Let’s Try …

Well, there’s hope;

  • after some years, I made some homemade Christmas card.
  • after close to a decade, I searched my room for the long lost SIM card; possibly my 4th Indian one bought in Sikim.
  • after countless of procrastination, I finally sent the beads that would make a real difference … life standards difference … as Christmas gifts.
  • after years of messing around with my career I am back to where it has always meant to be!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

It all started a few weeks before Christmas. Needless to say it was hellish with work commitments and deadlines closing in while people geared up to either ‘window dress’ year end performance or get distracted by the upcoming long vacation.

But I couldn’t ignore the invitation to actually receive a snail mail after decades of only receiving bills in the post box! And besides, the invitation was from a very dear person who started off as a stranger whom I had to be in very close proximity for a month.

Fact #1: I am not a fan of people.

Fact #2: I need space; both physical and emotional.

Fact #3: I am not big on sharing – I never needed to.

But when you are well informed and have deliberately sought out to have ‘safety in numbers’, there are some trade-offs. And all in, personalities aside – oh yes, there sure were some BIG PERSONALITIES to deal with which is well expected when you throw an assortment of people from different age groups, nationality, ethnicity, religion, social economic background without a Hollywood production running in the background orchestrating it for viewers and ratings – it was an unforgettable experience with some wonderful memories and friendships nurtured. Her, being one of them.

She is amazing. And for someone who is hard to impressed, I’ll reiterate: SHE IS AMAZING!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

They have definitely left an impression on me. They have definitely shaped my outlook somewhat.

I had plucked the courage to walk up and speak to Sam – finally after stealing side way glances at him throughout lunch preparation and lunch. Being a Samburu warrior who has a trained keen sense of his surrounding, he was kind enough not to have embarrassed me with his knowledge, but rather took on the role of my guardian and ‘sponsor’ amongst his people. This open up great photo accessibility and rich stories – some of which I would eventually pen in my travel blog.

IMG_0369

Photos copyright pHaque

Being semi-nomadic pastoral people, I soon met at least 100 of them, from 3 neighbouring settlements some 2.5 km away from the nearest water source. My best memories was perhaps the laziest moments where I had spent the afternoons under the sparse tree playing a handmade backgammon-type game from a tree bark which I lost every single game!

My greatest regret then, was being too lazy to help tread beads which had not dawn on me its social importance and economics … until my last day.

IMG_0365

Photos copyright pHaque

And it was then as I boarded my truck with modern day gadgets and western food and medicinal supplies that I vow to first, ship the vast amounts of beads I have hoarded over the year, and to work towards returning.

The thought of returning has been reoccurring over the last few months.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

It’s been awhile since I’ve been flying regularly to Nairobi. Not since the last two social trips I had made on my own accord.

The thought of returning has been reoccurring over the last few months. H and I have been talking about it; numerous were intense and serious with timelines and economic realities discussed.

Who would have thought that we’ll revisit the prospects of returning to our adoptive land … one that was very brief (for me at least). H’s time was longer.

What ever may come, at the least, let’s try …

 

Advertisements

Travel POV: Victoria Falls – Zim or Zam?


It really doesn’t matter if you view it from Zimbabwe or Zambia if you had to make a choice. They’ll blow your mind nonetheless.

Both sides are equally stunning; Zimbabwe enjoys about 80% of the view of the Falls (16 view points). Zambia has only a small section – the eastern cataract (1 view point).  Furthermore, in the dry season from September through to December the Zambian portion of the Falls (eastern cataract) dries up almost completely which defeats the purpose of going to a waterfall, if you know what I mean, but the plus point is it gives you bragging rights for being able to walk across the entire length of the fall; i.e. the stretch where the water tips off  (look at photo below).

OK. I am lying… but only about both being EQUALLY stunning. 
Personally I love the Zam side better than the Zim. 

