Monday, September 30, 2013

Happy Monday folks!

Today was a busy day...went to work...followed by lecture at the KL campus, ...and then marking papers at the UITM campus in Selayang and back to the original place of work for ward rounds...followed by violin class.

I 'm ashamed to say I lost my temper this afternoon. To two different people one of whom didn't deserve my wrath. The first fool deserved but the second didn't and I'm feeling rather uneasy having given out to that person.

When you're busy're crabby. So I need to sleep early today. To be less crabby. Otherwise I shall slowly morph into a rather unpleasant individual by 2014.

A miracle!

People Traffic in Hong Kong, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.

I wanted to post a picture of my handphone, but decided this picture showing the huge crowd of people would be better. It reminds me that despite all the evil out there, there is still kindness in this world. On Sunday, I lost my iphone. My fault. And nobody elses. I have two phones. And these phones are my major distractions. The iphone is mainly for playing games. ( Which boils down to only one game Smurf Village) I was meant to meet WNN for breakfast. Due to some miscommunication on whassap she was delayed and I sat in two different places each time taking out the phones for one thing or another. In between the sitting down period, I also visited TIME bookstore to get my copy of Hello magazine. 

When WNN arrived, I jumped off the bench and we got going. I must ( in retrospect) have left the phone on the bench. We went to the nearby mamak for breakfast and a bit of goss. 1.5 hours later...when I wanted to surf the net to find more goss....THAT is when I realised the phone wasn't in my bag. Surge of panic, and quick walking back to the two benches I'd sat on...down to the concierge and onto the basement carpark to make an official report. During which time, the officers told their ten years working, nobody has ever returned a handphone. Keys maybe...but phone never. ( Not great to hear but I was numb then only thinking of the stuff I had on the phone) We walked back to the bench to have a second look and also to ask the folks in the two nearest stalls whether anyone had left a phone with them. the 4 people we asked we incredibly sweet and came out to look with concern. ( Bless them) Earlier...WNN had tried calling the phone twice. 

So what was left was to try and sort out my passwords and log out. We did this whilst sitting on the same bench. WNN had a call back from "my phone". We got all excited. A man spoke and said he had my phone and that he had found it and decided to keep it safe. He told us where he was...which was at the other mamak stall and so we walked there with great hope but not daring to seem too excited.

And there they were, two young men having a cup of coffee each. One of whom kept my phone safe...and he returned it to me. You cannot begin to imagine how I felt at this point. I had a little weep directly after. Such were my emotions. 

And so this post is dedicated to ALL those honest hardworking people out there who have good values. Thank you for being you. And to the young man who returned my phone, I am truely grateful for your random act of kindness. Thank you God for this miracle. Lessons learnt...I should use only one phone rather than two. ( And also password protect my phones). 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Casa de l'Ardiaca

Casa de l'Ardiaca, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.
Otherwise known as the Archdeacon's house. This was built in the 15th century by the order of the Archdeacon Lluis Despla. It has a serene courtyard which would be to your right just before you climb these stairs which will lead you to a lovely upper terrace with a balcony. When you read the top, it would take some restrain not to shout " Romeo, Romeo, where art thou Romeo?" The current look dates from 1962 and it now houses the city' archieves which isn't open to the public. In the courtyard there is a lovely Gothic fountain where most people pose.( Myself included). I didn't google this place before and was led here purely by chance. So I missed taking a picture of the famous letterbox.( Boohoohoo!)

Le Pedrera, Barcelona

Le Pedrera, Barcelona, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.
This is located 3 blocks away from Casa Batllo...still along the Passieg de Gracia. It is built in an assymetrical corner lot and was completed in 1912. It was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1984 and currently is the headquarters of the Fundacio Catalunya-Le Pedrera. It is a modernista building with the exterior having a rough appearance therefore earning the nickname " The Quarry". Le Pedrera is the 4th and final work of Antoni Gaudi along the Passieg de Gracia.It was comissioned by an industrialist named Pere Mila as a family home but with apartments to rent.

