Tags: Al Fahidi in Dubai, Arabic food, art galleries in Dubai, Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa, Deira, Dubai Creek, Dubai Mall, Dubai souks, Jumeirah Open Beach, Majlis Gallery, skyscrapers in Dubai, XVA Art Hotel & Cafe
Six months ago, if anyone told me I’d be traveling to Dubai I wouldn’t have believed him. But last August, I found myself packing my bags and heading off to Dubai for a month-long (well, almost) business trip. I’ve never been out of the country so imagine my anxiety just before I left for Dubai. Considering the fact that I’m going there alone for work didn’t lessen my anxiety. But after a few days of staying there, I gradually settled in comfortably.
Work-wise, my experience while I was in Dubai wasn’t that fantastic. There was so much work to do that I was always stressed out. I barely had time to eat. I was exhausted by the end of each day. My only consolation were the weekends when I got the chance to see the sights and explore the city.
Speaking of the city, my visit in Dubai came in an inopportune time. It’s the middle of summer there so the weather is scorchingly hot and humid. But being an excited traveler that I was and eager to explore, I bored the heat and traipsed my way to the Dubai Museum and the art galleries.
I had such a fun time at the art galleries in Al Fahidi (formerly known as Bastakiya). The art pieces from various and international artists were just amazing! Of course I’m talking about the art exhibits in Majlis Gallery and XVA Art Hotel and Cafe – two of the most popular art galleries in Dubai.
I also had the chance to try some of the local cuisines. Some I liked, some I didn’t. I particularly loved the kibbeh, kofta, falafel, and the hummus dip. But I absolutely fell in love with their famous mint lemonade (or mint and lemon juice)! It’s what I usually order every time I dined out.
My uncle who was based in Bahrain came to visit me on my third week and we explored the rest of the city together. We had a dinner cruise aboard a dhow boat and sailed along the Dubai Creek.
And of course, my visit to Dubai wouldn’t be complete without going to the city’s two most recognizable attractions – the Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab. The Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest building in the world, standing at 828 meters high and having over 160 stories. It’s also the same building that Tom Cruise scaled in the movie, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.
My uncle and I were able to go inside Burj Khalifa and got to see the spectacular views from the 124th and 125th floors of the building – the observation deck At the Top. True enough, the elevators were super fast! I think it took us only a minute or two to reach the 124th floor.
But perhaps to the general public, the most recognizable icon of Dubai is the Burj Al Arab – the world-famous building in the shape of a sail. Unfortunately though, my uncle and I weren’t able to go inside Burj Al Arab. Because you’re only allowed to go in if you have a reservation in one of the building’s restaurants. And to dine in one of the restaurants there was too expensive! So my uncle and I just contented ourselves with taking photos of the building while we were at the Jumeirah Open Beach. The beach was within the vicinity of Burj Al Arab and has a perfect view of the building.
We also visited the popular souks in Deira, particularly the spice and gold souks. The spice souk had rows and rows of different spices in splashes of vibrant colors. It’s simply visually stunning. Various teas and nuts were also on display. I had the chance to visit the textile and garment souk in Al Fahidi before my uncle arrived in Dubai. There were so much to buy there – from local and traditional clothes, pashminas, parasols, to bags, shoes, rugs, and souvenir items.
But while the souks offer shoppers great bargains, the two biggest malls in Dubai provide the wealthy with the most high-end stores that they could find. The Dubai Mall, which is adjacent to the Burj Khalifa in Downtown Dubai, is one of the largest malls in the world and boasts of having a collection of global brand names – from Armani, Dior, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, to Versace, Christian Louboutin, Ermenegildo Zegna, and many others. My uncle and I practically got lost while we were inside the mall.
Another mall we visited was the Mall of the Emirates. It’s a bit smaller than Dubai Mall but also holds the same global brands. I actually prefer the interior design and architecture of Mall of the Emirates than the Dubai Mall mainly because of the former’s use of traditional, Islamic architecture, which I find really gorgeous.
My friends and coworkers kept telling me that I’m really lucky to have been given the opportunity to visit Dubai. I guess they’re right. Work aside, my experience in Dubai was one that I will never forget.
