Leuralla Toy and Railway Museum

Who would’ve thought that somewhere in the historic town of Leura, a suburb in Blue Mountains west of Sydney CBD, Australia’s largest toy collection can be found. A mixture of railways, cars, planes, action figures, Children’s books and vintage dolls, particularly, Alice in Wonderland, Barbie, Popeye, Noddy and Harry Potter.

The Federation Free Classical style of the two-storey house was built in 1910 for the wealthy yachtsman Harry Andreas and his family after the first house on the site, known as Leuralla, built in 1903, was burned down by a bushfire. The entire property including the garden is 12 acres in size. Harry’s daughter, Marjorie, married Clive Evatt, an Australian politician and barrister and took over the house. At present time, their son, Clive Evatt Jr and his family owns the property and are responsible for the current museum exhibiting their railway and toy collection including his uncle HV Evatt’s memorabillas.

Toy and Railway Museum-2The interior of the house is furnished with Queensland maple notable for its extensive paneling and carvings. As soon as you stepped inside, you’ll immediately be overwhelmed by the heritage and extensive history that will unfold before your eyes. The toy and railway collections dates back in the early 19th Century manufactured by different companies all over the world.

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It is noticeable how the owners have a special inclination towards Alice In Wonderland. You will be able to find it in every room and every corner of the house.

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The railway collection is indeed massive. I’ve never seen so many train sets in my life. It ranges from different types of locomotives, railways, trams and trains that dates back to the industrial revolution up until late 20th Century. My photos can not even justify the number of sets displayed in the museum. Here are a few of them:

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There are also a small collection of Children’s vintage hard-bound books. I was surprised to know that Noddy, a fictional character by English children’s author Enid Blyton, was created in 1949. I can still remember my little brother watching a new TV cartoon series of Noddy, back in early 2000s.

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A number of die-cast model cars can also be seen throughout the museum. Notably, the owners must have travelled to Germany to collect some of them. The presence of toys made in Germany and Nazi figures can easily be identified.

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If there are car model toys, there should also be planes and ships! Hanging in the ceiling of the staircase are two huge model biplanes.

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Another Alice In Wonderland collection from the latest franchise can be seen at the top and bottom of the glass cabinet.

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Lehmann Toys by Ernst Paul Lehmann Patenwerk, a famous German toy maker in 19th Century. Toy and Railway Museum-33Toy and Railway Museum-34Toy and Railway Museum-40

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There are tiny model houses that is run by electricity. I used to have one when I was little and just by looking at these makes me want to have my own collection too. The tiny details and the amount of work put into it are incredible.

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Of course, toy collections wouldn’t be complete without vintage board games. But this one is just a collection from Noddy.

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Surprise, surprise, the owners must have been a fan of Archie comics. They even collected cosmetics apart from dolls.

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Apart from Alice In Wonderland, it seems like the owners are huge fans of Popeye too. Their collection range from books, merchandises, figurines and toys.
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Toy soldiers are displayed neatly and organized according to its time period in history. There are medieval knights, soldiers from World Wars and warriors of ethnic tribes.

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I tried remembering the name of this castle but I couldn’t. Anyway, it’s on display too.Toy and Railway Museum-88

Part of the museum has been dedicated to HV Evatt’s memorabilla, an Australian judge, lawyer, parliamentarian and writer. There’s a collection of matches, tin cans, art materials, household products, pins, banknotes and what seems to be – coat strings.

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The doll collection is so varied in styles and time in history. The oldest one I can date back is a 19th Century ceramic doll called bisque dolls made in France and Germany wearing affluent clothing of the period. These kinds of dolls were popularized in the market until after World War I and marketed to the rich families. Some of the dolls from the collection were owned by the daughters in the family of this house. Toy and Railway Museum-76

There are also special edition dolls after the Queen and Princess of the British Monarchy.

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Fast forward to present time, Harry Potter and James Bond toy and merchandise collections are the first ones you’ll see as soon as you step into the house.  The James Bond collection has been arranged according to its franchise timeline too.

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Last but not the least, an extensive Barbie and Friends collection from the very first Barbie, Ken and Skipper dolls, designer editions, anniversary editions, movie merchandises, and limited editions to mark historical events.

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The very first edition barbie doll (1959) in its original packaging and stand wearing striped bathing suit, large white sunglasses, ring earrings, black stillettos, brushed wavy hair in pony tail. Available in two different hair colours: Blonde and Brunette. The first reproduction was released in 1994 in celebration of her 35th birthday and another was released in 2015.

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The first Ken doll was introduced in 1961, the toy displayed is still in its original packaging.Toy and Railway Museum-108

Skipper, Barbie’s younger sister, introduced by Mattel in 1964, a shorter doll standing 9.25 inches in height on its first release.

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Some designer Barbies including Christian Dior, Calvin Klein, Anne Klein, Macys, Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani.

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Barbie’s 50th Anniversary, MAC Cosmetics edition and Millennium Princess edition.

