Mar 27, 2013

0 St. Anne's Feast 2012 - Bukit Mertajam

On top of the hill where the old chapel was

St. Anne's Feast Day is celebrated on 26 July annually. It is months away but I feel a halo on my head and walk on air as I think about making another trip down with my besties - that's how much I look forward to it. There is a sense of peace I cannot explain.

The celebration runs for ten days in the Church of St. Anne, Bukit Mertajam.

Thousands of pilgrims flock to the church during this period, some praying for divine intervention for the ill, some to give thanks, some for the Holy Water to repel evil ....whatever it is, they were all there in worship of the Lord. I was no different.

Here are some photos I took of this beautiful place and I hope it is enough to convey the lovely experience I had.

We arrived early evening. The crowd was already there. The road leading to the church was lined with rows of tented stalls, much like how a night market would be. We had debated on whether we should bring our own candles but realised we didn't have to because it was being sold everywhere and not at extreme prices.

A festive atmosphere outside the church

Lots of candles being sold.

Here we are at the church grounds (Photo below). It was..I am lost for words was magnificent. The church was already full when we arrived. Service commenced with the use of loudspeakers so that those outside could hear the sermon as well.

Church of St. Anne, Bukit Mertajam

On my walkabout, I saw various sculptures around the grounds. There was a fountain around in the middle of St. Anne Square. Then, there were these "Statues of Passion" located in many places, each depicting a Station of the Cross. I understand that it cost them RM600k to build and erect these.

St. Anne Square

Stations of the Cross : Station 2 (I am made to carry my cross)

Stations of the Cross : Station 13 (I am taken down from the cross)

I came across a souvenir shop. No guesses how crowded it was in there! And in humid weather, all smell also ada-lah (All kinds of smell wafting in there).

The congested souvenir shop

The below used to be the old church. It is now known as St. Anne's shrine. There was a long queue of people going in there, some holding the modest short candle, others holding a thin long one tied to a wooden pole.
St. Anne's Shrine

Next to the shrine were rows of taps where people could fill their bottles with Holy Water. At the encouragement of my bestie, I climbed the hill which was located just beside. It did look intimidating at first but she said, "Don't look ahead to see how far you have to go. We'll take it one step at a time."

I'm glad I did. Along the walk up, there was a reminder of the Ten Commandments carved on stone. The path was lined with crosses, representing the Way of the Cross.

At the very top, you'll find a model of Jesus on the cross and the grotto of Mother Mary. I also understand that this was where the first chapel was built but there is now nothing more than a slab of rock left behind. There was nothing to indicate how it could have even looked like.

Having said our prayers, we huffed and puffed down the stairs - for a moment, I wished we were Jack and Jill tumbling down the hill. She would have laughed if I told her but I didn't want to break her moment of solemnity.

We left after that and headed back to Penang island for dinner. That's another adventure I'll never forget. 

Holy Water

Mar 22, 2013

2 The Golden Sun

When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator 
~ Mahatma Gandhi 

The Golden Sunset

I've been watching the sky a lot lately...usually aiming for the sunset because that's when nature begins painting her next masterpiece. The colour she uses changes every day, sometimes gold, sometimes red, sometimes orange.

There were afternoons when the sun shone so mightily lighting up the big blue expanse before me. These are days when I find it hard not to go outside for a peek although I know I would fry under such high levels of humidity.

One night, as I was walking by a mirror, I was horrified to see a blot of red on my right eye. It looked like it was bleeding out but I felt no discomfort. It was too late to see a Doctor so I used eye drops and waited until morning.

By morning however, the blot has spread out to look like I had just had a bad night. It cleared by evening and I've realised that it could be due to sun exposure.

So, I told myself to stop all this. It is said that too much of a good thing can be detrimental - balance is key.

Anyway, it was all too hard to resist so I was back outside watching the sun again but this time, a little more careful not to look directly at it and not for too long. I also took precaution by using eye drops first if the sun is too bright. So far, so good...the price of beauty.

Golden hues

Zooming in a little

Ooh gorgeous...zooming in a little more

There she goes - the golden sun has set

Photos taken on 19 March 2013 between 6.49PM to 7.03PM on Samsung PL170.

Mar 18, 2013

0 I want everything and everyone silenced!

The world is not meant to be silenced by selfish man.

It was meant to carry the cries of a baby, whoops of laughter, the meows of a cat or bark of a puppy. It was meant to carry the pop-pop-snap of firecrackers during festive season, the chimes of church bells on Sunday mornings, the crackling of prawn crackers expanding in the hot oil of the wok.

It was meant to carry the serene sounds of a running stream, the chirps of birds, the shrill of the wind and booming thunder!

It was meant to carry a mother's commanding voice, "Tidy your room, young lady!", that oof! in pillow fights and who can forget the neighbour who's doing home renovations - the bang! bang! bang! that goes on.

It was meant to carry music! ..

And whilst you know what I'm getting at, let me add this. A glass is meant to carry water but be careful how much and how hot you pour into it because you don't want to make a mess and you don't want to break it.

....The Earth was not meant to carry the sounds of war or screams of torture.

The sound of waves softly hitting the shore

Mar 14, 2013

0 Sunset come full circle

Did anyone watch the sunset three days ago? I thought it was beautiful, a glorious array of red and orange.

