"The sharp knife of a short life

I've had just enough time..."

- "If I Die Young" The Band Perry

I see Beauty in many things. And like the ghosts that only speak to you if you notice them, they tell me wondrous tales. With my camera and my thoughts, I captured these as faithfully as I can to share with you. And by doing so, they gave me the reasons. And though the thousand reasons may not all be sweet and some indeed bitter; they are still reasons to live. Come to think about it, that is Life, isn't it?

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

An Island of My Own.

I've had just enough time to...   wish to retire to an island of my own.

Taken of a private island not my own in Tanah Merah Lake, Perak, Malaysia.

Out there I know
An island waits patiently,
For me to come home.

Each day
Squeezing through the crowd,
I am an island of my own.

The clock ticks
And with each impatient minute,
I heard my island calling me home.


No man is an island,
No man stands alone,
Each man's joy is joy to me,
Each man's grief is my own.

We need one another,
So I will defend,
Each man as my brother,
Each man as my friend.

- John Donne

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Know A Country By Its Arts.

I've had just enough time to...  witness the change in the Chinese Art Scene.

Taken by surprise in the Shanghai Pudong International Airport.

Contrast the previous painting (in the last post) done during the Mao Tze Dong era with this very large painting that I found in the arrival section of Shanghai Pudong International Airport. I have been in and out of China since the early 80s and what a change I had seen. From padi fields to high rise in a blink of an eye. From an universal grey to the latest French fashion. From a third world to one of the largest economy in the world. The speed and scale were mind-boggling.

Still it surprised me when I saw this painting in clear view just prior to the arrival hall. They will allow this suggestive painting in the airport? My friends from the West may think nothing of it. But most Asians are still conservative when it comes to nudity and suggestive portrayal in Arts. They have no problem if such paintings are displayed in studios and museums but have strong reservation when they are shown in public places in full views of children and their grandparents. And what can be more public than an airport?

China has come a long way in the last twenty years. How far? This tale of two paintings show the quantum leap. 

Friday, 27 January 2012

Reflection of A Red Guard.

I've had just enough time to...   ponder what a revolutionist could be thinking.

Taken in my favourite teashop in China where reflection is encouraged.

I reflect
On things I have done
Of things done to me

Of how I feel
When it happened to me.

Of how they feel
When it happened to them.


Red Guard Song

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Clear Water Too Clear to Drink.

I've had just enough time to...   take a drink from cool, clear water.

Taken in Bali where this beautiful clear water are too beautiful to drink.

The clear water was inviting
Promise to refresh,

It is tempting
But too clear to drink
Too clear to drink.


All day I've faced a barren waste
Without the taste of water, cool water
Old Dan and I with throats burnt dry
And souls that cry for water
Cool, clear, water 

Dan, can ya see that big, green tree?
Where the water's runnin' free
And it's waitin' there for me and you?

It's water, cool, clear, water
Cool, clear, water

Frankie Laine – “Cool Water”

Monday, 23 January 2012

Myanmar Is Changing!

I've had just enough time to...   see the beginning of Myanmar's transformation.

Taken in a Chinese shop in Yangon's Chinatown, Myanmar.

I found myself in the Chinatown of Yangon, Myanmar recently. While my colleagues were buying casual nuts, I took this shot from inside the shop, through hanging lanterns at the street outside. Chinese New Year was just round the corner. Though this is my first trip to Yangon, I could feel the change in the air. Myanmar is changing and it will never be the same again. 

This is the watershed year for the country. After decades of being trapped in its own time zone, Myanmar is finally opening up to the rest of the world. Democracy will follow soon. Business men already smelling profits are descending into the capital by the plane load. 

With the change, more freedom and progress will follow. But not all will be good. Some will find it hard to adjust to the change. The oppressors of the country will probably be the greatest beneficiaries. It must be hard for Aung San Suu kyi. Going after the perpetrator will plunged the country into a crisis, compromising for the sake of the people will let them get away scot free. Because she cared more for the living than the dead, she has only one option really. So the past must be buried for the future to have a chance. But the injustice of it all is quite difficult to swallow. The alternative is worse. 