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Barbie Coca-Cola editions.Toy and Railway Museum-60

Barbie pageant editions:Toy and Railway Museum-65Toy and Railway Museum-66Toy and Railway Museum-68Toy and Railway Museum-109Toy and Railway Museum-110

Movie editions of Barbie dolls featuring Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, The Munsters and Wizard of Oz. Toy and Railway Museum-118Toy and Railway Museum-119Toy and Railway Museum-120Toy and Railway Museum-117Toy and Railway Museum-116Toy and Railway Museum-67

Barbie outfits throughout history:Toy and Railway Museum-121Toy and Railway Museum-122Toy and Railway Museum-43Toy and Railway Museum-44Toy and Railway Museum-86Toy and Railway Museum-81

Leuralla Toy and Railway Museum is located at 36 Olympian Parade, Leura in New South Wales, Australia. It’s included as one of the stops of Blue Mountains Explorer Bus  in Katoomba.

 

How Quora Awakened My Curiosity Again

I.

Some of the best things in life are those that comes at the most unexpected times.

It surprises and awakens something inside you.

When I discovered Quora back in 2015, I never expected to enjoy the site as much as I do now. I’ve often encountered people mentioning it before when I was randomly reading through blogs after blogs, forums after forums and social media sites after another. At first I was hesitant to join another site. All of us have countless memberships we’ve already signed up for and I reached to the point where I didn’t want to join anymore at all. But then I got curious and when curiosity strikes, nothing can stop it from killing the cat. A day came when I decided to give it a try.

It was a period in time where I got obsessed in reading about the most popular HBO series, Game of Thrones, based from George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy novel A Song of Ice and Fire. My Quora newsfeed was filled with back stories, fan theories, speculations, predictions and interpretations both of the novel and TV series. Honestly, my feed was only about that!

Reading about it day and night, that’s when I encountered the first Quoran I truly admire, Kelsey L. Hayes. She provides in-depth analyses and interpretations of every part of ASOIAF. She even understands how GRR Martin’s mind works, which is incredible. I’ve never seen someone who had so much depth of knowledge and who possesses such deep understanding on a literary work.

The realization of her character as a person changed my view on a certain aspect of the world. I began to question myself, “What have I been doing all this time?”

I realized that there are a lot of amazing people to meet and interact with; There are so many things to read about; Things to have in-depth knowledge of; Things that will expand and provide thorough understanding on a variety of subject matters.

I got excited.

Really excited.

For the first time in a long time, I was inspired again. My ultimate goal in life has been revisited and re-evaluated. It has been right all along – My search for knowledge and broad understanding of everything in this world. That is still my ultimate goal and Quora is one avenue for that.

II.

It reminds me of an important episode in my life a decade back.

When I was still a sophomore in high school, I discovered a book at home that awakened my true curiosity and it triggered the formation of who I am today. I can still vividly remember that particular night: There was a major blackout in the city on a weekday. We only relied on our emergency lights to guide us and illuminate our paths as we fumble in the dark. I still don’t know what’s gotten into me but somehow, I grabbed this 3-inch A4-size hard bound book, published in 1975, and started browsing instead of playing my portable Nintendo like an ordinary teenager of that time.

The book smelled like it hasn’t been flipped for ages. The pages were turning yellow but still thick and crisp. It was a special edition Readers Digest that we picked up from my grandma’s house a few years back. The book’s content covers from ancient history up until humanity’s prediction of the future. It is filled with interesting, factual, mysterious and trivial information such as crop circles, peculiar diseases, the case of Mary Celeste, the two Titanics, and the bizarre story of a young girl (which I’ll never ever forget). Despite relying on a dim light I managed to read it for hours. I just couldn’t put it down.

Years passed and I’m pretty sure that I’ve read it cover to cover x number of times.

Since that night, I went to bed with a realization and understanding of what my interests are and it explained a lot why I enjoy documentaries and other science and history-related books/movies/TV shows. Thus, my interest with Mythbusters, Ancient Aliens and Fringe Science.

I met myself. As if for the first time.

It was absolute bliss.

Every time I read or watch something about a topic I’m interested in, I feel like a little kid going all thrilled over a piece of candy.

III.

Throughout the years after, my attention and focus somehow diverted to college and everything Advertising-related. A few interests were added along the way. I found myself reading about different religions, philosophy, sociology, psychology and surprisingly literature.

I spent my lunch breaks browsing in our college library, seated in the least explored corners closest to the bookshelf of choice, and getting annoyed at anyone reaching within a 5-metre radius.

I found people I can share and discuss ideas with both in real life and online.

It was a period of awakening.

Reading about all these subject matters opened doors to a whole new view of the world. It was the kind of realization with no point of return.

My own paradigm shift.

I embraced the change and a lot of the knowledge I acquired. Things that used to be important to me seems to have become insignificant. Irrelevant to my everyday life. I found them shallow and childish.

I simply lost interest.

Up until today, I can’t manage to go back, peek and enjoy a little of things that used to be my source of entertainment.

It was the point where I accepted that I’ve clearly outgrown them.

IV.

After college, as a new graduate who just entered the real world, work seemed to be the only thing that mattered. Work seems like how a minor subject acted as if it’s a major one back in the day. In short, it consumed all the time I had, which in all honesty, wasn’t the best choice at all.

