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!

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