My random ramblings.

Posts tagged “Humor

10 Reasons to shun the Notting Hill Carnival…

…or take rotten tomatoes with you.

Yes, yes…it was only last year I went to the carnival and blogged about it here. In fact, I seemed pretty fine with it. I did express my dislike for some things, like the booming music and crowds, but I thought I had a good time overall. So what changed this year? I’ll tell you.

1. Ginger sugar cane juice

There is sugar cane juice and then there is ginger tea. Who drinks sugar cane juice with ginger in it?? There was so much ginger in it that I could hardly taste the sugar cane. Last year we had lime juice with the sugar cane juice. That was odd too, but at least it was nice as lime and lemon go well with just about anything. This year it just got plain wrong. Is it too much to ask for pure, unadulterated sugar cane juice?

2. Cavorting women

The carnival on Monday is “adult day”. You would expect to see flesh on display. You’d see the odd woman on the parade practically topless, with strategically placed flowers or ornaments. You might also see a topless woman with body paint, in an albeit feeble attempt at concealing her partial nudity. What you don’t expect to see is women among the crowds, yes, “the members of public” lifting up their tops and jiggling their wonky breasts at unsuspecting people! Imagine the shock, horror, disgust at the tasteless exposure I was subjected to! I don’t consider myself prudish or old fashioned, but I believe flesh-baring and nudity should be done with a bit of class (I’d even accept it under the guise of ‘art’), not while cavorting around intoxicated!

3. Weed, the consumable kind…

The smell of weed wafts to your nose every-bloody-where you go! I know it is a street party and it is a foregone conclusion that there will be alcohol and drugs, but it is no more fun than sniffing second-hand fart, let me tell you! And for someone who’s got the sense of smell of a greyhound, it is not pleasant at all. No amount of hot food will mask the smell of weed! It is pungent and sickening and unfortunately as ubiquitous as jerk chicken at the carnival.

4. Pee

Yes, as if the smell of weed wasn’t bad enough, there is putrid urine stench at every alley! Men don’t take well to long toilet queues. Who would, if they had water pistol-like appendages that allowed them to freely relieve themselves wherever they chose? Your only consolation while covering up your nose with your hand, scarf, hanky and jacket is that you don’t live there. It’s no wonder most residents vacate their house during the carnival and only return days or weeks afterwards. But I’ve always wondered whether the  residents have protested against having the carnival in their posh neighbourhood. Imagine your neighbourhood being turned into an open space urinal overnight!

5. Overcrowded trains

It beggars belief that the London tube services can’t withstand a weekend of Notting Hill carnival but breezed through the Olympic and Paralympic games. Getting to and from the Notting Hill carnival is nothing short of a nightmare if you take the tube. Be prepared to breathe in the scent of pits akin to fermented milk, and beer breath and sweat everywhere you turn, especially on the return trip. Of course some might consider themselves lucky if they could turn around freely on the tube. The trains are so crowded in the evenings that they are the human equivalent of farm chicken coops.

6. Noise

I’m not talking about the booming music…that probably deserves an entry of its own considering the grief and ear-ache it caused me…I’m talking about the incessant shrieking and blaring of whistles and horns. Some people clearly think vuvuzela-inspired noises add to the atmosphere of the carnival. It must be the same kind of people who go weekend in weekend out to techno clubs and shout on top of their voices to their friends next to them while dancing right next to the speakers. Too bad you won’t hear me laugh when you go deaf at 40.

7. Loud music

I told you it deserved a separate entry…

Where can I even begin with the loudness of the music? We seem to be breeding a generation of music lovers who think it is not good music if it’s not loud enough to blow out your eustachian tubes and cochlea! These people lurk everywhere, not just at carnivals and clubs unfortunately…they are in the car that pulls up next to yours, booming music audible behind closed windows…they are on trains listening to their ipods, the music so loud that Bose speakers would be put to shame…

I should have known better from my experience in 2011 that this is not a place to be more than once in your lifetime. I’m the person who switches off the tv and music when I am at home alone, for God’s sake. I love the sound of silence. Even as I write this, there is no music. The tv is switched off. I went again this year, against my better judgement. I told my friend this is how it must be like for women who have their second or third (or umpteenth) baby. After each one, they vow never to experience the pain of childbirth again. Then wired as we all are to be suckers, our brain dampens the memory of pain over time and we yearn for it again and again.