I consider that as my dark ages.

My judgements at that time have been clouded by an artificial form of lifestyle. Masked happiness, materialism and high-end way of living. PR was the only thing that mattered. What’s inside has been neglected.

When I quit and focused all my time studying again, this time, a diploma course focused in arts, I looked back to prior and questioned how I lived my life for that short period of time. It wasn’t the corporate life I imagined it to be.

Corporate Sellout. 

That’s what my friends in the creative industry used to refer people who have chosen to be part of the corporate world when clearly they have future in an industry with more intellectual freedom and creative expression.

Apparently, giving up what you believe in and performing tasks you consider unethical for some temporary monetary gain hurts ones character.

Where was the substance?

It was another turning point in life and a chapter to be closed.

V.

If passion is lost, then what’s the point of living?

Fast forward to present day, Quora is a site that continuously inspires me to create and enrich myself. It constantly awakens my curiosity, provides valuable information with a right balance of satisfying entertainment and helps focus on the important things in life. Most importantly, answering on Quora challenges writing, comprehension and researching skills. It’s a site with the right balance of learning and creating without any unnecessary stress.

From the site’s analytics, my knowledge, based on my answers, encompasses Haute Horlogerie and surprise, surprise, Melbourne, Australia. Apart from basic questions about watches, I get a lot of requests about migrating to Australia; Most likely because of my unbiased and subjective answers in regards to the topic.

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The ultimate question is, “Who are my top picks of Quorans to follow?”

To be honest, I cannot consider myself to have explored the site to its maximum potential. I’m still enjoying the tip of the iceberg and little by little savouring my way down to its depth.

So far, the top Quorans on my list are as follows:

  • Richard Muller – A physicist at University of California: Berkeley, author of “Now, The Physics of Time”. Apart from science related answers, he also writes about interesting personal stories that comes with an important life advice.
  • Robert Frost – Works at NASA. Obviously answers a lot of interesting NASA, science and astronomy-related questions.
  • Franklin Veaux – Writes mature relationship advice and an author of a book and site on polyamory, “More Than Two”.
  • Kelsey L. Hayes – Provides in-depth analyses and interpretations of the entire A Song of Ice and Fire novel and Game Of Thrones TV show.
  • CJ Lee – Provides in-depth analyses and interpretations, quotes page references and movie parts of the entire Harry Potter franchise.
  • Jake Williams – Very opinionated and his writing has a satirical nature.
  • McKayla Kennedy – Answers a variety of topics and it’s always rational and mature.
  • Josh Fechter – Gives insightful advices regarding startups.
  • Jordan Yates – Answers a lot of questions about everything.
  • Dan Holliday – He claims to be an “agnostic-atheist-humanist-materialist-utilitarian” Pretty much what he writes about apart from personal experiences that he shares.

————

I have yet to discover more interesting Quorans. There are so many more topics to cover and to read about. Hopefully, a lifetime would be enough to satisfy ones intellectual cravings.

Joe Wright’s Brilliant Eye for Composition: Pride and Prejudice (2005)

There’s no questioning Joe Wright’s incredible talent in directing films. If you’ve seen at least Pride and Prejudice (2005), Atonement (2007), Anna Karenina (2012) and Pan (2015), it’s impossible not to notice his keen eye for artistic details for scriptwriting, character development, scene interpretation, dramatic lighting, shot composition and spatial awareness.

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This is the main reason why this is one of my all-time favourite films despite its historical inaccuracy and lack of faithfulness to the original book by Jane Austen. It’s more of an artistic interpretation rather than simply a film adaptation of a classic. If one prefers a perfect dramatisation of the book, BBC has done a great job in producing Pride & Prejudice (1995), a six-episode British TV drama. But hey, Joe didn’t direct this movie in order to create a duplicate film and that what makes his’ outstanding. I’ve pointed out a few commendable skills and aesthetics I admire about Joe:

Joe’s cinematography is like a love letter to the English landscapes. He has always wanted the character’s proximity to landscape and nature as close as possible especially Elizabeth who was shooting for the stars with her risk of being with Mr. Darcy. He finds it heroic for the lead character to have her feet on the ground and end up achieving her pursuit for romantic interest.

This is one of those films with multiple point of views were taken into consideration. Everyone has become a spectator and a victim at some point. I believe that Joe has consciously included voyeurism as an artistic approach in order to deeply understand what the character’s are going through and how they perceive the events in their surroundings.

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Joe as a director is very meticulous, he has admitted his like to minutiae, his obsession to details of everyday life, and I think it’s commendable to be this particular for a film. The trivial things he included makes the entire film deeper and more meaningful as you watch it over and over again. The rustic and plainness feel of the Bennet’s everyday things, the simplicity of their house decors, the kinds of food they serve on their table, and the differences in the gestures of different societal classes, all reveals a lot about who they really are.

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In terms of characters and their developments, he has portrayed their individualities, choice of words, expressions, familiarity in relationships, familial habits and the evolution of their character’s costume design.

