Sunday, September 23, 2012

Yonex Japan Open 2012

"Skills win you medals, but attitude wins hearts."

ESPN commentator, 
at the London 2012 Olympic final


My second year watching one of the badminton Super Series tournament of Yonex Japan Open 2012. This year, the venue was changed to Yoyogi National Stadium in Tokyo. The weather on the Sunday afternoon for the final was gloomy, as we welcome the autumn season. Nonetheless, our spirit to give our full support to the Malaysian contingent was never in doubt.

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Yoyogi National Stadium, located just a five-minute walk from Harajuku station.

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The huge banner at the entrance to the indoor stadium.

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The complete draws for all five events this year.

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The indoor stadium doesn't look much different from the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, venue for the tournament in 2011.

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Yonex Japan Open 2012.

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A traditional Japanese drum or taiko members, performing a couple of songs before the matches began.

As usual, we made sure the Malaysians supporters were seated in one same spot, so that when we cheer, our voice would be loud enough to fill the whole stadium. Well, the truth is, we never made any pre-arrangements to attend the final. But you know, once we are there, we automatically becomes friends although we just see each other for the first time. That's the real beauty of Malaysians.

Before the matches started, a staff from Yonex approached one of us and kindly offered us with yellow t-shirts written with the words "Malaysia" and "Yonex" on it for free. It was just the perfect recipe to make our presence in the stadium even more obvious lol!

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Part of the Malaysian supporters. Some haven't fully change into their yellow t-shirts yet.

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Chong Wei (white jacket) and his close friend, Taufik Hidayat, having a light moment together.

This year, due to the boycott by the Chinese team, there was a good balance of teams from every nations in the final. Malaysia has three events in the final - mixed doubles, men's singles and men's doubles. 

One of the biggest attraction is of course the men's singles final, which pitted Lee Chong Wei against Boonsak Ponsana from Thailand. This is the first competitive match Chong Wei is competing after the London Olympics final match, where he was just unlucky to miss out the gold medal.

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  The Malaysian pair (Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying) against the Indonesian pair (Muhammad Rijal-Liliyana Natsir) in the mixed doubles event.

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It was quite an entertaining match between the two young pairs.

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 Next to the main court, Lee Chong Wei did his sparring session with Koo Kien Keat.

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 The Malaysian pair emerged winners by beating their opponent in straight set (21-12, 21-19). Prize presentation was done by the Malaysian Ambassador to Japan, 
Dato' Shaharuddin Md Som (left) and also the Indonesian legend, Rudy Hartono.

Just like last year, the Malaysian supporters were the loudest in the stadium despite our limited numbers. Not even the Indonesian contingent, nor the Thai, who came with their drums and giant flag (which we suspect they stole from the embassy lol!), managed to stop us from cheering throughout the matches. And you know, I find that they are quite kiasu actually. They will only make they voice heard whenever we cheer for Malaysia. Otherwise, they will be super silent haha!

Anyway, it was really fun to be with the other Malaysians shouting all we can for the players. Who cares if we have sore throat the next day, because it gives us a real feel of satisfaction to know that our support actually helps to motivate the players more. And guess what, there is actually quite a huge number of local Japanese who support the Malaysian players, especially Chong Wei.

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 It's showtime. Chong Wei definitely wanna set the record straight by winning his third Japan Open.

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 Men's singles finals between the two players from South East Asia.

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 Their names displayed on the screen, and that is how Lee Chong Wei's name is written in katakana.

The result was never in doubt as Chong Wei prevented any upsets from the Thai player by winning his match in straight games. There were times though, where several errors kept us on the edge of our seats. 

Although he did not play up to his true potential, it was enough to win him his third Japan Open title. The best rally of the match was no doubt on the final match point of the second game. In that lengthy rally, Boonsak returned the shuttlecock with acrobatic backhand defensive shots not once, but twice, which caught the admiration of everyone in the stadium. There is a Youtube video from this link and from the 0:53 seconds onwards, it was our grand appearance on worldwide TV haha wtf!

Not long though, just a couple of seconds only lol!

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Chong Wei being interviewed after his match. He spoke in Malay, English, and some Japanese. No la, the Japanese part tipu only.

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 This time, it was all smiles from this lad from Penang.

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That's us! One of us commented that his dream has been accomplished as he finally got to appear on worldwide TV, because all this while, 
he only appeared on Skype with his Mom haha wtf!

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 The staffs and members of the Malaysian team congratulating Chong Wei after his win.

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That lady in blue, is Gillian Clark, or sometimes known as the "Voice of Badminton". She is the person behind the famous voice you always hear during badminton matches.

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 The third and final match involving Malaysian players was the men's doubles.

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 The match was between Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong against Kim Ki Jung-Kim Sa Rang from South Korea.

What I admire the most about Chong Wei during his interview after his win was the fact that the first thing he mentioned, was to thank the supporters who cheered for him throughout the game. Even though most of us went back later with sore-throats, it was a well-deserved one knowing that our effort was acknowledged by our hero.

