GLOCCOVNAA is an abbreviation for 'Great Life of Conflict, Climax or Virtually Nothing At All'. That was the long and ridiculous name I came out for my blog when I was 18 years old. Do click on the colourful icons on the right to check out different types of posts in this blog.

29 October, 2012

How to enjoy Edinburgh with a tight budget #1

I would have been to Edinburgh 5 times by now. My first visit was also my first time planning a trip for a group. We were there solely to attend the annual Edinburgh Tattoo and Fringe festival. But I will not be elaborating about that trip, instead the post will be about my second trip when I traveled on my first solo trip. I mentioned about this before in my Uni-7,8-disaster post that I visited Edinburgh to celebrate the New Year 2012. My definition of a tight budget is roughly £75 pounds for a 3 days 2 nights trip including food, lodging, transport and entrance fees.

The first shot I made in this trip.
My previous visit to Edinburgh and my familiarity of the Edinburgh from Google Map was key in this trip since I decided from the start that I didn't want to travel with the restrains of a physical map. I started my journey by Citylink bus from Glasgow which only costs £0.80 for super single + student price, so the return fair was only £1.60. The bus only took slightly over an hour to reach Edinburgh bus station near St Andrews Square.
Holyrood Palace, the Queen's official residence in Scotland.
Edinburgh is a big city with a very dense and small nucleus, so travelling between tourist sites would be much easier and enjoyable by foot instead of public transportation. I arrived at the bus station at 10am. Since I was traveling very light, I took a slow and comfortable walk along the Royal Mile towards Holyrood Palace and Arthur's Seat. As the icy pavements and grass were melting, I started my hike up Arthur's Seat. The climb up was not too difficult, most of the walking paths are gentle. The hindrance was the powerful wind close to the peak. If you want to climb up Arthur's Seat during winter, bring along gloves, a good windbreaker and of course a nice camera. The view from the top is spectacular, I was fortunate enough to get an clear view of the whole city although it was foggy earlier in the morning.
Did I mention it was beautiful up there?
After carefully climbing down some slippery slopes, I had checked-in and had lunch at the Smart City Hostel which was a fantastic hostel. I stayed at this hostel during the previous trip and was very impressed by the cleanliness and location, not to mention that it only cost around £40 for 2 nights even during the New Year holiday. The hostel was noticeably crowded and many customers were denied rooms without prior booking. Thankfully I managed to get a comfortable bed in decent dorm sharing with 4 other tourists despite paying for a shared 8 bed dorm. So the tip here is to book early, sometimes they may even reward early birds with an upgrade.
My dorm had individual lockers and an attached bathroom and toilet.
I met up with a group of friends who arrived by train at Waverley Station later in the afternoon and had an early dinner at the station's Burger King. Shortly after dinner, we entered the barrier of the Hogmanay Street Party with our £15 basic ticket. Here are my two cents about the Street Party:
  • Bring an umbrella or a raincoat in case it rains.
  • Glass bottles are not permitted in the party.
  • Prices of food and drinks in the party compound are inflated (obviously).
  • Be prepared to queue for/use stinky mobile toilets.
  • Try not to get separated from the group in the crowd (it is easier said than done).
  • Beware of snatch thieves and drunkers.
  • Get a comfortable spot near Princes Street Garden at 11.30pm for a wonderful view of the fireworks.
  • Enjoy singing Auld Land Syne with everyone on the street.
 
To be honest, I had the feeling that the Hogmanay Street Party was a huge tourist trap when the streets are filled with mostly foreign tourists like me. I was also not particularly impressed by any of those mediocre bands and the whole party was just a hype for the midnight fireworks and Edinburgh being the origin of the world famous Auld Lang Syne song. But I must say the fireworks were impressive and the atmosphere when everyone sang the song was great.

To be Continued...

lalanandaFRY
29/10/12

27 October, 2012

K for Konfession

Obviously this post is about South Korea, I mean it is so obvious that konfession starts with a K! OK, that was too lame. Maybe I should have named this post Gangnam Style instead. As far as worldwide popularity, Gangnam Style is probably the first thing people associate with South Korea, overtaking stuff like Samsung, Kimchi, football star Park Ji Sung, Taekwondo, UN S-G Ban Ki-Moon and Super Junior. Who could deny the popularity of this song nowadays?

