Wednesday, 24 December 2008

X'mas in Cleveland

Being in Cleveland with Joe's family reminded me so much of my family and how crazy we get when we get together for Chinese New Year - minus the gambling and the red packets that the kids get.

But the booze, good food, good conversations with aunts, uncles and grandmas... I wish I could be back there for this coming Chinese New Year...

Anyways, all these got me thinking about getting this amazing X'mas gift for the fam!!!!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Last show of the semester

This is not one of our best, I have to admit. [So glad it's finally over]

Friday, 28 November 2008

Not forgetting Congo....

U.N. agency says 13,000 fleeing violence in northeastern Congo have crossed into the neighboring country in 48 hours.

closer to home...

Anti-government protestors forced airports in Thailand to close.

Attacks in Mumbai, India

Click here to read the lastest update on the attacks.

Updates from a blackberry in Mumbai.


I have to admit, I was dreading this trip. As much as I like to fly around the world, spending one week in France is not enough for me. Plus, it`s the middle of the semester. I just have too much to do!!!! And I was really looking forward to spending some time with Lauren, and what better way to do that than to do what we do bestÉÉ some good ol`shopping in France, checking out some hot French `monsieurÉÉ ;P

But, the week is coming to an end. As I`m sitting in Oli`s apartment, looking out the window, I thought to myself, Am I missing out on thisÉ Whatever happened to my alone timeÉ some ME timeÉ I know once the plane touch down in Detroit, I`ll start it all over again, catching up on news, start planning IC news stories, getting the information for my UT Ten News story, homework!! Assignments and quizes to do... sigh...

Here`s a recap of my French Thanksgiving Week.

Arrive in Paris at 8 a.m. Met up with my couchsurfing host, Arno, and his friends, Daniel from Melbourne, another Arno, a French and a Korean who does not speak Korean [he`s fluent in French]. I told them the only thing I missed out on from my last trip was going to the Louvre Museum. So, we braved the snow first, then the rain and headed to the Louv. My flight to Nice was at 8 p.m.

My host, Florian came to the airport. He has a small but cozy and really clean apartment.

I woke up at 7 a.m. and left with Florian, he had to leave for work at 8 a.m. and had to show me where the tram stop is. We had a typical French breakfast! with freshly baked baguettes with nutella and croissant.

I walked along the Promenade Des Anglais and the view was amazing. Everything was perfect until this creepy Italian dude came up to me and tried to talk. It was annoying. Anyways, after I lost him, I found some malls and you know I can`t resist it!

I had dinner with Florian at an authentic Nice restaurant and had some typical local dish and a bottle of white wine.

I said goodbye to Florian in the morning as he left for work, and I slept in, till 4 p.m.! It was greeatttt! I packed and headed out to a hostel near the trains station. I found a hostel for 21 euros a night. There were two French girls from Nimes, and a South Korean girl. It was a small but clean room.

I went out to Checkpoint bar and had three pints of beer and watched football! For some reason, being in Europe always makes me homesick...

I took the train to VilleFranche, a town about 15 minutes away... look out for the gorgeous pictures!!! It was a beautiful day too. I wished I could be there forever... and ever...

Then, I took the train to Monaco. Do you know it`s the smallest country after Vatican CityÉÉÉ I was just amazed at the yatchs... one day... one of those will be mine.....

I felt rich just walking around the Monte Carlo Casino. Stores like Prada, Dior, Louis Vutton, Celine, Burberry, at every corner, cars like Lamborghini, Lotus, Ferrari, Porche parked by the streets like they were JUST cars!!! Elegantly dressed, plastic-like middle-aged European women with their oh-so-precious dogs on leashes...

I met up with Oli by the Fountain at Place Massena. Memories from D.C. came flowing back. It was like back in the day. We talked and talked and talked.... and talked... , wishing Jeremiah and Lauren are with us... and he cooked... of course! LOL.... at 4 p.m. we had good pasta and a bottle of wine...

For dinner, we had the amazing Foie Gras, which I had wanted to try forever! Well, since I knew it existed, the texture... it just melts away in your mouth....and the taste... words alone can`t describe them.. you just have to try it!! [just don`t order it at Citrus restaurant in Ipoh]

Then, we had fat duck breast... so good.... with another bottle of wine...

Later that night, we went to Wayne`s bar and met up with Eduardo, Oli`s Brazilian friend. We had a good time. It was ladies` night so with 3 euros, I get unlimited Champagne!!!!

We went to another bar and the three of us ordered the cheapest Vodka [I can still taste it at the back of my throat - ewww] and downed it with O.J.

It`s kinda windy and cloudy outside... do I want to brave the weather and do something with myselfÉ Or do I want to laze around, listen to some good tunes, and read Homage to Catalonia...ÉÉ

ps. É is actually a question mark. Damn Quebecan keyboards!!

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Friday, 21 November 2008

Paris, here I come... again!

So, I'll be taking off to France today. But before that, I have a million things I have to attend to. 

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Monday, 10 November 2008

A shirt in front of the White House states...

Rosa Parks sat in 1955.

Martin Luther King walked in 1963.

