Thursday, 29 July 2010

Birthday by the Beach : Sands of Time

10 -11 July 2010
Bintan Lagoon Resort, Indonesia



The sand slipped through my spread fingers, as the incoming tide crashed wave upon wave onto my body. Legs stretched out and submerged till my shoulders, the irregularity of the waves caused my seated body to bob about in the water; moving to the make-shift rhythm that the sea hummed to the shore.

I wanted more, and yet less. I wanted to be surrounded by nothing-ness. Wading about on all fours in the water; further and further from the shore, as the crawling transformed into a gradual breaststroke - a graceful rhythm that would guide me to nowhere.

Sufficiently distant from everything else, I turned over and floated on my back, eyes closed and ears only being able to hear the sound of my own breathing - the translation of sound in a different medium distorts it in peculiar ways.

Like a plank adrift at sea, my shipwrecked body was taking it all in - simply enjoying the nothing-ness, the void; a brief pocket of space and time in which I could think about nothing, nothing but keeping afloat in the open sea.

A tradition perhaps, to have too and desire to completely free my mind of all of its shackles come this time of the year.

Distorted sounds of laughter rang through the waves. That was Us just minutes ago...

...Racing along the choppy waves on the back of a jetski. Finger firmly on the throttle, legs flexed and arms fixed in a death-lock on the handle-bar. Shrills of excitement and uncontrollable laughter set the soundtrack to the thuds and thwomps, as drops of salted water brushed off our faces in raging splatters and playful splashes.

Looking up, we saw Infinity. We saw the horizon at which the sky meets the sea; with nothing in the way between us and the end of the world.

Looking up, we saw the Light. Streaks of setting sunlight penetrating through the clouds - a sense of reverence and a sense of holiness encapsulating the sight and the scene...

Subjecting your body to Nature's rhythm has a soothing effect on the soul. Perhaps it is true that Cancerians have a stronger affinity towards water, as it felt almost second-nature to just lie motionless in the sea.

I opened up eyes and stared at the sky, watching the clouds sweep gently by. No images, no relations, no imagination, no depictions. Up and down and up and down - suddenly the sky didn't seem so far away...


Bintan Lagoon Resort : Within and Without

The Room


Full Frontal





The sound of the waves in the distance; hearing without seeing, as the darkness engulfed the sea, and only left her gentle melody to us as an ambient piece.

Activity continued to bustle through the transparent glass walls of the 3 Degrees Signature Restaurant, as the sight of other diners reminded me of how full I was from the grilled meat platter.

The clanking of glasses added a harmony to the ambient melody, as I raised my glass, bringing the straw to my lips, and inhaling a good portion of tropical goodness.

Through the mist of greens and blues, was a taste that was a mix of fruity sweet and tropical sour, with a tinge of bitterness from the alcohol that was in-between. 

Habitually, I stretched my arms across the rattan sofa and let out a huge post-alcoholic-relaxant sigh. Looking up into the darkness above, I squinted hard looking for the stars, the stars that were so visible moments ago...

There we stood, in the junction of shadows of the open field, ensuring darkness from almost all angles; a hidden haven from the light. Looking up, we saw the stars - countless speckles in the sky and in their perfect form and alignment. Constellations eluded us as they were all so cluttered, and yet so clear.

The sparkle in her eyes - more than a reflection of the lights from above. Wonderment and amazement radiated from her soul, as she exclaimed at the beauty of Nature's diamonds...

Another clank as the glass hit the table, as I leaned forward, peering into the darkness ahead; finding nothing but the Sound of the Sea...



Nothing but the sound of my very own breathing, body floating according to the fancy of the waves. Sunlight warmed my face and seared through the darkness of my eyelids. A subtly burning sensation; she was much harsher than the day before.

I took an upright position, and looked around. Nothing-ness surrounded me, and nothing-ness paved the path between the shore and I.

A sense of freedom invoked through the sheer openness, similar to the one experienced minutes ago...

The murkiness cleared as the sunlight streamed in, slowly revealing parts of a picture that lay beneath.

A school of fish quickly darted past before I had time react, much less point it out to her.

Her legs still kicking awkwardly, but at least she was moving. I had learned to grow accustomed to breathing through the pipe, already forgetting the saltiness I tasted upon the first bite.

Pulsating corals of different shapes, forms and sizes lay beneath us, as fish darted over, under and between them. Marine life as never experienced before; a whole new world beneath us - in every sense of the word -riddled with her delightful secrets and her picturesque scenes.

Rising up to take a break, I took a look around, looking into the distance. Through the expanse at which my eyes could run towards the horizon, I realised the freedom that we were swimming in...

A familiar silhouette strolled along the shoreline was my cue to start my swim back to reality.

As the water got shallower and my limps made contact with the ground beneath, I turned around, faced the horizon, legs outstretched and submerged my body till my shoulders. Closing my eyes, I let my body be subjected to the rhythm of the waves once again, swaying and moving according to her tantrums.

I reached into the ground with my right hand, clenching a fist-full of sand firmly within my fingers. Waves came and waves went, as I held the sand within my hands.