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I will just leave this quote right here which perfectly describe how the costume design has been created for this film:

“I find empire line dresses are very ugly, so I did some research. Although the novel was published in 1813, Jane Austen wrote her first draft of “Pride and Prejudice”, then called “First Impressions”, around 1797. So we used the fashions of the earlier period, where the waist on dresses was lower and more flattering. When Caroline Bingley appears, she would obviously be wearing the latest creation. But Mrs. Bennet’s dresses are earlier than 1797, and Lady Catherine’s are even earlier, because those two would have best clothes from previous years in their wardrobe.“

(Joe Wright, Director)

Costumes are one of the best, easily spotted, telling things in a movie but often to differentiate between characters. In Pride and Prejudice (2005), it’s used to show the evolution of a character. It was mind blowing when I first noticed it years ago and it stuck to me until today.

Throughout the film, Mr. Darcy has evolved from a proud, snobbish and reserved gentleman, to apologetic, humbling and expressive fellow towards Elizabeth. His expressions and body gestures have drastically changed too. He started to smile and be more courageous in being open as an individual and his clothes reveal this change. From his uptight collar in the beginning, to his unbuttoned and loose shirt in the end.

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Joe has also portrayed how a common family like the Bennet’s would normally act on everyday life. Their unrefined table manners completely shows the difference between classes in society but also shows the deep familiarity between family members who care about each other.

Hands are also one of the most important tellings signs in the film. Physical contact was kept to a minimum and Joe has taken in great consideration the importance of showing hand gestures to portray the meaning and expressions of each character involved. It’s astounding how electrifying every scene has been portrayed shooting different emotions at play.

 The dance scene that is one of the most important scenes in the entire film. This is where the conflict has arises. In a time where physical contact can only happen through the dance, dancing is a very intimate activity between a couple. It’s sensual, electric and full of charge in a short time period of dancing in a very formal structure. The sexual chemistry between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth was present and very much alive while exchanging sarcastic remarks. There were so many factors at play in this scene and unconsciously, their relationship leaped from merely acquaintances to troubled couple-in-the-making while doubting their own prejudice against each other.

Again, Joe used voyeurism in order for the audience to intrude at this particular intimate moment between the couple. The camera angle didn’t change all throughout the dance and was carefully following Elizabeth as she twirls and moves around the hall. Following the first few sequences, the intensity of the scene became more tensed as the music increased its volume and intensity. Their witty and sarcastic remarks grew more fierce as they exchange sharper gaze against each other. And finally, the intensity reached its peak as the confrontation between the two stopped them from continuing the dance. The particular camera angle and technique has lead to inspire the entire movie of Anna Karenina (2012).

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This film overall is circular. It’s definitely not one of those films that has an open ending. It completely starts and ends with a sunrise as it open and closes the chapter of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth.

Joe’s comprehensive take in composition of the entire film is both admirable and commendable. His great deal in aesthetic and obsession with details in every angle and every aspect are very impressive. I hope he makes more films as thoughtful as this and he needs more recognition in his field. I can’t wait to watch his upcoming film The Darkest Hour (2017) which will be released this year.

*Source: All images were taken from my favourite Tumblr blog Pemberley-state-of-mind.tumblr.com

A Morning Walk

The darkest hour of the day has just retreated and sunlight starts to pierce through the clear sky. It is dawn, wind is chilling, streets are still empty and thousands of stars can still be vividly seen shining in the midnight blue sky. The woman in her mid-20s observes the celestial bodies with melancholy as she stands in the cold pavement of the unfamiliar metropolitan. The cold slowly envelopes her fragile body wrapped in black trench as her eyes focus on the brightest star.

“Strange. Really strange. I’m staring directly at the past. It’s a reminiscence of a baffling time that nobody could possibly imagine what it was like.”

The screeching of the passing tram breaks the silence and draws her back to reality from her deep thoughts. Her long wavy auburn hair dances with the breeze as she clutched her purse and starts walking towards up the road. It’s a bit of a stroll until she reaches her destination that she can’t even vaguely remember. The trees gestures with their outmost courtesy, branches waving and bowing as she passes by.

The intense aroma of different sorts of coffee linger in the area, inviting and awaking every passers by for a warm cup to grab. Around the corner of the laneway, a hole in the wall caught her attention. A rustic coffee shop with a huge wooden plank nailed just above the head reads “Expresso.” She pulled a bill from her pocket and ordered a latte. In a snap of a finger, the coffee is handed over to her. Or so it seems. She continues walking and crosses the road heading to the next block. The cup warms up her freezing hands as she slowly sips and savour the morning treat.

The coffee triggers a memory.  “How long have I been drinking coffee?” she asks. It has been ten years, “It was the time I decided to start taking risks.”

The vivid memories quickly flashes back in her mind. Her thoughts sucks her back to her senior year in college.

It was the time of the year of acceptance letters. The most awaited moment for every senior student. After receiving offers from the most prestigious universities in the country to take up the course of her childhood dream, she, suddenly, out of rationality, backed out. She was frightened. She got scared of the pre-destined path she’s about to take. She felt something is missing in her life. A spark. A challenge. A risk.

