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Saturday 24 November 2007

The Colours of the Satok Sunday Market

I went to the Sunday Market at Satok on one fine morning for a street shooting with my Jedis #001, #002 & #005. The Sunday Market started off as a place for the native people to sell their jungle produce but it has evolved into a large-scale open-air market over the years. It has now become one of the tourist attractions in Kuching. You can find anything you need for the household here; from food to ointment.

Colourful sandals for the fashion-minded.

More colourful sandals.

Bracelets made from beads with the motifs of the native people.

More bead bracelets.

Bags with colourful design for those who are fashion-minded again.

These primary-colour trays and buckets provide great colour contrast for a photography subject.

The Humpty Dumpties.

The making of the 'apam balik', a kind of pancake garnished with ground peanuts.

The finished 'apam balik'. Guess how many I gobbled up?

Salted fishes.

Salted-fish slices.

Dried shrimps.

Slabs of roasted pork.

Long beans, tomatoes and chilies.

The 'snake-skin' fruit.

Ointment made from seahorses.

The Japanese sweet potatoes.

Fish-cake fritters or 'keropok lekor'.

Packets of colourful biscuits.

The 'cempedak' which is related to jackfruit.

Friday 23 November 2007

From Mykonos to Thira

When I was in Athens, I have already bought all my boat tickets for my island hoping trips, including the trip from Mykonos to Thira (Santorini) on 10th July, 2007. On the day of my departure, I happily checked out of Pension Matina at noon time and requested Yanis to send me to the 'Old Port' to board the SUPERJET™ vessel at 2 p.m.

The car ride took only 10 minutes and I waited at the quay for the vessel to arrived while eating my 'lunch' with just cookies and plain water. I watched vessels harboured, picked up passengers and departed, eagerly looking for the sign SUPERJET™ on every fast-speed boat that arrived. Not until 1:50 p.m. that the bad news was announced through the creeping loudspeakers: "Otenshon pliz. The SUPERJET to Tira say-due at 2 pi-am haz been kanseled. Pliz go to the nieres tiket ofis to chiek for the nex say-due vessel." I almost couldn't believe my ears and double-checked with the quay guard about it. After getting the confirmation from him, I had no choice but to ask for direction to the 'nieres tiket ofis'.

When I arrived at the ticket office, there were already quite a number of agitated passengers who were supposed to be on SUPERJET™ throwing their tantrums on the poor clerk at the ticketing counter. Luckily, he has a lot of patience and apologised to everyone on behalf of SUPERJET™ on the cancellation. I overheard that the next scheduled fast-speed vessel was SUPERFAST™ that would depart at 4 p.m. but it was fully booked, and the next snail-speed vessel leaving Mykonos for Thira was at 8 p.m. A couple with a pregnant wife was able to convince the ticketing clerk to give them the two seats reserved for emergency use on SUPERFAST™ that would take them to Thira in two hours. When it came to the turn of a young American couple whose SUPERJET™ schedule had been cancelled for three consecutive days, they were so desparate to get on board of SUPERFAST™ without any assigned seats and were prepared to be standing at the aisle for the whole journey. I chipped in to make the same offer, but it was unfortunate that we were not allowed to do that due to safety reasons.

Well, we had to settle for the slower, and I mean really a snail-speed NTALIANA of G.A. Ferry that would leave at 8 p.m. The only compensation that we got from the cancellation was the refunded SUPERJET™ ticket and a free ticket on NTALIANA, plus free phone calls to the hotels in Thira to inform them the change in schedule.

Since it was sunset time on board of NTALIANA, I could only shoot a few blurry sunset shots on the moving vessels, with the rest of my time starring at the cold metal ceiling of the cabin.

NTALIANA took eight and a half hours to arrive at the port of Thira, an hour and a half later than scheduled. I told George of San Giorgio Villas that I would arrive at 3 a.m., so he waited for me under the cold wind starting at 2:30 a.m. without a sight of me until 4:30 a.m. George and Dina are the two nicest hoteliers that I've ever met. And I would recommend San Giorgio Villas to everyone visiting Thira without any hesitation.

George and Dina are two of the nicest locals in Thira that I've met. Despite his busy schedule, George arranged the transportation for my departure seamlessly too!

Oops! Now I remember that I promised George and Dina to send this photo to them. I better keep my promise by dropping them an email after this post is up. It's four months late, but better late than never!

Once again, remember that SUPERJET™ is extremely unreliable and San Giorgio Villas has my unreserved recommendation!

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 22 November 2007

Delos – The Open Air Museum on an Island

Delos is a small island a few kilometres west of Mykonos. It is the birthplace of the twins Apollo and Artemis according to the Greek mythology. Being one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece, this island is considered as a sacred island that no visitors are allowed on the island after 3 p.m.

