Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Too Much Too Late for Airasia X

Yups finally Airasia X take off it's highly anticipated first long haul from Kuala Lumpur to London (Stansted) beginning on March 2009. I felt mixed between relieved and anxiety.

Seemed like Tony Fernandez have to keep his promise, bringing a dream to link Asia to Europe in cheaper way. It is a lucrative route and known for battle ground from the established airlines. Richard Branson give a nod for this married even though this is going to make the current relationship between Virgin with Singapore Airlines might sparked jealousy.

I do understand the bussiness sense of this marriage. Branson want to expand his empire worldwide. Through Virgin America (US), Virgin Atlantic (UK) then Virgin Blue (Pasific-Australia), Virgin expanding it's arm rapidly, growing in impressive level. It recorded pre-tax profits of GBP 72m, as compared to GBP 42m in the prior year just for the Atlantic, made Virgin winning the sour competition with British Airways.

Airasia itself become the dearest budget airlines in SE Asia. It reached profit before tax in 2007 as RM 276m increasing from RM 86m in previous year. Tony Fernandez did not try to hide his intentions to launch on the first pole. He landed a deal with Premiership legend to be an official Low Fare Airline for Manchester United. At first Fernandez seemed give indication to link Manchester and Kuala Lumpur directly. The twin city having deep connection as most Malaysian student concentrated in this city, and the love of glitzy football celebrities.

It did not surprise me Airasia then choose Stansted Airport. It's cheaper and closer to the capital. Manchester might now lagging behind Liverpool, and London is the best lure for more prospective visitor. As number of student from abroad specially Malaysia dropped significantly this year, I think Airasia made the best decision.

But not now please.

Economy is shrinking! Most of travel industry feeling the pinch even though the oil price drop to the bottom US$50. Most people are not willing to spend money going abroad while they are worry about the state of their occupation. Jobless number increasing, travel just about the sin as bailout regardless so called 'cheap flight'.

Most of analyst predict about the end of budget flight. Lesson from Oasis Hong Kong Airlines, which launched in October 2006 between Hong Kong and London Gatwick and Zoom Airlines, which started in June 2007 between Gatwick and New York, both collapsed this year amid global oil prices. If the recision deeper, Airasia can be in the same fate.

I thought Fernandez knew about it. Indeed is a big gamble for Airasia X. But the game worth to play. It's already way too much money spent for new aircraft or media campaign, circling for new partner and seeking permit for new route. Too much to hold back, making sense of situation.

Yeah too much too late for Airasia. And good luck Tony!

Update :
Just found out that Malaysian is the top Britain visa abuser. British authorities would probably decide around March whether Malaysia would fall under the visa regime. This will put Airasia even harder to keep up passenger from Asia side, but probably find more interesting for UK counterpart, seeking cheaper holiday in traditional backpacker route.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Invitation from Sarah Palin, Travel with Michael Crichton, Whale Riding to New Zealand and marching to Berkeley

" Sometime the leader you searching for is already among you" -Whale Rider trailer

This week actually not so dramatically changes rather bad news about economy in US. These are catchy things happen :

  • We've got invitation letter from Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin. I was curious as the invitation is to visit Alaska. She put her rich oil land into map of adventure activities which is little bit out of touch in this recession time. I wondering how she could get our address since we've only living in this states for 6 months. Digging through any retail that related with outdoors (Nat Geo, REI, or credit card) that show our spending spree habit. Compare to wardrobe she spent during campaign, that's might lot much shy then ours :)
  • I read the late Michael Crichton's Travels again. It's kind of rekindle our long relationship back when I was high school. I had different feeling as when the first I read it, I was dreaming about being able to hop on exotic places in this world. Now, I read it with bigger compassion and respectful. Michael show why we need travel. Yes, to know about ourselves and better understanding of human being.
  • I watched movie Whale Rider again, and still make me cry and humble. The story of little Maori girl who want to prove she able to become a leader of this community taught me lots. I watched first just before off to New Zealand. I've only imagined NZ as on movie. When I experienced those magical place myself this year, it's give aura -sort of enchanted, draw me into great empathy toward native people.
  • Took several hours to build hard disk of Macbook. Tuesday the delivery arrived and Wednesday evening most of file been transferred back to Time Machine. I mentioned about high maintained girl. Yes I am. Not shoes, bags or diamond but disk and more disk.
  • Even though I am studying at UC Berkeley, it was yesterday (22 Nov) I managed to visit the town in person. I was in full day conference, right on the heart of the campus. Took me an hour from Sunnyvale driving to the other side of Bay Area. I love the town, it's vibrant, live with all sort of student hippies frugal life. On Saturday turned out to be the big match American football between Berkeley Vs Stanford. Yeah imagine the battle while the fans enjoying marching band and cheer leaders :)
  • Spent most of Sunday wandering around the Los Gatos Hills. Went up to Montevina Ridge Trail. It's got idea where we want to enjoy the sun in winter on your own backyard!
This week should be second Thanksgiving in US. We are not sure to sacrifice turkey for our dinner. We'd like create alternative menu then.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