She decided not to accept any of the generous offers. Instead, she has chosen to pursue education on career paths she never even imagined herself doing. Everyone around her was surprised. Her unwavering dream, or so it seems, officially came to an end.

A decade later she finds herself looking back at the very first risk she did in her life. She sips from her cup and feel the energising liquid fills her empty stomach. It’s satisfying and comforting at the same time. Her thoughts linger with a What If.

“What if I pursued my childhood dream?”

She takes a deep breath and exhales generously. The best response she gives herself.

As she reaches the end of the block, a lengthy crosswalk leads to the next one. Her destination is nowhere yet near in sight. She pulls herself together, uplifting her evidently down spirit with all the melancholy that lingers in the early time of the day. There isn’t any stoplights around. Cars vs pedestrian, basic traffic rules apply in confidence that everyone obeys it despite the lack of signals. She braves the crosswalk and begins to cross, level-headed and fearful of the massive vehicles that are about to pass by. Her heart keeps beating fast, terrified and unsure of the outcome she’s taking. However, she feels excited, challenged and surprisingly alive.

In every step she takes, she puts herself in a balance between life and death. But it doesn’t stop her from pursuing such a risky path. She holds her purse tightly and advance like a determined chess piece making a move. Certain of the progression and aggressively faces the path yet to be taken. Vehicles of all sorts continue to pass by without hesitation and she continues to brave the crosswalk. As she gets through, she looks back and observes the path she has just taken.

She suddenly realises that for a decade, she has been spending her life taking the path of a crosswalk. The moment she started to take the risk, she has been continuously taking one risk followed by another. And she’s still not yet halfway through. It may not be an easy path, but undoubtedly, she knows that it’s the right path to take. The only way for her further development as a better person, a passionate individual and an interesting personality with a broadened understanding of the world.

Looking forward, she continues her stroll towards her destination. Boldly facing the direction of the wind. Sipping again from her cup, feeling the cold breeze brush against her pale skin, she obliviates all her worries, unnecessary What If and enjoys the rest of the risky journey ahead.

“Risks are definitely worth it.”

Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur (KL) has a variety of architecture within its area. A fusion of its cultural heritage, their dominant religion and architectural advancement in contemporary designs.

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The majestic Petronas Towers or Petronas Twin Towers stand high in the middle of the city bearing its iconic post-modern architectural design that identifies KL among any other city skylines. It also remains to be the tallest twin towers in the world!

I didn’t spend a lot of time exploring the city, so here are a few snapshots from my last visit:

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Melbourne: Collins St x St Patrick’s Cathedral

In the arts and fashion capital of Australia, it is expected to see a long stretch of little Paris at the eastern side of Collins St, which is locally referred to as “Paris End”. Collins St. is major street in Central Melbourne that is notable for its history. It is still the home to all major designer and prestige brands, high-end retailers, and it used to be the centre of finance in Australia. The original architecture of every building is mostly preserved like any other streets in the city of Melbourne.

Walking along Collins St. towards St. Patrick’s Cathedral, I snapped a handful shots of the glamorous Collins St post-edited with creamy, vintage-looking effect as a reminiscent of its early history.

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Masterchef x Australia

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The new season of Masterchef Australia starts tonight. It’s only fitting to post my snapshots inside the famous Masterchef Kitchen!

A little backstory about the show, Masterchef TV show was originally produced in the early 90’s and was re-developed in Australia way back in 2009 that propelled its international success (Ref). Having an avid fan of the show, I was delighted to have visited the Masterchef Kitchen, located in Metro Melbourne, where the show is annually shot.

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Among any other reality cooking shows, Masterchef got less drama and has more interesting challenges. Its format also allow a lot of information to be absorbed and learned from by the audience. It’s one of the best ways to subtly learn about culinary art while entertaining oneself. It basically showcases creativity of different culinary styles and innovating gastronomic skills. From then on, I’ve become more appreciative of the techniques and fusion of flavours in every dish I taste.

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Black Market Havoc and Mayhem

It was a good day to work in the office. Sunny and windy that uplifts every spirit of passersby on the street of the busy metropolitan.

Inside my walk-in cabinet in my fully-furnished apartment, I just had my morning bath and barely finished dressing up. It was a very exciting day. On the fortnight of our last meeting, I get to see my guy again. My best friend. My lover. More than a year later and we’re still excited to see each other. The spark never fades away and the feeling of twitter patting never fails to visit us.

I, a woman of the world of creativity and manipulation in communication fell in love with a man who is a financial genius.  I never really understood his world. Accounting, financing, marketing, business, management, stocks… stuff I find myself to be an alien every time I hear him speak about it. But despite our difference in career interests, we were more alike than anyone could imagine.

Suddenly, a grayish tint with silver sparks appeared right before my eyes and instantly he, in purple long sleeves with dark-colored tie and black slender pants, came out of thin air. It still surprised me even if it was his usual form of entrance. He’s kind of a warlock or some sort. Well, that’s something still I’m not sure how to define.