Passieg De Gracia was previously known as Cami de Jesus it used to be an unpaved road but as time progressed, it became a sign of expansion of the city linking the Old Barcelona (La Cintat Vella) to the town known as Gracia ( in the North).

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Orxata, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.
We entered Planelles Donat at  Portal de l'Àngel, which I believe is near the Gothic quarter ( but I could be wrong). Loads of shopping along the road but we were curious and there was a crowd inside this shop. The gelatos were plenty but the locals appeared to be enjoying a milky drink called Orxata. We tried it. Rather powdery and the flavour is a bit like soya bean. In the website it is spelled "Horchata". It is made out of tigernuts ( what?), sugar and water. It is considered a refreshing drink with enzymes that can aid digestion.

Port Vell Barcelona

Port Vell Barcelona, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.
I read somewhere that Port Vell is a yacht -basin. Now tell me if you think they were lying...just look at this....loads of them bobbing about in the sea. It's meant to be a tourisy area...but we braved the rain and wind and got to enjoy the view with minimal people about. And I got to use my second ( and dare I say much nicer ) umbrella. We walked along the wooden pedestrian bridge named Rambla de Mar towards Maremagnum where there was a spot of shopping to be done. The biggest attraction is the aquarium which is apparently one of the largest in Europe. I'm not a fish person so I skipped that.

Catedral de Barcelona

Catedral de Barcelona, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.
The European Respiratory Congress ( just so we're clear) was the reason for the Barcelona trip. Saturday's session was minimal allowing most of us to explore Barcelona and this gave me the time and opportunity to attend Sunset mass at the main catedral in Barcelona. It rained that evening, and I bought the first of my two umbrellas in Barcelona for 4 euros. My toes were cold wet and freezing and en route to church, the umbrella threatened to unravel in parts. ( Nasty !) I dried off in church and thankfully the rain ceased after and I was dry for the remaining part of the evening.

Broke Tile Mosaic

Broke Tile Mosaic, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.
Modernism! And I don't mean tweeting and instagram. Three Catalan architects Lluis Domenech I Montaner, Antoni Gaudi and Josep Maria Jujol made use of mosaics quite a lot in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries. They mixed normal cut mosaic with irregular shaped tiles. Some of which looked like it was broken by brute force with little thought for beauty.

The picture above is just such an example by the more famous of the three;Gaudi. This was taken at the terrace at Casa Batllo. Very nice yes?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Thin ankles

Untitled, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.
I shan't scare you with the picture of my swollen legs. I'm normally used to seeing them just not attached to my own body. It is uncomfortable and your legs feel heavy like you're wearing ski boots. The skin feels tense and generally you keep wondering whether these feet are actually yours.

Here are my feet in Barcelona before they decided to swell up during the flight back. I've diagnosed the problem; not moving about at all during the 6 hours from Barcelona to Dubai.....( walked minimally during the transit) and once again remaining in my seat from Dubai to Kuala Lumpur. ( No toilet visits and I drank water minimally choosing instead to snooze). On day one back, my toes looked like tiny sausages and my ankles merged into my calves. I wore ( shudder) slippers to work and waddled through ward rounds feeling sorry for self. I'm glad to report the right is back to normal and the left appears to be following suit. I do not think I have a blood clot just waiting to shoot into my lung.

I did google and yes there are others who report the same ailment. This picture was taken at Renaissance Fira in Barcelona. My tired feet resting at the end of the day. Renaissance Fira is a very nice hotel, situated strategically within minutes away from the Conference centre and incredibly near the metro station. The area surrounding it is open and well lit. Didn't feel scared walking back at night.

We joined this line, without knowing what the purpose was:)

The Black Madonna otherwise known as La Moreneta is a popular pilgrimage destination in Spain. It is believed to have been carved by St Luke in 50AD and brought to Spain. It was hidden in some cove and rediscovered in 880AD. The legend says the discovery by shepherds was led by a bight light and heavenly music. It was too heavy to be moved and so it stayed in Montserrat.  ( In Catalan this translates to serrated mountain)Many miracles have been reported through the intercession through the virgin Mary at Montserrat. Currently the image is in an alcove behind the main altar. And this queue is us trailing from the front of the church right pass the church at the fringe of it into the alcove. A wonderful experience definitely!!

