Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Da Vinci Code

Alas....the movie that is based on one of the most highly controversial novels made its debut on Friday. And of course, we just HAD to see it (after all the hoo haas and yakety yaks laaa of course. Wouldn't you??). Had to catch it on its debut nite as well (of course). To tell you the truth, I have not read this highly controversial novel written by Dan Brown yet (I have read a couple of his other novels, but not yet this one), therefore I had no pre-judgmental views or anticipations about the movie at all. Well, June has read the book quite sometime back (she borrowed it from Cikgu) and even Darling also has read it in his English Literature class. So, I was the only one "blur and Duh!!". Nevermind, I think it is better that way. Have an open mind about it. But hey, to tell you the truth, if you have not read Da Vinci Code book (or even Angels and Demons...Da Vinci Code is Part Two of this trilogy), dontcha worry about it as you will still be able to follow its storyline. Hehe.

The Da Vinci Code is a combination of thriller, crime/detective, mystery, religion (Christianity), and conspiracy fiction genres. It was published in March 2003 and I think the controversies have helped the book to achieve more than 60million copies sold world wide. See some controversies may not be all that bad huh? I just like Leonardo Da Vinci's paintings of Mona Lisa and The Last Supper (heh!). Darling loves Da Vinci's painting works and when we were in London the last time in 2002, I got him a very nice book of Da Vinci's paintings (tak mampu nak beli reprints of Da Vinci's paintings pun you!!! Mahal bedo'oh wei!! So beli aje la buku dia...sob sob..) But Darling was already happy with the book. And June got a book on Monet's works. Very nice. And what did I get for myself? Sacrifice :)

I read somewhere that Dan Brown said he got the idea to write Da Vinci Code when he first learned of the mysteries hidden in Da Vinci's paintings while he was studying art history at the University of Seville in Spain. And years later, while he was researching for his novel Angels and Demons and the Vatican Secret Achives, he encountered the Da Vinci enigma again. He then arranged for a trip to the Louvre Museum where he was fortunate enough to view the originals of some of Da Vinci's most famous works as well as discuss about them with an art historian who had helped him to understand better the mystery behind the paintings' surprising anomalies. And he had spent a year doing research before writing The Da Vinci Code novel.

As you already know, the story is about Jesus, was he really married to Mary Magdalene and fathered a child who then intermarried the "Sang Real" (the royals of France), the legend on Holy Grail and the role of Mary Magdalene in the history of Christianity and the mysteries behind Da Vinci's Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. The main cast, Tom Hanks (Prof Robert Langdon, a religious symbologist from Harvard), although he played the character well (I have always liked Tom Hanks) but perhaps Harrison Ford could have carried it off better (Do you think so??). Ahaaa...Sir Ian McKellan (one of my most favorite characters in LOTR...GANDALF yessss!!) played Sir Leigh Teabing. He was so articulate with the character that at times I really think that he stole the show away. He has some of the best one liners as well. Very well done. And of course, the beautiful and "princess-like" Sophie Neveu (also known as Princess Sophie) is someone I'm not familiar with....Francois....beautiful Audrey Tautou played Sophie, the cryptologist. I think she was "OK" although she has too skinny pair of legs. I really like her deep French accent though. Nice and very sexy. At first I did not like the character Capt Bezu Fache (played by Jean Reno), but as it turned out, he was OK because he had helped Langdon. And another very good actor...Paul Bettany who had played the infamous menacing single-minded Silas. Gruesome :(

It doesn't matter if you are a big fan of Dan Brown or a big fan of The Da Vinci Code, or a fan of Leonardo Da Vinci paintings or simply a movie buff for entertainment sake, if you haven't seen this movie, go catch it. For someone who has not read the novel, I had enjoyed it. To me it was another brilliant work by Ron Howard. And I bet it will surpass revenues from MI3 (they should start looking for a new Eton Hunt as I think Cruise is no longer "HIP" and he was never an MI material anyway....my 5cents' worth....he is always TOO SHORT for any character! Period!).

Next on the dish is X-Men (SEXY and HOTTIE Hugh Jackman...dontcha wish wish wish *errr nevermind...hahaha*) and Pirates of the Carribean (Ahhhh......Depp and Legolas Bloom...Fuyoo). Any takers?? I think during my long semester break, I'm hanging out at the cineplexes....muahahahaha! All the Summer releases are not to be missed. Surely!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Aisayman...I Say Man....Aisehman....!!!

Has anyone been to our LCCT in Sepang yet? Care to share your views on it..or better your experiences?

