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Monday, September 26, 2011

HOMESTAY- A Holiday with Purpose

So, in Borneo ( where i was born and living la vida loca ) is a geographically well blended terrain where there is low land Dipterocarp Jungle, mountain high land and coastal of vertically unseen beach. With the compilation of 36 ethnic groups and more then 80 languages spoken here. Homestay is one of the most exciting and booming product in my country.

Nevertheless, a one month homestay in Manzan family, has given me a total change of my stereotyping mindset about the culture of Italy. Yes, they can be fashion up scale or food and wine critics, but their years civilization and enthusiasm in surviving skill has turn into world indulgence.

Woke up by dawn to feed the hungry animals, and plucking plants for the preparation of lunch and dinner; just like how the Kudat, Sabah ( our indegeneous folks are doing, same fundamental with the concept  of " Building community capacity by utilizing natural resources" , i know , it sounds boring and tough... but this is how i can describe in the shortest form...

Feeding more then 20 rabbits at one go. Preparing for winter to come. 
Goose, Chicken and duckling all lives in harmony
The little ones need to be protected or they will be the victim for the big ones. 

Sara, counting her canary, and new incoming chicks ..

Even cultivating bee hive ( just like Kudat Bee farm) is one of the homestay activities. 

Feeding Wendy, the only pampered cow in the farm. 

Beside lots of healthy grain and mice, Wendy and her folks , the donkeys also being served 'silage" as their  dessert. 

Plenty of guinea pigs running around. 
Turkeys ( Tukiny) finding a shade for themselves, avoiding the summer solar. 
Louis, the donkey that woke me up with his " heeee-hoooo" every morning. 
Even the piggy ( Roxy) get to eat quality cereals ( i mean mice, corn and micture of  dried nuts and seeds)

So these are just some domestic farm animals that turned into meals during the winter, of course exclude te guinea pig and dogs if you could see Gulio is hiding behind at the second picture.

Further to that, these are only the farm management for the daily morning routine, i will post more on Sara's vegetable and grapes yard, her workmanship of sun dried fruits and grains.Judging at the time they spend in a day on food preparation,no wonder Italia has the top chef in the world.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

"merci beaucoup" (Masibuku).." How did i end up in France?? An unexpected adventure out of Venice

The story began when my plan to Geneva, Switzerland is to visit my brother in Montreoux. This is my first time travelling solo in Europe and most of all, without knowing a words of French. ( generally the common language in Swizz and France is French). Before arrive Geneve, i have been trying very hard to get myself a backpacker lodge or bed and breakfast that could accommodate my budget. Clean, convenient and budget of course. Luck was not my side, just too bad, i didnt manage to get any room , even a bunk bed that i could shower and rest, till the last minute, Mounia ( a good friend of mine who had her intern in Sabah, please refer here)

My flight from Rome to Geneve was at 8 25pm arriving Geneve around 10 50pm. I was panic, wandering around Rome airport to get a WIFI spot that i could concentrate and search for a place to bunk in at least for a night upon my arrival.I mourn to everybody, i asked for help from anyone that i possibly could.There were no respond, none even from my brother.

 Till the very last minute i depart from Rome to Geneva Airport, Mounia text me a hotel reservation number, and it was a total relieved.

The moment i arrived Geneva airport, i rushed to the information counter to ask about the address given. And i was recommended to take a cab as it is too late at night to go by train or bus. In my heart, i know this is going to be a challenging moment, due to language, absolute new to Swizz, plus no news from my brother upon my arrival.

I walked to a taxi, it was a Mercedez Benz ( all the taxi were luxurious, Peugeot, Citreon, Merz and Renault ) what else could i say, i have to go with the flow.... gosh, i got on with an Albanian ! " oh my, in my heart, i just keep hoping that i will not be slotterd, cheated or being brought to a place and being robbed or being told to stripped.. my mind was shallow, i was exhausted, my mind only needs to get to hotel, after a whole day transit in Rome airport.

He ( Hussein) the taxi driver speaks barely English, but he was trying to explain to me that, the address i gave to him is a Province under the country of France. I actually was shocked, how could it be? In the internet it said 12k from Geneva airport? And the address ended with Geneve..???? I started being alert, and keep my eyes wide open for the signage... but .. nothing is upon my creadibility. The French words are totally not understandable. I would just have to pray, and hope that i dont get kidnapped.

