Old Photos – Part 3


Before we proceed with this week’s short post, there are 3 things I wanted to say aloud.

First is Waytha, after the hunger strike stunt that he pulled before the elections and got his MOU with Najib had now resigned – he rightfully deserved it, if you ask me. The way to go is to stop fighting for rights and benefits based on racial lines and do so more on poverty lines so that all races in this country will fairly benefit from it. For that Pakatan’s proposition makes it more favorable and Waytha should have stick to Pakatan and work out the issues from there. We cannot afford to go and go on racial basis on a multi racial country. It however does not change the fact that the Government still need a major overhaul. After all, if the Home Minister can come out and can casually sweeps a threat to slap a Member of the Parliament under the carpet, that says a lot on the present state of the country.

Second is Happy Valentine’s Day. My cousins got busy with their yearly ritual during this time of the year – selling roses near their house (profit margin seems reasonable) and as was last year, the business had been very good. In respect of the occasion, please check out the YouTube video below. The song (from award winning 2010 Tamil movie Angadi Theru) correctly represents on how we look at our better half although we may not say it aloud (sometimes tough men are indeed soft inside).

Third is that I am happy that Sony have finally rolling out Android 4.3 to Sony Xperia SP smartphone. Perhaps a Valentine’s gift? It has been a “long wait” (ha ha, if I had read well on the various comments in Xperia forums) although the existing Android 4.1.2 still worked wonders for me and it was way better than my older Symbian powered N8 in most areas but a firmware update is always welcomed with open arms. I got my phone “upgraded” this morning and so far the first impression of the update – the graphics seems somehow smoother.

Let’s proceed with this week’s post.

Last week, I had an unexpected phone call.

It was from my distant elder cousin who I rarely see these days. He called me and asked if I had Whatsapp. Feeling confused, I slowly said I had the apps (who doesn’t uh?) but clarified that I was not “online” at the moment (I switch on the mobile data only when it is necessary – to check Facebook status, emails or fact finding in Wikipedia). He said he found an old photo of my dad with his siblings and he will send it via Whatsapp. I switched my mobile data on and waited for the photo but nothing happened. But the next day, I got 2 photos sent via Whatsapp. One was a studio photo of my cousin’s mom & dad, taken when they just got married.

old photos1

Another which interest me more was a photo of my dad with his brothers and his father (my grandfather) who looked much younger. I had a photo of my grandfather when he was rather old but not any photos when he was younger. I did not realise that my grandfather from my father’s side had the same flair and style as my grandfather from my mother’s side. I showed the photo to my dad and he could not remember much on the photo other than that it was taken when he was about 14 years old (which meant it was taken in the 1950s). He however pointed out his footwear back then and that was pretty standard (the necktie was borrowed from the studio).

My dad was not sure of the occasion when the photo was taken but it was a rare photo indeed. There is no photo of my dad when he was younger and none had never surfaced in the last 30 years or so. This promptly copied to my old photos collection that I have setup recently (now I have about 30 black & white photos and that collection is growing). My target is to collect as many old photos as possible, before it goes missing, tag them with detailed narration and finally publish them in a dedicated website so that all family members (near & far) would have access to these rare photos.

P.s. Take a look at Part 1 & Part 2 here and here

And now a special video for Valentine:-

Have a good weekend ahead…

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Indian Wedding Part 5


Read these first:-

Another wedding, another story…

SONY DSC

(The garlands that me and my son went to pick up for the wedding – we had to walk a bit far to a small stall by the road side and the man behind the “counter” asked why we were late and we went like ‘huh?’. He pointed to a box next to the stall – it was all sealed up and it was cold. We walked back fast, hoping the ice cubes in the box have not melt away before the wedding starts)

This time, it was my sister-in-law’s wedding and by right I should not been around for the wedding. I suppose to be away on an overseas assignment and I suppose to be back only after the wedding had long ended. Since it was a “crucial” wedding (after all it was my wife’s younger sister wedding) and I won’t be around, I decided to offer to do something else – a drive to Taiping the next day for the bride & bridegroom (the wedding is in KL but they must be “back” to Taiping as the girl’s house is in Taiping and tradition dictates the newly weds to be in the bride’s house for at least 3 days after the wedding). But then at the very last minute, my trip got postponed and suddenly I was available for the wedding.

