Sunday, May 29, 2011

Yogyakarta with Love 3: Closed Kraton

We were hoping to make it in time to see Kraton which is the Sultan's royal palace since the 9th century. The most interesting thing about the Sultan's palace here is that it is surrounded by houses and shops. You wouldn't be able to spot the palace from far, hidden in the sea of houses and shops surrounding it. A real 'people's sultan', they say. In fact, the residence of the Sultan's brother is also nearby, amongst the maze of houses and shops and I was told his residence actually doubles up as a fine-dining restaurant!

Felt a little small

The gate doors look really sturdy and heavy. 18th century style. Love the locks on the door. I imagined battering rams and all

Yogyakarta is a "special" province in Indonesia, the only province (or there may be others, I'm not too sure) where the province is still ruled by the Sultan but as Governor. All over Yogyakarta I saw posters pledging support to the Sultan because apparently some people wanted the Governor to be elected, and not automatically given to the Sultan's successors.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Yogyakarta with Love 2 : The Majestic Prambanan Temples

So on to the Prambanan temples. Although we stayed up very late the previous night to watch Kiai Kanjeng (will get to this soon), we set off very early in the morning to reach here on the same day we went to the gorgeous Parangtritis Beach.

Welcome to Prambanan. It's so small kan?

Actually, I didn't know much about Prambanan. Even when we arrived, my first impression on looking at Prambanan from afar was that it looked deceivingly small. I thought it wasn't that big. But Prambanan is apparently the biggest ancient Hindu temple in Java. Prambanan is an 8th century temple complex comprising of 237 temples. Much of it are in ruins, and although there are continuous restoration works, most of the smaller temples cannot be restored. Only the foundation of the smaller temples are left, but the stones have been reduced to rubble. What is interesting about Prambanan is that they did not use cement for the stones, but an interlocking technique to keep the stones together (something like pasak i suppose). Pretty impressive, especially as there were different 'interlocking designs' on the various stones. Our guide mentioned that the designs were like puzzles, so you couldn't interlock one random stone with just any other stone: You have to find it's matching design. That's why restoration works are slow. The whole temples are like one big puzzle. Awesome right?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Yogyakarta with Love 1 : Parangtritis Beach

I just got back from Jogja. How was it? It was SPECTACULAR! We loved the place so much that both me and my husband felt like we did not want to leave. We felt that our stay was too short and there were just too many more things to see there. Honestly, it was perfect. I couldn't imagine my honeymoon to be at any other place. Well done Khubby! (He planned everything since before we were supposed to go in July 2010). It was worth all the wait and extended delays to finally get here. We just left everything behind in Kuala Lumpur and enjoyed exploring various parts of Jogja and digging up the rich and glorious culture and art there. The trip really opened our hearts, souls and minds. Jogja and the whole experience was, for me, incredibly romantic as well as spiritually absorbing (You can read my longing to go to Jogja in '10 months ago').

There are just too many stories to share about my incredible discovery of Jogja and (you may be able to guess) too many photos that we took there to sum it all up in one post. So, I am going to post in several parts the things I love most about Jogja.

First up, Parangtritis Beach. Situated in Southern Jogjakarta, we were told that this is a must visit in Jogja. It was quite weird, because the first thing we were told was that no one was allowed to swim in the sea as the waves are deadly. Parangtritis beach is rich in folklore because it was the home of the Queen of the South Sea, "Kanjeng Ratu Kidul". The driver explained the story of her legend on the way. We were warned not to go there wearing green because it was the Queen's colour (and the Queen will seduce you to join her in the sea) so I opted for yellow instead. We were soon to find out exactly why Parangtritis is a must visit :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

10 months ago : Wedding Photos & Video 1

I really can't believe that my marriage was almost 11 months ago, it feels that it wasn't that long ago. Too many things happened prior to my wedding day which will take quite some time to tell, but not yet. I'm going to leave for Yogyakarta (aka Jogja) now, which will be my first twice-postponed honeymoon due to me being hospitalized in July. My husband then re-arranged the trip to November, but I was hospitalized again. I'm pretty stubborn and I really wanted to go the second time, but it was impossible to go because suddenly there was also an earthquake in Jogja at that time. Yes, I know right??

