Taking a break at Tanjung Jara

 

It’s nice to have a break. Totally unwind and away from emails, telephones and work. Tanjung Jara is the perfect place to do that. The distance could be a bit of a problem… it is a 6 hour journey – taking into account of stops along the way.

I was keen to make the most of it. The drive was pretty much ok on the highway – not much bothered by traffic. Poor Ju though, she probably found the drving journey tougher as this was the first time she drove (yeah, we drove in two cars) to the east coast. We had to stop at Kedai Kopi Hai Peng in Cukai. Hai Peng is a quaint but happening kopitiam which serves some good coffee and tea, including some good roti bakar and nasi lemak.

The weather at Tanjung Jara (about 15minutes north of Dungun, or 60kms north of Kemaman) was perfect. It only rained late in the evening on day one. The welcomed shower did help cool the air somewhat.

The kids truly enjoyed their stay. Saiful, our third, is not one to mince his words: “awesome” is how he described it. Couldn’t agree more.

We will come back in the future.

Taking a break at Cyberview lodge

 

Holiday for the Fazz family is a pretty modest affair. Given the five kids we have, a holiday would usually mean a local destination. Since last year our family holidays is a trip to Putrajaya / Cyberjaya for a weekend away from town.
 
This time round our stay is at the Cyberview Lodge, in Cyberjaya. Booked two joined rooms for the family and basically left the cares all behind. The kids were pretty happy except for our youngest who still insists that we should have gone to a hotel… her definition of a hotel is a skyscraper, and the Cyberview Lodge most certainly isn’t. The kids get to enjoy the swimming pool morning and evening – which is good enough for them.
 

The place is pretty quiet and peaceful as the room / resident density is fairly low. The rooms are pleasant and of a nice size – big enough to fit a large family such as ours. Cyberjaya itself is not a happening place so night time activities are non-existant which suits us fine.

But I’ve had a surreal experience – perhaps the first time in my life. Last night, I dreamt having a chat with Siti Nurhaliza. This time, unlike many dreams before – I remembered quite a bit from my dream. And strangely enough, today my kids had a chance to meet non other than the star herself by the poolside. Later, I found that she was staying in the room directly above our chalet. Weird. I wonder if I’d have a chance to find out how I managed to have a major coincidence.

Let’s see…

Philosophy in sci-fi films

Gattaca Poster

Some of you may know that I am a sci-fi buff. I enjoy sci-fi in all forms be it novels, comicbook / graphic novels, TV series, films or even computer / video games.

Sadly sci-fi stuff are often not that great, and not to mention very rare. So looking for a good sci-fi fix is quite difficult. There are a few sci-fi films which I enjoy both from a story (action) perspective as well as a from a philosophical perspective. Most of the time sci-fis are not action driven (except for the Star Wars types), but mainly philosophically driven.

Take Gattaca (1997) for instance: this is a story about a dystopian future whereby society is structured into castes of genetically perfect people and those who were born from natural conception & reproduction (“faith love”). This questions our need for perfections in our present day society.

In addition to this, the film also asks the question about human courage, dreams and overcoming imperfections. Very important questions I believe. Why do we all limit ourselves to the physical and superficial shell that we live in, as opposed to letting our mind, dreams, belief and spirit guide and drive us beyond our physical limits? This is an excellent film to boost spirits.

Blade Runner film poster

Then there is the Ridley Scott directed Blade Runner (1982) which explores the meaning of being human in the context of a future where cyborgs (artificial people) are almost indistinguishable from real humans apart from their physical strength and delibrately limited lifespan. In Blade Runner, the cyborgs -or replicants- emote feelings of love, hate, anger, fear and all very human feelings. Their anger is most directed to their human creators for dictating their 4 year lifespan. On the other side, these replicants question the heartless of their human creators for creating them with all these feelings (some do not even know they are replicants), yet deem them appropriate to be terminated / extinguished. So the question is what really makes us humans? The film was based on Phillip K Dick’s book “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?“. Blade Runner was not a box office success in its time but since then has garnered an important and influential (also visionary) status in the sci-fi & film world.

The theme of humanity also runs through other films such as Steven Spielberg’s “A.I.” and “Bicentennial Man (1999)” starring Robin Williams and based on Isaac Asimov’s novella of the same title. These two films explored the classic story of Pinnochio about the robots’ (in these cases) quests to be more human and loved as a human being. The impact of these films were not that major given that the themes centred around love & (in)animate human creations which has been done several times over. The difference in Blade Runner was that Blade Runner explored a wider range of human emotions and even questions our own humanity. Still, the likes of AI and Bicentennial Man still poses a very interesting question about love and life.

Another twist to computers / robots achieving scentience is in Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The film was famous for the malfunctioning computer HAL 9000 which decided it was important to kill the human beings in order to protect itself and fulfill its mission directives.

Then there are other types of sci-fi that explores the meaning of life and reality. Films such as Dark City and The Thirteenth Floor (1999) (Rotten Tomato reviews) and to a very small extent, The Truman Show (not sci-fi, though) goes to ask the question whether our lives are a stage show or the real thing (existentialism). These are interesting concepts and allows science to fuse with religion. What is there after the end of our lives? Another film that does this unashamedly is The Matrix trilogy which is littered with religious ideas and terminology. The appeal of these films is that it really asks us the question of what lies beyond the Matrix? The scene in the first Matrix film that explains the reason for deja vu (the cat scene) still gives me goosebumps.

Minority Report movie poster

Another concept most often explored in sci-fi is the idea that humankind cannot help from destroying itself. This was the main theme driving the 2004 film I, Robot starring Will Smith. Are we humans incapable of maintaining peace? Certainly in the current early 2000s period this seems to be the case. Even with Asimov’s famed Laws of Robotics, the robots in I, Robot managed to rationalise that for the protection of the greater human race, robots would need to kill a few bad eggs to restore a utopian peace. Are these the same rules that some of the world’s government use in the name of greater peace?

Another aspect of sci-fi films is questioning human moralities such as in “The Island” featuring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson and The Steven Spielberg directed “Minority Report” starring Tom Cruise. In The Island, the question is asked about the morality of genetic sciences – which is very much a contemporary issue. In Minority Report the subject of crime prevention is explored to point of asking if somebody is guilty before the crime itself is committed?

As ever, sci-fi is all about philosophical questions that we face everyday. And this is the appeal, in my view.

Catching movies… The Goblet of Fire, King Kong, Aeon Flux etc

Harry Potter - The Goblet of Fire - Poster

 

I brought my kids to watch Harry Potter’s 4th adventure -The Goblet of Fire- last night. Ok… not too bad, a little dark and scary though… more for kids of teens and above I thought… but my daughter was already analysing things after the film.

Overall, I thought it was an above average adventure type tale, with a number of thrills. The characters could have been done better though.

Before the film we watched the trailers of the Chronicles of Narnia film and King Kong. Now King Kong is something I’d like to see. More to see how Peter Jackson’s version of the classic is done. From the initial clips, it does look pretty good.

Narnia is another kids movie which has some promise. The imaging technologies in films these days are just impressive. The battle scenes and characters look good.

As usual, any discussion of films would take me to Rotten Tomatoes, and there I found a sci-fi flick called Aeon Flux. As far as Tomatoes is concerned, the film sucks. But being a sci-fi buff, suck or no, I’d probably watch it (perhaps on the small screen), for the concept itself.

Another sci-fi flick that would perhaps be good is The Far Side of The Moon which indications seem to be very good.

Now what else? I guess there is Zathura coming which is fairly interesting.