Barack Obama ran in 2008

Friday, 7 November 2008

what a shame!

As you may already know, I was at the Obama Rally on Tuesday night. A sense of pride took over me, even if I'm not an American, even though I didn't directly contribute to this historical moment, I'm incredibly proud of people, every single one of you who voted for him, every single one of you who may be afraid of change, embraced this, allow this to take place in our lifetime, a change that would lead the country to a better place.

Everyone is watching this election. When I was in Europe over the summer, 8 out of 10 people I've met, be it the taxi drivers, that random dude at the bus stop, the lady next to me in the train, everyone wants to talk American politics. They were so excited and were pouring out every single bit of information they have, proud to be knowledgeable on the subject. People from Malaysia were bombarding me with questions.

A lot of Americans cannot even fathom the effect this will have on the whole world. The butterfly effect this will have on a global scale cannot be denied. Yes, he is no Messiah, he is no God, he is no prophet, he will need all the help he can get to realize his ideals. But, this is a stepping stone, an extremely significant one indeed.

I came across an article and to be honest, I've wondered this since I was a little girl. Can a non-Malay, non-Muslim be the Prime Minister of Malaysia?

If not, why? Are the Chinese and Indians considered immigrants still? Are we not all "Malaysians?" After all these time, after all the contributions non-Malays have to this country, after all the bull shit that says "we are Malaysians, we live in harmony, unlike any other countries in the world, three different races under one roof, we are like no other nation in the world," blah blah blah...

Here's the article.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told reporters late Wednesday that it was possible Malaysia could have a non-Malay leader, saying "it is up to the people to decide."

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

I can say I witnessed a historic event!

We drove to Chicago from 3 p.m. on Tuesday and got there are at 7:30 p.m. ET, 6:30 p.m. in Chicago. 

We met up with April, a couchsurfer and headed to Grant Park. The crowd were massive and there was a huge line.

We waited and interviewed some people.

People were climbing trees just to get a good view of the screen where CNN is live and to get an idea of the number of people there. It's got to be way more than a million.

A woman in front of me has a portable TV. OBAMA WON!! she screams.

Everyone was hugging each other. 

We interviewed a black woman and she told me a white person hugged her for the first time in her life, they didn't think she was going to harm them or anything like that.

She said it was a good feeling. 

Right before Obama gave his acceptance speech, Signed, Sealed Delivered were playing. People were dancing, singing, and yelling.

It was an awesome moment.

As he gave his speech, people were teary-eyed, some grinned, some just listened intently.

After that, people headed out. It felt like New Years Eve at the Time Square in New York City. 

Drivers were honking and people yelled "YEAHHH OBAMA"

It was 1:30 a.m. in Chicago. We drove home to Toledo.

We were back at the IC office at 6:15 a.m. and started working on the story.

Look out for our kick-ass story, pictures and videos!!!!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Muslims Ban Lesbians In Malaysia

11:54am UK, Friday October 24, 2008
Lesbianism has been banned under an edict issued by clerics in Malaysia who ruled that "tomboy" behaviour was against Islam.

The clerics believe lesbian behaviour goes against their religion
The National Fatwa Council also forbade the practice of girls behaving or dressing like boys.
Abdul Shukor Husin, chairman of the council, said many young women admire the way men dress and behave - and branded it a denial of their femininity and a violation of human nature.
He said: "It is unacceptable to see women who love the male lifestyle including dressing in the clothes men wear.
"It becomes clearer when they start to have sex with someone of the same gender, that is woman and woman.
"In view of this, the National Fatwa Council have decided and taken the stand that such acts are forbidden and banned."
They must respect God. God created them as boys, they must behave like boys. God created them as girls, they must act like girls.Harussani Idris Zakaria, member of Malaysia's National Fatwa Council
Under the edict, girls are forbidden to sport short hair and dress, walk and act like boys.
Male homosexuality - specifically sodomy - is illegal in Malaysia and punishable with up to 20 years in jail.
Accusations of sodomy have twice been levelled against the opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in what he says are politically motivated attempts to destroy him.
But lawyers say there is no provision banning lesbian sex in Malaysia's civil code.
The latest fatwa appears to be an attempt to push lesbianism towards illegality.
Harussani Idris Zakaria, the mufti of northern Perak state, said the council's ruling was not legally binding because it has not been passed into law, but that tomboys should be banned because their actions are "immoral".
He said: "It doesn't matter if it's a law or not. When it's wrong, it's wrong. It is a sin."

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Hitchhiking is the way to go...

An IC Arts & Life writer, Nathan Elias hitchhiked from Pennsylvania to New Jersey with the bare minimum, and survived. Hitchhiking is definitely I'll have to consider long and hard before doing. Elias did a good job at painting the picture of what it's like... forget the horror movies....

I love the way he ended the article.