I suppose the third time is the lucky charm. I'm so excited because I've always wanted to go to Jogja since forever. My first planned trip to Jogja was in 2006 with my uni gamelan group. We were supposed to go there to watch performances and meet with gamelan groups there. But would you believe it that the trip also had to be cancelled because of the terrible earthquake in 2006?

Now, I think you'll understand why I just can't wait to explore Jogja. Especially because it is rich with culture, art and heritage.

So anyways, I promised to upload photos of my wedding here since some people asked me to share what I wore during my wedding. I guess for this post I'll start with my nikah (solemnization) ceremony at home. Since there are so many photos and I'm in a bit of a rush, I'll blog about the actual ceremony later when I have the time. The solemnization and the receptions, were truly few of the most memorable days in my life.

Pictures with a few of my friends and cousins who were there early. My wedding wouldn't have been so beautiful and went so smoothly without the HUGE help of my family, relatives and friends because I was in the hospital for almost all of the preparations period and was only discharged the day before the wedding. I also remember the day before my wedding when my house was full of my relatives and friends who were helping out tremendously. I will forever be thankful to them. Love you guys.

This is my nikah wedding dress designed by Cho (Azalea Ramli) of Pu3. The cloth material for the kurung modern top was beaded chiffon which was a hantaran gift from my husband during the tunang (engagement) ceremony. I just love the design, texture and details of the material. The beadings were non-symmetrical as you can see. Cho did a fantastic job with the dress design. I just love it! I especially love the vintage-y and stylish yet funky shoulders which she says was inspired by Lady Gaga! -_- Some of my friends who saw the dress told me that it was 'just so you' and I was so happy to hear that on my wedding day. It helps that Cho knows what I liked and designed it that way. It was already perfect the first time I went for fitting.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Crazy Frog Terrorist : Books and Youtube

I bought the following books recently..

Frida by Barbara Mujica

Stories to Get You Through the Night

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
(I must be the only person who hasn't seen the movie!)

Stories edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio

I've only started reading Frida and Eat.Pray.Love (simultaneously) but haven't gotten round to finishing either of them. I think I read depending on my mood, so that's why I'm reading both books at the same time. Frida is one of my favourite female artists and I've posted about some of her paintings that I like. Check out my post back in 2009, Viva La Vida.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Wedding portrait on the internet while eating macaronis & watching laser discs

The weather is nice today. I woke up early, had a nice breakfast and just chilled out this morning. I just finished reading a few blogs. I really respect bloggers who are able to post regularly despite their busy lives. Any tips on how to do it?

I haven't managed to blog as much as I would have liked. It is quite hard to find the time to blog about things even though in my mind there are so many things I feel like blogging about. Especially during the weekdays I usually come home really late from work and I'll forget about the things I want to blog about already. This past few days, I've been coming back home after midnight from the office. Even now, I'm getting ready to go to the office in a short while and I will have to come in office tomorrow as well to finish up some urgent work. By the way, I am enjoying the work that I'm doing now :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Cat-astrophic Sunday

One for the album, me and the birthday girl :)
The less said about my cooking skills the better, but I do know the ingredients of a good outing: Good company of friends, good food, a cozy and warm ambience, lots of laughter and games and interestingly random conversations. This was exactly how we spent one Sunday afternoon celebrating Nisa's birthday some time two weeks ago. It was a very chilled out and relaxed afternoon. The last time we met was during Fazlyn's vintage theme gathering at Canoodling.

Nisa is one of my closest university mate. That day, we played a game where we had to describe Nisa. This is the agreed consensus:

Cat Lover, Distinctive Laughter, Cat's Eyes, Baby Teeth, Brownish, Handbags

Nisa is simply the most committed cat lover I know. Now, most girls love cats but Nisa goes all out for ALL cats, not just the pretty and commercially beautiful ones. During my uni days, I remember that even though she has her own cats, she used to buy fish from the food canteen just to feed stray cats, sending stray cats to the vet and even stopping her car, in the middle of the road just to make sure a kitten could cross the road properly. She is seriously that concerned and committed about cats. That shows how kindhearted she is and how much she loves cats! I also thinks that she has 'cat-looking-eyes'.

