Valentine’s Day Outing!! It was so kewl!!

So yeah, I sounded like a teenager squealing in delight after a night out at a concert, but I disgress.

Today has been really fun indeed. 10.10am I woke up and messaged Naoko to inform her to call me when she is about to leave her house to come to pick me up. She had messaged me the previous night saying that she’ll pick me around 11am… but it turns out she got me rushing through my shower under five minutes and a quick gulp of Milo as she called back to inform me she’ll be arriving in a mere 10 to 15 mnutes. Never had I got dressed and ready to go that quick… well, never since high school and dear old mom feels she had to help me out since I was pressed for time. The shirt, pants and T-shirt was picked out by her… (yes, Naoko you may start laughing now…).

Dear Naoko arrives around 10.35 to 10.40ish and we set off on a big, big circle just to get to Kelana Jaya LRT station to pick up a friend (Edrei of kamigoroshi.net) and this cool guy she had met through the Internet a mere two days ago. This guy’s an American and he works in Cambodia to help teach the people there English and the Internet. He also helps guide the Cambodion cartoonists there, since he himself is a cartoonist too and he could speak Indonesian and Cambodian which I thought was awesome. This guy had got in touch with Naoko’s friend, Tia (Educatedeviate.wordpress.com) and had suggested to meet up some Malaysian bloggers to know more about us, basically. Partly the reason why this outing turned into a cultural exchange meet between Malaysian WordPress bloggers and with a sweet American guy who is so passionate about helping the Cambodians pick up the pieces of their lives after decades of war and bloodshed. Really, really admirable and I do salute him!

After an hour’s wait, we finally met the guy, Jinja (his Internet name, btw, which is a Cambodian word for small lizard) and we proceeded to go to I Utama where we are supposed to meet up with Tia as well, who was already waiting for us at MPH. Once there, the first thing that Jinja did was buy Lat comic books. He loves Lat and was so happy and excited to get the comics by Lat, Malaysia’s pioneer in the cartoon industry. Jinja said that what he loved about Lat was his unique style and the simple way that he gets his message across, which is true and I believed that it made it easier for Lat to tell stories through his cartoons since it relates to his own childhood and personal experience. Kampong Boy is perhaps one of my most memorable cartoon books ever. I also liked Lat’s works on Dr Mahathir and Samy Vellu, which were always hilarious to me even though I was just a boy then. Listening to Jinja talk about Lat stirred up some fond memories of me sharing the comic book with my friends and the times we would huddle together to read and laugh over the simple cartoons that still retains its unique quality.

It was then lunch time and we all adjourned to 1 Utama’s food court where four of us had Japanese lunches and the other had Hainanese Chicken Rice! As we whet our appetite, Jinja showed us photo slides of his work with the Cambodian people and shared stories about the cool things we never knew about till now. We gained quite a unique insight into the lives of the Cambodians and how they struggle to make ends meets and yet get to do what they like through the Internet. Jinja even told us about a Cambodian keyboard that was developed specially for the Cambodians to have access to the Internet, to make easier for them to use. Plus, there’s also the underground comics scene in Cambodia, where these people have their own unique and interesting style very unlike the too popular Japanese manga style. Jinja feels worried by a lot of young people who are into comics copying the manga style, though it’s not wrong to learn from the manga style but feels that each cartoonists should at least retain their sense of originality, style and identity. I agree with him of course, because I wouldn’t want to buy a localised version of manga since the Japanese had already perfected the art of manga. I do really encourage cartoonist locally to be original in their design, in their characterisation and in their stories, something that would create an excitement for us and something that is totally new and not seen before.

The next thing we did after we were done with lunch was Jinja captured each of us Malaysian bloggers on video as we shared/promote our blog and why we name our blogs the way it was named. Me? I see myself as a wanderer, something like a drifter who travels from place to place in search of fulfillment and enlightenment. You can never learn much about life but sticking to one place… one must always expand their horizons and see beyond the boundaries that they confined themselves in. While I have yet to do much wandering, I indeed harbour a deep desire to travel the world and maybe do something like what Jinja is doing today. There are so many countries out there that needs more people like us instead of stupid people plotting to bomb and invade others while they can’t even protect their own citizens from raging hurricanes (yes, I am talking about the current residents of the White House).