To the US or the rest of the world, English music tend to be the staple or at least the most heard. But in between them lies the sleeping giant of "foreign" music. If you have been living under the shell all these years, here is a list of non-English songs that suddenly became popular (as far as I know):
- La Bamba by Los Lobos (Mexico)
- Rico Suave by Gerardo (Ecuador)
- Macarena by Los del Rio (Spain)
- La Copa de la Vida by Ricky Martin (Puerto Rico)
- The Ketchup Song (Aserejé) by Las Ketchup (Spain)
- Dragostea din tei (Numa Numa Song) by O-Zone (Moldova)
- Jai Ho by A.R.Rahman (Hindi)
Then there was Gangnam Style...
If only Maroon 5 wasn't there...
I am personally a K-fan. Funny that people boast about watching Gangnam Style when the views were at <10,000 while I first watched it after hearing that Korea's National MC Yoo Jae Suk was in it when the views were at ~500. Who would have knew that song would be the most successful viral song so far? Until the second quarter of 2011, I had only known little bits about this country, namely Dae Jang Geum, the UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon and my friend's dance group covering Super Junior's Sorry Sorry. Then a bunch of friends on Facebook posted videos of Kara's Lupin, that was the one thing that got me interested in South Korea.
The rhythm was so catchy that I was listening to it for hours non-stop.
Over the 3 boring months I sat at home rotting my life away waiting to go to Glasgow, there were only 4 things keeping me motivated. Two of which were American sitcoms, the other old Hollywood movies and the last was South Korean TV show called Heroes. Although it was like most other TV shows with a slightly reality setting, this show taught me so much more than I could have read online about current Korean culture. One example is that Koreans have very specific terms when it comes to "referrals" especially when referring to elders as a sign of respect. So when talking, a man should add the word hyung or noona behind a name when referring to another older man or woman respectively. Similarly, a woman should add the word oppa or unni behind when referring to another older man or woman respectively. Therefore "Oppa Gangnam Style" is Psy telling a younger girl that he has Gangnam style, which means he is wealthy and has a high profile symbolized by Gangnam, a district similar to Beverly Hills in California.
When I was in Glasgow, I was introduced to one of the most popular shows in Korea called Running Man by my friend Jason, who used to watch it while having brunch during the weekends. This show is hosted by the aforementioned National MC Yoo Jae Suk and is one of the most popular variety shows in Korea and now gaining popularity across Asia. At one point they actually got Jackie Chan as a cameo appearance in their Hong Kong special episode. Other variety shows like Invincible Youth, We Got Married, Infinity Challenge and Strong Heart are also very interesting if you are interested in Korean life and celebrities. Besides variety shows, I also watched action dramas like Iris and City Hunter, both somehow illustrate the high production value and quality of basic small screen productions in Korea.
I am still hoping for them to come visit Malaysia.
Kpop is another huge thing nowadays. A few years before I have even heard of Kpop, I was watching 綜藝大國民 and they introduced a girl group named Orange Caramel, a subgroup of After School. That time I marveled the Taiwanese fans who turned up to cheer for the group singing songs they don't comprehend. Then years passed, Nobody by Wonder Girls was the most catchy song of that time and now we have Gangnam Style. I finally get how to enjoy Kpop, even my MP3 playlist is mostly Kpop. There is just something interesting about not understanding what the song is about but still enjoying the beat and suddenly language is not a barrier anymore, that is music.That is why Gangnam Style is this successful.
MC Yoo should have worn a green suit instead of yellow!
That's my Konfession, as a K-fan.

공랜이
27/10/12

26 October, 2012

H&N Prelude

If you have visited my blog before, you would have noticed that the blog has undergone a huge overhaul.

