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Sorry you were expecting an IBIS review. I have decided to delete my review and post it elsewhere. While I am not a particularly skilled reviewer, I am disappointed that only 3 people here decided to rate this review, and consequently have re-posted the review at Epinions. Unfortunately, I don't appear to be able to remove the review fully, and thus have had to leave you a 75 word essay, explaining why I have deleted this post. I think it will be a while before I review at dooyoo again - I will post where I am a little more appreciated. Sorry for any annoyance. Chris
INTRODUCTION I am a rare contributor to Dooyoo these days. I get sick of the standard non personalised travel reviews that you tend to find round here. If I read once more that Kota Kinabalu "is affectionately known as "KK" by the locals, then I swear immenently, a cyber space scream...... I visited Kota Kinabalu city in December 2001. LOCATION Kota Kinabalu is the capital of Sabah, part of Malaysia, formally known as North East British Borneo. Sabah is well known for Kota Kinabalu mountain, Orchid Farms, and Tunku Abdul Rehman National Park which are close to Kota Kinabalu. Sandakan, Sabah's second city, is closer to Sepilok Orang-Utan park, Turtle Island, and Kinabatangan National Park. FIRST IMPRESSIONS Kota Kinabalu is a modern city reminicent of perhaps a Spanish concrete modern high-rise capital. SHOPPING The Town Cenre is one big sprawl of modern indoor shopping malls. Don't get too excited, as a corpulent westerner, you will find that the average waist size, will get part way up one thigh, and the exceptionally impressive air con system will quickly turn your sweating back to a sharp sensitive jagged edge of goose bumps.... On the edge of town is a series of new malls, victims to the collapse of the far east economy - malls completely closed apart from to allow pedrestrian access, and unlike western equilivents blissfully free of graffiti, glue sniffers, and muggers - a erie place built from human hand, but free of human activity.... Further beyond, in a circle around town are the high rise hotels.... at the time I visited desperate for business post Sept. 11th (10% occupancy was considered the standard), with strangly colonial signs for "high tea" and "tiffin". THE MARKET Down at the edge of the modern shopping malls, lie the traditional market areas - the fruit and veg stalls with dealers selling fake watches, the fasinating exotic fish stalls, with fishermen's wares laid neatly down in rows on newspaper, and the Phillipino Market, a disapointing display of mass market mobiles, shells, themomitors on pieces of wood, t-shirts, and wooden masks, in a fasinating hot, dusty, smelly, fly blown maze of stalls in a huge wooden sided tin roofed hut on the harbour. THE MOSQUE Close to the town on the modern harbour is the new blue and white tiled marble mosque - with space for 5,000 bums. Near the museum is the almost as impressive white and gold tiled mosque - but sadly obsqured from view by high rise hotels. THE MUSEUM Sabah National Museum is about a mile from town - 7 ringgets (£1.40) by taxi, or a hot sweaty walk away out of town (I chose the latter, and became fasinated by the velvet red and blue dragon flys along the drainage calverts). The museum contains a display of traditional community wicker and wood huts (suprisingly cool, shady and breesy - take off your footware, and you are welcome to sit in these stilt houses. Alongside, are the displays of human heads- many tribes took the head of an enemy to capture the "soul" - which was then duty bound to look after the "souls" of the residents of the long house. Inside the museum, also displays of the history of Kota Kinabalu, from Iron Age, to Dutch, British and Japanese colonalism, and finally independence, and the importance of the pot - tribes held pots from Cambodia and Vietnam dating from the fourteenth century, used for storage and for "burial" - the ancesters kept at the site of the house for spirtual protection. CONCLUSION The museum makes for a most intersting day, Kota Kinabalu itself another day in itself. With other places of interest close by, KK is worth a stay of a few days.