If you can, visit Myanmar now. In ten years, it will change beyond recognition. Though it is all for progress and a brighter future, it is still kind of sad to see some old ways of Life changed and the country losing some of its charm and unique personality. Happy New Year Myanmar. May this be a happy new beginning for you.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

How Deep Is Your Love?

I've had just enough time to...   witness a love in bold.

Taken in a marriage registry just before an exchanging of vows.

How deep is your love? 
Will you wear it for all to see 
Or keep it deep within 
Only one to reveal?


I know your eyes in the morning sun
I feel you touch me in the pouring rain
And the moment that you wander far from me
I wanna feel you in my arms again

And you come to me on a summer breeze
Keep me warm in your love
Then you softly leave
And it's me you need to show
How deep is your love?

How deep is your love
How deep is your love
I really need to learn 
'Cause we're living in a world of fools 
Breakin’ us down
When they all should let us be
We belong to you and me

The Bee Gees - "How Deep Is Your Love?"

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Its Beauty Speaks For Itself.

I've had just enough time to...   appreciates the beauty of my orchids.

Taken of the orchids in my garden.

There is never any need to praise the beauty of an orchid, 
Its beauty speaks for itself, 
Silently and elegantly.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

My Red Wheelbarrow Is Blue.

I've had just enough time to...   push a loaded wheelbarrow.

While on a factory tour in Kunshan, China; I spied a blue wheelbarrow that spoke to me.

“So much depends
On the red wheelbarrow

But I am blue
Has that make all the difference?”


The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

William Carlos Williams

Sunday, 15 January 2012

One Careful Step After Another.

I've had just enough time to...   take one careful step after another.

Taken while perfectly still of the cautious stock who is looking warily at me in Bali. 

Step carefully, 
There may be a mine under. 
Look carefully, 
There are dangers around. 
But what is more dangerous 
Is to stay rooted to the ground. 

Be careful where you step 
But step right ahead 
Even if there are mines around.


A career is made and lost, 
in sorting out the devastation 
What you get you've got, 
the rest can be imagination 
And what you lose you've lost, 
here comes the instant separation 
Careful where you step 
There may be a mine under there

Saga - Careful Where You Step.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Footprints In The Snow.

I've had just enough time to...   leave my footprints on snow.

Taken in Seoul, Korea on a snowy morning.

I would like to leave my footprints on the snow
Where there were none before
And leave a path
Where none can be seen
In the early morning
After a heavy snow fall.

Maybe, it makes me a daring explorer
Or a seeker of truth
A sad lover or a lonely traveler
A writer searching for his muse or
A man searching for himself
Or just a lost soul in the wood.

But then I wonder
Is the snow calling for
The boy in me or the man to me
And will my steps
Be heavy or light
On that blanket of snow?


Some folks like the summertime when they can walk about
Strolling through the meadow green it's fun there's no doubt
But give me the wintertime when snow falls all around
For i found her when the snow was on the ground

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Invasion of the Angry Birds.

I've had just enough time to...   eat a few angry birds.

Taken of the advance force of angry birds that I found in Bidor, Malaysia. They were eaten by me.

Once in a while, we will have an invasion by an alien force that swarm through all our defenses. We were fooled by their disguise, their cuteness and let our guards down. Before we know it, they are everywhere – in the bags we carried, the clothes that we wore, dangling from key chains, hanging from ceilings, there is no stopping them.

First, they stole our children’s heart, then their grannies’ pockets. They decimated our adult’s time and ate at their mind till they yelped at high scores and mourned when they could not bring a building down. They made them into zombies that could only move their fingers to pull at illusionary catapult to send angry birds flying. And crashing. And the monkeys have the last laugh.

I belong to the special force that tried to stem this invasion. I found some angry birds taking hold in a small town called Bidor in Malaysia that is famed for their herbal duck soup. Their evil scheme here was to take over the gastronomy delight of this small town and I was sent to disrupt their plan of conquest. So I did my part to reduce the population of angry birds there by eating them! But there are just too many. I tried my best and live to talk about it. I don’t know about you but I find angry birds rather yummy.