Sadly, it was time for Jinja, who also gave us each a traditional Indonesian designed scarf to take home as a souvenir, to depart as he had another appointment at Sunway Pyramid. It was interesting to note that one of the first things he talked about was his fears about us Malaysians being confused about our cultural identity. He pointed out that he was kind of flabbergasted to see a sphinx right smack in the middle of an urban population. “This is not Egypt!” he cried. And I must agree with him, despite the fact that Sunway Pyramid is inspired by Las Vegas in the US. Reflecting on this now, I realised how much we depend on Western influences to market ourselves as a tourist destination. It’s sad that we didn’t do much to highlight the beauty of our natural environment and other attractions that are simply homegrown (which is what they are doing now by marketing the batik and songket). Hopefully, with more people like Jinja, the world will come to recognise Malaysia as something more than just the Twin Towers and really good food.

Once we bid him goodbye as he boarded the taxi, the four of us became a trio when Tia had to leave since she had to go for another appointment. So it was me, Pat and Edrei who sat down to watch a really great, rollicking good fun of a movie called Keeping Mum. Unbeknownst to them, it was already MY second time watching it and I must say, it was well worth a second watch! It is simply dark, British comedy at its best with the stars delivering excellent performances, especially Rowan Atkinson and Maggie Smith. I shall reserve all further say about this movie till another time…

After the movie it was to the arcade where Edrei blasted enemy troops on the Time Crisis game machines and Naoko was dancing her hands out (!) on the Para-para game machine. Me? Well, not being an avid arcade gamer and one who likes to spend his money on something else than games, i just stood by and enjoyed watching them and others play. Btw, I simply had to mention that there were a couple of really cute-looking guys and girls at the arcade, which is surprising since this is still a normal day. But it seems that on this special day, there are just more couples out in full force than usual! ^_^

A game of bowling was next, each of us played dreadfully, I am sad to say, though Edrei managed a strike and I managed a spare while Naoko…. well, let’s not go there shall we? Let’s just say that all three of our totals barely reached past the 160 points mark. What to do? We are not frequent bowlers you know… (yeah, that’s the most oft-used excuse).

From bowling it was raiding the bookstore next. Yep, back to MPH where I was looking to spend my RM20 voucher that I got from my friend. Unfortunately, the manga that I wanted – Negima No. 1 – was not available anymore, except the browsing copy which already had a page torn/missing. So, I ended up empty handed. Naoko and Edrei was looking for a book present to give to Ed’s friend but unfortunately, the book was a little pricey… Why do books always have to be so pricey?? -_-

Now, dinner was a laugh indeed. Ed wanted pork and all of us were cracking our heads to think of which restaurant is non-halal and when you are in a shopping mall, rarely do you find a restaurant that is non-halal. Kim Gary’s Restaurant was shot down because Naoko was not interested about it and poor Ed said fine. He was so into going to Kim Gary’s, lol! Well, so was I really but anyways, we decided to head out to The Curve and just walk around and see what’s good to eat.

And walk around we did! For about 30 minutes we actually walked in circles, went up and down and still undecided about where to eat. We were taking affordability and taste into consideration here and The Curve does have a lot of restaurants that are a little tad too pricey. When we finally agreed on something, which was Manhattan Fish Market, the moment we arrived we were told that the Fish Market was only opened specially to couples (or groups like us trio) who ordered their Valentine’s Day special menu… which was not really worth it at the price of RM50.00. And it was back to one of the places that we considered earlier before coming to Manhattan Fish Market – Vivo’s Italian Restaurant. All said and done, it was quite a good dinner and at RM51.03, it was money well-spent with all three stomachs filled to their contentment.

Soon, we finally made our way home after an entire day out. It has really been an interesting day. I left on a sad note as I found out that Edrei would be leaving for Australia for a few years as this was the only the 2nd time had got to meet him and I really like him very much. Oh well, there’s always his blog. And I must say, Naoko, thanks very much for being the chauffeur of the day too! We really appreciate it very much and hopefully, that even with our tight schedules once we started work, we would still be able to find time to get together like today as well.

Pixtures (mostly of the food we had consumed today) will be up tomorrow after I return from picking up my cheques from the publishing company I worked for.

Cheerio and hope all of you had a great time on this Valentine’s Day 2006!

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  1. I’m sorry for making you run. XDXD

  2. You went through one whole long post and all you had to show for it was an apology?? *bumps Naoko-chan on the head*
    Aiyo… don’t apologise-lah, it was fun running around, that way, i work up an appetite for the sumptuous meal ahead, which I knew would eventually be at Vivo’s even before we headed for Manhattan Fish Market! LOL…




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