8. Shoddy costumes

For a carnival that is purported to be the second-best (in the world?) after the Rio de Janeiro carnival, it sure is a let down. BBC posted photos of the 2012 Notting Hill carnival, and to be fair the photos do look good. But let me assure you that neither did I see any of those costumes nor see any that looked impressive…and I watched the parade from the main route. Also, judging from the women in the photos, BBC has undoubtedly cherry picked and showcased the best of the carnival.

The costumes looked like they had been put together overnight with little thought or budget. Maybe these costumes look better from far. Maybe they had started to fall apart by the time they got to my section of the route from all the dancing. Whatever it is, just don’t expect Rio carnival standards for the costumes and the women!

9. Disorganised crowd control

The crowds this year seemed a lot more uncontrolled than last year. Gone were the ropes used to contain crowds within the pedestrianised zones and instead, people could freely join the parades, be it to dance alongside the costumed dancers or to take photos with them. I am not sure whether the “marshalling area” within the carnival route provided a more controlled environment, but the people were just about everywhere along the main route. I can’t speak for other photographers, but it was quite frustrating for your photo composition to be constantly disturbed by members of the public distracting the performers.

10. It’s free

“Wait…isn’t it a good thing if it’s free?” I hear you ask. Did you know you’ve got to pay for tickets to watch the best of the Rio carnival parades? That’s why they’re so good.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

You pay for what you get.

Those words of wisdom apply here. You know how it is when you get something for free. Museums have free sections and paid sections. Free sections are not bad – well in this case they are not really free, but funded by the government – but the paid sections are remarkably better. The fact that something is free demonstrates that there’s only so much the organisers can do with the little funds they have.

So maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh on the Notting Hill carnival. It’s free, after all.

I’ve griped enough about the carnival. Now it’s your turn. Pleeeaaassee!! Otherwise I might start wondering if age is snuffing out my fun-loving side! 🙂

Who eats ‘ice cream’ on a plate?!

Bubbles and I recently made a trip to Germany to visit a friend I’ve known since I was eight. The beauty of this friendship is that until four years ago, we hadn’t actually met each other!

You see, K and I were childhood penpals and started writing to each other at a time when exchanging letters and sharing stories about your lives were not fraught with risks. It was a time before the computer became a household product and the world was relatively devoid of paedophiles and impostors! Having said that, her world then was instead filled with an ideological divide; democracy on one side and totalitarian dictatorship on the other side. Not exactly without modern day evils! All my letters were addressed to West Germany, not just Germany; but as an eight year old I did not have the maturity to comprehend the severity of it all.

I still remember the day I got her first letter. I was so excited to hear from a girl from an exotic land! I was always mystified by the faraway land of Europe. My only knowledge of it consisted of what I had learnt from the tv, looking at my dad’s old photos from his travels around Europe and some souvenirs scattered around the house. Europe to me was a land where people were white and had blue and green eyes, had beautiful tulips and windmills and four beautiful seasons with snow in the winter. I used to watch enviously a song sequence in the Hindi movie Junglee where Shammi Kapoor cavorts in the snow with his leading lady and tell myself that someday, I would visit that magical land and dance in the snow and have snowball fights.

K and I kept in touch all these years, through letters the first ten years and then via email when we both had access to the internet. We lost touch intermittently, while she spent some years in China, and I spent my first few years in the UK, but we always managed to contact each other, even if a good year passed in between. We finally met a few years ago when she and her husband visited us enroute to Scotland. It was a funny experience meeting someone you’ve known all your life and yet is somewhat a stranger to you.

Then two months ago, we started emailing again and she suggested we visit her. We took her up on her offer and headed to Holzkirchen, some 35km south of Munich. The first day was somewhat wasted by bad weather so we spent most of our time catching up indoors and cooking dinner: a fusion of Malaysian, German and French dishes!

The next day, we ventured out to Tegernsee for a hike up the mountains. We walked past a farmhouse, which was quintessentially Bavarian in its architecture. The houses are part-brick part-wooden, with encircling balconies that are perfect for sitting out on a warm summer evening.

