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Kota Baru’s Palace of the Large Audience Hall February 20, 2008

Posted by asianpixmen in Craft, Culture, Malaysia, Places.
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For any first time visitor to Kota Baru in Kelantan, the State is a fascinating place. The beaches are of course stupendous. Not like the small ones on the west coast of Malaysia.

KB has a number of palaces. The one photographed from the verandah of Istana Baru is called Istana Balai Besar or Palace of the Large Audience Hall. It is surrounded by huge walls. It is closed to the public, and is used only for official functions like investiture or other ceremonies.

  Istana Balai Besar was constructed in 1840 by Sultan Muhamad. The fact that it is out of bounds to the ordinary man in the street lends it an air of mystery. That is because nobody is allowed to treat it like a public place. The air of historical importance hangs in the air around this ancient palace.

So the next time, you happen to be in the vicinity like walking about Istana Batu, go up to the verandah and take a peek.

Having a fish’s eyeview…. February 17, 2008

Posted by asianpixmen in Malaysia, Miscellaneous, Nature, Places.
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Somewhere in the lower basement area of One Utama’s new wing is located a couple of big aquariums. Not many people saunter over there on any given day unless they prefer a bit of peace and quiet and a cup of coffee.

I have long been unaware of these aquariums until a friend mentioned them to me the other day. I have always been fascinated with big fishes. Not all of us can afford to jump onto a Ferrari and make a beeline for Pulau Redang or Sipadan on a whim. So the have-nots like us have to keep a sharp lookout for big aquariums.

 If you are into looking at fishes, this place in One Utama will fascinate you for hours. It’s one thing to throw a line for the “big one” and quite another to stare at them and imagine one at the end of your fishing rod!

Kingfisher – master of the river February 17, 2008

Posted by asianpixmen in Fauna/Animals, Nature, Places.
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I have been trying to “shoot” this elusive feathered friend for some time now. Occasionally, when it feels like it, it will perch on my backyard fence and survey his territory. Not that I am staying near a river or anything like that.

The Kingfisher is a beautiful bird. This one is no exception. The day he showed up unexpectedly, there were magpipes chirping away as if the Garden of Eden had appeared. I guess this “King” was fascinated by the melodies coming from the other birds. How he must have envied them.

Kingfishers, as you know, can’t sing to save its own life. But its feathers are magnificently coloured, and it knows it. While I was trying to capture a go

Luck has everything to do with the Golden Rat! February 17, 2008

Posted by asianpixmen in Activities, Craft, Culture, Malaysia, Places.
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Two decades ago, CNY plants like these were non-existent. These days, they are as common as the grass in your backyard. Apparently, these little plants are associated with all things wealthy.

Beats me where they got the idea but consumers will buy a rock picked from the road side if it is painted well. Anyway, somebody got to earn a living somehow. But I have my doubts.

From my years of experience with Chinese New Year and all its wide arrays of paraphenalia, the luckiest celebrants in the world are those who have the biggest hearts and the simplest houses. If you want to know their other secrets

Chinese New Year is not over just yet… February 17, 2008

Posted by asianpixmen in Craft, Culture, Malaysia, Places.
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The Chinese in general believe that the Lunar celebrations are not over just yet until Feb 21. That’s chap goh mei or as the Hokkiens call it, the 15th Night.

That’s when you will hear the sporadic firing of crackers again. Perhaps intermittently in some housing estates. It’s nice to know that we all can get back to work and forget about what the feng shui masters tell us what to wear and what to place in different corners of our houses.

 Chinese New Year is always a time when ang pows go out, parents need to be revisited and old acquaintances, especially aging relatives must be called upon. It is a good tradition, this visiting of relatives and paying homage. Young people are fast losing this aspect of Chinese culture.

Years from now, as our parents have warned, the act of recognising your first cousins will rapidly disappear as the younger generation begins to lose touch with their nearest relatives. Why is this so is part of the rituals of growing up in the city. People no longer feel the need to maintain ties with children of aunties and uncles.

They rationalise that they have better things to do. It’s a shame of course. But one day when they are in their 60s, they will understand the wisdom of recognising and knowing your own kin and why ties must be maintained all the time. All this must be done before the grave beckons!