Click on the quote to read more about his journey.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Death penalty over Mary Jane

Death Penalty: Malaysia to Hang Three for Marijuana Trafficking, Executions Continue in Middle East
from Drug War Chronicle, Issue #555, 10/10/08
Twice in the past two weeks, courts in Malaysia have condemned people to death for marijuana trafficking offenses. Meanwhile, both Iran and Yemen have executed drug offenders in the past three weeks. Except where otherwise linked, information in this article comes from the global anti-death penalty group Hands Off Cain.
In Malaysia, the High Court Wednesday handed down death sentences to two men, Kairil Anuar Abdul Rahman, 34, and Afendi Adam, 28, for trafficking a little under two pounds of pot six years ago. The pair, a restaurant worker and a painter, respectively, were arrested in March 2002 for selling 971 grams of marijuana. Judicial Commissioner Ridwan Ibrahim said the court had no choice but to impose the death sentences after the men were found guilty. Attorneys for the pair are expected to appeal both the convictions and the sentences.
Two weeks earlier, the Shah Alam Higher Court imposed the death sentence on an Indonesian immigrant, Junaidi Nurdin, 32, for selling 979 grams of pot. Junaidi was arrested in April 2004 after he sold the stuff to an undercover policeman at a restaurant in Shah Alam. He, too, is expected to appeal.
Meanwhile, the execution of drug offenders continued apace in the Middle East. In Yemen, convicted Pakistani drug trafficker Birkhan Afridibar Hussein, 50, was executed at the Central Prison in Sanaa on September 17 after his death sentence was approved by the president of the republic. And in Iran, a man known only as Taher H. was hanged Tuesday in the northern city of Hamedan. Taher H. had been imprisoned on drug charges there, but escaped, only to be caught again with 530 pounds of heroin.
The executions of nonviolent drug offenders, almost exclusively in Southeast Asia and the Middle East has added momentum to calls for a global moratorium on the death penalty and particularly against using the death penalty for drug offenses.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Click on the link to check out my videos from the University of Toledo!

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

I'll never forget...

Summer is coming to an end. Everyone I know is excited for the new school year to begin. I was too, until Saturday.

I got an e-mail from my mum, letting me know that one of the dearest person to me, passed away.

How kind of her. AN E-MAIL???? REALLY? I think my family can do better than that.

My grandmother's sister was in her 90s. Even though she was not in the best condition, health wise, she still tells me stories and jokes about everything you can imagine, every time I see her.

I can honestly say I've never met anyone in my life who gets so excited and sincerely happy to see me, every single time.

She saw me grew up and taught me almost everything I know, about life. Whenever I'm back in Malaysia, I know she's the one person I can see, knowing that she wouldn't judge, like the rest of my family do, and that she cared, sincerely.

My best girlfriends wouldn't judge, but they know nothing, compared to what she knew, she had after all, lived almost a century, before we even existed.

I've always thought to myself that even though I'm far away from people who mean the most to me, my family and 3 of my best girls, I would fly home, or wherever they are, in a heartbeat... and leave everything behind.

I would always dismiss my grandmothers' worries that if anything happened to them, I wouldn't be back in time.

Now that the time has come, I hesitated.

I hate myself for being so attached. To my work, to school and to the friends I've made in this country.

I wish I would have the guts to just buy the next ticket and fly back. But what good will it do though? I got another e-mail from my mum telling me that she'll be cremated today.

Now that I know it'll be too late for me to go halfway across the world,

I wish I could take at least a week off, just to reflect and try my best to reminisce the times I had with her.

But do I really wanna be of those people who would make this an excuse? I'm not that weak, am I? I know I'm stronger than that. Much stronger.

I anticipated that this will be a crazy semester, I just didn't expect it to start like this.

A co-worker once joked that every time we had new writers/copy editors, they would have to resign because one of their family member would pass away.

I laughed.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Desperate and tainted: Malaysia's leadership crisis

Desperate and tainted: Malaysia's leadership crisis, a well-written article.

"Until the resignation in 2003 of prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, politics were entirely predictable. Now they are becoming highly unpredictable."

"The Government has only itself to blame. The media is closely controlled and widely disbelieved. The vacuum of information and opinion has been filled by two websites - and - which have become highly influential, outspoken and merciless towards the Government."

"Corruption is rife in UMNO, which has become a vehicle for personal enrichment."

"Undoubtedly the system of positive discrimination in favour of Malays has outlived its usefulness, but any reforms will be difficult and potentially fraught. Hopefully the kind of change that Malaysia now requires can, in time, be achieved without losing its most precious achievement. "

--Martin Jacques

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Should we talk about it or should we pretend it's not there?

Malaysia spat erupts over curbing religious debate

"Government leaders insisted that Malaysia was not ready for freewheeling dialogues about religion that could undermine multicultural tolerance and social peace."

"Education Minister Hishammuddin Hussein urged Malaysians 'not to think that openness is an absolute right.'"

"Tony Pua, an opposition member of Parliament, said that if lawyers were 'not allowed to hold open discussions in relation to our constitution and its laws, then it makes a complete mockery of our legal system.'"

"Complete mockery of our legal system"? I've always wondered if our laws are there to protect the people and the country or just to show that Malaysia is not lawless... and there were countless times... I was convinced of the former...

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Malaysian court rejects woman's bid to leave Islam

Makes you think twice about marrying a Muslim (in Malaysia)

Apparently Avril is bad for you... (what B.S.)

