Monthly Archives: February 2011

Never Let Me Go – a tragic dystopian tale

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Watched ‘Never Let Me Go’ last night. The film was memorable to me due to the heartwarming acting and story idea. I have agreed with a review that it is beautiful and haunting but find the ending seemed too tragic to appreciate.

Watching the film has brought me tears though the story idea of creating clones to be donors is not a new idea. Even if the story is meant to be just a dystopian fiction, I will not support any idea of creating a clone who can be a human like us and has to donate his/her organs just to save us from dying – this is as good as murder in my personal opinion.

At one scene when Miss Emily, the headmistress of Hailsham boarding school, told Tommy and Kathy that the love deferral for couple has never existed. My instant reaction to her answer was anger and disbelief – and for a moment, I felt that she and Madame should be tried for even being partly involved in some inhumane and murderous experiment, although the creation of that school and fate for clones might not be according to their own wills (i.e. they could just be employees or participating in an experiment to research if clones have souls and feelings or just to raise clones as future donors to their sponsors). They explained that the Gallery is created to challenge the ethics of the creation of donors, and if clones have souls. Miss Lucy, the form teacher of Kathy and Tommy was actually fired for revealing the truth about the fate of the clones whom she taught.

I suppose the creation of donors is still much debated today (one of the issues could be the big question on ethics), while the scientists are currently researching on the possibility of using stem cells as a means to extend the human lifespan or cure critical illnesses. If the existence of evil and good clones is possible in the hypothetical sense, I personally still feel that they deserve to live on as long as they want, just like anyone of us (whom I feel has no right to dictate that a ‘real’ human should deserve more to live than a clone should). Perhaps Kathy (the protogonist of ‘Never Let Go’) says it all about my opinion on that; in the movie when she was contemplating the ruins of her childhood, she asked in voice-over whether her fate is really any different from the people who will receive her organs: after all, “we all complete“.

I personally appreciate Kazuo Ishiguro (author of Never Let Me go) and Caspian Tredwell-Owen (author of the Island) for creating such meaningful story ideas that challenge the ethics of organ donors’ creators.

While I can’t say that ‘Never Let Me Go’ is a fantastic film since this is subjective, I’d say it’s a recommended watch. It’s a successful movie and story in my personal opinion, since it had effectively brought some viewers to tears, as well as some reflection about one’s will to live lingering on their minds.

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Budget Luxury Trip – Episode 1

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Beaches, nature, great food, night markets and a myriad of dazzling shopping options are what makes Penang an affordable luxurious getaway. The colorful Georgetown, the beaches at Batu Ferringhi, the skyscape overlooking from Penang Hill, mystifying Kek Lok Si….. make Penang one of the ideal choices for photographers who just need a budget trip to make fascinating sunset and landscape shoots.

Shopping in Penang and Cost of entire trip (inclusive of accommodation and travel fares)
A 3-day tour of Penang can cost as low as S$250 provided if you are careful with your wallet. Learn to bargain whenever you are shopping and are tempted to make any purchases, you can expect to be quoted any price for certain items – so do not look desperate. Some vendors may jack up the price if the tourist demonstrates a sense of urgency in buying the item especially electronics goods like film or battery for his/her camera or phone.

Gastronomic Delights Exceeding Expectations
Foodwise…..you can expect to be spoilt for choices of good food. During my first trip to Penang, food there exceeded my expectations if I compare that in terms of taste with the food I had in Thailand, England, Paris and Zurich. Of course, my definition of Penang food being more delicious can be very subjective. This could be perhaps relates to my 33 years of growing up with the South East Asian cuisines in Singapore – Penang offers a different version of laksa, char kway teow, dim sum, wanton mee, etc. What had fascinated me about the food in Penang is that their tastes are not so generic. Penangers tend to be creative in adjusting the taste of their food, in contrast to the similar, bland kind of taste you can get in Singapore where many different stalls can produce the same generic taste of laksa. And if you are a coffee lover, you’d be very delighted by the taste of Penang coffee which tends to leave your tastebuds wanting more. Generally, coffee is a must-try in Penang whether you are a frequent coffee drinker – Penang is well known for good coffee.

The Fascinating Aroma of Roadside Stall Penang Coffee

Penangers seem to love drinking coffee. Coffee is served almost everywhere in Penang and at anytime of the day. Good quality Penang coffee can often be found at small roadside stalls, mobile hawker centres, coffee shops, clubs, hotels and even at fine dining establishments. Coffee is drunk to wake up, to get a lift during the day, before and after meals, and also during the wee hours of the day at numerous 24 hours cafes and restaurants.Due to the unique roasting process, the type of coffee popular with Penang coffee drinkers can only be found in Malaysia, Singapore, and parts of Southern Thailand. Traditionally, the coffee beans are roasted over a wood fire roaster. The combined roasting and caramelizing process produces a special aroma with the right degree of bitterness and body much revered by the local coffee drinkers.

As cited by a Wikipedia source that Penang is situated amidst the greatest Robusta coffee producing regions in the world, namely Sumatra and Vietnam, Penang coffee is naturally primarily Robusta based. The quality of Robusta beans does vary tremendously over the regions, and the best Robusta beans, feeding upon the enriched volcanic soil near the Krakatoa volcano, can be found in the Lamphong District of Sumatra. It is also the same area where Kopi Luwak (reputed to be the most expensive coffee in the world) originates.

If you are looking for a good time to visit Penang, I would recommend Chinese New Year which is the only time of every year when Kek Lok Si lights up and looks colourful.

Penang Hill
Another attraction to visit is Penang Hill – this one was very memorable due to my experience of going up to the mount of the hill which is really very high above the sea level. Kek Lok Si, Penang Hill, Botanical Garden and Batu Ferringhi are within a rather close proximity to one another – and they are must-visit places in my opinion. I’d spend more time in Batu Ferringhi and Penang Hill if I get to go to Penang again. I have to admit that my tour of Kek Lok Si was the most exhausting one, since it is the largest temple in South East Asia and did took me and my friends the whole day exploring it and taking photos of the decorative lights till 11:30pm when all the public transport stopped operating and we had to get help from a police station to find us a taxi to send us back to our accomodation in the Hutton Lodge.

Batu Ferringhi
(Description coming up)