Monday, 9 January 2012

The World's Happiest Weather Vane.

I've had just enough time to...   catch the breeze with the weather vane.

Taken of a building among the padi fields in Ubud, Bali.

In the distance on top of a buiding among padi fields, I spied a weather vane made of flimsy wood, rusty metal and the dried branch of a coconut tree. It was the happiest wind vane I have ever seen. It caught the slightest breeze and waltzed along with it. When the wind leave, it let it go free and waited for another breeze.

And the happy couple on the wind vane did a celebratory dance every time the wind came a-calling with such joyous movement that I swore there are spirits in the figurines. Or my eyes deceived me.

“What is it you’re looking?”, they asked.

“Oh, nothing. Just the wind dancing free.”

Saturday, 7 January 2012

“Tagai” No Fishing! Just Fish Massage.

I've had just enough time to...   enjoy a fish massage.

Taken in the Moroli river in Kampung Luanti, Ranau in Sabah, East Malaysia.

About three hours away from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah; is a small village called Kampung Luanti in the district of Ranau. The local Dusun community imposed a “tagai” meaning “no fishing” along this stretch of the crystal clear Moroli river. Instead, they trained the “Ikan Pelian” (Malaysian Mahseer) to give you a massage you will never forget.

The minute I cautiously stepped into the water, the fishes swarmed round me nibbling at any dead skin. Except for a sharp nibble now and then, it is painless and you quickly get used to it and even liked the sensation.

“Go on, get into the deep end. Submerge your whole body in but watch out for your exposed nipple!” I knew my friend was joking but I kept my hands closely to my chest until the rubbing of slippery scales against my skin relaxed me and made me forgot I was ever in any danger, exposed nipple or not. Having dozens of fishes deliberately rubbing against you is an unforgettable experience.

I bought some fish pallets, cupped it in my hands and have the fish sucked right out of it. In the cool water with all the fishes slipping in and around my body, I could close my eyes and imagined I was in another world of peaceful coexistence. So if you are on your way to climb Mount Kinabalu  or to visit the national park, do not forget to drop into Kampung Luanti for a sensational fish massage.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

All The Lights In The Windows.

I've had just enough time.   to add one more light to the windows.

The lights in the windows in the City of Kunshan, China.

To all the lights in the windows,
In the dark, you are all I see.
And if you look back,
You will see me.

Lights in the windows,
In the dark, that is all we see.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Planting Rice Is Never Fun.

I've had just enough time...   to see rice been planted.

Taken in a kampung in Cilegon, Java, Indonesia.

This field of ripening padi that I took in my visit to Cilegon in Jakarta is no more. It has been bulldozed over and converted to another factory. All in the name of progress.

It is easy for me to say this is bad. That the old way of Life should be preserved. But I know how difficult it is to walk in deep mud. And how back-breaking it is planting padi under the scorching tropical sun. And I remembered that nursery rhyme that I sang as a boy –

“Planting rice is never fun,
Bend from morn to set of sun.
Cannot stand and cannot sit,
Cannot rest a little bit.”

And I hesitated and reserved any hasty judgement. And I find the only thing I can condemn outright is – “poverty is bad”. Progress? It has two faces. But I sure miss the undulating field of ripening padi dancing to the wind.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Those Were The Days, My Friends.

I've had just enough time...  to drink to those good old days.

Taken in one of the cities in China that I could not remember after too many drinks.

Those were the days
When we toasted our dreams
With the crash of glasses.

Under the illumination of the streetlights,
We sang our pleasures
To the moonlight.

Those were the days
When tomorrow is always another day
Of a future that is too far away.

But the future is here today
And the beer taste no less bitter
Than those “good old days”.


Once upon a time there was a tavern
Where we used to raise a glass or two
Remember how we laughed away the hours
And think of all the great things we would DO

Those were the days, my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we choose
We'd fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way
La la la la la la
La la la la la la

Mary Hopkin - Those Were The Days, My Friend

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