Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bye-Bye Birdy

Here's a feature about breeding imported birds in Johor. Shot this during fasting month, just before leaving for the Raya break. I got the editing done before I left for Germany even.

Quite a number of people are interested and asked for Mr. Wong's contact number. If you are one of them, just leave me a message and I'll send his contact number to you.

My 1hr Special Feature On Dato' Lat

Germany Part 2

On day-7, we took another train. This time to Heidelberg, which is 1-hour train ride away from Frankfurt. It was recommended by the students and they were, again, very kind to bring us there as the navigation isn't as straight forward. Once there, I wasn't disappointed.

There was a long street of shops and at the end there was an ancient castle on top of the hill. I was told that the castle is a 'must-visit' in Heidelberg.

Standupper before walking up

On the way to the entrance of the castle

And so we made our way up. The entrance at the bottom doesn't look grand (situated behind the buildings) and the path up the hill was the ordinary stony path. But the autumn weather, the ray of sunlight and the bits of drizzle just made the walk up worth it.

Heidelberg from above

At last we got to the castle and see it up close. Sofi (one of the students) pointed out something interesting about the design. It is a 4-storey structure. The ground floor has the tallest window frame and it gradually gets smaller to the upper floors. It creates an optical illusion that makes the castle look higher and more grand. Interesting eh?

The bunch of us stayed for the sunset. It was breathtaking! Not only because I didn't wear enough layers for the weather which left me freezing most of the time. So here I am attempting to warm myself with the sunset. How I wish Mer was here with me. It truly is a romantic place.

Reverse angle

As the sun was setting, we made our way around the castle to see the rest of the place. Here's one part that is ruined after it was bombed by the French. Since it had very thick wall, the French's attempts to bomb from outside was to no avail. And so they got someone from the inside to plant the bomb.

Hey, I was never the kind who was into history...I'm suprised with my ability to remember this little detail. Hehe..

By the time we got back to Frankfurt, it was late night. But I was satisfied with our day-tour and looking forward to going to more places like it. However time wasn't on our side. It turns out a week is NOT that long.
After a week at this part of Germany, we were scheduled to go to its capital city! Now things were getting interesting.

We got on the 12.13 bullet train to Berlin...woohoo!

The train went at 230 km/h and it took 4 long hours to get there.

The Berlin Hbf is the latest and most modern train station in Germany. It was about 3-4 stories high with a whole lot of shops. But we didn't have time to explore though as our schedule was tight.

We spent the 2-nights in Berlin at the Holiday Inn Express hotel. Although it seems like a budget hotel, it was actually very nice and comfortable.

Meet our BM-speaking tourguide, Britta Bastian.

We were amazed by her ability to converse in our language fluently. She stayed in Malaysia when she was 16 for a year and attended the ordinary government school where she had to learn speak BM.

Although many years has passed, she could still put together sentences in BM and was excited that we were there as she could finally speak BM to someone. She was very helpful too. Since we didn't have much time in Berlin, I told her that there were 2 places that I needed to go for a shoot - Checkpoint Charlie and Berlin Wall. She didn't let me down.

Here we are at Checkpoint Charlie. Notice the signboard?

I had to pay 1 euro (RM5) for a picture with these guys - my friend took 10 shots, hah!

Around Berlin, we see this line going across roads and buildings. It is as a remembrance of where the Berlin Wall once stood.

And this is us at the remainder of the Berlin Wall!

At the bottom of the wall they created an 'outdoor muzeum' that shows the history of the wall and the events that took place around it.

With those 2 locations covered, we were just in time to get back to the hotel and get ready for the event at the Malaysian Embassy where Dato Lat received an award from the German-Malaysian Society.

That was where I met many other Malaysians, including this lady who claims to be one of the pioneers in TV3.

From left: Rohana, me, TV3 pioneer, Isa

Over a week in Germany, we Malaysians were missing our local delicacies. Knowing this, the Malaysian Ambassador invited us for a brunch at his official residence.

It is one of the most grand houses I've ever been to. Just look at it!

Indoor swimming pool with sauna

Living room

We thought any Datin would get their maids or the caterer to cook for a group like us. But not this Datin. The ambassador's wife actually cooked every single thing herself! Respect lah...

Dining room - that's the ambassador beside me and Dato Lat opposite him

The whole group - ITNM, Embassy and TV3

After that we made our way to Berlin city for a round of shopping and then it's back on the train to Frankfurt. All we had on board was a chocolate bar, Twix, for 1.50 euro (RM7.50) and a cup of coffee for 2 euros (RM10).

We had to wait til we were checked in the Frankfurt hotel again and settle down before we went out for a proper meal at a Thai muslim restaurant nearby. It was our 3rd and last time there as we were scheduled to go home the next day.

It was a rainy night and I was without an umbrella. Covered myself with my scarf instead.

The next day, our sponsors stayed back for other matters while the rest of us prepared for our long journey home. We said our goodbyes to ITNM representatives who were kind enough to bring us to Frankfurt and for giving me the experience that I will never forget.

No words can describe how much I enjoyed this trip. It wasn't as difficult to find food as some people claimed. We came at the right time as the October weather was just amazing. I believe I spent my time wisely to explore as many places as possible with the budget and time given, while bringing back interesting stories to share with the Majalah 3 viewers.

Just before boarding....bye Germany!