We passed through tunnel, exit highway, and then entering another province, and toll... the roads are getting dark and we are entering into a village area that has no street light. I was nervous and i told Hussein to call the hotel for the exact direction. He said " Madam, you are at FRANCE..."

" What??? FRANCE? NO .. NO.. im going to Geneva, you got it wrong...! please call the hotel " .. and so he did, but its 12am, no one pick up. And taxi meter charge rotating like a timer... i know . either i kill my budget, or i die in his hand...

After an hour of search and round robin, asking around some drunken lorry driver at the bar near by, security on duty and even some passer by... we found the hotel... it was a typical motel at the BORDER of FRANCE and SWIZZ. OH MY GOSH... the amount of lorry parking outside the hotel , and the campervan .... i know this is a typical , local tourist hotel, that any foreign tourist will never know.

View Larger Map

Hussein, assisted me in getting my reservation sorted with the machine ( since its almost 1am, reception counter was closed and i can only deal with a FRENCH speaking machine), and even reduced the charges of taxi fee for me.

That night, i was absolutely flat. Alone in this tiny room, I ARRIVE FRANCE OUT OF EXPECTATION, AND AM AT THE BORDER OF FRANCE AND SWITZERLAND. What an experience of my life !

The moral of this experience is "Never trust the internet information 100%".

Thank God i am still alive !

A 300 sq ft room, with bunk bed and a face wash basin, plus a small table and TV,  No AC, with a big window facing the back yard ( car park).

A automated Self check In machine that only speak French. Making me stuck outside the hotel for more then 30 minutes during my first day. hotel, located at the border of France and Geneva, surrounded by manufacturing factories and in the middle of no way. 

Mounia, manage to have some fun while walking along the highway to get a "hitch-hike"- free ride.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Rugby World Cup Fever ; Me & The Rugby Boys

The Rugby World Cup 2011 is held from 9th September to 23rd October 2011. 
With the Rugby World cup fever spinning around Europe boys, it seems that every young woman will have to pick up a little about rugby jargon, or news in order to catch up a conversation with the "real" guys. So, here i am trying to get hold of what Rugby game is all about. Instead of  learning the technique and match point.. i think i  have learnt a lot more about the Italian Jargon during my first encounter as a totally unknown spectator.

Rugby- is a form of sport that developing a boy to a physical and mental fit man. In Treviso, Rugby is a passion for most of the man. Be it to themselves or developing it to their son at home. This is also a mode of developing the sense of belonging in a small community like Treviso.

Last week, I have the chance to watch a friendly match of UNDER-15 boys between Villorba and Oros of the neighboring district. They were humungous! Their size are double of most of the 15 years old boys in Malaysia. For one moment I thought, finally I will be able to see some “beautiful man” in action. Ha~ I was wrong, they are my little brothers whom Massi (the eldest son of Marco) will match with.
The boys marching out in their full uniform. Villorba which is  my team is in yellow.

It’s a friendly match, but to them it’s an adrenaline “MUST WIN” competition, this is because Villorba team never lose in any game. They have been holding the champion for more than 8 years. The coach speaks in his hoarse voice, reminding, alerting and keep pumping the spirit of the young horses, as they were performing their warm up session. 
Everything went serious, some drama session along the game, and check out the physio therapist, i know some  some friend of mine might think , how nice if rugby game in Sabah to have a woman therapist:) 
I like this part , lots of arm strength needed.

The game started with Villorba heading easily. I have no idea how this game is counted. All I can listen was each parent are cheering for their son’s best move. All I can hear is something like this:-

“ Dai, Dai, Dai… Nikola Dai… Va bene, va bene ! Sastansio …. SASTANSIO..Via ! Via!....  si! Si! Si! Ecolla, Bravo ! Bravo ragazzo.. Ballisimo!”  ( claps with laughter )

Which literally translate to :-

 “ Come on! Come on ! Nikola Come on.. OK, OK! Sustain…. Sustain …Go ! Go ! There it is ! Great ! my great boy ! Beeeeeeautiful! …..”