It is very difficult to be rational in a crisis. I have read "Birdsong", by Sebastian Faulks, in the aftermath of Sept 11th, and the war against Afganistan is currently ongoing as I write. There is likely to be little pride in a decade's time, with a war where the richest country in the world (aided and abetted by Vice President Blair) smash the third poorest country with its poorly equipped soldiers on the ground into smithereens. Sebastian Faulks fictinal tale of the fighting in the Somme also draws the reader to make this conclusion about the First World War - there can be no pride in the inhumanity that our leaders force upon men. The story opens in 1910 France, Stephen Wraysford is a strange solitary twenty year old man, who is in France to check up on a textile factory, that his employers do business with. During his visit he stays with the mill owners family, and quickly becomes obsessed with Isabelle, the mill owners much younger wife. An affair soon follows, Faulks writes in the most sensual way of the relationship, the passion, the sex, of this almost loveless boy, and the older woman. Cut forward to 1916 - Stephen is leading men in the trenches of the somme, in the first world war. In direct contrast to the passion and joy of life, in the first section of the book, Faulks captures the relentless boredom, stress, death, gore, and stench of month after month in the trench. He describes the lives of the tunnelers, who spend months digging in almost oxygen free conditions, 30 feet down inching their way towards enemy lines, all the time anxiously listening for enemy tunnelers coming the other way, or for the sound of the tunnel collapsing. He describes the trenches dug out of latrines and graves created during earlier battles. Most of all he describes the blood and guts, and the slow dehumanising process that months and months of relentless horror create. "They moved low towards a mine crater where bodies had lain for weeks uncollected. "Try to lift him" "Take his arms" The incomprehensible order through the gas mask mouthpiece. The arms came away softly. "Not like that, not, take his arms away!" The roaring of Goddard's vomit made them laugh, snorting private mirth inside their masks. Bright and sleek on liver, a rat emerged from the abdomen; it levered and flopped fatly over the ribs, glutted with pleasure." Faulks real masterpiece is the way he has got into the minds of these men, thrust into this situation, by the politicans many miles away. His characters are no heroes, they cope with their situation as best they can, and with varying degrees of success. At the same time, there is a strong story line of people stretching to understand each other across the years and decades. This is a very real book, that exposes the horror of war, it is not a media feast, it is not a tit for tat retalation... for the people involved, it is flesh and blood. The real power of "Birdsong", is that for those of us who have read it, we will never forget it.
I have been eagerly awaiting the release of the Super Furry Animal's fifth album, "Rings Around The World", since I saw their mature and introspective set at the Leeds Carling Festival in 2000 (OK, doing your encore in "Furry Animal" outfits might not be your idea of mature or introspective but, hey, humour me for a while!). I have held a soft spot for The Super Furry Animals, since the all action punk harmony of 1994's album release, "Fuzzy Logic", these Welsh lads to me almost epitimise Wales in the modern age - heritage (the Welsh choral society teaching them everything they know about harmony?), blended with the dispair of Punk riffs, and admitedly, not always, rather bland and meaningless lyrics (so few of us seem to have anything to say - the dumbing down of a nation continues apace!). However, last years live set, indicated a new calmness and yes, maturity. "Rings Around The World", does not dispell this. The Super Furry Animals like so many bands around them, have been influenced by the 1970's, only this time instead of black funk, Bowie, Bolan and the like being the influence, we get images of Hawkwind, Lindesfarne, Crosby Stills and Nash, and dare I suggest, some mindless Status Quo boogie in places! These influences are weaved in between a contemporary harder modern edge, and electronic noise bleeps, squeeks, bells and whistles to give an almost unique blend. Even the CD cover, with its skull with gold tooth, surrounded by lightening, and orange, turquoise, red, and blue lines shout "MODERN", but also of an earlier, Hawkwind age! Highlights on ths album includes the tracks: "Sidewalk Surfer Girl", reminicient of the Super Furrys old old - crashing guitars, funky producing, and that Beach Boys harmony. "(Drawing) Rings Around The World", well, this is a boogie version of Silver Machine, with a 60' s surfin@ chorus!, and I have to say, its just what the world needs right now! This is serious quality pop, especially with the samples of voices and noises at the end. Pure inspired. "Receptacle For The Respectable", bitter lyrics encased in a bouncy frame - Crosby, Stills, Nash and Animals perhaps - the song bounces along til we reach an intense finality of the song title being chanted, with a heavy beat backing. "Juxtapozed With U", the hit, the almost motown sound, and that irritating voice sound effect (boys, remember where you heard this first... Mr Blue Sky, by ELO, and more recently by Cher - These are not people to emulate... its not good, its not clever!) "Presidental Suite", a calm tale of the futility of the fame of politicians and their private lives which hit the news more than their politics "Another Cuban Cigar Crisis", indeed! I have to admire artists who always try to achieve something new - like Piscasso, who over the decades tried his hand to new arts (pottery, prints, litographs), those musicians who stretch their talents, always gain my admiration. The Super Furry Animals have such a following (smallish but devoted), that they could meander in the same vein for decades, earning a comfortable living. However, with "Rings Around The World", they have really stuck their necks out. It will be most interesting to see how they develop next, I suspect the next album may prove to be this bands REAL masterpiece.
