Sunday, July 18, 2010

My name is Vodka and I am a great dog!

I always wonder how the feeling of having a dog is. Coincidentally, my aunt is in the pet business and she had reserved me a Dalmatian puppy recently. Yeah, Dalmatian, the naughty and energetic synonym, exactly what you have seen in 101 Dalmatian movie. It was actually 2 months ++ ago when I took Vodka from my aunt. Why only I blog now? Well, good question, I was so scared that Vodka could not survive under my clumsy care. Haha… Apparently, now he is cute and lively, I can proudly present his pictures. Cheeky…

I was actually choosing from two puppies. It was an easy job because Vodka looked so much smarter than his brother. His mother is gorgeous but his dad is a bit albino. That is why Vodka has less spots. Fortunately, he inherited his mother’s good look and his eyes are full of emotions.

The first week was a nightmare. As a small puppy, he cried when I left for work, not to mention my first experience of cleaning the mess! I was almost at my limit of giving up. Once, I almost choked him to suffocation when he destroyed my carpet and slippers. After a week, things get better, a whole lot better. He seemed to learn quite fast. Now, he understands to sit quietly when I prepare food, shake my hand when I present my hand… Only now, I appreciate how intelligent a dog can be. They can literally guess your emotion! When Vodka broke something, say food tray, he would plead with his cute piteous eyes so that I would not punish him. Smart…

It is not all bed of roses though. The expenses to raise a dog are shocking! The injection cost, food, toys, treats, shampoo, nail cutter, vitamins etc. etc. It is in a monthly basis! Vodka is a destructive dog for sure. His toys could only last for few days intact. Also, Dalmatian has a HELL lot of energy! I think I shed some weight off myself just jogging with Vodka. And he is never tired of playing the throw-and-retrieve game.

That’s it. Let me show his pictures. He is now 7-month old. Healthy and fit, weight heavy and heavier. Hope he grows as stunning as his mother.

Front-view of Vodka. His dots only showed little by little as he grows.

Side-view of Vodka. When I said "Vodka, turn away", he actually obeyed. Haha..

Innocent look of Vodka. This look means he wants some treat.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Travel Yogyakarta @ 26 - 29 June 2010

I had forsaken backpacking for quite a long time. Yogyakarta would be a great idea to rekindle the long lost feeling. My backpacking mate did all the itinerary preparation and I had absolutely no remorse because I was one decade older than him… haha. Hardship should left for youngster. AirAsia really surprised me this time. Not only I managed to book its free return flight for only RM35 nett, the flight actually flew on time!
First, let me introduce Yogyakarta (or Jogjakarta). Located in Java Island, the region is located at the foot of the active Merapi volcano. Famous Buddhist temple of Borobudur and Hindu temple of Prambanan are the attractions that draw the tourists all over the world. Both are in the list of UNESCO world heritage. What a perfect backpacking spot – cultural, majestic, historical and yet affordable.

My favourite Borobudur sunrise shot from Yogyakarta.

Kraton and Malioboro Street
After settled down, we hired a local tuk-tuk to tour around Yogyakarta city. Well, that was quite a life-threatening experience. Inside the cramped tuk-tuk, we witnessed all sorts of vehicles criss-crossed before our eyes and yet the brake system was far beyond functional! Arrived in Kraton in one piece, we bought the ticket and started to explore the so-called Sultan Palace. The compound was decently spatial but the grandiose was nothing compared to the palaces in Europe or China. We had the chance to witness the wayang kulit performance, not too much of a fan though.
Maliobora Street is famous for shopping. You could find all sorts of souvenirs, sandal, T-shirts, decorations, wood carve etc. If you were T-shirt fans, you might like their creative slogan and catchy phrase. Day and night, the street was so packed that you had to fight your way through.

Wayang Kulit performance in Kraton.

Prambanan Temple (Hindu)
Built in the 10th century, this is the largest compound dedicated to Shiva in Indonesia. There are three temples at the complex of sanctuaries. The biggest temple is called Candi Shiva and the others are called Candi Brahma and Candi Vishnu. If you happen to visit Angkor Wat in Siam Reap before, this complex may look awfully tiny to you. Other than that, the temples were worth a hike.

Sunset at Prambanan Temple.

Dieng Plateau and Mt Merabu
Dieng was very much like Cameron Highlands – high ground, fresh air, winding road and so on. It was a pleasant getaway from hustle and bustle. We visited the volcano area. Yup, you could still see the smoldering smoke and hot spring oozing from the ground. The presence of sulphuric environment was constantly intimidating, as if to remind you stepping in the dangerous zone. Another two-hour of winding journey, we arrived at the world-renown Borobudur during sunset.

Cultural occasion in Dieng Plateau.

Candi at Dieng Plateau.

Borobudur Temple (Buddhist)
We visited Borobudur twice, dusk and dawn. The sunset experience was appalling because the crowd took the toll. I was actually speechless to see the locals picnicking at the top of Borobudur – polluted, smelly and noisy. Sunrise experience was completely different, it was AMAZING! Thanks to Manahora Hotel, we were given privilege to climb Borobudur at 4.30 am before public could access. Of course, you need to pay extra but it worth every cent, or I should say rupiah. I witnessed the most breathtaking sunrise. It was such a surreal scene - the feathery clouds, the picturesque greeneries, the calm Buddha and stupas, the purple sky hue, the crawling sun in between the two volcanoes, the reflective light…. It was magical. Since then, clicking noise from my Canon SLR never stopped. I was breathing in fulfillment because I knew I would bag in many good shots.
A series of breathtaking sunrise shots.

Food and Javanese Coffee
Not to be conclusive, but I think the food in Bali are far better than Yogyakarta. Though, it was still worth to try their local delicacies – Amanda Brownies and Javanese coffee. Out of impulsiveness, I tried the most expensive coffee in the world – Coffee Luwak! This coffee was internationally recognized as the most high-quality and expensive coffee. The local Luwak (a type of nocturnal Indonesian mammal which resemble cat) will pick the best coffee seeds to consume at night-time. The enzyme inside its stomach will help neutralize the acidity and fermentize the coffee seeds. After the Luwak desecrate, the wastes (its poo with neutralized coffee seeds!) were reprocessed to make the top-notch coffee. The first seep was confusing. Hmm… It was neither smooth nor bitter. Somehow, the taste was nice in a way that you could hardly expect. Will I try it again? Well, with that price, I probably would pass.

The famous Kopi Luwak.

Some other side story. It was World Cup season and ironically, the locals wish their old Dutch friends to win the game. If you happen to forget, Holland conquered Indonesia and left quite a legacy there. It was also the night when England lost to Germany. Lampard’s agonizing face was rewinded over and over in the TV, haha… I was impressed that the normal TV channels in Indonesia aired World Cup matches. Shame on ASTRO and Malaysian TV channels.
How should I rate Yogyakarta? In some way, I like peaceful Borobudur sunrise as much as I hate its congested sunset. Not so much of a cultural shock as I had travelled to Indonesia before. Borobudur is still worth a journey as its sunrise will really astonish you.