This was how it was, what do you think about the new appearance?
What you may already noticed is that my blog used to be very dark, very grey and very black. I explained in several previous posts that I love the colours black and white because those are the colours that I definitely can see *I'm red-brown-green colourblind*. The new colourful appearance is my way of showing that I am going to embrace a colourful change in my life. This is probably my first post about me NOW... what I mean is this is not a retrospect anymore! I am naming this new thread of posts as H&N a.k.a Hear and Now. Previous threads can be accessed easily by clicking on the icons on the right.
Ironically, the H&N sign is black and white... lol
Since this is prelude, let me introduce this blog and new thread to all of you again. GLOCCOVNAA started out as a pseudo-blog on the social networking site Friendster in early 2007 *when it was the fashionable thing to have*. At that time it was just called 'Entry to Hell' and was the platform I used to post my rants about my life and stress when I was in high school (Entry to Hell is now one of my threads on this site). When I transferred all of that into blogger later that year, I renamed it as 'Great World of Mystery, Suspense or Virtually Nothing at all' and started a new thread called 'Mystery of the Unknown'. I think you will see how bad a poet I was/am/ever will be. That explains why my blog has such a long name even after I renamed my blog as 'Great Life of Conflict, Climax or Virtually Nothing at all', now known as GLOCCOVNAA.
I had this header for almost 3 years, the one before had a white horse instead of the chess set.
I entered college the following year and started another thread called 'Musclés Dé Dansé' which is French for dancing muscles to document my college life. The weird part about these posts were that 8 of them had French titles and the rest had English titles. To be honest, I have no idea why I made it that way, it seems silly now looking at it years later. The longest and probably my favourite is the Uni-disaster thread. The numbers between Uni and disaster shows the semester when the post was published. It lasted the whole four years of my university life with weekly posts much like a university log book.
I made new little icons for my threads, cute right?
As I mentioned before, I still have lots interesting stuff to post regarding my travels while I was in the UK and Europe during the past year. I may start another thread to post about that and in the mean time, H&N will be the ongoing thread. My previous post 'Remakesploitation' and many other similar posts are special spontaneous posts which are more like articles I write when I did some reading and study on certain topics. These can be very random *I have talked about Japanese trends of making big stuff and celebrity shout-outs*. Recently I gave it a new name "Really Random Rants" a.k.a the 3Rs.

If you managed to read through this whole post about my *blog history* and felt it was boring, just scroll down and you will see that I am not as boring as you think... I hope! Thank you very much for visiting my blog and I hope you will come visit again to find more interesting posts. By the way, do visit my youtube channel as well! The link is down the right column.

This is lalanandaFRY signing out!
25/10/12

20 October, 2012

Remakesploitation

I got this term from Brad Jones, the phenomenal Cinema Snob himself. Remakesploitation is the term used by him to describe the exploitation of previously successful ideas to spawn new films years later based on that idea, with or without the exact same premise. This practice is old, and by old I mean 70-80 years old. Famous movies like House of Wax starring Vincent Price in 1953 and Scarface starring Al Pacino in 1983 were also remakes! I have a couple of issues about exploitation of remakes.

Thought of this topic after watching the original Total Recall (1990) on the net.
1. What counts as a remake?
A remake is a method of making new production based on ideas and material from past movies, TV shows or cartoons. Remakes can be done to any form of media, but I am only addressing films.
Great movie, great remake... in StereoVision 3D
2. What do they remake?
Most of the producers and film makers would only remake films worth remaking, namely popular and famous ideas in films. There are some rare occasion when they remake previously unknown films, but that is really taking a huge risk. Almost every genre have remakes, for example, Psycho (1960 & 1998), King Kong (1933, 1976 & 2005) and Batman (way too many to count). There are various type of film remakes:

  • Movies - movies: Planet of the Apes, The Fly, A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • TV shows - movies: Mission: Impossible, The A Team, Charlie's Angels
  • Cartoon movies - movies: Transformers series, 101 Dalmations
  • Foreign movies - movies: The Ring, The Grudge, The Departed
  • Movies - Cartoon movies: The Prince of Egypt, Star Wars: Clone Wars