Malaysia's hardline Islamists want ban of Avril Lavigne concert

come on Malaysians... we're not seriously gonna let these people say anything as preposterous as this anymore... or worse... let them rule the country... are we? *gasps*

Is someone gonna shut them up or what?

Monday, 4 August 2008

Political Sex Scandals Rock Modest Malaysia

Political Sex Scandals Rock Modest Malaysia

This article written by Thomas Fuller for the NYTimes draws a gloomy picture of the current state of Malaysia, but I think it is the most objective article that describes everything Malaysia is facing right now.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Chapman stands up for journalists!!

So McCain has been complaining that there's a "love affair" going on between the media and Obama. That brought attention to the mass and many had accused journalist for not being objective.

Here's a really good piece written by Steve Chapman.
A media crush on Obama?

"If there are some journalists who are taken with Obama, it's not surprising. One of the unfortunate things about the American press corps is that it is made up of people. Many people in other walks of life have been attracted to Obama, moved to vote for Obama, even enthralled by Obama. So you would expect some people wearing press badges to be susceptible to the same kind of reactions. "

"I'm probably not the only journalist in America who shed tears when Ronald Reagan spoke at Omaha Beach on the 40th anniversary of D-Day. I felt a few chills when New York Gov. Mario Cuomo delivered the keynote address at the 1984 Democratic national convention—which didn't stop me from blasting his message. "

"Is that plausible? Not really. In 2004, journalists voted overwhelmingly for John Kerry over George W. Bush. Kerry got plenty of unflattering news coverage anyway. I'd bet that in 2000, most media people voted for Al Gore, who thought he got a raw deal from the press. "

"But those attributes will grow stale. Obama will make mistakes. His flaws will become more noticeable. Presidential campaigns are like baseball seasons: Today's hero is tomorrow's goat. With 100 days to go, there will be plenty of chances for McCain to shine and Obama to stumble—and the news coverage will shift accordingly. By Election Day, Obama may feel like he's been worked over by the Hells Angels. "

Friday, 25 July 2008

Colombia admits rescuers posed as journalists

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two people who helped rescue 15 hostages from Colombian rebels posed as journalists from a real Venezuela-based television news organization, Colombia's defense minister said Wednesday.

I can't believe the rescuers actually posed as journalist, and now, tells the world. Can you imagine what this will do to journalists' credibility especially in an armed-conflict country/region???

How irresponsible!!!

Jean-Francois Julliard, deputy director of the press advocacy organization Reporters Without Borders, said authorities can endanger journalists when they pose as members of the news media.
"We think it is a dangerous practice because it puts in danger real journalists," he said.

The next time a reporter approaches FARC rebels, he said, the FARC members "will be very suspicious and maybe they will take some physical measures against these journalists because they will think that they are not real journalists."

Thursday, 24 July 2008

"Rice told to stay out of Malaysian affairs"

"Malaysian Foreign Minister Rais Yatim has accused Ms Rice of meddling in Malaysia’s domestic affairs after she urged Malaysia to follow the rule of law in dealing with the sodomy accusation against Anwar."
- Haiti News.NetThursday 24th July, 2008

I can't believe the foreign minister actually said that!? Does he or the government really think they can resolve whatever Malaysia is facing politically? Do they not see what kind of shame they have brought the country with the way they handled the "scandal"??

Click in the except above to read the entire story.

I think Rice is right. What Malaysia needs right now, in fact a long time ago, is transparency in our government!!!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

And again...

"...Barack Obama, a phenomenon of politics not just in America but across the English-speaking world and beyond. Plainly, he is an exceptional candidate, although, like the prophets, he is even more exceptional outside his own land." 

"When it comes to celebrity endorsements in politics, Obama is Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela rolled into one. With a cherry on top."

The quotes below are interesting but not something I would necessarily agree with.

"I think McCain is right about Iraq – that the surge has been a success, and that eventual troop withdrawal should depend on that success continuing. But I think it is more important, for America and the world, that Obama should be the one who learns the truth of this the hard way.

In office, he would be forced to use his eloquence and his global popularity to make the case for what is left of the coalition to see its responsibilities to the Iraqis through. Many of his supporters, especially outside the US, would see it as a betrayal. I think it would be a necessary one, by which he could at last heal the suspicion of American power that provides so many around the world with easy excuses."

These quotes are taken from John Rentoul: Obama, the most dominant force in British politics

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Barack Obama = Rockstar???

"(There is) always the other side to the ambivalence of the world's thoughts about America. The rise of Senator Obama is a reminder of what the rest of the world still admires -- sometimes very grudgingly -- about America: a constant capacity to renew itself."

In the article MR. OBAMA VISITS THE WORLD by Richard Reeves, he compares Obama with John F. Kennedy, the Beatles, even POTUS ...

"You have to go back to the Beatles' first U.S. tour to find a trans-Atlantic trip freighted with the same sort of pregnant excitement that attends the one Barack Obama is about to make ...