Imagine, I almost missed it because it was pouring rain and I assumed the skies would remain hazy grey until nightfall. "Oh well, no sunset today." I thought, with the face of a dissatisfied soul marching into the kitchen for a hot cup of milo.

I was ready to plonk myself in front of the telly when bursts of light streamed through the blinds. "Blimey! Is that....? " I rushed outside excitedly.

There it was! The most gorgeous sunset........with an eyebrow....and it looks cross. Maybe the sun has come out to play, a game of imitation!

"Man down there, guess what I am?"

"Uhmm..angry birds?"

Sunset becomes "angry bird"

The cloud moves away from the sun

How amazing the universe is. Round and round I draw on paper, but never quite getting it right. Me, intelligent man, struggling with a circle but here is one so perfect in the sky.

Beautiful sunset - a perfect circle

Mar 12, 2013

0 Surely there are better ways ...

Wuaaa...surely there are better ways to welcome us!

I'm kidding, of course. We were in Penang last month. It was a beautiful drive until we almost hit a protruding flag that had fallen sideways.

"Where did that come from!" I exclaimed twice as we missed the second one just nearly.

There were more and more flags as we headed towards Gurney Drive. It wasn't very pretty. I love flags but I think whoever was assigned to do the job had little regard for the tidiness of the town...this, being my bone of contention.

Quick now..tie it to the handrail. Doesn't matter if it falls.

That's right, just poke into the ground everywhere.

Slot it in those bamboos trees too.

ONE brilliant idea.

Mar 7, 2013

2 Dangerous Encounters with Brady Barr

I never intended to watch Nat Geo Wild last night but stopped my channel surfing when I realised that "Dangerous Encounters with Brady Barr" was on. It was an episode on Sixgill sharks. Fascinating.

Admittedly, my TV interest lean towards crime dramas and lighthearted comedies. Wildlife documentaries aren't my cup of tea. I only took a liking  again after seeing Dr. Brady Barr in person at an Astro sponsored event. The last time I actually paid any attention to these channels was to catch legendary Steve Irwin: Crocodile Hunter.

Anyway, here I was at Borneo Rainforest restaurant in Sunway Lagoon waiting for Dr. Brady Barr to arrive. I remember the moment clearly. This happened on 20th June 2012. I was this composed person until I saw the familiar face getting out of the van. Then, I lost myself and perhaps my manners. I felt like an unlicensed paparazzi - wanting to snap a ton of photos but keeping my fingers off the button most times out of politeness and realisation that I wasn't a reporter.

It's Dr. Brady Barr! ..snap! snap! oops, behave.

It is easy to write Dr. Brady Barr off as someone too amusing to host a wildlife documentary that's laden with dry details but I beg to differ. Must accountants be stuffy? Is every lawyer dishonest? Do all winged creatures fly? My point, exactly.

Here is someone who is very much himself on air and off, does not hide behind a hero facade and does things out of the box. He may be quirky in his ways but he has showed us that learning is about exploring beyond the limits of our taught mind.

Did I mention that he's always smiling? I was looking for someone a little more stuck-up. That's one misconception cleared and a new fan born - me.

There was a good crowd at the event. The evening started off with a performance by fire breathers. Nice. Then, dreary introductions and ...Dr. Brady Barr was really cute! He tried to give Andrea Fonseka (Miss Malaysia) the jump as she was rounding up the introductions but she was too cool to fall for it.

Up came Dr. Brady Barr, charming and engaging, sharing the highlights and warm moments of his adventures. I accidentally left my camera flash on when I snapped a photo in between his session. That blinded a few people, me included! I hid behind the chair for awhile.

I learned something else that night. Every episode is screened by an independent group of experts before it gets released on Nat Geo Wild. There you go, they don't compromise on quality.

After that, we were invited to eat and join the queue for photos with Dr. Brady Barr. I wonder how TV personalities feel about these photo sessions. I mean, it must be tiring to constantly keep a perfect smile for the camera.

All in, it was a wonderful evening. I went home happy and the excitement stayed for days. Aaah....fond memories.

Open air restaurant
Buffet dinner table setting
(From Left) Dr. Brady Barr sharing his experiences with the crowd, my dinner and a photo souvenir

Mar 3, 2013

0 The Smiling Sky

The evening sun shines bright these days. 5 o'clock has never meant so much to me and though I should be deterred by the blast of humidity, I sit and wait outside my balcony for things to unfold.

The changing sky is so beautiful. I stay, catching the  glorious scene of sun rays bursting through the clouds and watched lines of light shoot across the blue.. ☀

I snapped a photo, shared it on Facebook, singing that "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" song.

Minutes later, a friend pointed out that the clouds were smiling. My heart raced a little. Could it be? I've always wanted to join the ranks of people who could see shapes from cloud formations, the person who snapped that "cool" photo.

And then I saw it.

The sky is smiling!

Happy faces in the sky! From left, a moustached guy with thick eye brows, then a face with closed slit eyes and finally, an old man with a broad smile! A meeting in the Heavens filled with joy and laughter. I felt their warmth.

This photo was taken on 1st March, 5.46PM

I've always wondered what it would be like to read the sky. Perhaps I was too logical in my thoughts before but on this day, my imaginative side was awakened.


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