Psycho (1998) was a lazy shot to shot remake of Hitchcock's Psycho (1960).
3. Why remake a movie when the original was already good?
There are many reasons to remake a movie. Some movies like Halloween (1978) created the craze for slasher films and spawned 7 sequels. By the time they got to Halloween: Resurrection (2002), the idea was getting stale and the films got too boringly repetitive. So in 2007, Rob Zombie tried to reboot the franchise by using the idea and characters from the first movie. Many people think this and other remakes are film maker's efforts to "milk the old cow" while some others inject totally new ideas into the concept. Not all remakes are of original film which are good like the coming Crazy Fat Ethel remake in 2013. James Rolfe, the Angry Video Game Nerd, once said that film makers should remake bad movies instead of good ones because there are many bad movies with good stories but were not narrated effectively.
The mentality is simple.
"When you got a good idea, make as much money out of it as possible"
4. Why would people go to watch a remake if it is the same thing?
Let me use Peter Jackson's King Kong as an example. Peter Jackson is an awesome director and he has always admired the Dynamation (stop motion photography) of Ray Harryhausen, especially those in King Kong (1933). His 2005 King Kong movie is an appreciation and homage to his favourite film. The Hammer film production company were also well known for their remakes of horror movies in the 1950s, 1960s and the 1970s. Dracula (1958), Frankenstein (1957) and The Mummy (1959) starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee were all remakes of the originals by Universal Studios in 1931. But they were in colour and had slightly different stories. So people watch remakes in hopes of a film with new and inventive plot, visual effects and even overall story line.
Dracula Montage
Every single live action Dracula so far... 1922-present
Total = 32 actors (as of 2012)
5. Are there any remakes that are better than the originals?
This depends very much on personal judgement. There are definitely many remakes which are better in my opinion. The recent movie The Amazing Spiderman is the first that came in my mind. The Sam Raimi version wasn't bad, but new one has much better character development, story line and visuals. The other two I remember are The Thing (1982) and The Fly (1986). These remakes and their originals are all fantastic classics. The only better point of these remakes is their vast improvement in visual effects. I haven't watched Dredd 3D yet, but I heard the story and visuals are good as well. Of course the general consensus that remakes are worst than their originals is accurate most of the time. I am still anticipating the upcoming Man of Steel and Robocop movie in hopes that it can be as good, if not better than the original.
the design looks nice enough, hopefully the movie doesn't disappoint.
**Update**
I just came back from watching Dredd. Although both this and the 1995 Stallone version were entertaining, Karl Urban's performance in this movie is too awesome to ignore. The effects for the Slo-Mo in this movie are nicely done and if you like action movies that depict actual killing and death, this is the movie for you, not the 1995 Judge Dredd. Be aware that this is an adult action movie, so there are many gory and realistic death scenes.

So that's what I think about remakes. Hope you enjoy the huge Dracula montage I made as well :P

lalanandaFRY
20/10/12

19 October, 2012

Uni-7-8-disaster all in one

This post may not be as long you may think it would be... I can summarise my final year in UK in 3 words.