** Click on the link above. Reeves' article is worth your time!

"It's kind of creepy that the network anchors are tagging along after Barack Obama on his great overseas adventure.

When John McCain went to Iraq after he cinched the GOP nomination, the media was so infatuated with the Democratic primary that little attention was paid to McCain's trip..." 

-quoted from an article by Ann McFeatters

Thursday, 10 July 2008

BAGHDAD — Following the deaths of three Marines in the city of Garma, the Department of Defense (DOD) published a standard killed in action press release.

The release, assigned reference number 545-08, provided the rank, name, age and home of record of the three dead soldiers. The announcement also stated the Marines died June 26 while supporting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq.

Multi National Force Iraq (MNF-I) posted the DOD press release on their official  Web site 24 hours after the Marines were killed.

The DOD press release made no mention of the suicide attacker who walked into a building filled with members of the Awakening Council and U.S.-led coalition forces. The Awakening Council is a pro-American tribal organization that is frequently targeted by al Qaeda in Iraq.

So why wasn't that published, I wonder? Also, embedded photographer and blogger, Zoriah Miller took pictures of the three dead Marines. He claimed that he was told to delete the pictures. He refused - and posted them on the blog at

I left the following comment on his blog. 

Zoriah, you've got my respect and admiration for standing up to people who think they can control people like you (real journalists) to publish only what they want... I think it's really important to tell the world the truth... don't hide the ugly nor the beautiful... show them as it is.. People will appreciate it... and it's really unfortunate that there are so many haters out there... especially those who direct their anger to journalists who are actually just the messenger... To those who don't agree with Zoriah - was it because you don't want to see the ugliness of reality? or are you too afraid to actually be angry towards those who fuel the war?? Fight for what is right.  

ps. without people like Zoriah, those in power have the freedom to do whatever the hell they want - without the world even realizing... can you imagine living in that world????? You've got the responsibility to not see that happen. Yes, every single one of you out there.

This actually reminds me of Kevin Sites and the reaction he got from publishing the Fallujah videos. (Google Kevin Sites Fallujah to get more information)

I remembered it vividly. I was still in high school and those pictures from the video was published by a local newspaper in Malaysia made me realize, for the first time that that war was real. It's not just something happening on the other side of the world that does not affect me. It mattered to me, for the first time.

What these people did, inspired me to strive to be a skilled journalist and be a messenger to the world like Kevin and Zoriah.

Ambitious, I know.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Traveling - a dangerous passion

"Is it possible to feel rich and hollow at the same time?"
-Anthony Bourdain

That was how it was during my 7-week European backpack trip, more often than not.

Other times, I just stressed over the cheapest/most convenient way to get to my next destination.

ps. Oh except for when I was in Berlin. For all the 5 days I was there, all I was thinking was beer - ice-cream - beer - ice-cream - beer - ice-cream - beer - ice-cream - beer - ice-cream

Pretty bizarre, I must say.

Coming back to Toledo, all I have on my mind was work, and plans for my next trip (I know I really shouldn't - but I'm addicted!!)

I spent my Sunday at the office. I went in at  9 a.m. on Sunday morning and left at 6 a.m. on Monday.

I know, crazy.

The fact that my work may affect some people (i.s. putting their words in print, revealing {private} information about certain people) made me feel extra pressured to do my job well, responsibly and put my thinking cap on - no matter what time of the night/morning it is.

I spent all day today napping, watching Anthony Bourdain, Gossip Girl, House and checking my e-mail and Facebook almost every 2 minutes.

But mostly, reading "Ahead of Time" by Ruth Gruber - An American girl who tells her story when she was a foreign correspondent almost right after Hitler rose to power (she was the first reporter to fly over remote outposts to report on the painful efforts, dreams and accomplishments of Soviet scientists and pioneers) She was also the world's youngest Ph.D at the time, at the age 20, from University of Cologne in German and English.

I could relate to some of them things she mentioned. (For example Kolshe (beer) from Cologne introduced by my couchsurfing host,  Julia, who's from Cologne and some historical sites I've visited) --- makes me dream of my future apartment in Berlin!!

The fact that her story opens up a world of journalism, strength and determination of a young girl, Europe (of course!!!) and an era where my 11 years of education in Malaysia had deprived me of, makes me want to live in that world that she was in.

The thrills, excitement, the danger...

Thursday, 26 June 2008


I'm seriously having withdrawals from traveling and from being in Europe.

Jon just tagged me in this photo and I could barely remember taking that picture. Yeah it was that good!! lol.. jk.. but it was a great/crazy/wild night in Barcelona.

I wish I had more time to hang out with Jon, Bart and Jill. They seem pretty cool. For those of you who missed my blog when I was in Barcelona, I met these people in a bar in Barcelona, on my last night. (yeah the night before I missed my train and got stuck in Foix) Anyways, Jon and Bart are from Ontario and Jill is from B.C. 

Here's one of the pic. LOL!
I was wrapped in something because I was wet - another friend, Parker decided to "tackle" me and we both fell into the sea!

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Day 1 - Back in Toledo

Friday, June 20, 2008


I'm back... well, at least it's nice and warm here in Toledo... but ahh... what should I do with myself... on a nice day like today... on a Friday...