I love reading a broadsheet. That Saturday morning feeling - sitting in the dining room, cat on lap, croissants and orange juice on the table, partner at work (OK I have a cruel streak, but there is something really good, when you have the day off, and your other half is slaving away), and the Independent to read. Bliss. I started reading the Independent some 15 years ago. The Guardian was going through a rough patch, and the self congratulatory superior snobbery, and right wing bias of the Telegraph and Times turns me right off. So it was good to have a choice - the Indie had recently been started, as a brave and underfinanced venture by a team of experienced newsmen. Sadly, in the late 1980's, it lost its much vaunted Independence, when Robert Maxwell bought half of it, but fortunatly Cpt Bob went on his 200 mile early morning swim, before he could change the editorial. It is now wholly owned by the Irish Independent group, it's finances apparently secure. The daily Independent is 50p Monday - Friday, a rather hefty £1 on Saturdays, and £1.20 on Sunday. Monday - Friday has a news sheet and review, and for sport haters, a handy additional sport supplement that you can read, or throw away without having to thumb through its pages. On wednesday, there is a business section. The Saturday Independent is my favourite with its magazine, and excellent travel section, editted by that most excellent of travel journalists, Simon Calder. The saturday edition also contains a listings magazine, which suprisingly for the London-centric Indie, contains a special edition for us culturally impoverished Northerners! The Sunday edition, is a comparitive light weight when compared to that great tree trasher, The Sunday Times, but is more manageable with a review and culture section. The Independents Strengths. The Travel section with its good practical advise, and a ffordable options - for example, rather than to pay a fortune flying to Corsica, Calder suggests you "Easy Jet" to Nice, and hop on a ferry! The Foreign News - I often find that the Indie has beaten the BbC in reporting foreign news - quite an achievement for the printed word to be quicker than the immediate media of television. I especially enjoy the supplementary artiles the Indie provide, so you can appreciate the cultural or historical issues of a current event. The Photography - second to none here - the Independent is not afraid to prominently display a stunning photo of a minor newsworthy event on its front page. It also has a knack of getting senior politicians to walk infront of posters saying "Looney" or some such comment! The Columnists - No publicity seeking media harpies here! Any paper WITHOUT Birchill, Self, Bushell et al, gets my vote. Instead we are treated to reasoned argument, or light humour from the likes of David Aaronivitch, Howard Jacobson, and Yasmin Murgul. So, am I fan of The Independent? Yes, indeed my friends seem to associate me with the paper. For my 30th birthday, an artist friend, drew me in a cartoon,as a 60 year old. I am there with geritric cat, and yes an Independent in my hand. Later that year (1995), my brother in law produced our wedding invitations, and produced a line drawing of my bride to be and I, with our cats, and, yet again, my beloved Indie in my hand. I really must get out more!!