FUN EXHILARATING STRESS

Celebrated my 21th birthday with a bunch of friends!
Semester 7 was the fun and exhilarating part. The timetable had only 2-3 columns filled, mostly Thursday and Friday mornings and sometimes Monday workshops. That's it! Some of my friends had to attend their lab practicals for their research project during the other days but for me, it was HOLIDAY!!!
I had my own research project which required me to collect data from NHS pharmacists who also act as assessors in our final year OSCE examination. This means that I had to travel to several different pharmacies around and outside of Glasgow, like a field trip. Sadly my only trip outside of Glasgow was Hartfield Clinic in Dumbarton, the others were within Glasgow like the Royal Infirmary and Western Infirmary.
Dumbarton Central train station at 9am in December.
Walked around University of Glasgow after my assignment in Western Infirmary.
Winter is quite a depressing season. The weather got really inconsistent, sometimes hailing, sometimes snowing and sometimes the sun appears when the day and night temperature difference can be up to 15C. Many people in my house went for holiday, leaving only 3-4 of us at home doing nothing.
One day we got bored and I decided we should visit Glasgow Necropolis near our hostel.
On New Year's Eve I went on a solo trip to Edinburgh to attend the Hogmanay street party and met up with a bunch of other friends there. Although the party was a total rip-off, the fireworks and atmosphere was fun, especially singing Auld Lang Syne with everyone where the song was actually made. My friends went back to Glasgow after the party while I stayed for another 2 days to explore Edinburgh. Fortunately I didn't get lost this time and didn't need to use a map anymore since I was familiar with the roads already.
Group photo shortly before the street party
Let me think, what else happened? Semester 8 was much tougher than any other semester since we already enjoyed ourselves too much during the previous semester *my bad*. Projects, presentations, tests and OSCE were coming at us endlessly. Somehow we still managed to plan a Malaysian Night and celebrate Chinese New Year before that nightmare started.
Muhibbah in Glasgow!
All you need during CNY, cookies by Chei Wan, Mandarin oranges, Bak kwa by me and
the awesome-st CNY reunion dinner away from home!!!
After that, life gets really crazy and stressful. That's the best description I can make, staying at home most of the time studying and working on projects, that's all for until study break. Ironically "study break" was the time we stopped studying for a short while to take a breath of fresh air although the final exam was just weeks away because we were so exhausted finishing and submitting our research project. Many of my friends went for trips during that time. I personally didn't go anywhere outside Glasgow.
We did visit Celtic Park
and St Andrews, home of Golf.
I think that's about all for semester 7 and 8. OH ya, before I forget, I went to another self planned solo budget trip to London. Being alone in trips like these were tough. I did all the bookings and itinery myself long before I knew what to expect in London. It was a true challenge and really made it a better experience than just following a tour group. Can anyone believe I only spent around 170pounds for the whole 4 days 3 night trip *150pounds if I didn't miss my bus back to Glasgow*. It was still a fantastic achievement to me.
This is just a summary of what I did in London. 
More posts to come very soon, so stay tuned!

lalanandaFRY
19/10/12

16 October, 2012

Summer Holiday in Italy #5

Let me just bombard this post with pictures to awe you!!! I saw all these things within the first 24 hours reaching Rome. So just enjoy them first before I elaborate...

The nearest landmark to our hostel was Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, the largest RC Marian cathedral in Rome.
Saw this in the TVB drama 冲上云霄 and tossed a coin to make a wish like the character in the show.
Fun fact about the Pantheon, the building has a large hole in the roof, I entered when it rained and the sight of the light and water combination created a rainbow indoors... so magical!
Piazza Navona was one of the settings of Angels and Demons. I don't remember which fountain but one of the clues symbolised water led Langdon there.
My first time seeing the Colosseum was in the evening and it looks way better this way.
If you have been reading my last 4 posts, you should know that our travelling style is the same everywhere:
1. Find hostel and check in.
2. Get map and find landmarks in it.
3. Cross fingers and start walking there.

When we first arrived at Rome, it was already around evening time and we were all tired and hungry. So after placing our luggage and resting for a short while, we left immediately for dinner. I have nothing much to shout about Rome's food, much like KL food, it is just the fusion of all the stuff you can get in other parts of the country merged together.
Just look at the number of people in the Colosseum, it was difficult to just walk around at many places.
The next day was the regular city tour. The planner and I got help from the hostel receptionist to find a path from the hostel that leads us to all the major landmarks on their map after breakfast. Rome is such a crowded city during the daytime. When reaching our first destination the Trevi Fountain, we found ourselves surrounded by hundreds, maybe thousands of tourists. The surrounding was really chaotic since everyone was fighting for a nice place to stand and pose for photographs. This would set the mood for the entire tour in Rome, the HERD CHALLENGE.

We went on to visit the places above and returned in time for dinner at a Chinese food restaurant. This is the first and last time we had non Italian food in Italy. As a Chinese from a country with unlimited Chinese food, the restaurant was way overpriced and the food was @#$%, but it was still nice to have non Italian food after the past 2 weeks of overdose.
I know they look good but they really are just mediocre.
By the time we finished our dinner, the sky was dark and we had no idea where to go. So I whipped out the map and guided out group through some dark streets and long roads to see the night view of the Colosseum. It was so terrifying and challenging but once we got to see the majestic structure, it was worth the trouble.