With that premise, let’s start the story.

The event started as usual, the night before the wedding where last minute ceremonies had to be done before it was all “green-light” for the wedding the next morning. I had to work, it was left to my wife to do the necessary last minute shopping and attend the said ceremony at another sister’s house. I came back home late after work and had a slow hot shower – a small break before the big day. My wife was not back from the ceremony early so I watched TV waiting for her to be back. The plan was for her to be back home from her sister’s house (not the one who is getting married) and we would make our way to another sister’s house (once again, not the one who is getting married) since it is nearer to the wedding hall. My understanding was that we would sleep the night over at the sister’s rather “empty” house and get ready early in the morning for the wedding. On the way, we would pick up one of our aunties along for the wedding.

When we arrived at the sister’s house, it was chaos all around – a bulk of our relatives had also decided to make the house as the starting point for the wedding next day. All the bedrooms was fully occupied with tired, sleepy relatives, the hall was loud with some of our uncles busy with the football match on the TV and to make things worse, hyperactive kids running around playing “catching” just when the clock on the wall turned midnight. I did not need the “spidey sense” to know that to continue to be around in the house just before a major event would be a disaster. After a quick check with my wife, I decided to drive back home for a quiet house for a proper sleep. My wife had to “work” on the preparation and my son seeing his uncles and his cousins, decided to stay back.

SONY DSC

(One of my brother-in-law who had to step in as the bridegroom’s best man, well he had no choice – he looked cool all the way but when it comes to the time when he had to get the ring from the bridegroom, his hand was shaking on a Richter scale of 8. The bridegroom had to hold down his fingers to put on the ring)

The wedding starts at about 9 am the next day but since I had to pick up my wife and my son (and I am very sure, a couple of my aunties and uncles would tag along too), my day actually started at 3.30 am. I woke up, had a quick shower and by 5 am I was already at the sister’s house where everyone was fast asleep. It took some shouting and pushing to get everyone up and get ready for the bathrooms and time was ticking away. Then a funny happened – almost everyone was up and ready to go to the wedding hall (although the queue outside the bathroom took some time to be sorted out) but no one wanted to make the actual move to leave the house. 2 cars (with its drivers – one included me) was all up and ready to go but the passengers were missing. They were still lingering around, asking who want to go first but not moving themselves.

After a moment of “finger-pointing” and the clock ticking away, a decision was made on who will go first – my car was the first to leave the house to the wedding hall – me, my son and all 3 of my aunties leaving my wife and the rest still in the house packing things up. Despite the short trip and it is being a well-known route, I missed the route and had to make a U-turn but we still arrived earlier than anyone else. After a quick unload of the aunties who soon got themselves busy with the items for the wedding, me and my son went off to get the wedding garlands. Once we had done that, we had nothing else to do except to wait for rest of the guests. The transportation of the bride from the house to the make-up studio and then to the wedding hall was taken care by another cousin of mine. My brother-in-law handled other things for the day including ensuring the caterers arrive on time.

Sitting at the front, I took out my DSLR and was toying with the settings when my son asked for my phone – he too wanted to take some photos (and play some games whilst he waited). I thought about it and decided to pass on my DSLR to my son instead. I stood next to him guiding him (initially) on what to take and when and more importantly to do without being in the way of the official professional photographer and videographer. My son had some limited experience with my DSLR before in another event, so he knew how to hold the camera (the first thing I taught him as my wife was worried that he may accidentally drop it), how to work the auto-focus (although he need a lot of practice get the angles right) and lens functions (setting it to auto was helpful too).

SONY DSC

(This shot was taken by my son – he had to make way for the professional photographer but this was an interesting angle nonetheless. A nice touch of colours especially purple – a shot that I probably would not have taken. It will be interesting to see what else my son will take from his point of sight as he get used to my DSLR and be the next family photographer in coming events)

When most of the guests made it to the wedding hall in time, the wedding ceremony well on-the-way without any hassle and my son at the stage busy snapping photos, I decided to head back to the main entrance in case we had any last minute guests coming in when another brother-in-law walked over looking rather concerned and asked me if I were busy. When I said no, he smiled and he just wanted to know because he thought two of us could take a break from the wedding and have teh-tarik at the nearby restaurant. After all those work in the morning (couple of months for my brother in law), it all came to a closure in the morning. We made it back in time for the bridegroom to tie the “sacred” string and my son starting to get tired and hungry. Lunch was really good despite it was all vegetarian and surprisingly we need not queue for the food (the crowd was not that mean too).