I keep thinking.. hey I can get a gelato! grab a bottle of beer and satisfy my growling stomach with a kebab (yummyyy) and have a lil picnic at the park!

wait a minute...! I forgot:

-there's no gelato in Toledo
-I'm not "old" enough to drink in this country (blody hell)
-it's against the law to drink in public (rolls eyes)
-there's no kebab in Toledo

... and yeah...

oh and! I was just told that next week is AVI's (UT's food service company I've been working for) last week! I'll have to apply a job with the new company... and they might not even hire so soon! Arghh!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Heathrow Airport, London

It's 1.20 p.m. I've already checked in ... it was uneventful - fortunately... knowing my luck... I'm just waiting outside the security for the departure gates. My flight isn't until 3.20 and (you can't bring water in) I'm sure I'll get thirsty later and I'm too cheap to buy a bottle of water. And there's free wifi too!

I know! It's awesome! So I'll just hang around for a bit out here... until I run outta water.

It hasn't dawn to me that I'll be leaving Europe - this is a trip I've been longing for so long.. (to be exact, since I was 16) and one I've learnt so much, experienced so much and met so many great and interesting characters along the way. My trip back will definitely be filled with memories from the time I thought I was in heaven when I was in Bern, Switzerland, to the time when I was out in the streets in Barcelona on that Wednesday night, to Foix where I got lost, to Nimes where I met Aunt Sybil for the first time in my life, to Cannes looking at celebrities upclose, to Italy where I've had gelatos and such good Italian food, to the 13-hour ferry ride on the deck of the ship, to Athens where the Greek words are so funky you'd think it's art - not real words, to Berlin - my favorite city of all (I want to own an apartment in Berlin - soon!), to Amsterdam where I tried my first space muffin and mushroom, to Coventry where I stayed with Rebecca (God, I didn't realize how much I miss her!), to Edinburgh where it's cool and cold, to Dublin where the weather was a lil depressing but I had a blast with Brian and co. and over the weekend with Ian... oh good times... to spending time with Roberta back in London and having chicken rice with Aunt Margie, Uncle Gary and the kids!

Final Day

Thursday, June 19, 2008

So today is my final day in Europe. Time to fly back to OH-I-O. Rebecca and her mom is coming to pick me up! they're the best I tell ya! anyways I fly from 3.20 p.m. and will arrive at midnight. I hope it's not just another boring plane ride. Cross your fingers for something exciting to happen!

Once back in Toledo, I gotta catch up with work at the IC and work for AVI.


and plan my trip to DC with Lauren! and possibly Siri too?? 

Day 44 - London

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Today's pretty chill.. I stayed home all day! =) I needed to... kinda prepare myself for the transition I'm about to face tomorrow. (Back to reality I mean)

I was thinking about joining the other couchsurfers for picnic at 6 then watch Rocky's Horror near the London Bridge - it's outdoor and it's free! Really tempting but all day it was really windy and we think it's gonna rain... oh well... In the end, I stayed home ALL Day.

I watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang with Robert Downey Jr and Michelle Monaghan. It was really funny! Good movie!!

Day 43 - London

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

We got up at about 8 a.m. and headed out 15 mins before 9 as Roberta has to work. I found my way to the tube and headed back to Surrey. Another 2 hours. Oh well, it's not like I'm in a hurry.

I got back, had some food, did laundry, and just kinda chill. All I really wanted to see today is the UN Refugee exhibition in Trafalgar Square - which I had no problem finding because it's one of must-go places in London. It was cool - I got to interview some people working there. I hung around a bit because I was supposed to meet a couple couchsurfers in a bar in SoHo.

So I was walking around blindly right.. not knowing where I'm goin, all of a sudden, this guy came up to me and asked for the time. Next thing I know we where talking about Malaysia and that he's heading over there soon... and Indiana too..! Anyways, he insisted on buying me a drink.. at that point I'm kinda late for my appointment.. but I said yes anyways... we had a drink at Planet Hollywood.. a lil chat and I really had to leave before I got to finish my drink.

Then, I got lost on the way to the bar. I took a trishaw instead. Lol I know - there's huge traffic and how do I get around? on a trishaw.. I know, I'm so smart. Anyways, the guy was nice and he kinda "sped" after I requested him to - 4 pounds!

Then I saw Judit (a Londoner from Hungary) and her guest Nat (studying in Madrid but from Thailand) and they told me that they had to pay 6 pounds to get in!!! I was outrageous. So I tried calling Tony (another couchsurfer) who suggested the place - he didn't answer. But just as we were walking the other way, he ran out and got us in time!

He let us in through the backdoor. Pretty sweet. It was like an Indie bar with bands performing every night. It was pretty cool I have to admit.

The girls and I had to head back at 11. Once I got to Victoria station to catch the train back to Cheam, Surrey, that particular train stopped running. It was only 11.40 p.m.!!!! 

I quickly hopped on the one that goes to the closes stop instead and had to call my uncle to come get me instead. I felt really bad. It was 12.45 at that point.