I don't have anything to say here, just WOW!!!
The next day was all about old Rome, namely the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. My knowledge of Roman history is very limited, so if you want to know more, just go search the net, then come back here for pictures. We just bought 1 ticket which grants entry to both structures next to each other with no time limit, so it was really convenient.
The inside is crowded just to get in, but the inside is just huge and amazing.
Gorgeous view of the Arch of Constantine and the Colosseum behind.
The ancient palace stadium for the high profile people only.
Got a good view of the whole forum from the Palatine hill.
Squeezed myself through the massive amounts of people to get a shot of the Arch of Septimius Severus with Santi Luca e Martina behind.
Throughout that day, I was starving and thirsty with no restaurants or cafes to be found nearby. Not until we travelled to Trastevere area for dinner. The restaurant, La Taverna de' Mercanti was recommended in 食尚玩家's Rome tour for their classical atmosphere and delicious steaks.
We walked across Tiber Island to get to this restaurant.
My saliva is dripping just as I'm typing now.
And now we reach the final parts of our tour. The Vatican City... *drumroll*

When we were entering one of the smallest countries in the world, we noticed a weird phenomenon of a long line of people queuing up along the streets. At that moment we were actually looking for the Vatican Museum because we booked our tickets online. After walking for more than 2km, we found that the queue leads to the museum. Are people so desperate to enter the museum? BTW, take this as a tip if you are planning a trip to the museum, book online to avoid that ridiculous queue.
This is roughly 300m away from the entrance, when I still didn't understand what was happening.
The museum is awesome for those who like Roman and Christian history. Personally, I have no idea what I am looking at most of my time. I only get amazed by those large courtyards, golden ceilings, huge maps of walls and the Sistine Chapel. Speaking about the Sistine Chapel, the labels leading there are also ridiculous since they start pointing to it since the entrance but you will not reach it until almost the end. But it was quite rewarding to stand in the Sistine Chapel admiring the wall and ceiling paintings while the crowd is pushing like a river tide.
With such a high ceiling, many people didn't even notice it... I can hear a children's choir singing  ahhhhhh in my head just looking at this.
FYI, people are not actually allowed to take photos in this room, so you are currently looking at illegal art... muahahaha!!!
With so many tourist in the museum, our group got separated and only 3 of us met at the front door while the rest were waiting for us at the cafeteria (product of miscommunication). We ended up meeting in front of the St Peter's Basilica. The biggest church in the world also had a queue and we were all lazy to wait to enter, so we had some sort of sunbathing/picnic/doingnothing at Piazza San Pietro. We even recorded a video of us singing Negaraku there for fun.
This was where we sat, on the hot hot stone floor.
Looks really like a picnic right?
We had no idea what to do after Vatican City and on our way back to the hostel, some of us decided to return to the Pantheon to have gelato. Before I forget, the first time I visited the Pantheon, there was a famous cafe just around the corner which boasts to be the best coffee in Italy. Of all places, coffee seems to be a big drink in Italy and being the best means a lot. *Where you thing the word "espresso" was invented?*
The shop is called La Cassa dell Caffe and they sell an espresso shot for 60cents.
It looks small but the taste you get in your mouth lasts longer than any tall Starbucks.
So on our final day in Rome we visited the Spanish steps and the Via Condotti at the bottom. Nothing much to say about the steps since there were just so many tourist sitting around doing nothing *and some kissing a lot* and it is wide and big, that's it. However Via Condotti is the street that has the largest number of branded goods I've ever seen, even after coming from Milan. Just imagine yourself looking out of a Burberry store window to a Jimmy Choo shop, Giogio Armani shop, Versace shop and D&G shop while a lady beside you is paying with a platinum card for her 1000 euro dog tag... then a shopkeeper ask you not to touch watches from the Rolex showcase and chase you out of their shop. Yes, we were in fat-rich-aunty heaven.
Last meal in Italy!!! Ciao!!!
For the third time, we visited the Pantheon *we love that place* for dinner before we left Italy for Glasgow. I had one of the best seafood risottos ever there but I remembered it being quite slow and we ended up rushing to get our luggage from the hostel to catch the airport bus.

So that's it for Italy. I'm not sure how I will be blogging later after these 5 continuous posts on history *1 year ago* stuff. Most probably I will be going to fast forward a little later on so that everything isn't so stale. So stay tuned!!!

lalanandaFRY
16/10/12