In my topless gold and blue knee-length cocktail dress and gold stilettos, he wore his rectangular spectacles and dragged me in an instant. Both of us disappeared from my apartment. This kind of act reminds me of Harry Potter’s floo powder that allows wizards to teleport by traveling in the floo network.

There was no time to wear my undergarments but I managed to grab my coat and inserted my tube golden top inside my bag. It was a lucky move.

It took us a few seconds to reach our destination. A huge condominium on a high-rise building, which he owns under some companies name is where he brought me. We would usually go there to be alone and do things as a couple so I assumed it would be the same for this day. I was standing in front of the large screen television and saw my reflection on it. My breasts were showing so I covered myself with my black furry coat and placed my bag on top of the desk. We talked for a while and decided to skip work for that day.

Surprisingly, an old officemate of our came by and to say hello in a short a tete-a-tete snack. It was Marsha, she was wearing a floor-reaching coat with illusions of elongated designs. On top flows her silky ash blonde hair that reaches her thighs. As usual, she was wearing her pretty toothpaste endorser smile as we talked over our short tea party.

As we were talking, I was nervous of dropping my hands from covering my body with my coat. It was hard to move and it feels very restrained. So I was relieved when she left and got the room for ourselves again. Eager to be in his arms, I dropped my coat and went straight to him. We both fell into the fluffy bed and I hugged him tightly as if we haven’t seen each other for months!

It felt different though. It was unusual for him to be unresponsive to my affection. As if he had something else in mind that he wanted to do. As soon as he opened his mouth to tell me that his relatives were coming, the door opened and they came in. I hid behind the walls and wore my golden tube top, fixed my long black hair and showed up.

I’ve forgotten that he bought the place not for us, but for them to have a meeting place of their classified interests. The condominium although is like a common hotel room, does have a large conference room with long table that could fit 20 people. It also has a labyrinth corridor that leads to their otherworldly place. i’ve never been there. But he told me stories about certain events. Though still I’m not an expert to define that world.

More than ten relatives came in and went directly to the conference room. Some were his cousins but mostly it was his aunts and uncles that arrived to deliver a shocking news. I don’t know what it is, but I guess it was terrible. They were all members of the Black Market, a community where they play their financial interests. At first, I thought it was just a place where illegal marketing occurs, but it was more complex than that. It’s more than a world for financial geniuses with a bit of sorcery. Way different in the world where I live in. It was pretty dark, scary, which is a dog-eat-dog world with battles of competing guilds constantly happening in every corner.

I didn’t participate in their meeting. It was way more classified than the previous stuff they had and gaining information would only do me harm. As soon as they were finished, they went to the Black Market and my boyfriend brought me with him. Finally, I’ve seen what it looks like. Their roads are as small as sidewalks but full of train tracks or rail roads. That’s where you can hover and transport yourself from one street to the next. Looking at their system, it’s not beyond the laws of physics at all. I regarded it as pure sorcery which no human can explain, but I was wrong. Their entire system as financial geniuses in a strange world is a work of geniuses in engineering.

As we travel along those tracks, I observed the stores and it felt I was in a place full of Borgin and Burkes. It’s like I was in Knockturn Alley. The one that sells dark magical objects forbidden to ordinary wizards. The atmosphere was really eerie and the people spookily stared at me as I passed by.

Finally we arrived in our destination which is different from his relatives. My boyfriend’s intention was to bargain something from a merchant, which he needs the most as of the moment. I have no idea what it was. But I went with him anyway. I sensed danger was on the way and it was one of the moments he would need me the most.

Soon after he successfully got what he needed, sirens from all over the place warned everyone of the current hazard in the Black Market. Floating men in black capes with merciless eyes quickly passed by us as if they were haunting delinquents. I tried to hide my fear but he quickly noticed it and held my hand.

We followed the creepy men to see what was going on but what we saw shocked us both. I placed my hand on his shoulder to comfort him so he wouldn’t break into his manly tears. I constantly whispered into his ears to be strong so we could get out there alive. As we tiptoed around the crime scene, our eyes were staring at the bodies on the floor. It was his relatives that we just met a few minutes ago. All lifeless on the ground. We tried to act normal to escape. I overheard that the floating men were still looking for other members of the same guild. “They need to be annihilated.” One said.

As we were finding our way out, he was silent, probably still digesting what happened or thinking of ways to avenge while I was deep in my thoughts figuring out how they were taken down in one blow. His relatives belong to one guild, Arkherna Guild. It was competing guild with the same interest that must be responsible for this. Through their knowledge, one guild could annihilate another in one attack. Must be some kind of technology that could shut down an entire system perhaps. I never knew what they do neither the others, but I know one thing is for sure, it’s never safe to be involved in the Black Market.

We were hovering for half an hour but still I can’t figure out why he was spared. I never asked him, but she spoke to me. He confided that he wasn’t a member yet. There was a delay in his membership and he was supposed to be one of them by now. For me it was a good thing, a relief. At least he’s saved. I don’t know how I can manage to live without him by my side. I hugged him tight to comfort him and at the same time, to appreciate his existence that moment. I can’t help but felt his sadness though, he was very close to his relatives. The way the Weasleys were close to each other. For him, it was always family first. I knew he was angry. He wanted to avenge them. It’s wrong but I can’t stop him anymore.