The Queen of my Heart

Before I go to sleep after a very long day celebrating Mother's Day with the mothers in my life (I'll have to blog about today later I think), in relation to my previous post (The Timely Reminders) I am suddenly remembered of something very interesting I learnt which I feel like sharing. There are five things in this world in which our Prophet says will give us pahala (rewards and blessings from God) just by setting our eyes upon them:

1. The walls of Kaabah
2. The words of the Qur'an
3. Water from the well of Zam-Zam
4. The face of our Parents
5. Observing the world and all of God's creations within it

After hearing this, I really felt the beauty of Islam. The mother who laboured so hard to bring us into this world, is also our gateway to heaven. Just by looking at her. This knowledge came just at the right time so close to Mother's Day. I know I have not been the best daughter to both of my parents even more so now that I am still struggling to juggle work and married life; I have less time to spend with them. But slowly I've come to realize just how hard it is to actually be a mother and that is why Islam gives the greatest of respect to mothers. I want to try be a better daughter and repay the best I can the unconditional parental love showered upon me. Hope you all had a Happy Mother's Day today and hopefully we can all find the time, not just today, to make our mothers feel special and make sure she knows that she is loved.

Wan, I love you with all my heart.

Ratu Hati by Innuendo's Pot Amir is my all-time favourite song dedicated to mothers and I will never tire of this song because there is just something in this song in the way it is sung, and in its meaning which really resonates with me and touches me deeply. My siblings and I have sung this song to our mother a few times throughout the years. The picture of me and my mum in this video is a captured moment that I'll always treasure.

Til my next post. Goodnight all.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The timely reminders

When I was younger, I listened to these Lauryn Hill songs almost every single day.Read it here. But suddenly I now feel that this song was actually sung in a totally different context than the meaning which I understood when I first heard this song.

My world it moves so fast today
The past it seems so far away
And I squeeze it so tight, I can't breathe
every time I try to be
What someone has thought of me

So caught up, I wasn't able to achieve

But deep in my heart the answer it was in me
And I made up my mind to find my own destiny
I look at my environment
And wonder where the fire went
What happened to everything we used to be
I hear so many cry for help
Searching outside of themselves

Now I know His strength is within me

And deep in my heart the answer it was in me
And I made up my mind to find my own destiny"

-Miseducation of Lauryn Hill-

"Let me be patient let me be kind
Make me unselfish without being blind

Though I may suffer I'll envy it not
And endure what comes
Cause he's all that I got and
Tell him I need him

Tell him I love him [tell him]
And it'll be alright

Now I may have faith to make mountains fall

But if I lack love then I am nothin' at all
I can give away everything I possess
But left without love then I have no happiness

I know I'm imperfect [I know I'm imperfect]
& not without sin [& not without sin]

But now that I'm older all childish things end
And tell him...

I'll never be jealous

And I won't be too proud
Cause love is not boastful
Oooh and love is not loud

Now I may have wisdom and knowledge on Earth
But if I speak wrong then what is it worth?
See what we now know is nothing compared

To the love that was shown when our lives were spared
~Tell Him by Lauryn Hill~

You see, last Thursday my cousin Cho Azalea organised a Quran Tafseer session with some of her close friends. Ustaz Dato' Zawawi Yusof was invited to lead the session. The session discussed the basic understanding behind Al-Fatihah, the chapter which Muslims recite the most in their daily lives. We delved into the meaning of Surah Al-Fatihah which is also known as Ummul Kitab, the Mother of the Book. The learned ustaz taught us that to put it simplistically, all the chapters in the Quran are actually interpretations and elaborations of the message God has condensed in surah Al-Fatihah. So basically, the surah is a summary of the whole Qur'an. The master index. It was a wonderful session that led to lots of questions from the attendees and I felt that the learned Ustaz answered every question with wisdom and knowledge, making sure everyone understood his points.

