In 1995, I watched the movie called Twister in Singapore. A scene in the movie had made a very deep impression in my memory, not because of the screenplay, but the song that was played through the radio broadcast in that scene.

If you don't know the movie 'Twister,' this is the movie poster.

I quickly went to a CD shop after watching that movie to grab a motion picture soundtrack of the movie. This is the song that I listened to over and over again after I acquired the CD, and I only got to know who Alison Krauss is then.

After that, I had been searching high and low for her albums but to no avail. CD shops in Singapore and Malaysia didn't carry any titles by Alison Krauss, and sometimes when I asked, the reaction was like: "Who's Alison Krauss?" Not until years later that I have heard another song by her in a compilation CD for audiophiles, I had another chance to listen to her very beautiful song featured in the album Now That I've Found You: A Collection.

Since then, I have been slowly acquiring her albums, some featuring the band that she is in, the Union Station. The first album that I managed to get in hand was Forget About It with the song that I like most in this album, 'It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference.'

The second CD that I've found in Singapore was New Favorites by Alison Krauss and Union Station followed by 2-CD set of Alison Krauss + Union Station: Live featuring the song made very popular by Ronan Keating and the movie Notting Hill, 'When You Say Nothing at All.' I personally like Alison Krauss' singing of this song with a flavour of folk.

Probably a year or two later, I got hold on a re-released Now That I've Found You: A Collection on audiophile pressing. Not long after that, my brother who's an architect and a part-time (weekend) LP (long-playing) records dealer in Singapore gave me an LP of this album, and it is really a gem! It's so rare even in the U.S. market that it could have easily fetched him a couple of hundred U.S. dollars, but he gave it to me instead, knowing that I'm so crazy about Alison Krauss.

Last year I found out that Alison Krauss released another album with Union Station called Lonely Runs Both Ways. I ordered it through and was taxed 20% on it by the Malaysian Customs, still worth all the money that I've paid. Another gem! Here are the two songs that I like most in this album, 'Wouldn't Be So Bad' and 'Goodbye is All We Have.'

For over 10 years, I have been listening to all the CDs and LPs of Alison Krauss in my collection over and over again and they have never failed to touch my heart. I have heard an angel sings. Have you?

My collection on Alison Krauss.

Friday 26 October 2007

The White Dream in Mykonos: Sea Breeze

The waterfront of Mykonos is a great place to hang around for a lazy morning, or afternoon, or even the whole day, like what I did. Nothing is more rewarding than sipping up from a cup of iced cappuccino by the waterfront café and witnessing the people wandering around town. I could do that all day there, but I occasionally need to lift up my camera. If not, I would have ended up with nothing to show here.

The view of Mykonos Town from up the hill, on the way from my hotel to the waterfront.

The narrow band of sandy beach near to the 'Old Port.'

There are many small boats lying around the waterfront. Good for paddling around the island.

An old boat used as a decorative item at a taverna (restaurant).

The roof of a taverna overseeing the Mykonos Town waterfront.

Sun, sand, bikini.

This is the part of Mykonos Town that is called the Little Venice. There are many Little Venice's around the world, but nothing beats the real Venice!

Hmmm... After staring at it for a while, it does look like certain part of Venice. It has got to be those balconies hanging over the water!

Alright. Lets sit down and enjoy the part of Venice in Mykonos.

Indulging yourself in it further, you may think that you are really in Venice.

If you would like to read more of my travelogues on Greece, here are the links:-

1. Athens – The Homeland of the Gods

2. The White Dream in Mykonos

3. Santorini – Almost Heaven

4. Miscellaneous

Thursday 25 October 2007

The White Dream in Mykonos: Barricades in Paradise

Apart from the railing of the stairways that are painted with primary blue or red/brown colour, the gates and doors in Myknonos are also painted with these strong colours to give a very strong colour contrast. Therefore, there are very good subjects for me to photograph some semi-abstract shots.

Some of the gates are so low that they do not function as a barrier for the intruders. Instead, they just serve as symbols of territorialisation.

Beyond this gate is a cute little cube house.

A small little gate of the Hobbits.

A small gate to mark the premises of the church.

A blue gate (sounds like Bill Gates) of a private property.

A very interesting red 3-leaf door that has some Chinese elements in it.

What does a Chinese have in common with a Myconian? Each of them has a red door and a bicycle.

This is an entrance to a church.

Hey ladies, don't look beyond the door at the bottom! I wanna show you the red door and the balcony above.

If you would like to read more of my travelogues on Greece, here are the links:-

1. Athens – The Homeland of the Gods

2. The White Dream in Mykonos

3. Santorini – Almost Heaven

4. Miscellaneous

Wednesday 24 October 2007

The Specialist: Kuching Episode

Do you still remember that hit movie in 1994 starring Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone (SS & SS)? If you can't remember, never mind. Let CK have a remake of the movie to present to you here!

The Chinese BBQ Specialist shop must be one of the oldest shops selling Chinese barbecue stuff in Kuching. It is located right at the heart of Kuching city that is within walking distance from all the major hotels around the 'Golden Triangle.' You won't missed it as it is just opposite the Tun Jugah shopping complex. You can easily spot it with that signboard of two Donald Ducks, instead of SS & SS.

The shop has a creative signboard using Donald Duck as its mascot.