How do you get there? By taking the metro from:

Dep: Placa Espanya stn. Barcelona 
Arr: Monsterrat Aeri stn.
(Journey time approx. 1 hr.) 


paella, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.
We tried paella in a restaurant along the Passeig de Gracia. This is the picture. It looked like pulut. I didn't enjoy this much. But the Sangria helped somewhat. The seafood gave this a sweet taste which was weird. So tastebuds aren't suited to paella.

Paella is a Valencian rise dish that originated on the east coast of Spain. There are three types; Valencian paella, seafood paella and mixed paella.

inside casa batllo

inside casa batllo, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.
There are so many pictures to choose from. And I am humbled by the more exciting and arty pictures I see on other people's blogs. So I'm going to post a simple picture taken inside Casa Battlo. The top of the picture is the airwell which has special ventilation points so you won't feel stiffled inside the building. The windows are of separate apartments. And the blue tiles are positioned with the darker tiles closer to the top. That way, seen from below the blue appears uniform from bottom to top. Wasn't Gaudi clever?

Casa Batllo has minimal straight lines if you see it from outside. It was oval deformed windows which gives the building a cartoon-like appearance that will draw you to it even if you didn't know it was a famous must-see-Gaudi-building. It looks a bit like a dragon from certain angles. And the mosaic tiles have a strange but delightful shimmer to it. The building was originally built by Emili Sala Cortes in 1877. The original building must not have been too nice but the Batllo's bought it perhaps due to its location. After purchasing the building, Josep Batllo hired Gaudi to design his home. After many refurbishments we now see the amazing work of Gaudi. The tour through with the audio guide gives meaning to each part of the house. I enjoyed my visit very much. It was rather rushed as I gave up my lunch break for this. ( After which I rushed back to the conference for the afternoon session)

*ERS conference

fridge magnets from barcelona

The temperature was extremely hot on day one and rather chilly on the last day and PERFECT in between. Folks kept telling me to see Gaudi in Barcelona. And I'm pleased to report that I have seen most of the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona. It's not difficult to get to the places. Casa Batllo and Le Pedrera are on Passeig de Gràcia which is a rather long avenue in Barceona and is regarded as one of the most expensive streets in Spain. The avenue has very nice benches and street lights which were designed by Pere Falques i Urpi in 1906. But of course, the most famous buildings are by Gaudi. If you exit the Passeig de Gracia line Casa Battllo will be on your left and Le Pedrera will be to your left on the opposite side of the avenue. Oh yes and the Majestic hotel will also be to your right.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Catedral de Barcelona

the cathedral in Barcelona, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.
Here is the main cathedral in Barcelona which is conveniently located within walking distance of at least two metro stations. Building started in 1298, many many many years ago. I think they call this Gothic architecture which is architecture in late medieval times; pointed arches, large windows, rose windows and ribbed vault and an emphasis on height.The greatest surviving number of Gothic buildings are churches. Other examples of Gothic churches would include;Notre Dame in Paris, Westminster Abbey in the UK where Fergie got married ( yes you didn't need to know this ..hehe) and Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin

I attended sunset mass in Spanish here. It was a dull and gloomy Saturday as you can see from the picture above. This was taken just after a huge downpour ( where I got drenched and was forced to buy a pink umbrella with multiple words saying barcelona all over it ) and just before mass. Quite a crowd heading in. I got here early and managed to get a seat for mass.

This cathedral is in the Gothic area of Barcelona and the nearest metro station in Jaume which is the yellow L4 line. If you'll end up near a Rambla and Hard Rock Cafe which was the rendezvous point for dinner plans.