Day 42 - Dublin

Monday, June 16, 2008

I got up at 5 a.m. - shocking! yeah! well, that's only because it's light out at 3 or 4 a.m.! anyways, I went online, hung around a lil and head out at 7 a.m. - took the bus to the bus station - but the bus to Dublin port has already left and there isn't another one till the afternoon! so I have to take a taxi 13 Euros. I bought the ferry ticket to Holyhead for 27 Euros... it's a 2 hour ride 8.45 a.m. -10.40 a.m. then from there I have to buy a train ticket back to London.. the ride is about 4 hours and the ticket cost me 77 Pounds!!! Dang it! I should have just flown with Ryanair... the most that would cost me is 70 Euros!!!! I didn't realize it at the time... I know it's bad but I never really convert or pay attention to what currency I'm using... it's so confusing! Sometimes it will be Euros, sometimes Pounds, and sometimes Francs (Switzerland)! And if I convert, I gotta convert to Malaysian Ringgit which is supper worthless in comparison and American Dollars! 

whew... oh well.. I know I've got SOME money left in my bank account... that's all that matters =)

Anyways I went straight to Uncle Gary's house, rest for a little bit and headed out to meet Roberta! She was a foreign exchange student from London in Toledo last year - I only got to know her this semester and we hung out a lil bit... she's cool! like me! lol.. no but she's a fun person - I was really excited!

It took 2 hours to take the train, tube and bus to get to Harrow, which is the other side of London from Surrey where my uncle lives. We met up and had dinner at Nando's! yeay! I love Nando's! I don't think the States have it... but we do in Malaysia! so, it was super expensive (if you convert to Malaysian Ringgit that it) oh well.. then, we went to a pretty chill bar... 

We watched Life is Beautiful before goin to bed... it was really good! btw Roberta has such a cool room! a bunk bed and photos and posters all over the place...!!!!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

No to Lisbon!

Some of you may know, some may not, some care, some don't give a damn really,

But I was in Ireland, when the Irish voted against the Lisbon Treaty last Friday.

Basically there are a lot more new countries in the EU in the recent years that some policies had to change to adapt to the additional EU members. This treaty is supposed to improve the current state of EU but a lot have perceived that "the union is remote, undemocratic and ever more inclined to strip its smaller members of the right to make their own laws and decide their own futures." (NYTimes)

And, for the treaty to take effect, it has to be ratified by all 27 European Union members. The treaty was defeated because all but Ireland has approved. This is only because Ireland is the only state which put the treaty to a referendum because of its constitution. Other EU countries could have done that too, but "most governments are reluctant to risk the uncertainty of a national vote" - (such great confidence they have in their people eh?) Many political leaders were outraged by this but in general, the EU people are secretly happy that the Irish voted against it (according to the Irish I spoke to). In other words, political leaders of the EU are for the Lisbon Treaty but most people are against it and other than the Irish, they did not have a chance to voice their objections.

Basically, the Lisbon Treaty is
- dense and complex
- thus, confusing to ordinary Europeans
- if enacted, it would give Europe its first full-time president 
- create a new foreign policy chief whose responsibilities would include controlling the development aid that the union distributes.
- reduce the size of the European Commission, the union’s executive body, rotating the seats so that each member country would have a seat in 10 out of every 15 years
-change the voting procedures on the European Council, so that fewer decisions would require unanimous votes.

I have attached some "official" information about the treaty from

The Treaty at a glance

Small man-like figure walking on a page of the Treaty

On 13 December 2007, EU leaders signed the Treaty of Lisbon, thus bringing to an end several years of negotiation about institutional issues.

The Treaty of Lisbon amends the current EU and EC treaties, without replacing them. It will provide the Union with the legal framework and tools necessary to meet future challenges and to respond to citizens' demands.