( I always thought that DAI .. DAI... DAI ... is "DIE."  Dont get it wrong, it literally means Come on !" ) 

Drama goes on. ...
Parents putting hope in their children.... with all concentration and cheers. 
The game finished with the scored 20-5. I am lucky to have Marco explaining to me a little about rugby game and technique. The parents are happy, so am i.. happy that such small occasion I indulged in the expression and action of excited Italian parents.

Till then.. Buona Notte ( good night ) to my Malaysia friends. 

Sunday, September 04, 2011

The "man" of Venice; i call them beautiful.

Being in one of the most romantic city in the world. I can’t help but observed the “beautiful” man of this sophisticated “province” wherever I go; call me pervert or desperate ( or whatever you want), of course, without them noticing, moreover, being an Asian woman, I have a boundary issue with man, unless, meeting the person I love, i disappear into them. I am the permeable membrane.

Below description is solely my best ability to describe them, but pictures speaks a thousand words.
To my taste, the men in Venice are ridiculously, hurtfully, stupidly beautiful. More beautiful than the French woman, which is to say , no detail spared in the quest for perfection. In short, they are like show poodles or Shitzu. The men here, work as much as they can physically, then sitting in the office most of the time. Well, it’s the pleasure of their passion.. and turning their passion into action. Some of them, even at their 50’s are surprisingly mascular … hmmm
The mushroom man, Massimo, a good friend of Manzen family at Auronzo and his passion about mushroom getting me excited with the various mushroom for the meal of the day. 

The neighbouring Hotel Owner, Massimo; who came by to say “ciao” at Roberto’s open house. And we spoke for a while.. I can’t even remember his name after that. 
Dianele and his passion, making him trying very hard to explain to me on how passionate is him in equestrian.

Dianele - and his favorite horse 

 Dianele, The manager of a horse farm at Nerveso. Turning his passion into action. Managing a horse farm cum club and training center for the horse enthusiast. With his little tight fitting T-shirt and tight fitting leather pants, oh yeah.. and the boots….

Rudy.  A young chap whom has been working as a pro trainer in Dianele horse farm. Quiet but timid. His passion about horse training, reminds me of my passion about canine obedient training in me. He talks to the horses more then he talk to the woman. Just like me before.

Nikola - The gentle boy 
Last but not least, my favorite boy. Nikola, sensitive, calm and cute. Typical Italian boy who loves tranquility and doing nothing. His observation on all things.. makes me enjoy teaching him English at least 1 hour a day.

to be continue..... 

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Eat, Play, Laugh at Auronzo, Province Of Belluno, Veneto,Italia.

The most happening dinner i ever had in Italy, with this guys chatting over wine and food.. and Italian  joke that i couldn't even catch, they are marvellous people.

If you could recall the Novel written by Elizabeth Gilbert, on EAT, PRAY,LOVE.. or the movie on Julia Robert last November 2010, about her journey to discovery, that is how exactly i would like to describe the life (la vita) in Auronzo,Province of Belluno. Well, of course, nonetheless working hard for a living has been in the blood of a pressured economy in Italy; but the pressured and hardwork, plus the "family & friends precious time" is what made the fulfilled life of Venetia.

The continuous barbeque of pork chop, lamb got the guys excited :)

I have the privilege to attend Roberto (a good friend of Marco and Sarah) house warming. Talking about house warming.. There goes the food, (panne, funghi, yes.. the salami ) and of course the wine (Vino) and whole lots of  barbequeue. The table were arranged bypass everyone to say "Ciao, me chiamo Melissa, piacerre".. and throw this Asian smile all the way.. (yes i like the feeling) but hey... at certain point of time i also escaped with Deborah to the quiet place of  montana ( mountain) where you see the whole stretch of pine trees just along your eyes. 
This is the kind of Pork chop i am talking about, solely porky, so you can imagine i come back with a tonnes of kilos gained :)

Sara, brings her passion anywhere she go, her kitchenette we set up in Roberto's house even ! 
Some private time with Deborah... Grazie Deb for this photo. 

The fiesta went all day long, through the lazy afternoon and night where, the man sleep after getting drunk and we too went back for a refreshing shower and rest after the play at the scenery river with clean clear water and funghi hunt ( mushroom hunt ) at the Brusco( jungle).

At that beautiful night, Maoro (our fellow musician) performed his passion, the typical Italian acoustic and family music; the night went on with laughter.

Till then, Dolce Far Niente.