Wedding was officially over by 12 pm but it was not the end of the day – we still had plenty of things to do. We all went back to the house (it took another round of pushing people to leave the wedding hall) before the newly-weds arrive in the house. A bit more of ceremony to be done at the house before the newly-weds can be “safely parcelled off” for the day and all of us can take a break. The house was still in a “chaos” with relatives and well-wishers lingering around the house – some waiting for their transport back home, some busy with the cooking and some busy with the cleaning up. We waited for a while to help out but it was clear that all of us needed a proper break. When a bulk of things has been done, we said goodbye and head back home – it was already 4 pm by then. My son was already dozing off in the car and we had a hard time to wake him up. We pushed him to take a shower first and after a quick bite, had him to go straight to the bed (he slept throughout the night, not waking up for dinner and only waking up the next morning).

There was one last thing I had to do – to make good of my offer to drive the newly-weds to Taiping…

Trip to Oriental Paris – Part 6


I almost forgot about this and thought of doing a closure post but then I just realised that there are still plenty of photos of food in my collection. So, let’s do probably another 1-2 posts on food (this included) before we “head back” home.

One of the juicy advertisement as we head towards our ride at one of the underground trains – the famed Peking Duck. When we were in Shanghai, we did not really had this dish for lunch or dinner but then we decided not to look for the place that serve the dish as well. But a friend of us who went to Beijing for a short trip had the Peking Duck packed and brought it back home.

That small logo at the top of the menu almost caught us – at we thought it was KFC‘s menu for their local dish but then we took a closer look at realised that it is not Colonel Sanders and it is just a logo that was used by one of the smaller restaurants near to our workplace. After all if you can get a crystal clear “imitation” of the Rolls Royce in China, what more of well known international brands and well known fast food dishes.

Don’t be mistaken – they also have the real KFC restaurants in the city but despite it being cheap and easy, we decided not to go for it – a quick look in the inside and things was not looking too good. The queue was long (mostly with over-excited youngsters) and there were very limited tables and chairs inside the restaurant for those who wish to dine in (the area looked small and stuffy too) and with some of us with handful of shopping bags, we decided not to take the risk either.

There is also a Chinese (albeit cheaper) version of Subway in the city. It is known as Starway and they operate in the same manner as the real Subway with the same types of bread with the same options of filing and with the almost identical modus operandi as Subway (the founder must have been an ex-Subway staff). The people behind the counter speak fluent English too so ordering was a breeze. And we often opt for this simple dish of bread with “halal” fillings (halal since they don’t serve beef, surprisingly) instead of walking out far in the cold and get ourselves the more complex noodles for dinner.

Starway bread of the day packed and filled – it’s cheap (less than RMB20), cleaner and surprising very tasty and more than enough to cover our hunger when we end up working late. Unfortunately they don’t provide delivery service though but thankfully the restaurant was not far away from our workplace (it is not crowded too – the locals have not caught on the idea of having bread for lunch or dinner) and we had caring colleagues who were wiling to “ta-pau” for the rest of us who were busy working to resolve the issues so that we all can go back and have a good night sleep (after a couple bottles of beers, of course).

Here’s something I gotten fond of when I order my bread from Starway – cold fresh vegetarian drink and often, 1 bottle is not enough (it never was) and somehow I often felt more healthy drinking this than the hot plain Chinese tea but then again it could be just my imagination because I also had plenty of tea and beer during my stay in Shanghai and I never fell sick (even after I walked in the rain on several occasions)

Thankfully the sense of imitation did not extend to other kind of restaurants. The Korean fast food restaurant was pretty authentic with proper Korean dishes with Korean restaurant setting. Prices ranges from RMB40 to RMB120 and it was not so bad considering the portions was sufficient enough – it was heavy but was not overwhelming to our taste. The only complaint was the entrance to this restaurant – we had to go through a small lift and there was only one that was working, so we were praying for the lift not to breakdown when were inside the lift.

