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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Wesak Day

Wesak Day was yesterday and I, for the first time, decided to attend the weekly Buddhist gathering at the 1st hostel.

It's been such a long time since I chanted. Yunci, the cute freshlady who's the leader of the group invited to attend since the last semester. But somehow I couldn't manage to attend, reasons were wake up late and early outing.

So back to the story, I attended together with Willy, Murphy, Shuyu, Justin Tan, Su Wei just to name a few. We were supposed to prepare food to share, but I didn't know about this until the night before going.

Willy and I planned to cook something but after a while, Willy told me we just go for it without food.

On that day, we chanted for god knows how long, but I was sure that it was long.....LOL Perhaps I haven't been chanting for a long time, but I always lose patience while chanting is going on. HAHAHA and my stomach started to growl like thunder clap inside.

After the chants, we watched a BBC's documentary about Siddharta Gautama's life story and teachings. Then it was time for makan-makan~ Yay!





Oh yes, also it's a tradition for us to bathe the Buddha with flower water. Back in our place, we have fragrant water with little flower petals in the water. After bathing the Buddha, we must take a packet of the water to bathe at home.

But here we didn't have the particular perfume for the water, and the flower petals here were hard. The petals stuck on the Buddha's head.

The purpose of bathing the Buddha was to cleanse away our sins, 3 times.







The place was nicely decorated by Kheng Huat, Yunci and company. Kudos to them though because it's hard to get resources from here.

I was happy to be religious and be a vegetarian for at least one day. I would attend for the next few meetings if I could make it at 9am.

Plus the food they prepared was delicious!!!


Kochi~

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Day Two - Hot and cold


On the second day, I decided to bring my friends to the Tsarkoe Selo (coz not everyone knows well about St. Petes other than Denis and I).

The initial plan was to go to Peterhof . But unfortunately Peterhof will start to operate only in May. So the plan B (cheh~) was to visit Tsarkoe Selo.

Tsarkoe Selo (Царское Село) was one of the beautiful suburb of St. Petersburg. It used to be the summer residence for the nobility but now it's a museum for peasants (I meant us).

I've been wanting to visit this place so much because I didn't have enough time to spend in this palace during my first visit to SPB.

Zhenya, who came from Moscow joined us to go to the Tsarskoe Selo, though he told me that nothing's much there to see before. Heeeeheee......Zhenya is my skype friend for almost 4 years and this was the first time we met up.

We took an intracity train aka Elektrichka by the russians. The trip to the destination wasn't long.

In the Elektrichka with Zhenya and Rose.

After arriving, instead of taking a bus or a minibus, Denis suggested to WALK again and saying that "it's not so far, about 1.5km". It was about freaking 4km away from the railway station!!!

We didn't go into the palace as soon as we reached there, but instead we took a long walk around the lake till the Catherine Park.



Denis and Zhenya resting while I was making some photos and doing something as below........














Catherine Park panarama

After a looooooong walk around the freaking huge lake, we reached the palace and there was a huge number of people queuing up to enter the palace.

Most of us were kinda reluctant to go in because of the long queue. Plus we could see a better one in The Hermitage. But Denis managed to persuade us to go in. He especially outlined the "Amber Room" inside which were kinda pretty.

Funny to me to think about, why were there so many halls in the palace and where did the Tsars and Tsarinas slept at? And all halls were connected by only one path. Sucks to be in the Royal family. I wonder if there's a secret passage like shown in the Disney cartoon "Anastasia", where she escaped the mayhem.

The day was so FUCKING HOT!!! That's how we got our perfect sun tan. Even Rose got her legs rested while waiting for the long queue to move an inch. The authorities allowed only certain numbers of visitors to enter at a time.


Long queue which took us about an hour (or maybe more) to get in

Guest room - Efenem called this as "show off"

Another show off, irregular dining table with custom-made tablecloth

The Amber room - Amber was one of the precious jewellery back then

Denis' shadow in the Amber room, shot secretly by me because it was not allowed to take pictures in that room.

Apparently, Catherine the Great had GREAT boobs too.


After getting out from the palace, we were again WALKING back to the railway station. Rose were starting to feel pain in her legs after lots of walking in the boots with high heels. The 2 russians didn't get the hint at first. So we had to explain about who and why and how and when and what happened. We asked Rose to take off the boots and we carried her on our backs. Then we found a footwear shop and went in to let her buy a pair of sandals. Everything got back to normal after that, she resumed her walking. Then Zhenya hailed a minibus and we got in and rode till the railway station. Good thing that he hailed one though, if not.....urgh~

In the train, there were many people sitting. Only a few seats were available, so we all were standing in front of the carriage. Then slowly number of people got lesser as the train stopped at different places.


At night, we decided to go out to see one of the drawbridges to open. Plus, Nantha had the urge to go out at night to walk since the first day.


We walked along the Admiralty Street till the center of the city, where the Winter Palace and The Hermitage were situated. We found lots of restaurants along the way, but unfortunately financial restricted us from going in.

When we reached the center, I brought my fellow friends to the Shaurma shop that I found during the last visit. It was cheap and affordable, tasty and tummy-filling.

Then we walked to the Palace Square to snap some nightshots, of us and of the palace.





To see the drawbridge to open, we had to wait until 1.30am. So we lingered around the palace square, then sat on the bench beside the palace and wait.

It was FREAKING COLD and windy, and IT WAS NO JOKE!

We all curled up to stay warm. Rose sat on Nantha's lap *tssk tssk*, then on Faiz's. Ieja was sitting with me because we had brought scarves and I brought gloves. But those didn't prevent the cold wind from blowing down the spine.

Then I felt the cold and apparently they felt worse. So I laid myself on their laps though not getting laid myself. They got the warmth from me and I felt like a proud daddy.

Travel buses arrived near the bridge one after another. We knew that it was almost time for the bridge to open. So we went there.


Yay!~ (What's the big deal anyway?)


After that, we walked back to our hostel along the famous Nevsky Prospekt. Eventhough it was as late as 2am, the street was still busy with cars, motorbikes, cyclists and pedestrians. We felt no threat walking at night.

That's when Efenem formulated his famous quote "This is not Russia!"

FUCKING HOT and FREAKING COLD were written in capital letters to coincide my title of the blog.

-End of Day Two-

Kochi~