Pavlova, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.
This was home made and it tasted absolutely delicious. Twas made by a mere 14 year old girl. Talented? Yes. Better than the same dish served at Alexis. I had a lovely dinner with friends...we were served home cooked food served some cocktails and wine and chatted on nothing medical at all:) Waze was accurate and led me to Wangsa Maju with only one hiccup...which wasn't its fault. My iphone died just after I turn on into DUKE highway which caused a bit of problems. I got confused and so did it. BUT I arrived on time:) Yes for once. I'm usually notorious for getting lost and arriving late. Things are looking up!!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Pasta by Maggi

Pasta by Maggi, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.
Found in a shop near the bus stop; interesting noodles not seen in Malaysia. But the brand is familliar. We popped into this stall to buy some water. After walking up Montjuic and around the Palau Nacional as well as trying on numerous shoes along La Rambla and taking loads of pictures.....we realise a spot of bubbly water would be just the thing to end the day. We took the bus back to the hotel. Number 94 or 95 will take you almost right to the front of the hotel. A word of warning, the buses aren't air condition and oh oh got very warm in the bus.

*city centre, Barcelona

Amazing Variety

Amazing Variety, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.

Its true...we are deprived shoe-wise in Malaysia. Just take a look at the wide selection of shoes in this shop....along La Rambla. ( Central Barcelona) I stuck my feet in most of these shoes and spent some time admiring the effect. You know, it makes a difference the decent cut and soft leather. And most important....they carry my size in most shops.


Montjuïc, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.
Feeling a little bit like Christopher Columbus, we set out to explore Barcelona as we know it. ( In our case very little having succumbed to laziness the week before re googling places to visit) When we got out of the train station, we spent a few minutes staring and sniffing the air. No reason but it felt ( at that time) like the right thing to do. This hill caught our eye. I now know it's called Montjuïc which is described as a shallow hill with a broad top. It felt STEEP especially in the scorching sun and I have tan lines on my feet to prove just how hot that day was.The climb up was helped by a few small escalators to the side. But oh boy...the view from the top was amazing! Certainly worth the tan. At the top of the stairs is the Palau Nacional and if you turn 180 degrees you will get a breathtaking view of the city centre. QUite the right way to introduce Barcelona to us.

Tickets please

Tickets please, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.
On day one in Barcelona, we chucked out bags and made full use of the afternoon. It was blazing hot. I thought of my the sweaters I packed taking up space in the bag and kicked self for not believing the weather predictions. We were housed at the Renaissance Fira and the nearest train station was "Europa Fira". The most sensible advice would be to buy a T-10 ticket. You get ten free trips and you can share this with a friend. Which we did.

Friday, September 13, 2013


sangria, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.

There must be a secret recipe which the locals share at their own peril with non-locals. Sangria tastes much better in its own country. The waiter told us the ingredients,
sugar, cognac, lemonade, water etc and I forgot the rest.

Sangria normally consists of wine, fruit, sweetener and brandy. The alcoholic content can vary from 4 to 11 percent. I suspect the sangrias we had increased in alcohol content from day 1-day 3.

bubbly water

bubbly water, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.

Sparkling water in Barcelona has a tinge of saltiness. Weird! I suppose it goes nicely with the tapas. And the DO the tapas so very nicely here. The octupus tapas was soft and tender and tasty to the core. We had it two nights in a row with some sangria. Again...very smooth and nice to drink.


espadrilles, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.

The black one is mine.(Now) And I feel rather taller wearing them about the house. On a worrying note, my ankles and feet are swollen from the flight back this afternoon. Never happen before and it's still swollen many hours later ie now. Varicose veins? Deep venous thrombosis....what IS the real cause? It feels heavy and the sensation is a little less and I feel like I'm wearing tight socks the whole time. ( except it's the skin that's tight) Uncomfortable!

Espadrilles from Barcelona. We found this shop in the Gotihc Quarter ( which is the center of the old Barcelona) which sold many different types. I initially chose a much higher heel but decided at the very last minute to be sensible and choose the slightly lower heel version.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

what to wear in church

what to wear in church, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.
I saw this in Bangkok. Just beside the entrance to Assumption Cathedral. Very sensible. This is basic courtesy I wish we adhered to this more in Malaysia. I've seen some sloppy dressing ....