The good old “nasi goreng” – you can get them hot and tasty no matter where you go. This one was not that bad (I had better ones when I was in Ghana – the spicy scrimp fried rice was really, really good) but at least it was rather safe to eat – you know what is in it. I wished they had a good sambal to go with that.

Here’s another dish from the Korean restaurant that we went – more meat than the rest and gravy too. Ha, I already missing the home cooked chicken curry.

We also found a small Thai restaurant just behind the place we were staying – we almost missed it as there was no big sign-board on the front but it only realised that it is a Thai restaurant after we had checked inside (it looked like a bar from the outside). They had the usual Thai wish-list food on the menu but it was quite pricey and thus we decided to go safe by ordering fried rice. It was good but it was no where near to the usual fried rice that we often get at Thai restaurants – it was not spicy enough for our standards.

The Tom Yam that we had was not that good as the Tom Yam we get in Malaysia – it was more watery but it was slightly spicier than the other dishes. It was also missing some Thai ingredients but that is understandable – it may not be easy to get the right stuff in the city. But at least we got something closer to home than the usual noodles and soups. We also found Malaysian restaurant from the net but it was a bit from where we were staying and further since we are going back home soon, we decided to wait out and get real, cheaper Malaysian food once we are back.

To be continued…

A Valentine Post


Happy belated Valentine’s Day.

Frankly speaking, I don’t send roses on Valentine for 2 main reasons and it has nothing to do with PAS Youth’s call to boycott Valentine’s Day. 2 reasons – 1. Expression of love should not confined to one particular day of the year and 2. Price of roses on Valentine’s Day is insanely expensive (unless you have your own rose garden).

My wife does not really complain about it although I am sure she would love to get a large pack of roses on the 14th of February. Personally instead of roses, I rather take her for a good dinner and so it has been so for many years now. This year however was different – me and my wife got a surprise last night.

The “big boss” was waiting for me at the car porch as I came back home from work. Even before I took out my socks, he was already pestering me to go to the bedroom but I held him off for a second to put my things down. He usually do the same when he had done some artwork and want our “endorsement”. Either that or he usually wants to get my phone to play games.

We then walked up towards the room when he asked us to stop and close our eyes – he had “something” to show us. He led us inside and asked us to open our eyes – we saw in front of us – a rose with a short note for each of us (the misspelled Valentine was immaterial). Admittedly, it almost brought tears to my eyes especially I had read the notes but I withheld it and tried to act normal – I need to be confident in front of the “big boss” (I was not sure if it was the same for my wife).

My son then hugged the two of us and walked back down to watch cartoon – it was business as usual to him. We were impressed but at the same time, wondered where he got the roses (he had one red rose for each of us and then a pink one for himself). We knew that roses on a Valentine’s Day was not cheap but here he had 3 of them. We called him and asked him how he managed to buy the roses. Apparently he had some help from his aunts who had organized a stall selling roses for Valentine’s Day. He asked about Valentine’s Day, put his “request for roses” up early to ensure he gets it on time and he got them for a very cheap price on credit (I think so). We were indeed impressed with his networking skills, creativity and at the same innocence at this stage.

Seeing his Valentine’s notes and talking about expressions of love, it kind of reminded me of a photo shot that I took of my young niece and her dad over the weekend.

We had just came back from a trip up north and as we had decided to go in one car, we went over to my brother in law’s house to drop him, his wife and his baby daughter, But before we go to his house, my brother-in-law suggested that we head over for a cup of coffee. After all, it has been a tiring journey and a strong cup of hot coffee would do wonders to a weary body.

We headed to Coffee Bean and ordered our drinks – my brother-in-law was staring at his baby daughter and playing with her. She was looking back at her Daddy and seemed to be wanting to say something. But then again, she need not say anything – her eyes said it all and I was lucky to catch that moment. I am sure both of them will cherish this moment for the rest of the lives and it was not even Valentine’s Day.

This surely will be one of the Valentine’s Day to be remembered.

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Trip to Oriental Paris – Part 5


(Countdown – 322 days to “doomsday”)

Weekends are rest days and it is the best time to catch up on sleep and when that’s done, for the rest of the day, it is time to go around town.