The session struck me with one simple yet inescapable truth:

there are so many things for all of us to learn.

I'm sure everyone knows this, but we need to have constant reminders right? I was thankful to be reminded of this again on Thursday. I'll attempt to share what the Ustaz has shared with us, or at least what I understood from his lovely reminders.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Thor: The Tragedy & Fantasy

Thor is amazing. The movie, I mean. But the other Thor is amazing too. I went to see Thor last Friday, 29th April 2011 after work. I must admit that I haven't read the comic book. (Sue me!) Of course I saw one of it which belongs to my husband AKA who is an avid comic reader/collector (Read : Comic addict/obsessed with all sorts of comics) at home.

I enjoyed the movie very much. It was entertaining, funny, touching and I love the story line. The visuals are also very artistic and its AMAZING. Thor was played by Chris Hemsworth very well: he was cute and funny and serious and cocky and arrogant and pleasing to the eyes (hehe) and noble all in the same movie that you were surprised he was the same person and Loki played by Tom Hiddleston was just excellent because he made me hate him so much. These two relatively unknowns (before I saw the movie) were two excellent actors who really shone in the movie. They played their characters well and they were so good that sometimes they didn't even need words to portray their characters' feelings and actions.

I am the type that can appreciate and like different genre of movies for different reasons, unlike my husband who finds it so hard to like movies except his faves. But these types of movies he will definitely like. So even though I haven't read the comic, I can still enjoy the movie. The movie is science fiction + fantasy (for the first part I think it's a bit like Lord of the Rings), so if its not something you enjoy then it's probably not the movie for you. Then the second part is mostly about Thor's journey to experience earth which was very funny and hilarious but not cheesily and overly done.

According to my husband, Thor & the Asgardians are originally characters adapted from Norse deities, but in the movie they have changed that to aliens from another realm so as not to offend other people. They even made sure to include certain references to point out that fact. The whole realm of Asgard looks awesome, "a place where science and magic are one and the same". Btw: if anyone wants to read the Thor comic, my husband recommends Thor: The mighty avenger to start. It's light and funny and good for beginners. He bought for me, but I haven't read it. hehe.

What I like about the movie is that most of the characters in the movie are surrounded by tragedy and even though it is a science fantasy movie with lots of CGI effects, the characters you can still relate to. The pain of the father who is forced to act to discipline his son, the arrogant and rude son who learns humility and also Loki, the character who really exists among us. I used to be a defender of people and I would always accept their flaws. But life has painfully taught me that these people do exist. Manipulators and schemers which remind me of Lauryn Hill's song which I've shared in one of my old posts a few years ago:

It took me a little while to discover
Wolves in sheep coats who pretend to be lovers
Men who lack conscience will even
lie to themselves, to themselves
A friend once said, and I found to be true
That everyday people, they lie to God too
So what makes you think, that they won't lie to you"

Mimie ties the knot

So yesterday another of my close school friends have tied the knot. Congratulations Mimie & Didi!! <3
Mimie is one of the SB (cannot tell you what it stands for) gang, one of the girls in my group where we always used to meet during recess each and every single day since Form 1 to Form 5, from 13 to 17 years old. That is how we remained close throughout the years even though we were not all in the same class. We didn’t eat at the canteen tables, we preferred to eat at the stairs because we could sit closer to each other. That’s how we got the nickname gadis-gadis tangga (stairwell girls).

Mimie’s wedding was beautiful and one of the most intimate and personal weddings I’ve attended. At the reception area, guests were asked to take photos with some props, and write notes & messages to the bride and groom and hang it on a ‘wishing tree’.

The event started off with a few of her relatives performing a surprise glee-style wedding dance and almost had the guests dancing because the music was so upbeat. I couldn’t take proper pictures because they were dancing so fast. Then some boys from St John’s band performed before the bride and groom walked down the isle. Mimie looked so beautiful and her wedding dress fitted her gorgeously.