sad time for tomatoes but finding hidden treasures of Afghanistan

Who care about Robert Pattison aka cute Dracula Edward on highly awaiting movie Twilight? This week everything like out of control or either sadness. More heart broken story here :

  • Watching The Boogie Man, story about Lee Atwater -a republican strategist under the first George Bush on PBS. He was responsible for negative campaign toward Robert Dukakis. It's sad story as in the peak of his career, brain tumor captivated him. Well, if you know about John McCain dirty campaign this year, you should know about Karl Rove.
  • Another book as one of my reading list -Collapse from Jared Diamond. I bought it for Mr. C as he interested in civilization and the future. My personal thought about this book is the holistic issue of sustainable society based from history. Kinda boring stuff :)
  • Monday night I've got cold feet symptom. Yups, this is sign of bad blood circulation. I had low blood pressure and little bit anemia. Walking at PG&E Trail made my foot works very hard. Couldn't sleep, I ended up putting hot pack all night. Weird ...
  • Made pineapple jam for nastar and cheese kastengel. I messed up with the recipe from well known Indonesia culinary writer. My gut was he put wrong order on the step-by-step. I noticed it but failed to follow my instinct. Lesson to be learnt : believe your own judgment!

  • Friday evening, Mr. C back from 2 weeks Formosa Trip. Exciting time as the ex President went to jail for corruption. Chen also went hunger strike, refused to appeal. Another repressive type from China? (At last I got pair of wool shock from Taipei!).
  • Saturday, we had morning digging the gone tomatoes at Full Circle Farm. Back home with 6kg green tomatoes, 2kg yellow tomatoes and some idea to preserve it. Mr. C got tummy bugs, he ended up dozing all time. I managed to get some spices. We did whole cooking on Sunday, while I mourned to the death of my Macbook hard disk. Another wrecking record. Should I getting sad or feeling stupid?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Introducing Our Daughter Kesi

She was only few months old when her mother had been killed. Her left hand been chopped brutally when Kesi tried to run away. Abandoned, hungry and confused she did not know where to stay or how to survive. With cute black eyes she seemed looking for hope, therefor she could not live without help.

We adopted Kesi as our daughter by supporting her life in rehabilitation at Nyaru Menteng, about 28 km from Palangka Raya, Kalimantan (Indonesia Borneo) –an island which suffered deforestation highest number two in the world. We’ve witnessed how the lush green of tropical forest turned into palm oil, ruining biodiversity and their animal. Orang Utan is in danger as their habitat was hurt first by deforestation. It’s almost sad when I read that even scientist and conservationist now couldn’t find wild orangutans. Most of them adjust by living in the scarce area, left over jungle.

Baby orangutan like Kesi don’t have capability to survive since it’s hasn’t developed skill to feed themselves. She might end up as domestic orangutan to help farmer harvest the coconut, or tragically living as street performer without adequate food and living. She also lost contact with her habitat, stole from her environment.

Decision to adopt her basically is usage of our Carbon Footprint that we’ve produced in the last two years. I withheld the payment, looking for alternative such as planting the trees or education sectors. Then I came to realization that helping Orang Utan is the best I can do. I read in the National Geographic article that Orang Utan actually in the brink of extinction. Not only by deforestation but also by climate change. In the other hand animal extinction also the greatest threat to mankind. (It’s ironic that Orang Utan name is person in the forest, which pressed that this animal always regarded as a friend to human).