As we hiked up the mountain, we were greeted by splendid views of a lake and mountains on the other side. As this was a pretty miserable summer with temperatures constantly plummeting to near-winter levels, paradoxically we enjoyed a breath-taking view of snow-capped mountains. The snow would have normally melted by May, when we visited.

The air was fresh and the grass and leaves, truly green.

It started raining sometime after we struggled up this road, and so we decided to head for some lunch rather than hike in miserable weather.

I can’t quite remember which restaurant we went to, but it was a Bavarian restaurant serving traditional Bavarian food. We headed for a late lunch…it must have been 2pm but the place was packed with people. A sure sign of good food! As we walked past several tables to ours, I thought I saw ice-cream being served on a plate. Rather odd, I thought!

Little did I know until my friend ordered the same dish, that it wasn’t ice-cream, but ‘Obatzda’, a traditional Bavarian ‘snack’ of cheese served with onions and pretzel sticks! I hadn’t noticed the onions earlier, you see! 🙂 It really looked like two scoops of ice-cream! It tasted very nice, the fresh onions giving a nice zing to the otherwise mild cheese.

Bubbles ordered ‘schweinaxe’, another traditional Bavarian dish of pork knuckle and potatoes. It came served with a knife stuck into the pork! It kind of made me wonder whether schweinaxe had its literal origins in ‘swine with axe,’ and to honour the traditional slaughtering came served with a knife! 🙂

I thought this shot of Bubbles’ beer was quite nice. So was the beer! I’m not usually a beer drinker but I felt the beer in Germany was real good.

My food was the last to arrive: potato fritters with sauerkraut, but I was too famished by then and not in the mood to take any more photos!

Later that evening, we bade farewell to K and headed back to Munich reluctantly. I couldn’t help but contemplate nostalgically about how we’ve played a part in each other’s lives all these years. She couldn’t be more Asian with her stacks of Chinese books and Indian recipe books, and I moved halfway across the world to live in the land she exposed me to through her letters.

Has your life been enriched by penpals? Tell me about your experience or just yap away about anything else! I’d love to hear from my readers.

Real interesting stuff you probably didn’t know about Florence

Some months ago, Bubbles and I and our nutcase friends, who by the way feature in my blog through periodic mention; visited Siena in Italy. (Read Siena blog here) We also paid homage to its  rival city: Florence. They say you either like one or the other, Siena for its gothic-style buildings or Florence for its renaissance-inspired architecture.

I can’t really make up my mind which city I prefer. It kind of represents the non-committal person I am…and like most psycho-analyses reveal, this one can be traced back to childhood.

Me: (I do something naughty and anger mum, then run around the dining table knowing mum can’t catch me)

Mum: (looking murderous like scary Goddess Kali and wielding a ‘rotan’ i.e. a feather duster that doubles as child-beating weapon) ARE YOU GOING TO COME HERE OR DO YOU WANT ME TO CATCH YOU? IF YOU DON’T COME HERE AND I CATCH YOU, YOU WILL GET TWICE THE BEATING!!

Me: ( I freeze on the spot and weigh the options. Little did I know that at the tender age of five I was already dealing with mathematical problems like ‘probability’ in my mind!)

But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, Florence. Here’s Ponte Vecchio…one of the most recognised sights of Florence.

Ponte Vecchio does not boast of the pointed arches or elaborate mythical creatures that epitomise Gothic buildings. Instead it almost looks like a nondescript apartment over the river, but yet there is something enchanting about this structure, with its arched bridge crossing the Arno river.

The walk across the bridge is equally bewitching. There are interesting shops that line both sides of the bridge.

Apparently, the economic concept of bankruptcy originates here. When a merchant could not pay his debts, the table on which he sold his ware (the “banco”) was broken (“rotto”) by soldiers. This practice was called “bancorotto” – broken table, or possibly “bancorotta” – broken bank. Without his table, the merchant was not able to sell anything.