  1. A more democratic and transparent Europe, with a strengthened role for the European Parliament and national parliaments, more opportunities for citizens to  have  their voices heard and a clearer sense of who does what at European and national level.
    • A strengthened role for the European Parliament: the European Parliament, directly elected by EU citizens, will see important new powers emerge over the EU legislation, the EU budget and international agreements. In particular, the increase of co-decision procedure in policy-making will ensure the European Parliament is placed on an equal footing with the Council, representing Member States, for the vast bulk of EU legislation.
    • A greater involvement of national parliaments: national parliaments will have greater opportunities to be involved in the work of the EU, in particular thanks to a new mechanism to monitor that the Union only acts where results can be better attained at EU level (subsidiarity). Together with the strengthened role for the European Parliament, it will enhance democracy and increase legitimacy in the functioning of the Union.
    • A stronger voice for citizens: thanks to the Citizens' Initiative, one million citizens from a number of Member States will have the possibility to call on the Commission to bring forward new policy proposals.
    • Who does what: the relationship between the Member States and the European Union will become clearer with the categorisation of competences.
    • Withdrawal from the Union: the Treaty of Lisbon explicitly recognises for the first time the possibility for a Member State to withdraw from the Union.
  2. A more efficient Europe, with simplified working methods and voting rules, streamlined and modern institutions for a EU of 27 members and an improved ability to act in areas of major priority for today's Union.
    • Effective and efficient decision-making: qualified majority voting in the Council will be extended to new policy areas to make decision-making faster and more efficient. From 2014 on, the calculation of qualified majority will be based on the double majority of Member States and people, thus representing the dual legitimacy of the Union.A double majority will be achieved when a decision is taken by 55% of the Member States representing at least 65% of the Union’s population.
    • A more stable and streamlined institutional framework: the Treaty of Lisbon creates the function of President of the European Council elected for two and a half years, introduces a direct link between the election of the Commission President and the results of the European elections, provides for new arrangements for the future composition of the European Parliament and for a smaller Commission, and includes clearer rules on enhanced cooperation and financial provisions.
    • Improving the life of Europeans: the Treaty of Lisbon improves the EU's ability to act in several policy areas of major priority for today's Union and its citizens. This is the case in particular for the policy areas of freedom, security and justice, such as combating terrorism or tackling crime. It also concerns to some extent other areas including energy policy, public health, civil protection, climate change, services of general interest, research, space, territorial cohesion, commercial policy, humanitarian aid, sport, tourism and administrative cooperation.
  3. A Europe of rights and values, freedom, solidarity and security, promoting the Union's values, introducing the Charter of Fundamental Rights into European primary law, providing for new solidarity mechanisms and ensuring better protection of European citizens.
    • Democratic values: the Treaty of Lisbon details and reinforces the values and objectives on which the Union is built. These values aim to serve as a reference point for European citizens and to demonstrate what Europe has to offer its partners worldwide.
    • Citizens' rights and Charter of Fundamental Rights: the Treaty of Lisbon preserves existing rights while introducing new ones. In particular, it guarantees the freedoms and principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and gives its provisions a binding legal force. It concerns civil, political, economic and social rights.
    • Freedom of European citizens: the Treaty of Lisbon preserves and reinforces the "four freedoms" and the political, economic and social freedom of European citizens.
    • Solidarity between Member States: the Treaty of Lisbon provides that the Union and its Member States act jointly in a spirit of solidarity if a Member State is the subject of a terrorist attack or the victim of a natural or man-made disaster.  Solidarity in the area of energy is also emphasised.
    • Increased security for all: the Union will get an extended capacity to act on freedom, security and justice, which will bring direct benefits in terms of the Union's ability to fight crime and terrorism. New provisions on civil protection, humanitarian aid and public health also aim at boosting the Union's ability to respond to threats to the security of European citizens.
  4. Europe as an actor on the global stage will be achieved by bringing together Europe's external policy tools, both when developing and deciding new policies. The Treaty of Lisbon will give Europe a clear voice in relations with its partners worldwide. It will harness Europe's economic, humanitarian, political and diplomatic strengths to promote European interests and values worldwide, while respecting the particular interests of the Member States in Foreign Affairs.
    • A new High Representative for the Union in Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, also Vice-President of the Commission, will increase the impact, the coherence and the visibility of the EU's external action.
    • A new European External Action Service will provide back up and support to the High Representative.
    • A single legal personality for the Union will strengthen the Union's negotiating power, making it more effective on the world stage and a more visible partner for third countries and international organisations.
    • Progress in European Security and Defence Policy will preserve special decision-making arrangements but also pave the way towards reinforced cooperation amongst a smaller group of Member States.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Day 41 - Still in Dublin

Sunday, June 15, 2008

We woke up at 4 p.m. lol...I know right? crazy! I was gonna take the ferry at 2.45 - oh well... decided to take the one at 9 p.m. instead. But then I went to the wrong port, and had to miss the ferry. I know, things like this always, always happen to me.

When I was waiting for the train, a bunch of kids just came over. They seem pretty harmless and one of them was really talkative. He sat next to me and started asking me questions like so what do u have in ur bag? do u have a lap top? Can i see it? 

I honestly thought they were normal kids. Then, he started unbuckling my pack and playing around with my stuff and they wouldn't stop! Apparently they were bums. Then a guy came and "rescue" me. He told him to get off of me and go away. They started "attacking" him instead. They were pulling at his paper bag and saying nasty things to him.. nothing you would imagine out of the mouths of 7-11 year olds. It was a disturbing moment. 

Right after the boy left me, a couple sitting on the same bench moved closer and the girl was kinda "consoling" me I guess? saying it's okay - and that she's never seen anything like that either. Crazy!

The in the train, I met an old lady and her daughter. Of course, my big pack started the conversation and I kinda explained my whole trip to them (I told them about couchsurfing too!) Then I asked them about the stop I was goin to but they weren't goin that far, instead they told the people around me to let me know. Everyone seemed to be so nice!!

Anyways, I got there only to realize I was at the wrong port. I missed the ferry. I guess I would be spending another night in Dublin. 

It was raining on the way back. I decided to take a taxi home. My driver was from Nigeria but he just graduated from University of London. We had a good conversation about the U.S. politics, the economy and all that good stuff. He was pretty chill! 

So, I guess I'll be taking the ferry at 8.45 a.m. tomorrow. We'll see what happens. ;P