The process was quite straight forward. Through BOS (Borneo Orangutan Survival) in UK I managed to get through. There were also another BOS in USA-International, Australia, Sweden and Indonesia as well if you want to participate either as volunteer or supporter. As part of educate public and putting the issue about rehabilitation, BOS campaign this week 10-17 November 2008 to become Orangutan Awareness Week.

Tips from BOS to help Orangutan by:
I am not the only one who adopt Kesi, it turned out that a Princess also become her mum. Hopefully I can help more orangutan in the future.

More :
Youtube video from Nyaru Menteng : Borneo Orangutan Survival (with Kesi on it)
Orangutan Diary : BBC Program in 2007 (will continue on 2009)

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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Chicken also happy with Obama

"Apathy is greater threat to democracy"
-an article in San Jose Newspaper.

This week the euphoria seems doomed, while American now taking morning after pill facing grim of their economy future. While some people seemed envy with Obama party in Indonesia, I choose to sit. Either mourning to the death of terrorist nor sorry for the families of the Bali's victims and the JI's.

Mr. C off to Formosa so this is round-up weekend mostly on my own :

  • Photographer David Katz produced candid photos of Obama and family before acceptance speech on 4th November 2008. It's gave insight view what happen behind the stage.
  • Chicken in California also welcomed with Election 08. Proposition 2 which gave protection against animal cruelty won 63% to reserve its welfare. Means : Chicken will free cage to produce eggs and better environment on the farm. Hmm increase price?
  • Officially I am member of Sierra Club founded by John Muir. This is second club I've joint after National Geographic.
  • Planning an escape route sometime on December. I want to see white snow!
  • Making second Ciabatta. This time more flavor. I told Mr. C that I am better on kneading than him :)
  • Sneak in watching RocknRolla (Guy Ritchie) on Friday. It's darn AWESOME!
  • Spent some bucks for pizza stone. We've need it to achieve crisp layer when baking.
  • Saturday was gray weather, manajed to cycle down to Farmer Market in Sunnyvale. Buying some exotic fruits called guava (aka jambu). Taste awful compare to javanese one. The skin bit bitter and tough.
  • Pop in book shop to get a second hand book by Prof Lawrence Lessig : Remix. It's about copyright and derivative artworks. He gave evidence on case of JK Rowling who want to stop a fan publish companion book of Harry Potter. Lessig also founder of Creative Commons (CC). I spent Saturday evening read this book. Radical change that I can not accept it yet.
  • Sunday morning I spent reading newspaper (I addicted with Sunday paper). Then off to Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve at 10.30am. Already packed with people, I choose PG&E Trail which is very quiet. This route pretty demanding, although straight forward to the hill. It took me 1 hour 20 minutes to reach the peak without stop. Then another easy down while enjoying blue jay birds and deer among the trees.
I am bit tired now.

Note :
Prof Lessig published another book called Free Culture. You can download at here as under CC. If you interresting more try Cory Doctorow's collections of essays : Contents.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Kemenangan yang diam

"Naked Cowboy predicts McCain landslide"
-on CNN Tshirt

Saya kaget ketika Senator Obama menang. Bukan karena dia mengalahkan McCain tapi karena kemenangannya yang besar. Kalau hitungan selesai hari ini, kemungkinan ia akan mendapat suara mayoritas diatas 60%.

Sejak siang tidak ada gairah berlebihan. Cenderung anteng. Tapi lihatlah protes diam di pantat mobil ini. " Bush Lies," kata si stiker. California adalah lumbung Demokrat karena menyumbangkan 55 EV (electoral votes), sesuai dengan jumlah penduduknya yang paling gede se Amerika.

Pukul 5 saya menuju San Fransisco, ada kuliah malam ini biarpun pemilu. Di perjalanan dengan bis muni beberapa orang muda sekitar 20-an nampak antusias. Ternyata mereka ini pendukung McCain. Kebanyakan kulit putih, middle class dan sedikit hip.

Pukul 6.30 kuliah dimulai dengan presentasi interior desain & arsitek dari Brower Centre.

Pukul 7 malam PST adalah ditutupnya pemilu di California, tapi hasil sudah mulai berdatangan dari wilayah East Coast yang beda beberapa jam. Klo ada yang nanya kenapa sih hasilnya bisa cepet banget, jawabnya karena sebenarnya banyak yang nyoblos awal atau milih lewat surat.