I had to go to LCCT recently to see a friend off
and man oh man...it was my first time to LCCT eversince its opening on March 26. I thought that the LCCT (which means Low Cost Carrier Terminal) that is hubbed by our second national air carrier, Air Asia, was somewhere nextdoor to the KLIA (if not the very nextdoor...well, at least I thought a few doors away...I mean, who would imagine that the Air Asia Terminal would be further than a couple of doors away when its international flights still depart from the main KLIA right?). I told some friends..."Alaaaa...sure nextdoor punya..tak jauh la....at the very most naik shuttle or walkalator". Man oh man..was I in total shock!

At first I went to the KLIA (main) to see this friend off. Then I realised that the LCCT ain't there. I made some intelligent inquiries (now that was not too difficult to do since the girl who entertained me asked me with a straight face, "Are you driving maaam?". With a more straight face, I answered calmly, "Yeaaaaaaaa.....:)". Now that wasn't too difficult I thought to myself. Voila!! She gave me a MAP!! Yippeee...a map!! Now how am I going to read a map while driving in the dark?? Well, it was at night in case you are wondering.

Then with confidence I drove off from the KLIA to search for the exit to take me to LCCT. Yup, it was further than I had imagined. Further than the SIC, further than MAS Cargo, further than the junction that would take you to Sepang and some other towns that sound so alien to me...further than whatever that I had thought of. I was driving for like 40minutes already and still no sign of LCCT. I would imagine to see plenty of high masts nearing the Terminal....but NADA. I saw many warehouses.....office complexes.....more warehouses.....storages....but hey, no LCCT. I was getting worried and wondered if I had taken the wrong turn or whatever (not being able to read the map in the dark and driving ALONE somemore...wish I had a co-driver then). I decided to do what every smart person would do. Yup....looking like a damsel in distress, I made two pitstops to ask the security guards for direction. Already I was so late :(

I finally arrived at the so called FIRST EVER LCCT IN ASIA! Yeeeaaaah rrrriggght! To tell you the truth, I didn't even realise that I was already THERE!! Hahahaha!! And I said to myself..."Huh? Is this ALL??? ALL??". Okay time to look for a spot quickly. And then I saw this red proton's headlights were lighted up and so I thought to myself "Ahhh..someone's getting out of a spot." I waited so patiently for 3 minutes.....(already I was so so late)...then another 1 more minute...and one more. I said to myself, "Dang!! Are you getting out of that spot or not?" Don't you ever wish that you could smack people who do that to you? How many times have you ever waited so patiently for a car to get out of a spot and the more patient you seemed to be, the more the delay the person is causing you. Macam nak test your patience to the max la macam tu. Of course, the better of me won. Why? Because this is MALAYSIA!! And everything happens in Malaysia and amongst Malaysians. I rest my case. I drove on further away to find for another spot. And I found one. But it was quite far away from the main entrance. When you are late and desperate, how you wish you could just drive straight into the main lobby aye?

I rushed inside the spic and span LCCT. My first impression of it? Well...it is just like the Greyhound Terminal in the States. Just like Air Asia's signature...no frills...no thrills....no extras....no toppings....no garnishings.....no side orders....no kick-ass *wink wink you know what I mean?*. Everything was so clean....sweepers were everywhere to ensure cleanliness. The eateries were bursting to its seams with people waiting in line to get a decent meal (I hear that the meals there can cost you a whopping price..considering that it's a NO BUDGET...errr...I mean LOW BUDGET hehehehe Terminal). I was wondering to myself.."where do all these people come from? They can't be travelling on business as they would take MAS which is the more fancy and artsy carrier....not Air Asia". Then I saw families, kids, the elders....everyone you can see them all. Well, it is very good that Air Asia with its no frills service offer absolutely low budget fares so that now everybody CAN travel. And who wouldn't want to travel on a low budget aye? I would. It is very heartening to see that almost anyone can travel by air in a considerably confortable, convenient and fashionable way now. Now this is what we call...MALAYSIA...Malaysia BOLEH punya pasal. Ahaks!

I was desperately looking for my friend and fearing at the same time that I might not be able to catch hold of this friend before boarding. I looked at the "very low budget" electronic board listing all the departures and arrivals that were hanging off from the ceiling...just the boards you know..not even fancy casings or some fancy backdrop to hold the boards....macam ala bus stations laa....I think the train stations have fancier electronic boards. Anyway, there I saw oh the flight has been retimed. Phew! Then I told myself, "Well.....that is Air Asia..they are very fond of retiming.....they simply LURVE to retime.....macam naik bas....tak payah ikut jadual masa kan...janji bus penuh jalan!".