Soon after, we went back to the world I live in – The peaceful metropolitan under the clear blue skies. Far away from their dark abyss. Somehow it was relieving to feel safe once again, but never did I thought it wouldn’t last long. As we were walking on the streets, we noticed that three masked men from the Black Market were following us. They were probably from the other guild that was responsible for the death of his guild. We tried to escape running from one block to the other, parkouring from one wall to the next and climbing emergency ladders to lose them. But we reached a dead end when we entered a public room inside a hospital. We knew there was only one thing to do, to hid under the bed. It was very risky, but there were no other options left.

The men arrived and saw my hair flowing out. They were suspicious of it so my boyfriend managed to transform me into a tiny baby wrapped in pink blanket. He placed me on the bed where a woman lying there cuddled me for a while. The men left and searched somewhere else. But the woman really thought I was her baby! “You came here because you wanted me to be your mommy!” She said. So I quickly jumped off the bed and transformed back to my original self. My boyfriend was giggling behind me. His trolling was a success. But no time for more, we need to escape!

We ran and ran until we saw a legendary creature half-bird half-horse flying in the sky. It was a hippogriff piloted by one of his cousins. Right then and then, I knew, we are safe. We went to my home in the suburbs to get away from the chaos for a while. the creature landed on our balcony and we hopped off. His cousin was a lady. She left as soon as she dropped us home. She said that she needs to meet the rest of the relatives to plot too. We bid farewell and rested for the night.

On the living room, I lit the fireplace and made hot chocolates to warm us both. He sat on the couch deep in thoughts. It was hard for me to see him that way. Full of anger and sadness at the same time. I can’t think of anything else to relieve his emotional pain but to support his vengeance. I helped him think of plans to take down the other guild but I guess my ideas weren’t helping at all. I just stayed there by his side so he wouldn’t feel alone until we fell asleep on each other’s arms.

At midnight, when darkness was at its peak, the entire place was filled with terror. No different from the world of the Black Market.  We decided to come back unarmed to look for the other guild’s weaknesses. But instead, danger welcomed us. We were arrested as soon as we entered the place. Everyone was. It’s like the Nazi’s took over the entire society. The floating black men brought us to the dungeons where they keep the criminals behind special bars.

I guess everyone needs to undergo interrogation to find the rest of the members of the recently annihilated guild. As we were going down one dungeon after another, a whisper disturbed us. A voice full of wrath was calling his name. I followed the voice, it was disturbing. Soon enough, I discovered it was coming from the wall made of bricks. It was plain and doesn’t seem to be a hidden door or some sort. But strangely, a voice was coming out of it.

One of the floating black men hovered towards me and whipped his hand to the wall. Gradually, a room appeared and an offender hurriedly forced himself on to the bars, screaming in anger. He was reaching his hands towards him as he spoke in a language I never understood. My boyfriend went near him. Observing the way he stares at the offender, it can be concluded that he was his acquaintance before. They must have had a past which he never told me.

He reached his hand and touched the offender’s face. Right at that moment, time stopped for the three of us. Everyone in the Black Market was frozen in time. I, from afar, was watching them converse about a past they had. A past I wasn’t aware of. The offender was freed from the bars and my boyfriend was trapped in a bonfire made of corpses. He wasn’t burning though but in terrible pain. He was screaming. And the offender just stood there enjoying him suffer. I wanted to help, but my physical body is frozen. My mind isn’t.

The offender noticed this and went straight to me. “What strange woman you are. How are you not frozen in time like the others?”

My boyfriend broke free from the spell that bounded him from that bonfire. He thrust onto him and they fell on the ground. He quickly grabbed his purchase which he bargained the first time we went there. It was a powder of blue crest. He quickly sprinkled a handful onto the offender’s head and immediately melted its face. It was a dreadful attack. I couldn’t believe what I saw but I was thankful for it. Who knows what he could’ve done to me if he didn’t freed himself.

The time was still frozen from the others and we immediately escaped from the place. In one blink, we were back again in my apartment. He was unconscious when we arrived. Probably tired from suffering down there. I laid him to my bed and cleaned his face to freshen him up. I removed his spectacles, placed in on top of my night table as he slept like an innocent child. I was glad he was resting.

I sat there beside him and removed my stilettos. I looked at his face and tried to digest everything that happened. It was a lot to recall that only occurred in a span of a day. I learned a lot about him. What he does. Who he was dealing with. It was hard for him. A lot of pain. A lot of suffering. He never told me anything about it. But I wasn’t mad at him for that. I, too, had a secret to spare. Like him, I knew sorcery that I inherited from my ancestors. I never dealt with the Black Market though. I came from a different society. Heavenly, very light and purely peaceful. Our knowledge in sorcery is only being used to relieve all sorts of discomfort.