Interestingly, Siena hosts the oldest surviving bank in history; Monte dei Paschi, established in 1472. I can see signs of rivalry having its roots here. Bankrupt Florentians must have asked said bank for funds and got rejected in the face. 🙂

I think Florence and Siena have another distinct difference between them. Florence must have had all the muscular, macho men. How else would you explain the fact that only Florence is dotted with anatomically perfect statues such as this? 🙂

I reckon Siena must have had fatties (or flabbies!) as there’s not a single statue celebrating a man’s hot, muscular bod! That could also be where the rivalry originates…can you imagine the wrath stemmed by bodily insecurity and envy? 🙂

Here’s the Statue of Neptune. He’s a bit too bulky for my liking and there’s something odd about the kid standing between his legs. Wait a minute…he’s not a kid. He’s got pubic hair! So, there are two odd things about the kid-statue. Look at his ding-ding. It looks frayed at the edge!

Pray tell what that’s supposed to be! I’m intrigued. So there you go: possible another difference. Maybe there was so much testosterone coursing through the veins of Florentine men that they reached puberty at seven!

Sounds to me like architecture had nothing to do with the two cities’ rivalry. They each coveted what the other had! Like a lot of unproven historical research, I present to you these hypotheses so you can make a valued judgement. (I can tell I would be a very capable historian) 🙂

Have you noticed the frayed genital before or seen any other odd statues in Europe? Do tell me about it! 

Colmar, cakes and copycats!

For some reason they reminded me of an icing cake.

It could have been the smooth, pastel walls that looked like marzipan on a cake. Or it could have been the timber cladding criss-crossing the walls like piped chocolate. Or maybe I was just plain hungry, my growling stomach giving me a case of pareidolia.

This is Colmar, a charming little city in the Alsace region of France. In fact, so charming and picturesque is this city that it inspired copycat Malaysia to replicate Colmar at Bukit Tinggi. Not being one partial to fakes (fake branded goods, fake boobs and the likes) let me have you know that I have not visited Bukit Tinggi nor have the desire to.

Speaking of fake branded goods, I don’t know why someone would want to buy something fake just so they can have a fake sense of belonging among society’s shallow materialists. I’d rather carry a cheap handbag from the market than a fake Prada. Actually I’d rather carry a cheap handbag instead of spending a fortune on a branded handbag. How many times have I seen someone carry a branded bag and thought ‘that looks like the fake one I saw at the market?’ But I digress. Besides, how would a nation’s economy keep itself buoyant without people spending their hard-earned money on frivolous pursuits?

Still on the subject of copycats though, we came across signs leading us towards a ‘Little Venice’, an unexpected promise of a Mediterranean interlude lingering in the continental air. Snaking through alleyways and ducking beneath lush green trees, we kept on going in search of Italy’s darling. Then we saw it. A bridge. Not quite the Grand Canal or Rialto bridge of Venice, but the archetype was unmistakable. The bridge rose and fell over a river, like the bosom of a nubile woman. Restaurants and houses formed the banks of the river. Apparently, the canal serves its purpose to this day, hence its affiliation to Venice, whose canals are the lifeblood of the city. Fresh produce and meat are delivered to the restaurants by the canal front in Colmar.

We wandered on and stumbled upon a market selling local produce like pastries and jam. Pretzels hung on pretzel-trees. Glum women slumped behind checked tables. Very French!

When I walked out of the market, I thought I had felt a drop of water on my head. I gazed at the skies for signs of rain and could have sworn I saw a cloud the shape of a roast chicken. Pareidolia had struck again!

5 Travel Tips for the Holiday Period

Having lived in the UK for nearly 10 years now, and having travelled quite a bit, I’d like to think I’m quite experienced when it comes to travel matters. I’ve got the whole pre-travel, during travel and post-travel agenda sorted out in my head it’s almost second nature to me. So I thought what better thing to share on my blog than giving tips on how to travel what with the imminent holiday period.

So here are some tips that you might find useful the next time you travel.

1. Become a lean, mean cleaning machine!

There’s nothing like returning to a home that is spotless! Before I go away on holidays, I blitz the whole house! I vacuum, arrange everything around the house neatly, wash the bathroom and change the sheets. Bubbles always jokes that I must have been a cleaner in my past life so you can imagine the ruckus I cause especially the day before we travel, trying to get everything to look immaculate.

You see, I find returning home from my holidays quite depressing, so it helps returning to a house that is super-clean and smelling pine-fresh! And heaven forbid if we were to die in a plane crash, at least my family wouldn’t have to sob over my smelly underwear and unwashed plates!