Bangkok Eye ( By night)

See! What did I tell you....the eye looks 10 times more impressive by nightfall. There was a rather long line for this so we decided to give it a miss. PLus we were hungry and tired and dying to head back

colorful shoes...anyone????

colorful shoes...anyone????, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.
They're shoes for kids. I love the bright colours although I suspect they may not be the most comfortable attire for sweaty feet. Still....decorative and I'm sure babies don't have very sweaty feet. tasted divine!!!

Bang!!! Goes the diet! I gave into temptation and had a huge spoonful of this which tasted exactly like it should. I should have taken THREE scoops:)

The Bangkok eye

seen from the boat, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.

This was more impressive during the night. But I'm glad I got this shot from the boat.

Boat ride

This was the crowd we met on the boat en route to Asiatique market. I loved the experience. And if you look outside, it cures your queasiness immediately. What impressed me was the proper way everyone queued for the ride. No pushing, no jumping the queue. As a result, we didn't feel like it was such a long wait after all.

The gorgeous pool

the gorgeous pool, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.
I don't like swimming...but this pool was tempting. It faces the Chao Praya which doesn't show up in this view. This was taken before breakfast. I took a quick stroll out from the main building and deviated to the right. As you can see, there wasn't a crowd in the pool. No I didn't take a dip.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Peninsular Bear

Untitled, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.

I saw this teddy en route to dinner on Day 1 in Bangkok. It's a whopping big Teddy bear. The chair is life size so you can judge for yourself. The following morning, Teddy moved to the other chair. ( Not by himself I hope) I wonder, is the mascot for Peninsular Hotel a teddy bear? Perhaps.

Assumption Cathedral Bangkok

I took a boat to Sunday Mass. Now how MANY people can boast of doing this?? The boat ride from Peninsular Hotel to the jetty across took less than 5 minutes. I then walked through a rather dingy jetty onto the road and pass the rather posh Oriental hotel and a sweeper who kindly showed me the right gate to go through. It is surrounded by other buildings and I'd say well hidden from the main road. And there it was in all its glory. Assumption Cathedral Bangkok....which is the principal Roman Catholic Cathedral in Bangkok.

Assumption Cathedral is the work of a French architect and was the brainchild of a french missionary Father Pascal. and it was completed in 1821.( In the reign of King Rama II)  The material used was imported from France and Italy. It was rebuilt in the romanesque style in 1909. The church suffered some damage during World War II and was partly refurbished since.  It is meant to be near the French Embassy( 100 metres)  but I didn't see it while walking to church. ( I must have walked pass it without realising what the building was ) From the outside, it looks like a rectangular structure.  And it has a neat red brick exterior which has stood the test of time. 

It is surrounded by a convent ( The Assumption Convent), The catholic Mission of Bangkok, The assumption Printing Press, the rectory and Assumption college. The schools associated with the cathedral are considered some of the best in Thailand. The cathedral is located in the Bang Rak district of Bangkok.

Just a note on the mass times. When I was there, the first mass of the day on Sunday was at 7:00am and not 6:00am. I had a WHOLE hour to spare before mass at 7:00am.  So I said a whole Rosary and still had time to walk around and take some pictures. 

Assumption Cathedral.
23 Charoen Krung Soi 4

Transport by water

Pretty stable, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.
We stayed at the Peninsular Bangkok. An absolutely lovely hotel by the Chao Praya. This is the jetty they have which brings you across the river to the other side of town and it cuts travelling time. It's also a great experience travelling by boat. Warning, the jetty is a little bumpy so I got queasy initially but once I was one the boat and we were bumbling more nausea.

From the sky

Untitled, originally uploaded by andreaban2009.
We flew to Bangkok over the weekend. The infamous jam lived up to its reputation. Payday we were told. That added another 30 minutes to the traffic jam and so in total we took a whopping 2.5 hours from airport to hotel. I nearly finished my storybook en route. This is us in the sky just above Bangkok. It drizzled when we arrive but otherwise the weather was gloriously sunny.