That moment, I wanted to use my ability on him.  So he doesn’t need to suffer anymore. I placed my hand on his forehead to wipe away his memory about the Black Market, his late relatives and everything else that would remind him of it. I want him to start a new life with me. Far away from the danger we faced. I spared his memory of his family though. And removed their memories as well about their relatives. It was wrong, but I have to save them. They don’t need to face the Black Market anymore. It wouldn’t do them any good at all. Hours later, they would all wake up without any traces of what happened. And for me to live a peaceful life as well, I decided to wipe away mine too.

Soon there was peace.

Serenity.

Reborn.

Hong Kong: Tsim Sha Tsui

The bustling city that is Hong Kong has been known to hold the record of most expensive housing due to its limited land area, thus, all islands have been crowded by tall buildings to cram all residential units and offices – often the regional offices in the Asia Pacific.

IMG_1762 copyAmidst its country-wide urban atmosphere, highly populated areas, and its heavy road and foot traffic, I have always considered Hong Kong as a place of sanctuary. It’s my personal reminder of simplicity and genuine happiness. I first step foot into this metropolitan jungle when I was five years old, and had often trips into this country until I finished my bachelor’s degree. It has always been my run-to place for vacation and relaxation more than any neighbouring countries in the Asia Pacific. Ironic as it may seem to what Hong Kong really is, sometimes, a place can never dictate the heart’s true desires.

Here are some of my shots in Tsim Sha Tsui during one of my trips in Hong Kong way back in 00’s.

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Continuously Seeking for Greater Understanding

I’ve been obsessing over historical Korean and Chinese dramas lately as one of my learning methods in further understanding the politics of dynasties in East Asian History. For seven whole months, I’ve seen over 10 dramas (4 of them are more than 50 episodes each) accompanied with historical readings in attempt to grasp the realities of political strategies during that time.

It’s mind-boggling to admit that my short-term pursuit of knowledge in the subject has drastically changed the maturity of my political understanding. I have eventually developed empathy towards each historical character; For every royal family member and their relatives, maidens in waiting, scholars, and other influential people from all walks of life – From the internal politics of the palaces to the ordinary people’s struggle to survive within the kingdoms during those times, I ended up crestfallen to the fact that hundreds and thousands of years later, nothing much have changed in society.

Ultimately, the foremost influential culprit is still survival – Which is basically human instinct to sustain a living no matter what the condition of environment provides. Greed and ambition eventually succumb people as their driving forces for further advancement of their power, political standing and societal class.

I’ve come to a genuine realization and acceptance that it may be factually greedy to act animalistic in constant pursuit of survival but human beings really do not have any other choice.

My thoughts suggest that a perfectly harmonious way to live is very idealistic but it stays and ends in the theoretical sense. It sounds quintessential for everyone to submit themselves acting according to virtues of fairness and goodness, but sadly, at some point along the way, people will break free of this philosophical way of living and inevitably put someone else’s fate at stake in attempt to survive and advance their power.

Growing up in a society following an orthodox of Roman Catholic, I was taught to be be good and do good amongst other people; That goodness is the only way to live and hence the path to be rewarded. And so, life has become a reward-driven consciousness for me. Upon studying other beliefs, ten years later, I have come to a realization that the most basic foundation of every ideology present in different historical times are all the same. Imagine a 15-year old innocent and ignorant teenager shocked upon opening her thoughts to the other wonders of the world only to find out that her religion is not only common, but is pretty much very identical to any other beliefs out there.

My whole world turned upside down. Everything that I believed in drastically changed and I found myself lost, astray and I questioned everything. I entered college the following year and out of seven theology subjects, I had one professor who challenged my faith. She stayed in the convent for ten years until she decided to free herself to further seek learning of other beliefs. At the beginning of the semester, she made a bet that she will definitely break our faiths to whatever beliefs we used to have.

It was a very challenging time of my life. I promised myself that I won’t lose to her but I maintained an open mind to seek knowledge while hanging on to the one and only faith that I have. Afterall, my favourite history teacher in high school once said, “A man without religion, is a man without path.” And so I began reading on other philosophies and religions.

Before the semester ended, I began to question myself; Everything that I know and believed appeared to be one big lie; One big conspiracy or political propaganda. It’s eccentric to say that I thought it’s a form of mass hysteria for the government’s way of mind control. From then on, I questioned my way of learning. I picked up my 6th grade Science teacher’s advice again, which is to be very skeptical in comprehending and accepting teachings. From then on, I carefully filtered information and ensured I sort out facts from assumptions and opinions. Until I reached to the point where I questioned facts beings classified as “facts.”

Through this journey, I earned consciousness of my progress in comprehending that all philosophical disciplines and religious doctrines exist not for humans to avoid being astray but to accept to ourselves that life is all about balance and harmony. This may sound cliche and I know that everyone is perfectly aware of this: There are always two sides in a coin. There’s the good and evil, the yin and yang, the light and dark, day and night, the alpha and the omega, and so on. But sometimes, it takes considerable amount time to wholeheartedly accept this factual reality and actually apply it in our lives.

PS This post is such a mess and my thoughts seems to be going in different directions. It may be a definitive example of where I am right now regarding my journey in seeking greater knowledge.