And it’s all about the fact that there’s more variety to the topography of the Zam side of it. Victoria Falls on the Zim side however is larger; i.e. the curtain of water goes on forever and the opposite grounds on which you are standing on to view it is flat and runs the entire length of the fall.
Victoria_Falls

Roughly twice the height of North America’s Niagara Falls and well over twice the width of its Horseshoe Falls, in terms of height and width, Victoria Falls is rivalled only by South America’s Iguazu Falls. Although it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is claimed to be the largest based on a width of 1,708 metres (5,604 ft) and height of 108 metres (354 ft), forming the largest sheet of falling water in the world. With such large sheet of falling water over great heights comes sprays that typically rises to a height of over 400 metres (1,300 ft), and sometimes even twice as high, and is visible from up to 48 km (30 miles) away. 

Although no tourist would leave Victoria Falls doubting it’s claim of being the largest waterfall in the world – thanks to being left drenched within 7 minutes of arriving at either the Zimbabwe or Zambia National Park side – one seriously needs to be standing in the middle of Zambia’s Victoria Falls’ Knife Edge Bridge to fully appreciate the grandeur of Victoria Falls.
pHaque Zambia Vic Falls 
Digital photo by {p}.Haque – All Rights Reserved – Knife Edge Bridge, Victoria Falls, Zambia

Having visited it at the end of the dry season in January, I found it impossible to see the foot of the falls – acrophobia and aquaphobia aside – and a good half of its face as the walks along the cliff opposite it are in a constant shower and shrouded in mist. Despite coming from the tropics, it was an awkward and uncomfortable experience … as if I had gone looney and was walking in a torrential rain showers with twice the humidity. 

Having chosen to take up my newly found camping mate’s offer of a white poncho with bright blue prints of “Loch Ness“(!), I trust I finally understood what it means to be a sausage stuffing with a non-sensible packaging label shipped to a far flung country.

Oh well, I had consoled myself that at the very least it would be hard to miss me should I slip and fall in either of the two national parks which are both relatively small compared to other national parks in Africa; Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is 66 square kilometres (16,309 acres) and Victoria Falls National Park is 23 square kilometres (5,683 acres).

However, now that I am writing this in the comforts of my home, getting lost would have been a very messy matter given that my passport does not have Haque on it, I had told everyone I had met (not very many frankly) that my first name is Jane – for security – don’t ask how that helps? – and the Zimbabwe border guards had only given me a badly stamped exit pass on a torn-off corner of a newspaper which had it not disintegrated to Papiermâché in my Columbia fastdri pants, the ink from the immigration stamp would have made a very faint grey streak on my thighs. 

Bottom line is I am a stuff-ed bologna sausage!

The thing with Victoria Falls is, unlike the game parks of Africa, it attracts more Zimbabwean and Zambian visitors than international tourists. This is primarily due to the fact that it is easily and comparatively inexpensive to reach by bus and train, couple by the two countries permitting Zimbabwean and Zambian tourist from either side to make day trips from each side with makeshift type day passes. 

The absence of accommodation – safe for the super luxurious and the strip down basic camping grounds or hole in the wall type “hotels” – and the need for foreign tourist to purchase single entry visas costing US$20 to USD$50 each time they cross the border (with regular changes in visa regulations) meant that it’s uncommon for foreign tourist to visit the falls in both countries, with majority of the adrenalin hungry youths converging at the middle of the infamous bridge that bridges the two countries to partake in extreme and adventure sports.
pHaque Zambia Vic Falls Bridge
 Digital photo by {p}.Haque – All Rights Reserved – Taken from the border bridge that divides Zimbabwe and Zambia. The rainbow is actually hovering over Boiling Pot – I’m too lazy to do the Adobe Illustrator thing-y again!

Since visa requirement did not apply to me for either Zambia and Zimbabwe, and not wanting to be suspended in mid-air with blood gushing to my brain, or walk with some tame and exploited lions, I had decided to walk across the border from Zimbabwe to Zambia – having failed miserably at pleading (to bribing) my tour guide/driver to bring me across. Given his vehement refusal, I decided I was better-off without him, considering that he could have been a wanted man on the other side of the chain linked fence for civil offenses ranging from spousal abandonment to murder and anything in between. 