One of the best ways to travel around the city is to use the ever excellent and efficient Metro service and we were just lucky to have a Metro station close to our hotel. Navigating around the station was not that difficult – plenty of large signs in English and color-coded arrows but for those who cannot communicate in Mandarin, you may have some trouble communicating with the Metro staff but then again, you will not have problem communicating with fellow passengers for assistance.

During our time, there were incidents of Metro trains stalling and derailing causing some injuries to some peak-hours passengers. So when some one proposed that we take Metro to go for shopping, we were a bit apprehensive about of safety. But then, we decided to take some chance – we did not think it was that bad. The journey itself was uneventful but it did gave us a good opportunity to see the Shanghai’s young generation in action. They dress well and almost all is playing games on their smartphones or listening to music. The adults on the other hand looks more stressed up. Everyone is rather quiet and minding their own business.

One of the places we decided to go using Metro this time is an old temple in Shanghai. We were hoping to do some shopping along the way as well.

The first place we went was the Jin’an Temple – it was an impressive structure in the middle of the city and next to shopping malls. It is said that it is the oldest temple in the city – built in 247 AD and was the site for China’s first Buddhist organization in 1912, then during the Cultural Revolution, it was converted into a plastics factory. We arrived at the temple early but somehow we decided not to enter inside the temple – the entrance fees or the modern outlook of the temple or maybe the time we arrived may have been the cause – I am not sure. We took some photos outside of the temple and contemplated on what would be the next move.

We then decided to go to another temple – the famed Jade Buddhist Temple that was built in 1882 to place the 2 jade Buddha statues which had been brought from Burma. The temple was crowded with tourists (they were arriving by the busloads which included a couple of Malaysians) and devotees (mostly old people) by the time we arrived. We went there in 2 taxis – it was easy to get a taxi to the temple but it is a different story when you want to leave – there is hardly a taxi on sight and there is a long queue at the taxi stand. We had to pay to enter this temple as well but if I was not wrong, the charges seemed cheaper.

Despite the actual age and compared to the Jin’an Temple, this temple looked older and a bit run-down. Whilst others decided to do some prayers – some of us decided to walk to the souvenir shops for some cheap Buddhist relics and other souvenirs for home (they were selling jade here as well). We knew some of the items on sale were priced higher than usual but we decided that the extra money that we paid for the items will probably go in the end, towards the temple and the administration cost which we did not mind.

The temple complex was quite extensive with several smaller buildings and it took a couple of hours to walk around the place. If you really look hard enough, there is plenty of things to see here – including decorative footpaths and a rather ancient looking pictures. We feel really warm in this temple complex – all buildings that we went did not had any air-conditioner and there is very little place you can sit under a shade. This caused us to feel very thirsty – so make sure you have plenty of water with you (we did not see any stall selling water here but I am sure there is one but is likely to be overpriced). I packed about 3 bottles of drinking water in my bag but still it was not enough. It was quite late in the afternoon when we were simply too tired (and hungry & thirsty) to go further. We walked out (not before being bugged by the beggars outside the temple – I became an easy target for them) for the nearest Metro station (it was quite a long walk from the temple to the station) and looked for a place to have lunch.

To be continued…

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One for 2011


(One short post before the end of 2011 and start of 2012)

(Given the right conditions, shots taken with Nokia N8 can be damn good too. Click for higher resolution photos here)

2011 has been a slow year for this blog and I hope things will pick in 2012. On the onset, it looks like 2012 is going to be an interesting year – Mayan predictions aside, we expect to see a couple of things to happen next year. General elections is one but provided there is less of dirty politics on both sides (the critical question would be – can PR still retain Selangor and do better than 2008?), Anwar’s Sodomy 2 verdict (if there is no disruptions to the on-going trial and mayhem created by street protests), a possibly Bersih 3.0 (if the authorities screw things up before the elections), Proton launching their new global car (plenty of spyshots at Paul Tan), a couple of must-watch movies – I am waiting for The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers (ya, count The Hobbit as well), a couple of trips overseas (likely to be work related but educational I am pretty sure) and within Malaysia (planning for East Coast in particular), perhaps MACC catching a couple more of the big fish (the sea of NFC looks too tempting for catch of the year), my son going for swimming classes (finally, his wish comes true), a new addition to family, etc

In the meantime, happy holidays and Happy New Year for all – hopefully 2012 would be a fulfilling and rewarding year compared to 2011

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A-Famosa “Unplugged”


(The very common image of the A Famosa fort in Malacca – something we have seen since we were kids but what is in the inside? What happens if one walks past the famed entrance? Will we be transported to another era? Image source: http://www.maleisure.com)

We went to Malacca for holidays recently – we picked Malacca primarily because we have heard about it, have read about it, we knew it is on the UNESCO’s World Heritage list and in fact, have several times passed through it (couple of years ago) but we had never really stopped and see the heritage places in Malacca.