Did I ever tell you that June went to Jakarta sometime in March or was it in February with some friends. I was supposed to pick them up from KLIA around 9-ish pm. But I got an SMS from Jakarta informing them that Air Asia's flight from KL was delayed and therefore the turnaround would also be delayed. At first they said retimed by an hour.....later retimed again by half hour...then retimed again..and again......finally SMS'es from Jakarta said that the flight was developing some technical problems and would definitely have a much longer retiming. They had enough of waiting at Suharto's Airport (they were sent there by the travel agent as early as 4pm to catch the 7pm flight...because in Jakarta the "machet" is worse than KL's) that they must have "tawaf-ed" the entire airport a million times, they ate and ate until they couldn't eat no more, they smoked and smoked until they couldn't smoke no more...they joked and joked until they couldn't joke no more, they wish they could play some ball bangings on the walls..or yoyo....or foosballs...or gin rummy sigh. I cerita pun letih. When I heard word that the Air Asia plane was developing some technical problems, I was frantic and started to pace up and down. Then I decided to perform solat hajat to pray for all their safety on board. Finally one SMS came in and said that they were boarding already. I drove alone to KLIA to pick them up at the wee hours of the morning. Alhamdullillah they touched down at KLIA safely. They all looked like they needed to hibernate at least a couple of days to release all the tension and stress. By the time we got into Subang Jaya to drop off some guys and then came home to Shah Alam safe and sound, it was already 5-ish in the morning. That was one experience on Air Asia we hope not to go through again.

Anyway, back to my story here...hehehehe...a mighty LONG DIVERSION I did aye? So I thought...."Alah Air Asia second name is RETIME...so I shouldn't have gotten so worked up earlier thinking that I was so late. Buat letih aje getting so worked up for nothing". Then I saw my friend!! Yippeee.....Little did I know that Air Asia (maybe due to its low budget), closes its counters like 50mins or exactly 45minutes before departures...nanti kena bayar OT pulak kan?? Hahaha. And if you are so so unlucky to be turned away at the counter because you were late for check-ins, then you have to go to a special counter and behold! Baggages kena bawak sendiri okay...because they also close the cargo early. So tell me...what do you do if you were bringing with you some huge samsonite lugagges or one of those mighty classy looking Louis Vuitton luggages and they can't fit into the overhead compartments? Are you saying that you would have to leave them behind? Or no worries, we will send you your luggages on the next flight? *the Air Asia girls will tell you*. The moral of the story here is that when you travel cheap....on a very low budget...low cost carrier, better bring just a backpack..trust me on this one I know. Now we know why Air Asia only allows you to bring 15kgs of baggages into the cargo and 5kgs onboard. Tricky! Anyway, since that flight was retimed, how come they didn't retime their closing for the check-ins huh? Weird. But hey...this is MALAYSIA!!! Muahahahaha.....Malaysia BOLEH aja! That is why everything amuses me there.

Oh by the way, if your flight get retimed and retimed and at the end you may end up waiting for like 3-4 hours in LCCT, be sure to know that they don't have lounges chairs, nor soft sofas, nor comfy cushioned chairs with beautiful postured backs for you to "melepak" or bum around okay. They all look pretty much plastic to me. Remember that that is LCCT...everything is LOW BUDGET. So bring your own cushions. Oh better don't leave your laptops behind if you are a die-hard internet user...or your MP3 (like me heh).

My friends and I travel on Air Asia many times and we had not much problems with the carrier. I find that the aircrafts are very nice with black leather seats or leather wannabe/look-alike whatever (considering that it is a budget carrier, I don't think that those were real leathers were they?). Although we cannot compare their service to other airlines because theirs is a no-frills kind of thing, I guess many of us would not mind cutting corners on our travel fares just so that we could spend more on other things especially when we are on travels and vacations.

So yes...I'm a budget traveller as I think why pay more when you can reach your destination just the same. The way home was a lot easier because I was no longer groping in the dark. But a thought did cross my mind...what if your flight get into town on the last one, and you would have to brave yourself driving some long lonely roads with little lightings and dark corners everywhere and what if your car breaks down....you're fried baby yeah!! Okay that is just my imagination. Ignore it.

LCCT...it didn't leave me with much impression. I think it looks more like a humongous warehouse but extremely brightly-lit. That's it. I figured even if they wanted to keep it low budget and low cost and all...hence, the name LCCT, they should at least think of future expansions and needs and requirements. With all the globalization and glocalization factors to be considered, after all Air Asia ISN'T REALLY going to remain AIR ASIA to the end of time ain't it, I think that the LCCT could deliver more than just a Budget Terminal (BT). No wonder some of the people call LCCT not Low Cost Carrier Terminal, but Low Class Commuters Terminal. Aisayman.......why laaa...what happen to our Malaysia BOLEH?? Amusing....amusing....amusing.....ROTFL