The short walk however, was far from short … as it was truly a lonely walk with almost no one in sight for kilometers stretch other than sleeping cargo truck drivers in their cabs. The occasional foreigner would be those heading for the bridge to take a leap of faith, high on adrenalin to even notice my existence or Zimbabwean and Zambian hastily walking under the scorching sun.
pHaque Zambia Border
 Digital photo by {p}.Haque – All Rights Reserved
clockwise top left: Zimbabwe immigration building, cargo sorting in the compounds of Zambia immigration post, encouraging signage of Zambia’s Victoria Falls sign a couple of hundred meters before the Zambian fenced border, meeting Chili along the “no man’s land” between Zimbabwe and Zambia – a small price to pay for my safety!   
Interestingly what got me going, despite the inner voice repeating “mom is so gonna kill you for this if you do emerge alive”, was frankly my eagerness to have Zambia’s stamp on my passport – another useless bragging rights! – rather than seeing Victoria Falls from Zambia’s side.

My only bragging right today is: I walked a total of 18 kilometers that very day in flip flops! 
I have never wore flip flops before then. 
I had brought a pair of flip flops after reading Lonely Planet’s warning about possible creepy crawlies in the toilets.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
useful TIPs
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

ENTRANCE FEES
Entrance Fees – US$30 for International tourist/ visitors and US$20 for regional countries like South Africa. Zimbabweans pay US$7
This is a single entry ticket, and so yes,  if you exit the gate you will have to pay again.

POINT OF ENTRY
Victoria Falls is accessible by Air, Rail and Road. Victoria falls has its own airport – 22kms from the town centre with readily available transfers and taxis.

VISA REQUIREMENTS
If you are staying for less than six months, you can enter Zimbabwe with a minimum of formalities. Most passports holders are issued with a single or double entry visa at the port of entry. Some passports are exempt. Multiple entry visas must be applied for at the embassy prior to travel.

WHEN TO SEE THE FALLS?
Victoria Falls is hot most of the year round although in the winter months of June, July and August, the evening temperatures can drop to only few degrees Celsius.  Summer, which is September through to April can get exceedingly hot with temperatures reaching 40 degrees. The Falls are at their fullest flow rate around March, April, May and at their lowest in late October early November. At peak flow rate there is so much spray it is almost impossible to see the falls on feet, but you can certainly feel them! But the helicopter aerial view  (I can imagine) would be spectacular.

WHAT OTHER THAN THE FALLS?
Apart from viewing the magnificent Victoria Falls, there are countless of activities to engaged in;  white water rafting, bungee jumping, river boarding, kayaking and canoeing, gorge swing, zip wire, flying fox, sunset and dinner cruises on the Zambezi, game viewing activities (please do not expect the same outcome as Kruger NP or the Serengeti!), walking safaris, horseback safaris, fishing, golf, helicopter and micro light flights, elephant back safaris, walking with lions (to be avoided if you even have 5% PETA tendencies), cultural experiences (especially on the street trading trillion of Zimbabwe dollars for US$1) and lots of local crafts to haggle over in the market place.
.

hitting out on the geeks and a not so great psd job

I’m pretty convinced I should just deal with machines now.

In the last 72 hours I have successfully gotten pissed off with 2 geeky parties; a website programming course provider and a website developer dealing with Magento. The former is to better manage and maintain my existing eCommerce site. The latter is to develop yet another eCommerce website platform.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

.

Dear Kenny,

.

This is frankly ludicurous! To charge me 5,000 ringgit to get a quotation from your company!
.
Also, how is one suppose to pluck a budget from thin air? More so a budget that would surpass your magic figure before you consider yourself at par as Linda Evangelista to work at a budget!

.