Tags: artificial intelligence, Turing test
Can androids become self-aware and experience human emotions? What would happen if they passed the Turing test? This was the premise of the movie, Ex Machina.
In the movie, a brilliant young man called Caleb was plucked out of his mundane life as a computer programmer to work on an experiment on artificial intelligence. His boss, Nathan, was a genius scientist who successfully created a female android named Ava. Caleb’s task was to interact with Ava and see if she could pass the Turing test – the global standard test for artificial intelligence.
The test was conducted in an isolated research facility deep within the mountains. The experiment lasted for a week but it ended with surprising revelations. Caleb was amazed with Ava’s ability to display and even feel human emotions. It wasn’t long before he concluded that Ava passed the test. But just as he learned of Ava’s capabilities, he too learned something more sinister happening inside the research facility.
This movie showed the humanizing of an android – a robot that believed she’s human but forever be reminded that she’s not because of the way she looked. It showed just to what extent an android would do to become human.
But what I really loved about this movie was the unexpected twist at the end. Caleb suddenly became the subject of the experiment not just Ava. Ex Machina showed us how human weakness could become a powerful tool and exploited by an android. Ava learned how to manipulate, deceive and inject just the right emotions to convince Caleb to turn against Nathan.
Alicia Vikander’s performance as Ava the android was simply superb. Her facial expressions and the way she moved had that fluidity of a human/robot hybrid without looking clunky and well, robotic. The slightest turn of her head or the way she blinked had that right balance to convince the audience that she’s not entirely a robot – nor human.
At the end of the movie, you could almost sympathize with her and her plight but at the same time feel horrified at the coldbloodedness of her actions as a robot.
SPOILER WARNING: This movie review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.
John Connor just went to the dark side of The Force. The hero has fallen – and it was all disappointing.
I’ve been a big fan of the Terminator movies since I was a child. I was in grade school when I first saw The Terminator and loved it. I also loved its sequel, Terminator 2: Judgement Day and the fourth installment Terminator: Salvation (let’s forget about the third one). The franchise always captivated me because of its compelling storyline about man versus machines. So when I saw the trailer of Terminator: Genisys, I got really excited. I had high expectations that it would be as good as the previous ones (except the third film). But now that I’ve seen the latest installment of the franchise, I’m not so sure.
I was expecting the liquid metal, T-1000 to be the main villain in this movie, or at least a new Terminator. I didn’t expect John Connor to be the bad guy. He’s supposed to be the hero – the leader of the resistance against the machines. But halfway through the movie, he turned out to be the main villain. Skynet got through him. It infiltrated his body and turned him into a human/machine hybrid. Now he was fighting for and with Skynet, not against it.
What really disappointed me was that the movie didn’t even show if John or any of his army actually attempted to fight Skynet when it was infiltrating his body. Like we’re supposed to accept the fact that the resistance was too weak and wasn’t prepared enough for a sudden attack. I wanted the ending to at least show if there’s anything left in John’s humanity. Heck, I wanted John (the human not the hybrid) to survive. I get that the writers wanted a tragic story but for me that felt a little flat. Those scenes with the hybdrid John Connor wasn’t as moving and heartbreaking as that scene in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith when Obi Wan Kenobi fought with the dark Anakin Skywalker (“You were the chosen one!”). Sarah Connor was more emotional about “Pops,” (a.k.a T-800, the Terminator sent from the future to protect her) than her son turning against her and the crusade).
The period of the time travels got a little confusing, too. So Sarah never became a waitress in 1984? If the hybrid John Connor was killed by T-800 (a.k.a Arnold) in 2017, then would that have affected the past and the future? I didn’t get the explanation as to why a young Kyle Reese from the past could meet the older Kyle Reese from the future. Perhaps I need to rewatch the entire franchise again to better understand this.
And by the way, T-1000 was underutilized in this movie. He was so badass in those scenes that it reminded me of how I felt about him when I first saw him in Terminator 2: Judgement Day – terrifying. The actor who played him was so good even though he had only one dialogue. I wanted to see more of T-1000!
Emilia Clarke did a fine job playing Sarah Connor, although the writers could have written her character to be more connected and bonded with her son than “Pops.” But I really missed seeing Linda Hamilton in that role. I hope she could appear in the next installment of the movie, even just for a cameo.