Eventually, I finally loosened my grip, as the sand quickly rushed out and slipped through my fingers with the passing of the waves.

Another year is lost, another year is gained.... Happy Birthday.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Pieces of Japan: Day 6 - Silent Night

24th December 2010
Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan

Otaru Canal by Day: Snowfall

The pencil slid gracefully across the canvas, producing glimpses of the future with each successive stroke. His hand wrinkled by the twisting of time, yet they remained unwavering. So too was his gaze, despite the seagull at his side attempting to draw him away from his masterpiece.  

Snow fell gently onto my unkempt hair as I gazed out at the rustic sight before me. The Otaru Canal, much known to be the backdrop for romance stretched and winded towards the mountains in the distance.

Touristic laughter and exclamations were heard all-round, but never serving to remove the serenity that the combination of snow and scenery amounted to. I looked on from above, as I saw her going about her usual business some distance away by the canal.

Taking it all in, I made my way towards her, her actions becoming clearer as I drew closer to her.

Her arm outstretched to catch the snow that was falling gently from the blue-grey skies. She was enjoying the snowfall, above all else... hardly a foreshadow of what was to come...

Otaru Music Box Museum (Otaru Orgel): Snowblind
An instrumental version of the The Beatles' "Penny Lane" boomed through the speakers as the tourist crowd dispersed into individual buses.

Sounds of shutters laid the musical accompaniment as the locals hurriedly closed up shop. It was only 5.30.p.m., but in winter in a small town like Otaru, this was probably the equivalent to an 8 or 10 p.m. in larger cities.

Yet, the nag in the gut told me that it was probably more than the time that was the reason for their hurried-ness, but more probably due to the snow.

The snow that playfully teased us earlier in the day had matured into something a lot more threatening. Raining down hard on us with the wind in a harmoniously destructive tandem, bits and blocks of snow slid off our faces, as we gritted our teeth to press on towards our destination. What was previously a wonder had become a woe.

Holding my coat close to my chest, preventing the snow from seeping through the gaps between the layers of clothing, I beckoned her towards the lights in a distance barely visible through the ever-moving blanket of snow.


With less than half-an-hour to spare, stepping into the Otaru Music Box Museum couldn't have come sooner. Sheltered from the cold and the wet, the joyous choir of music boxes heard through the door beckoned us. As I reached out for the door handle, I was opening a door to a different world - a world of warmth, magic and music...

Peace was short-lived however, as the Music Box Museum only served as half an hour's respite before it shut its doors and we were back in the cold.

As we pushed through snowstorm that was growing ever-harsher by the minute, we heard claps and bangs coming from a distance. Like animals with nothing to follow but their instincts, we crossed roads and half-knee-length high snow towards the direction in which the sound was coming from.

Finding a really unexpected location that served as a make-shift carpark for heavy vehicles, we were temporarily sheltered from the harsh winds and heavy snow by the wall structures around, as the razzle and dazzle played out in the sky. It was the Christmas Eve Fireworks show, and the best part was... it was only 6.30.p.m.

Fireworks at 6:30
Mt. Tengu: Nature's Trickery

Nature was a fickle one when it came to Mt. Tengu. Subduing herself enough to tempt us into pursuing one of Hokkaido's top 3 night views, she left us more than hanging when she decided to throw her tantrum again after the long bus ride and the cable car ride to the top.

In the end, all we had left to entertain us was a room full of masks - Tengu masks naturally, giving good reason to the name of the mountain, but still...

Not exactly 1 of the 3 top Night Views in Hokkaido

Mt. Tengu lives up to its Namesake, in a way


Otaru Canal By Night: Silent Night


Silence filled the air save for the sound of our footsteps in the snow. The road before us laid deserted, as the disappointing trek up Mt. Tengu had us on the last bus, and taking a slow walk back to our hotel through the snow-covered roads fresh from Nature's earlier showing.

A flick of the wrist read 10.p.m. on the watch, as we bashed straight down the given path towards the direction of Otaru Canal, hoping to take the night sight of the canal as our final memory of Otaru.

Arriving at the canal, the expected hustling and bustling crowd was nowhere to be seen. In fact, the whole area was empty save for us and a paid photographer who was probably hoping to get a few final customers before calling it a night for Christmas Eve.

Silence rang through the air as I stood at the bridge marvelling at the splendour of the canal before me. Traditional oil-lit street lamps led the eyes down the winding canal, the bricked warehouses along the canal adding much to the rustic flavour of the scene, as the waters of the canal bore a perfect reflection of all that was around and above it.

All was like it was before. I stood there, gazing out into the distance, as she hurried down the steps, running off into the distance to go about her own business. A speck of white landed on my coat, as I looked up to see little gentle drops of the same kind dancing towards me. It had begun snowing again, just like it had before.

Silence rang through the air; and perhaps that was the perfect accompaniment to the sight that stood serenely before me, in all its tranquility and splendour. A literal "Silent Night", the perfect tune perhaps, to mark the passing of a White Christmas Eve.

- Her Words: ddoodles -
- Photo Album@ 24 Dec 09 -