2. Packing your travel bag

Thank God I’m not one of those overgrown baboons who travels with a teddy-bear. Seriously ladies, if you’re over 10, no stuffed animals in your luggage, please! I pack all my toiletries in miniature travel kits, and it’s just as well considering the liquid restrictions on flights. Even if I were going on a long haul flight and checking in luggage, I keep this to a minimum to save space for the goodies I might be returning with! My formula for underwear is “Number of days travelling + 1 = underwear to bring”. Yeah I know you can wash your underwear while on holidays, but if I’m going for less than a week, this is the most convenient method. I’m not into wearing my underwear inside out when I run out of a clean pair! Eww!

Unfortunately these days I’ve got to keep my clothes to a bare minimum ever since I got a DSLR. It takes so much space! How our priorities change in life…

Pack a change of clothes in your hand luggage. This is a lesson I learnt during my recent flight to Malaysia. Our flight to Singapore was delayed and we missed the connecting flight to Kuala Lumpur that night. We had to stay over at the airport hotel in Singapore and we had no clothes in our hand luggage! Of course we could have requested for our checked-in luggage but we didn’t want to lug it back through check-in the next day. It wasn’t a major disaster, but still it could have been more comfortable travelling in clean clothes the next day. But wait till you see No. 5 – you’ll understand why in some cases it’s crucial you travel with clothes in your hand luggage!

Some destinations require medicines. Like India. Enough said.

3. Make a list

Didn’t we just cover packing? Why a list now then? Aha. It’s not a packing list…it’s a list of things to eat! I seriously make a list, especially if I’m travelling back to Malaysia, my home country. Do you know how much there is to stuff your face with? The list is quite exhaustive: satay, loh bak, wantan noodles, dim sum, petai, char koay teow, ciku, rambutan, mangosteens… you can get some of these here in the UK, but it’s not always the same, especially satay. Yum! I make this list on my phone and check them from time to time to make sure I’ve ‘covered’ them all! Unfortunately, the next time I go, the list would have shrunk sizeably due to my recent pescatarian diet. I hope I don’t regret it!

I also make a list of things to buy, especially when I’m returning to Malaysia. Usually this would be spices and clothes, but the next time there’s going to be one additional thing on my list: DSLR lens. It’s dirt cheap there. Check what’s cheap where you’re going – you could save a mini-fortune by buying some stuff abroad. (That’s what happens when you pile on the VAT, Cameron! Some of us would be contributing to the economy of other countries instead!)

4. In-flight tips

When I travel alone, I prefer the window seat. Actually I prefer the window seat. Period. But it especially helps when you’re travelling alone, as you can doze off with the confidence that no one will wake you to go pee/poop/barf. If you’re scared of flying I wouldn’t recommend the window, though. Now’s not the time to see the teeny-weeny crack in the window and wonder how old the plane is…

Another flight tip: travel with your own Bubbles, if possible, (remember Bubbles?) whomever that might be. Bubbles lets me put my feet up on his so I can sleep with my legs stretched as far as possible. Comes close to travelling first class! 🙂

Yet another tip: watch out for empty seats like a hawk. If you find the 3 or 4 middle seats empty, you’ve hit jackpot: stretch yourself nicely over the seats and go to sleep!

5. Packing for the return trip

Packing for your return trip is easy-peasy if you haven’t done much shopping. What went in in the first place can go back in! But what do you do when you’ve bought so much stuff they don’t fit into your bag? Roll, baby! No, I don’t mean roll a joint in frustration, or forget packing and start partying, I mean, roll your clothes. Fold them first, then roll them as much as you can so they can be squeezed into every nook and cranny. Trust me on this one. You’ll be amazed at how much space you’d be left with in your luggage.

What do you do when you’ve bought so much they can’t fit into your luggage, or worse, they fit but your luggage is too heavy? Always, always weigh your bag if you think it is going to exceed the weight limit at check-in. I once weighed it, and knowing it was too heavy went to the airport in the hope that the airport weighing scale might record it a few kilos lighter. Fat hopes. It was even heavier (I can feel a conspiracy theory on this one). What did I do? Executive decisions had to be made on what to chuck out.