I had an appointment with Greg & Nee (not SS & SS) there for lunch one day, but they were running very late. So, I ordered a plate of pork-rib rice for myself. I personally like the BBQ pork ribs here, probably the best around Kuching.

A plate of rice with a few pieces of chopped pork ribs is RM3.50 (USD1.00), quite a reasonable price for a plate of rice with meat in Kuching.

The shiny glazed surface of the ribs really raved up my appetite.

I had already whipped up all the food even before Greg & Nee had arrived. With two persons, they could order more meat, so they ordered a mixed BBQ and roasted meat plate, with two bowls of soup. I hijacked a piece of the roasted pork and it tasted really good! I gotta go back again for this item as I had never tried it before this.

The skin of the pork is roasted to perfection with the golden glow!

This is the double-boiled 'xi yang' veggie soup (西洋菜汤) which literally means western veggie soup.

The ginseng chicken soup (人篸鸡汤) looks good to me. I gotta try that next time.

Do you need directions there? Well, let this Google Earth™ map do the help.

Chinese BBQ Specialist on Google Earth™.

You can also read about the food review of this place at Greg & Nee's blog.

Tuesday 23 October 2007

The White Dream in Mykonos: Stairways to Heaven

Most of the houses in Mykonos are small cube houses with very limited space. Therefore, most of the staircases are built outside of the houses to save some space for the interior.

Since the houses are mostly painted white, the railing of the staircases are painted with primary colours of blue or red/brown. This gives a very good colour contrast that makes them outstanding as photography subjects. I love Mykonos!

This is the staircase of the top end Myconian Hotel. The primary blue colour stands out very well against the white building.

Is this the stairway beyond St. Peter's Gate?

Do not enter!

Whose gate and staircase are they?

Free for entry!

For invited guests only!

It's not a primary-colour railing but still blends in well.

The staircase to a night of hangover.

The stairway that brings you nearer to the church.

The stairway of the Hobbits!

The stairway to Snow White's lodge.

And finally, the actual stairway to Heaven!

If you would like to read more of my travelogues on Greece, here are the links:-

1. Athens – The Homeland of the Gods

2. The White Dream in Mykonos

3. Santorini – Almost Heaven

4. Miscellaneous

Monday 22 October 2007

The White Dream in Mykonos: Whitewashed Cube Houses

Have you ever wondered whether white is a colour? If you think that it is a colour, why do people categorise photography into black & white and colour photography? If everything is white in a dream, what do you see?

Well, those are the questions for you to ponder on. I'll just continue to show you what I've seen in Greece. This is my first post on Mykonos, a very beautiful island on the Aegean Sea.

Matina is a Greek lady who was born on this island. She's married to an Athenian who now lives on the island with the family. Yanis is one of their offspring who picked me up at the 'New Port' of Mykonos and sent me to the hotel named after his mother, Pension Matina.

The so called 'New Port' at Mykonos is just a quay with mooring bollards and a canopy with benches, nothing else. When I called up Yanis to pick me up, he asked me whether I was at the 'Old Port' or the 'New Port.' My answer was: "I don't know." Then he asked me what I saw around me, and I told him just a few whitewashed cube houses on the slopes, nothing else. Yanis answered: "Oh! Then you are at the 'New Port.' Wait for 15 minutes and I'll be right there." I was puzzled then because the 'New Port' looked deserted to me. "This should be the 'Old Port'," I thought.

After Yanis have picked me up, we passed by the 'Old Port' and it looked much newer than the 'New Port' by the nice waterfront of Mykonos Town. "Well, sometimes something new isn't better than the old one," I said to Yanis. He nodded in agreement and giggled.

Pension Matina lies on a hill on Mykonos island, overseeing the Aegean Sea. It is a nice place for a relaxing vacation, but the climbs back to the hotel everyday really stretched my leg muscles to the limit.

One of the accommodation blocks at Pension Matina.

The poolside of Pension Matina where I had breakfast everyday.

After I have left my belongings at the hotel, I carried my camera backpack and started my exploration downhill. There are some new cube houses being constructed just outside Pension Matina. The maybe blocks of another new hotel.

The nearly completed cube houses.

As I walked further downhill, I saw more and more whitewashed cube houses along the way. It looks like the architects here have run out of design ideas, or is there an architect involved? Some of them are so small and cute that they just look like toy houses or the sugar cream on a cake.

A little cute whitewashed house on the hill.

Another view of the little white house that looks like sugar cream.

One of the top end hotels sitting high on the hora. This hotel is called Myconian Inn.

A cube house belonging to the local residents.

It took me around an hour to venture downhill for a distance of just 800 or so metres to the waterfront. It wasn't due to the rough terrain, but it was my passion in photography that stalled my pace.

The waterfront, or so called Mykonos Town is also full with whitewashed cube houses. I just couldn't put down my camera in Mykonos!

A cubic building by the waterfront used as a hotel and a restaurant.

Hotel Apollon by the waterfront.

Apartments resided by the locals.

Another apartment building by the sea.

The old saying says: "Where there is sunshine, there are Chinese people."

If you would like to read more of my travelogues on Greece, here are the links:-

1. Athens – The Homeland of the Gods

2. The White Dream in Mykonos

3. Santorini – Almost Heaven

4. Miscellaneous

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