On your second request, here’s my answer:

Firstly, Magento is not a widely used application in Malaysia and if I am a programmer I may at a stretch of imagination be able to estimate mandays for customisation of a new application with Magento.

.

I had very clearly spelt out my needs and had asked a 30,000 feet QUALIFYING question of: is your company able in terms of capability deliver a C2C platform? A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer would suffice.

.

Secondly, I had asked yet another 30,000 feet question on costing base on the following 5 areas:

  1. domain and hosting
  2. software licenses
  3. programming cost for website design (front end – html, css) – mandays required
  4. programming/ customisation costs for website design (back end) – mandays required
  5. maintenance cost p.a.
Correct me – the apparently techno moron in this correspondence – if I am wrong:
  1. is EXTERMELY standard

  2. I had said I wanted to use Magento with the Unirgy extension (rates are published and public! and I had pointed it to you HERE. So, it’s for your company to advise on the mix-and-match of plugins with pros-and-cons)

  3. website design is again extremely standard and you could well give a range. Part-timers and college students does this in their pyjamas for crying out loud!

  4. yes, variations are large here – again if you are capable and have track record of doing C2C, you would be able to quote a range/ ball park figure with pros and cons

  5. maintenance cost p.a. is standard without additional customisation or enhancement, no?

So, frankly, what’s the issue?

.

At the rate this email is going I will be a fool to even proceed with you and your organisation. I shudder to think of the  post development support I will get. Let alone the maintenance, if any at all.

.

FYI, I own an online store with more than 100,000 SKU and am ranked top 25 globally in my industry. On this premise, I should be issuing you a request for proposal priced at a discounted rate of RM500 for the tender documents and RM4,500 for the right to tender and a performance bonus!

.

So again, can you and have you created a C2C platform.
If NO, there’s really no need for us to proceed with any more communication.

.

And if you are dull enough to even want to respond to me {given the high probability of the above sarcasm and verbal abuse not passing through your thick skull … which I suspect a good 60% of my sarcasm is wasted like water on duck’s back}, note that I do NOT need or want a regular e-Commerce B2C store. I am highly capable of maintaining this and have programmers to do so with html, css, java and php.

.

Thanks

.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
The above is partly due to PMS.
But mostly they were just idiots with very little people skills.
Now note, not all geeks have bad people skills.
I am geeky and I generally have great people skills {only if I set my mind to make an effort to charm}.
I also happen to laugh out loud at geeky and nerdy jokes … so I have nothing against them. 
The above is partly due to pent-up frustration over two legal contracts I’ve pulled molars over and offered kidneys to for days now with an affiliated of the Central Bank and a sort-off DFI.

So to chill out tonight, I decided to try my hand at psd the photo of two Hamer boys gazing into the pasture while waiting for the bulls to be gathered for the jumping of the bulls taken in Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia a few weeks back. I had set out wanting to experiment with a grunge metallic look (which Joey Lawrence is famous for), but realised my sky is so blown out (thanks to taking photos at midday in over 45 degrees Celsius heat) and there’s not enough richness in the background colour.

Abandoning my photoshop attempt halfway … here’s the shot.

{p}.Haque | All Rights Reserved

Having gravitated towards photo documentary/ journalism photos with a fashion/ commercial/ fine art twist, I’ve been wanting to experiment … and had bought an approximate of a bug killing book by Scott Kelby (the Editor-in-Chief of Photoshop User Magazine which I’ve never bought a copy off).
hmmm…
Maybe I should stop reading Scott Kelby to bed.
It’s rather pathetic – to think about it.
I haven’t had much time to do anything with my photos.
Some dates back 4 years now.
As a poor substitute I read Scott Kelby while imagining my photos being processed.
It’s really about digging in.
And it’s beyond me why a person who does not do self learning well would part good money for a book.
Oh yeah, that’s coz I end up being sarcastic with the geeks or nerds who can teach me … but rather not to safe themselves from being abused.