I’m compelled to also put in writing what a friend recommended years ago. Wear two pairs of jeans and a few t’shirts to lighten the load. That will at least save you 1-2 kgs. Yes, it was you, Ada, (if you’re reading this) and no, I won’t ever be doing it! 😀

Pack a change of clothes in your hand luggage. My aunt had a serious case of Delhi-belly when travelling back from India and had a little mishap during her return flight. You don’t want to know the rest of the story but you get the picture.

So, there you go. Some travel tips you cannot do without. Happy travelling and happy holidays!

Why unplanned holidays are fantastic!

Have you ever gone on an unplanned holiday? The question almost seems paradoxical, as most holidays involve some level of planning, but seriously, Bubbles and I, and two of our best nutcase friends, went on a completely unplanned holiday. We knew when we were going and when we were returning, and a rough idea of where we were going! We had a basic route sketched out around France, Germany, Luxembourg en route Belgium, and then back to France for the crossover at Calais.

We didn’t book hotels or read up on anything. If you’re raising an eyebrow over our nonchalance, you’d be happy to know that we had a little hair-raising experience of our own! It all started when we reached Brussels one evening. We thought we could stay somewhere on the outskirts of Brussels where hotels would not be as expensive as in Brussels itself. So, thinking we had the luxury of time, we sauntered around Grand Place, taking a myriad photos and doing a bit of crowd-watching. It’s such a lively place it’s difficult not to be caught up in the moment. Then, we went looking for the little social misfit, you know, the boy who pisses in public: Manneken Pis! Mind you, I don’t know what the fuss is about him and we weren’t really walking all the way to see the statue but he ended up being in our wander-path, so we obliged.

I can’t quite remember the sequence of events, but I think D and I got side-tracked into one of the many chocolate shops. We took turns distracting the shop owner so the other person could gorge on free ‘taster’ chocolates and biscuits dipped in chocolate fondue. Right about the time D was done, I was convinced the lady would be racking up a huge loss that day! 😀 In the meantime, J had an epiphany: we should have Belgian waffles while in Belgium! We went past many stalls and cafes, until one finally got her seal of approval. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best of waffles and Bubbles had fun taunting her for the rest of our trip about English waffles being better than Belgian waffles!

After all the dilly-dallying, we drove out of Brussels looking for a cheap hotel. We stopped at a few but they were all either full or way above our budget. This is how we stumbled upon Ghent. It was probably close to 10p.m. when we reached Ghent. Its beguilingly quaint appearance fooled us into thinking it’s a cowboy town and that accommodation would be dirt cheap. It was not only expensive, but mostly fully booked. Just as we were about to give up our search and resign to the idea of sleeping in the car, we stumbled upon a monastery-turned-hotel: Monasterium Poortackere Hotel.

Bubbles and D went to investigate. Yes, they did have rooms available. Yes, they were a pricey £90 per night. Pricey by monastery standards, methinks! Another round of contemplating sleeping in the car, then we decided we should stay at the hotel. Room keys and luggage  in hand, we gingerly made our way through the dimly lit corridors to our rooms. When we entered our room, I could feel myself both gawking and grimacing at the same time. I hadn’t been prepared to see before me a room so big. It was at least twice the size of normal hotel rooms and about ten times the size of the Pod in New York! The bathroom was bigger than the Pod, I kid you not! The room, decorated in muted colours blended rather tastefully with its antique furniture. So why the grimace, you might ask. It must have been a mix between the dull incandescent light bathing the room with shadows and the creaking of the floor beneath our feet; but the room felt very eerie. So eerie that us girls, who were initially tired and contemplating staying back in the rooms while the boys went to buy something to eat, decided there was no way we were staying alone, or even with each other as company!

So, out we went for dinner. After cups of pot noodles later (it was nearly 12 midnight and only the local ‘Spar’ was open), we decided to call it a night. I was so scared of the room that I wondered how I was going to fall asleep. Add the worry of what might find me in my dreams…or that I might need the bathroom in the middle of the night, I was sceptical of catching a few winks that night! This was without a doubt the scariest room I had slept in! Okay, I once stayed in a hotel in Melaka that was rumoured to be haunted, didn’t experience anything overnight, but in the morning I woke up to sounds of furniture being dragged across the room above ours for hours. But who’s scared of the daytime ghost? Anyway, I somehow managed to sleep and it was a real good sleep! I couldn’t even remember having any dreams!