I received an SMS from a colleague saying that my 1-hour special feature on Dato Lat is confirmed for 1 November 2008. I needed to get the moderator (host's intro for each segment) script done ASAP coz the moderator part was scheduled to be shot on the day I touch down in KL.

I boarded the 12.30 pm flight and spent a few hours figuring out the storyline and then wrote the moderator script for Nurul.

To my suprise, I received an iced mocha in a glass from one of the stewards, plus sandwich and peanuts. Hehe.. thanks Ken!

I didn't sleep much on board. Spent 12 hours with the storyline, script and a few movies. Reached KLIA at 6.30 am and slept the rest of the day while dreaming of returning to Europe one fine day :D

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Germany Part 1

The last time I was in Europe, I was in diapers. All I cared about was milk and toys, oblivious to the fact that I was surrounded by snow or up on the Eiffel Tower.
But not this time!

Thanks to our sponsor, Malaysian National Translation Institute (ITNM), I was given the chance to go to Germany for 12 days for a special feature on Dato Lat for Majalah 3. He launched his book, The Kampung Boy, in German language at the BIGGEST bookfair in the WORLD. How cool is that?

The flight to Frankfurt took 12 hours. We left KLIA at 11 pm and reached Frankfurt Airport about 7 am. Frankfurt time lags 6 hours compared to Malaysia. Once we exited the Frankfurt Airport, only then I felt the cold air. Oh, it was misty too. The first thing we did (as all tourists do) - we took pictures! Here's the whole group:

We were lucky coz our hotel was situated in the city and right behind Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (main train station). Little did we know that over the next few days we will be frequent train passengers.

A friend of a friend of mine, Izzar, was kind enough to bring us around town. Being a student, he speaks fluent German which was convenient when communicating with the locals.

Izzar and me deciding where to go next

Now I know why people love going to European countries. Just look at the beautiful colours of the falling autumn leaves!

We spent a few hours walking around Frankfurt...the most walking I've done in I don't know how long. It's something like walking about in shopping malls back home, but this time with fresh, cold air blowing our way. It was amazing!

On a bridge across Main River, overlooking Frankfurt skyline

Romerberg - 15th Century buildings

We observed the preparation for the Malaysia booth day before the Frankfurt Bookfair. Over there, we met Dato' Lat's agent, Lora. She's the person responsible for selling rights for Kampung Boy to 8 countries - US, UK, Brazil, Italy, Spain just to name a few.

Interview session with Lora

Dato Lat, ITNM group, Lora and me at the agent's meeting place at the bookfair

Next day we boarded the train and made our way to Mannheim, about an hour train ride away from Frankfurt for a side feature. Being a first timer on board a train in a foreign country, I was cautious...afraid we might end up some other place. As soon as I saw the Mannheim Hbf sign, I knew we were on the right track. Phew!

Along the way we enjoyed the beautiful scenery at the same time making sure we don't miss our stop!

In Mannheim, we were greeted by Izzar and a bunch of other Malaysian students.

We made the students study and cook for us. Well, not for us per se, but for Majalah 3. Just a side feature about Malaysian students in Germany.

My cameraman, Isa, me and a Malaysian student, Hanif staring at space

We didn't have much time for the shoot as we had to rush for another event that evening. We shot as much as we can at the house and then made our way outside. Passing by this beautiful park, I just couldn't help but get another picture taken with the boys.

After stopping by their university and Mannheim city center, we took the 4.30pm train back to Frankfurt and made it just in time back to the hotel to change to a rather formal attire. We were all set for Frankfurt Hilton for an event which was attended the Malaysian ambassador and many other important people. That was when we saw some familiar faces.

Isa, Nizal, Nazri, Adli, me and Fadil

Nizal was one of my first teachers in TV3, Adli was once a Majalah 3 journalist and Fadil is one of my favourite stringers (freelance cameraman). They were there for another shoot and we happen to be covering the same event - the launch of Malaysian Food Fest and soft launch of Lat's Kampung Boy German edition.

It was a cocktail-like event where everyone was standing. However we were served nasi lemak bungkus, mee goreng, nasi goreng kampung and cokodok udang (translate: malaysian food).

The next day was the official launch of Kampung Boy German edition at Frankfurt Bookfair.

Dressed in full baju melayu attire, Dato Lat took the stage and entertained the audience (mostly foreigners) with his many stories of his life which includes his experience as a kampung boy.

The turn-out was good and the mat sallehs were genuinely enjoying the stories of life in Malaysia back in the 50s.

Eventhough he had countless interviews that day, Dato Lat still made time for another interview with us. Prior to this trip, we spent 3 days in Perak for a shoot at his home and his kampung. I have learnt so much about him and his career milestones. All I can say, he is down to earth, funny and friendly and I have total respect for him.

Interview with Dato' Lat after the launch

Later that evening we made our way to the outskirts of Frankfurt to the meet the Andersen and Mendelke family. Erika Anderson is an American and Juergen Mendelke is German. They have 2 beautiful children - Alessa, 4, and Talia, 1.

We were there to shoot the scene of the German Lat fan - Alessa being the fan. I fell in love with the kids instantly. Tania was a friendly baby and Alessa, although shy at first, warmed up to us after a while. As you can see, she was hanging on to my leg when taking pictures and just before I walked out the door, she gave me a BIG hug. So sweet!