Of course it’s always good to see Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator. That Arnold versus Arnold scene was so cool! I loved that Terminator: Genisys incorporated a few elements from the previous movies – the scene where Arnold was crawling on the floor with a dismembered arm looking almost defeated, the shoes that Kyle Reese was wearing, T-1000 melting and disintegrating, and the classic lines: “Come with me if you want to live,” and “I’ll be back!”
Terminator: Genisys wasn’t as fantastic as I hoped it to be but it wasn’t all that bad either.
Tags: Darvey, fanfiction, shipper, shipping
Remember that time when I blogged and said I don’t write fanfiction? Yeah well, I just broke my own rule. I wrote my very first fanfiction last year after getting encouragement from some of my Twitter followers who love reading and/or writing fanfiction. I never thought I would succumb to the trend but I did.
I watch a lot of TV shows and sometimes I binge-watch them for hours. And as a result, I get a lot of ideas about certain scenes or dialogues from the shows. Sometimes I find myself forming new or alternative scenes in my head with my favorite TV characters, especially when I think that a particular scene should be written differently for whatever reason (consistency, realism, clarity, etc.).
My venture in fanfiction writing was mainly brought on by this fact. And also because since I ship some of the characters in the shows I watch and wish for episodes where they form romantic relationship with each other, I decided to take matters into my own hands. After all, I have ideas in my head on why and how these characters can develop their relationship and where the story can go. Besides, I also wanted to test myself if I could do it and see how good I am in creative writing. And it turned out that I can and am good enough.
I’m a big fan of Suits, and conversation among shipper fans on Twitter pushed me to go ahead with writing my very own fanfic. My favorite OTP on Suits is of course Donna and Harvey, a.k.a Darvey, and they are the focus of my first fanfic. Admittedly, it was a very enjoyable experience for me. I was surprised on how easy I could write it. I only had to put to paper what was already in my mind. Several chapters later, I posted the story on fanfiction.net and was overwhelmed by the positive feedback I got from fellow Darvey shippers. I was truly delighted.
I’ve just written my second Darvey fanfiction, which I also published on fanfiction.net. And honestly speaking, I don’t know if I will write more or not — or whether I can write a fanfic about other shows. But one thing is certain for me: I’ve proven to myself that I can definitely write fanfiction.
Every die-hard fan of The X-Files just went into a wild frenzy last week when Fox TV network formally announced the show’s revival. I am one of the millions of fans who jumped with joy after learning that The X-Files will be back on TV with brand-new episodes – and with the show’s original cast no less. Yes, that’s right. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson will be back as Mulder and Scully.
For the past few months, practically every X-phile was eagerly waiting for an official announcement after previous reports surfaced that talks between Fox and the cast about a possible revival were happening. I was expectant. My fellow X-phile friends were expectant, so did the rest of the fandom around the globe. So imagine our excitement (and screams of joy) when it was finally announced by Fox last week that The X-Files will indeed have a revival with the show’s creator, Chris Carter at the helm. David and Gillian also confirmed the news through Twitter.
I could hardly contain my excitement. My X-phile friends and I have been lobbying for a third X-Files movie since 2009, even joining other X-philes around the world in urging Fox to make another X-Files feature film. Now our efforts have been rewarded, albeit in another form.
Granted that the X-Files revival will only have six new episodes, I’m still looking forward to seeing Mulder and Scully again on the small screen. The last time I saw them was in the second X-Files movie, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, and of course in The X-Files season 10 comics, which I’m still currently reading. Based on reports, the revival will consist of mytharc and stand-alone (a.k.a monster-of-the-week) episodes, just like in the old seasons, so I’m very excited about this. It would be interesting to see Mulder and Scully together again and embarking on new adventures.
I’m also excited to see how Fox will update the show’s opening credits. But I do hope the classic X-Files theme song will remain unchanged. It’s a classic for a reason. And who knows, if this revival will be a massive success, maybe us X-philes will see a third movie after all? Or maybe a second set of brand-new episodes? We don’t know at this point. But one thing is for sure. The truth is out there.