The next morning, we found out D and J had an equally good sleep. So much for the fear of ghosts! Bubbles, emboldened by daylight (I’m sure), said “what did you think was going to happen last night? This is a monastery – there aren’t any ghosts here!” Yes, Bubbles, but what if exorcisms had been carried out here many moons ago and the released spirits had remained in those rooms?! Or what if the spirit of dead nuns roamed the rooms by night? *shivers*

Anyway, why do I think unplanned holidays are fantastic? It’s probably because anticipation is sometimes better than realisation and as much as we think we want certainty in our lives, its the unknown that fuels us. To take the words of Robert Luis Stevenson in the literal sense, “Little do ye know your own blessedness, for to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive…”

What kind of a person are you?

“What kind of a person are you?” I’m sure you have come across many personality tests that aim to decipher the kind of person you are by asking a few questions and assessing your personality based on the answers you give.

Well, I’ve got one for you. But unlike all those long-winded personality tests, this one is simple…very simple, trust me! All I ask is “What kind of person are you?” Now pick your answer from the 13 choices below, then read further below to find out what it means to be the person you think you are. You can pick more than one answer, I don’t mind, as long as you don’t peek at the answers first. Good luck!

1. Shy

2. Proud

3. Amiable

4. Intellectual

5. Impudent

6. Sensitive

7.  Unfortunate

8. Dishonest

9. Grateful

10. Sadistic

11. Righteous

12. Honest

13. Clever

And here are the answers…prepare to be baffled…

1. Shy – One who farts, then blushes.

2. Proud – One who only likes the smell of his/her own fart.

3. Amiable – One who likes the smell of everyone’s fart.

4. Intellectual – One who can determine the smell of his/her neighbour’s dog’s fart.

5. Impudent – One who farts, then laughs out loud.

6. Sensitive – One who farts, then starts crying.

7.  Unfortunate – One who tries to fart but shits instead.

8. Dishonest – One who farts, then blames the dog.

9. Grateful – One who farts, then thanks God for being able to.

10. Sadistic – One who farts under the duvet, then covers his/her partner with it.

11. Righteous – One who farts, then gives a medical reason for it.

12. Honest – One who farts, then owns up to it before even anyone can smell it.

13. Clever – One who conceals his/her fart by laughing loudly when farting.

Facing failure…not!

Quacky gave his mum reason to believe he couldn't stand on his own two feet yet...

Hello reader! See the photo and caption above? Did it inspire you? Invoke tenderness? Did it provoke your thoughts: Who is that duck? What was it doing near the pond? What was going through its duck-mind? Did you laugh out loud when you read the caption? Did you feel envy, wishing that you could come up with catchy captions like that for your photos?  I can picture you, dear reader, nodding your head while reading this…I can. For I know I’ve snapped a photo, no, caught a moment, that might even make Steve Bloom do a double-take on this photo! *cough*

So imagine my shock, horror, bewilderment, when this very photo I submitted to the UKTV Eden photo competition for 2011 did not make it through the shortlist. Have you heard of such travesty? I know, it’s ridiculous! Well, let me take you through the kind of photos that made it through the shortlist, then you can check out the link if you want and cringe at the sheer injustice of it all.

The winner: A shot of a thistledown against the sunset.

I can almost hear you click your tongue in disapproval. Who shoots thistledown? (and gets a prize for that?!) Someone who can’t venture out further than their back garden? Tch! Where I come from, you probably use Roundup on it!

Second photo: King Penguins in Antarctica

If you had to choose, you’d probably go for this between the two. But compared to my photo, what is so special about this? Thousands of penguins just standing and looking at each other for lack of anything to do in the Antarctica. You know what…I think the photographer won this out of sympathy. I bet the blurb in his/her submission says he/she lost a finger from frostbite in the Antarctica…yada yada…

Third photo: Dolphin in the sea

This is going to be the last one I explain. I can’t take it anymore. I seriously hope this photo didn’t win third place. You can see a hint of a dolphin from the surface of the water. It’s so bad, I can’t even find anything to say other than it’s so bad!

Next year, I’m not going to bother with amateur photo competitions (you don’t want to win those, anyway). I’m going to target the Big Boys worthy of my photos: National Geographic. *cough*