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bowel education

I'm not doing too well. I have come to believe that I've developed a love-hate relationship with Penang. Once, the island gave me my worst bout of flu that landed me with 5 stitches to my head (a long story which involves very strong medication and a lot of pain). This time it's diarrhea. The uncertified doctor in me (thank you, Google) suspects it to be either traveler's diarrhea or stomach flu.

Dirty eggs from the ochien (fried oysters, probably dirty too, in egg batter) store in Penang.

And while perusing Google and Wiki, I discovered what caused a certain trauma to my bowels 5 years ago. I was hungry for some cheap hawker style fish and chips so I stopped by the nearest store. A few hours after eating, I had some "interesting bowel activity." I will spare you the details, but it was not at all date-worthy. Some people however, had it worst. In Hong Kong and Singapore, the fish was sold as a knockoff version of cod. I don't really understand Mandarin but I believe this is about the fake cods.

Lesson in inconvenience: Avoid escolar, also known as butterfish, oilfish, Hawaiian walu and white tuna (served in sushi restaurants, but the portions aren't substantial enough to cause a reaction) or cheap cod meat or Chilean sea bass. Or just avoid cheap fish and chips. What you save in dollars, you pay in embarrassment and excessive use of toilet paper.

Since we're on the topic of fish, it's only fit for me to share about my recent nasty encounter with fish. At my last bite of a stir-fry fish fillet meal, I found what looked like a strand of noodle in the meat. With some simple fork prodding, it turned out to be a cooked roundworm. The same kind found in the feces of a dewormed pet. This is gut churning, but it's also called education.

I have downed 2 tablets of Zentel since the encounter.

As for my souvenir from Penang, I'm setting up a date with the doctor.

chiang mai

People. Tut tuts. Bells. Chimes. People. Chili powder. Sandalwood. Lights.
People. Too many people.

And the occasional "Konichiwa!" and "Mushi mushi" from street vendors who assumed I was Japanese.

I never thought Chiang Mai would be so commercialized. Almost every business is geared towards tourists. American bars, Mexican food, dim sum, sushi, a three-storey Starbucks and several used books store with English, Japanese, Dutch, German and French books (one hung a Trainspotting and Che Guevara poster over the cashier counter. Can't try any harder for touristy effect).

There were also posters and billboards of their king in various dignified poses throughout the city and its outskirts. Many also sport orange colored silicon bands embossed with "Long Live Our King."

Thailand was never colonized, yet in a sense it has.

Escorts with "extra services" were advertised openly behind tut tuts. And then there were the old farangs with young Thai girls.

Armed with a hook-and-hammer-like apparatus, elephant trainers scratched and nicked the elephants' thick skin to subdue them. The elephants painted on canvases, tote bags and t-shirts with the 'help' of their trainers.

Clap clap. More bananas. More sugarcanes. Whack whack. Clap clap. And pose. Click. And pose again. Click.

It's the way of life for some and who am I to judge. I'm only another sojourner in this thing called life.
On the really plus, plus side of things is that there were many coffeehouses all around Chiang Mai. Locally grown and roasted fresh.
I also saw the borders of Burma and Laos, visited an opium museum and saw the Golden Triangle. It was at best, interesting and informative. At worst, depressing.

However, I loved the bamboo raft ride which lasted almost an hour along the Mae Taeng River. It was quiet, far from other tourists and it rained. The only thing that wasn't drenched was my camera. Awesome.

(Taken just outside the Burmese border.) I will try to upload more photographs from Chiang Mai here.

Next: Staff retreat in Penang.

keep coming home

I couldn't really sleep the other night and I'm sure it wasn't because of those political (or anti) videos I was watching online. One of the things that went through my mind was about the holy and profane.

My thoughts were everywhere and quick, I probably should've written it down when it was fresh. But here I am, trying to piece together a string of thoughts that will most likely end up looking like a tangle of hairs collected in the bath drain. So here's the untangling: I thought about Moses and his encounter with the burning bush.

Holiness and profanity. We remove our shoes when we enter into someone's home (Malaysia and Asia, at least). We don't carry in dirt. We leave "where we have been" when we come Home. The building/place isn't holy, we are. When I enter into the life of another, I need to remove my shoes because it is holy ground. The burning bush lives in us... and encounters like this happens everyday. The profane becomes sacred. When there isn't such a thing as ordinary, only blindness to see beyond the apparent. I need to acknowledge the holiness or sacredness of and in another...

I will be leaving for Chiang Mai tomorrow morning. Have a great weekend, people.

no, never. ever.

i have a habit

I’m on a terrible adrenaline rush lately. At work, I mean. I love it when I’m inspired and feel completely lost when nothing amuses me. So I have been designing, constructing and moving pixels. Rush, rush!

(That reminds me of a very old Paula Abdul song I heard on the bus to school, circa 1991. And... dare I say it… Beverly Hills 90210. Thank God for puberty.)

To add to all the rush, my boss came back with a souvenir from New Zealand.
I’ve also been keeping consistent with my 2008 Moleskine weekly notebook. I keep it as a journal for everyday and random thoughts, but most importantly, it’s my weekly menu. It’s a log of what I’ve eaten and what I will be eating and drinking.
Some excerpts:

Sunday, April 20
Sushi. No Country for Old Men. Waffles.

Saturday, April 26
Homemade zaru soba with tempura battered sweet potatoes, long beans and carrots. Soba-tsuyu sauce. An Inconvenient Truth.

Tuesday, April 29
Starbucks coffee + tomato cheese basil sandwich. Job 38. Barbecue pork rice + chinese tea. Tom Yam fried rice.

Thursday, May 8
Green tea. Black pepper burger from Burger King. Bleh. Milo. Rice with pickled cabbage, vegetables and tofu. Add ribbon to dress.

Wednesday, May 14
Bavarian Kreme from Dunkin Donuts. Dark chocolate (70% cocoa, as seen above). Maggi goreng. Now I smell of onions. Yuck. Coffee bean roasted chestnuts. Mmm.

On a side note, I have to mention how I dislike J.Co and Big Apple donuts. I don’t get why Malaysians line up to eat trash. There. I. Got. That. Out. Of. The. Way. Finally.

And some things that inspire:
1. Julia Rothman
2. Style Me Pretty
(Because I will be photographing and designing for a friend's wedding soon.)

= •

Hello. It's time for an overdue break.
A few things I've been contemplating on:
[=] and [•]

Grace and forgiveness does not mean fairness but similarity.

And a whole lot of centering.