Pukul 7.40 sambil kuliah kami memonitor hasil. Beberapa mengeluarkan laptop, stand by dengan perkembangan baru. Hasil pertama adalah 207 (D) lawan 143 (R). Kalau dilihat peta sebaran sebenarnya banyak merahnya alias Republik, tapi yang dihitung adalah EV yakni jumlah pemilih per state dibanding dengan nasional. Contohnya Alaska. Biarpun wilayahnya gede banget tapi cuma nyumbang 3 EV karena emang jumlah penduduknya kecil. Untuk menang Obama perlu minimal 270 suara, beberapa kawan nampak cemas, was-was dan ngga sabar. Dugaan saya, Obama akan menang sekitar 6-8 point diatas McCain.

Kuliah berlanjut. Ngomongin strategi membangun Green Building. Gray water, rain harvest, sun shades etc.

Pukul 08.00 hasil menunjukkan 283 (D) lawan 154 (R). Semua mulai tersenyum, relaks. "He win," beberapa mendesis bahagia. California terlihat solid biru. Pertanda baik. Florida, Ohio belum terlihat. Wilayah ini merupakan battleground. Matematika pemilu USA memang unik.

Pukul 8.10 menit kuliah berhenti ketika McCain menyampaikan "speech concession" atau pidato kekalahannya. Kami nonton dari projector live di MSNBC. Sesungguhnya saya cukup terharu. McCain menyampaikan pidato dengan senyum ceria, menerima kekalahan dengan lega. Beda banget dengan Sarah Palin dan suaminya Todd, yang terlihat cukup terpukul.

Kuliah berlanjut, ada diskusi per kelompok melihat visi masing2.

Pukul 9.05 Kami terduduk menyaksikan Barack Obama pidato penerimaannya di Chicago. Pidato mengucapkan terimakasih pada pendukungnya, menyakinkan untuk bersatu menuju ekonomi yang lebih baik. Pidato yang menyentuh karena hampir separoh di kelas menetes air mata. Sejak delapan tahun mereka menunggu. Klas saya yang mixed ras tapi kebanyakan putih ini terlihat merekah. Saya menyalami mereka, membilang "Semoga ini pilihan terbaik untuk America dan seluruh dunia."

Pukul 9.30 kuliah selesai, rencana pesta sekelas ke sebuah resto Afrika batal. Ternyata kami memlilh duduk di kelas hingga akhir. Saya jalan kaki menuju stopan bis. Sambil jalan saya melalui pusat kota San Francisco menuju stasiun kereta. Banyak yang terlihat over joy, terutama generasi muda. Berteriak di jalan mengeluarkan ekspresi. Saya lewat Market St, Yerba Buena Art Centre, trus Jewish Museum kemudian hotel Westin dan sebuah bar di belakangnya. Ramai tapi tidak penuh. Beberapa mobil menyalakan klakson dengan keras, ada yang mengibarkan bendera kecil. Tidak ada pawai, tapi sporadis saja.

Di perempatan saya lewat sebuah toko mewah tapi di depan pintunya ditiduri gelandangan. Ia nampak tidak peduli.

Sejarah tercipta hari ini. Presiden hitam pertama, multinasional dan multirasial. Saya teringat pidato Obama tadi. Ia bertutur :

"This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight's about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can."

Saya terharu.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Santana Row : brewing luxury

santana row 1

santana row 4

The fragrance came from Ferragamo struck my nose. I barely remember that I am sensitive with perfume. The bottles sat on the reach of my hand. Just a glass of wall separated me and the rest of their world. My camera did not record the sense, I wish it could.

I moved to other corner. The guard at Gucci's shop ignored my presence. I was busy taking photos, dreaming about goods that sell for silly price. He did not bother at all.

Santana Row is the proclamation of the power of money. You can buy anything you want as long it did not break your bank. Dolce and Burberry sound really pretty. Oh you can grab Bentley or Aston Martin if you wish or making better looks with Tommy Bahamas.

I folded my camera and lens tightly. They are priceless for me.

Taken with D300 (not mine, just testing) with Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D
More at Flickr

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