Visiting Delos from Mykonos is very convenient as boats leave the quay of Hora (Mykonos Town) almost every half-hourly starting at 9 a.m.

The first thing that will surely catch the eyes upon arrival is the tallest hill in Delos, the Mount Kynthos.

Mount Kynthos is 113 m above sea level.

My first quest on the island of Delos was to conquer Mount Kynthos, so I followed through the paths on the archaeological site leading to the summit.

Shops lining the street at the archaeological site.

One of the many paths for exploring the archaeological site.

A view through the window of history.

An excavated street used to be a lively place in the ancient time.

As I climbed higher, the view became more spectacular.

The whole island is an open air museum.

The Theatre Quarter is a site that one must pass through on the way up to Mount Kynthos.

It is still a long way to the summit of the rock-encrusted Mount Kynthos.

When I was almost up the top of Mount Kynthos, I was offered this spectacular view of the archaeological site and the surrounding islands. All the tiredness in climbing up was just well-worth the effort.

The panoramic view of Delos and the surrounding islands on Mount Kynthos. Please click on it to view a larger picture.

I have finally made it to the summit!

On the way down from Mount Kynthos, I stopped by another few important sites on this island. That includes the House of Dionysus and the House of Cleopatra.

The House of Dionysus (2nd century AD) was named after the mosaic that depicts Dionysus, the god of wine, riding on a panther.

The House of Cleopatra houses the beheaded owner.

Apart from Mount Kynthos, the land on the island of Delos is quite flat. There is a very important site on the flat ground that is called the Terrace of the Lions dedicated to Apollo. The name itself has already suggested what to be expected for the visitors.

These lion statues are replicas.

The actual artifacts that once lined on the Terrace of Lions are kept inside the site museum.

I took one last glance of Delos with all the scattered sites around Mount Kynthos.

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 21 November 2007

Wordless Wednesday – Babes at the 8th Singapore Motor Show

Sunday 18 November 2007

Life under Extreme Poverty

Date: 18th November, 2007
Place: Kampung Empasak
Project: Poor Family
Activity: Site and living condition survey

The New Century Lions Club of Kuching Emerald has a regular project called "Poor Family" in which we try to help the community living under poverty. This year, we were informed by a group of volunteers who build churches around the rural villages that there is this Kampung Empasak that has sub-standard living condition. So, the Club decided to have a site and living condition survey before making our commitment.

The Google Earth™ map showing the approximate location of 'Kampung Empasak.'

A group of the Club members went up to this village near to a town called Serian this morning to meet up the church volunteers, which is 60 km from Kuching. We were then led to Kampung Empasak which is about 45-minute drive through some sections of gravel road.

The road to the village.

The church built by the volunteers who brought us in to the village.

The living condition here is really sub-standard, with houses simply built of wooden planks. We were told that the village has 11 families with 60 tenants, mostly elderly people and young children, as the adults have left the village to work in the nearby towns.

The houses were built with putting up irregular wooden planks together.

Some houses are just covered with heavily corroded zinc sheets.

This balcony may look like a good place to relax.

But the wooden column supporting the balcony is already rotten to the extent of life threatening state.

There is no water and electricity supply to the village. Therefore, the villagers depend solely on collecting rain water and getting the water from the streams nearby.

The oil barrels for water storage.

Every household has only one door, or the most, two. There is no more partition of space inside the house. The living room is also the dining room and bedroom. The floors for most of the households are just compacted soil ground.

The only door to a household.

The only space for one family.

The farming here is just self-subsistence and they rarely have extra produce to sell.

The collected rice grains.

The children here are severely lacking in education. The nearest school is a 2-hour walk away. There is a boarding school around this area but the children were bullied at the school by the more well-off children to the extent that they refuse to go back. The children run around the village on their bare feet and there is no hygiene to talk about. There is also no proper toilet around.

The child just roam around the village, with very little chance to attend school.

The older kids have to look after the younger ones when the adults are in the farm.

A window is already the playground.

It looks like the children are lacking of some nutrition.

The children run around bare-footed. Hygiene is almost non-existence.

Even the adults here look lacking of nutritious food.

The church volunteers are going to throw a Christmas party for the children of the village and some other from the nearby villages. Our Club has decided to join in by giving goody bags to the children. That will be on 20th December, 2007. Our Club has also decided to give away some nutritious food such as eggs and cereal to the households. Although it is just a small contribution from us, it'll at least make a difference.

If you would like to contribute to this project, please contact our Club President at the following address:

New Century Lions Club of Kuching Emerald
P.O. Box P70
93457 Kuching

Your contribution, no matter how small it is, will make a big difference for the village community. I hereby appeal to you and thank you in advance for your generous contribution.

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