So we decided for the holidays, we will actually stop and visit the heritage & historical places in Malacca. Sadly accommodation was not up to our expectations but it was my mistake anyway. I should have done more “research” on the so-called 3 star hotel before I booked it. By the time we realized our mistake, it was too late – most of the other better hotels have been fully booked and we even saw people coming over to our hotel looking for rooms to stay for the night, only to be turned away. Anyway we decided not to have our holidays ruined due to a “glitch” in accommodations. After all, we only need it to sleep for the night – we were out early in the morning and only come back late in the evening.

For those who have been to Malacca, you know the drill – the places to visit, the food to eat and things to do. We had done some planning ahead of our trip and basically knew what we were planning to do on daily basis and in a way we did. I say “in a way” because unlike many who ventured into Malacca for the first time, we did not ride on a beca (we rather walked – it was faster and cheaper), we did not buy the ticket to go up the Taming Sari tower (it was raining and I guessed there were nothing much to see from the top with the heavy clouds. Besides, the ticket seemed too expensive – we rather spent it on food and souvenirs), we did not go for the satay celup or the chicken ball rice (the queue was just too long) or the Portuguese food (my wife was not feeling well) but we did go for Peranakan food and a long waited steamboat treat.

And out of the many things we did, we finally managed to visit the famed A-Famosa fort. The reason I say this in an “excited” manner is because all this while, since the day I saw the picture of the fort in Buku Sejarah in my primary school, I only have the seen the front of the fort (or rather the front gate) – the rest of the fort was destroyed by the English in 1806 (and not the Dutch as I always thought in the past). What is inside remained a mystery and only now that question has been answered.

(What the fort looks like in whole on paper back in 1780 before the English decided to destroy it in 1806. Image source: Wikipedia)

(The entrance from the inside – it was empty except for bricks and white mortar – the air seemed stale as if it has been locked from another era)

(The exit reinforced with steel arch – it is a sign of the historical site starting to crumble down, perhaps with the increasing number of visitors trampling on site and change of weather)

(Another angle of the entrance close up – it looks clean but rather very narrow. Perhaps it was meant to be so 400-500 years ago when narrow entrance was easier to be defended against a more weaker rebels)

Yes in the end, there was nothing but only bricks and mortar (and an old man with a violin). But it was satisfying – I touched the bricks and imagined the Portuguese and the Dutch in the old Malacca with the full glory of the Malacca Sultanate with its famous warriors like Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat facing each other in the background. I imagined the guards staying at the front manning the cannons. Perhaps in time, someone will recreate the fort as whole – in its glorious days for the future generation. That would be interesting indeed.

If one wants to see the so-called 1Malaysia in a true sense from the historical pages – Malacca seems to be the place. Malaysian in many form, culture and background – Malays, Chinese, Indians,  Baba-Nyonya, and Portuguese descendants and yes, count the Singaporeans, Indonesians and Bangladeshis in as well – there were more Singapore registered cars than Malaysia registered cars at the hotel car lot. There were plenty of cars in the city indeed – made worse by the long public holidays.

Traffic was bad but it all depends on how far is the hotel from the heritage and historical places. Walking around town would be the best but if there is a kid tagging along (like in our case), struck that out. Taxi on the other hand was way too expensive (we were taken for a ride on the first day – a short trip cost us RM10). So we opted to drive instead – that solved one problem but created another – where to park especially along the narrow one way streets with limited parking lots dotted along in Malacca. We parked far and did some walking – thankfully my son was up to it – especially when we decided to go to Jonker Walk.

It was a good trip and we have promised ourselves for another trip to Malacca very soon – but this time with a better hotel of course and perhaps do things that we opted to miss in this trip (more on food than others).

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