Unfortunately, there was no hattrick wins for Malaysia as the men's pair were beaten by their opponent in straight set. Nevertheless, it was a great afternoon spent cheering for the Malaysian players. As we gathered to have a group photo together, a small group of small kids ran over to us. One of them then asked me, "Excuse me, can we have your autograph?"

I supposed they must have thought we are part of the Malaysian players. I kindly declined and told her that we are just among the supporters there, just like them. I know that if I sign for her, I will feel guilty for the rest of my life for bluffing a little innocent kid lol!

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  They also asked if we had managed to met up with Chong Wei.

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 The Malaysian team supporters this year. Believe it or not, this is only the first time we met with each other haha!

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 We summed out our day with a late lunch at Siddique, an Indian restaurant in Shinjuku.

It is something really amazing to see how sports and in this case, badminton, can really make us come together, united as one big family, instead of million of ringgits spent on some nice-sounding slogans. You know what I am referring to, don't you? 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Authetic Sri Lankan Food By Samitha

"Stuh-tee Amma & Samitha!"
stuh-tee means 
thank you in Sinhalese


Samitha invited us to his house for a party last weekend. And just in case you wonder who Samitha is, he is one of my colleagues, from Sri Lanka. His Mom is currently here for a few months and hence, we got the chance to see Amma as well. However, she only speaks Sinhalese. So, every time we had conversation with her, Samitha will be our offline dictionary. And I gotta say he got natural talent to be a freelancer translator lol!

But then, to call Samitha over each time will be troublesome for him, as he was busy preparing the food in the kitchen. So sometimes, when we talk to Amma, we would just smile and laugh even though we have no idea what she tells us haha! That is way much better than to give her stone faces, right?

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Ayana promised to help cutting the vegetables, which she eventually skipped and ended up working on the fish curry.

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She commented on that beautiful sari Amma wore, in which made Amma to bring out a pair of purple sari.

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And tada! With some assistance from Amma, Ayana is ready to join Miss Sri Lanka 2013 next year lol!

All this while, all I have seen is the sari which is readily worn by Indian ladies in Malaysia. I have never figured out the way of wearing this traditional outfit, or how does the cloth look like. This was my first time seeing a piece of sari, and I was quite shock to find out that it is just a piece of cloth; but a very very long one. I estimate that it is about six to seven meters long, approximately one meter wide.

One convenient thing about sari is that there is no size, no matter how thin, how fat, how short or how long a person is. The only thing which has size is the inner blouse. 

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Food's done and it's time to menjamah selera.

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This is how you do it. Samitha showing everyone the right way to take the dishes.

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The sumptuous menu of the day. Five course meal prepared in in hour by our amazing chef.

Ayana and the rest looked kinda clueless on how to take the food. Generally, in a Japanese family, the meal is prepared individually for each person; i.e. everyone has their own set of meal. It is not common to have several plates of dishes on the table and each person take the dishes by themselves, according to amount of their liking.

The menu of the day was Japanese amberjack fish (buri) curry, lamb curry, gova mallung (spicy coconut and cabbage), potato masak lemak, and fried brinjal with tomato and onion salad. And ohh, not forgetting is the fragrant rice mixed with raisin, sausages and sliced carrot.

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The two girls and the chef who prepared all the dishes.

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From left: Ayana, Shida, Sato and Samitha. Shida was together with us during our job training stint early this year.

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A close up shot of a plate of the food. The taste? Need I mention here?

For a person whose grandfather is a Sinhalese, it was like a dream come true to have Sinhalese food cooked by pure Sri Lankans. All this while, I only tasted them from my grandma and Mom's cooking, but they aren't as pure as Amma and Samitha haha! Mom, if you read this, don't kecil hati okay? Your pumpkin and Sinhalese nasi lemak is still the best *hehehe*

For a big fan of Sinhalese and Indian food like me, I can't help but to ask for second serving. I might have gone for the third, but too bad my gigi sakit on that faithful day haha!

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This is what happens after you eat good food.

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Ayana fell asleep but when she woke up, she said she didn't realised she'd dozed off lol!

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We then went out for a short stroll around the neighbourhood. This was outside a convenience store.

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There is a temple nearby which we paid a visit.

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The three stooges posing inside Tozenji Temple (東漸寺).

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A mini pagoda inside the temple compound.

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Amazing tree. I guess this tree must be more than a century old.

I suggested to Ayana to board the train with the sari, but she insisted. So, in the middle of the street, without bothering the passing pedestrians, these ladies stripped just like that haha! And you know, a piece of sari is not short and guess what happened when they took off the sari for Ayana?

Traffic jam haha!

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"Okay now I am stripping my sari off. Guys, go look elsewhere!"

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There you go, a temporary road block coz they took off her sari in the middle of the road haha!

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Amma looks so beautiful with this two girls.

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Later that evening, Murata-san (second from right) came over to join the gang.

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That doggie hanging from the ceiling lamp die die wanna enter the photo haha wtf!

And that was our half-day gathering at Samitha's place. We had a second round at our senior, Eranga's house later that evening. His house is so super huge that I guess it is three times the one I'm living right now. Time to move to a new place, maybe? But I just moved into my current place like less than half a year. I better stop babbling about my house, which is not related to this entry at all haha!


Thanks for reading this short but funny (← self declare one) entry!