Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cuaca dan renungan akhir tahun

Bagi saya, cacing tanah adalah satu benda yang saya tak dapat tahan sama sekali. Ngeri rasanya bilaku terserampak dengan dua ekor di tandas rumah. Apa lagi dengan cuaca yang kerap hujan, dan humiditi yang selalu ada, seperti tetamu yang tidak diundang dan tidak tahu bila untuk balik - lebih lagilah akanku jumpa si dia yang keluar dari lubang atas lantai. UGH.

Akhir tahun telah pun menjelang, dan tiba masanya untuk kita semua melangsaikan hutang-hutang yang terkumpul sepanjang 2014. Ini jugalah masa untuk meneguhkan tekad untuk berdepan dengan satu tahun baru, melalui resolusi-resolusi yang cliche. Pada pendapat saya, resolusi bukan semuanya tidak berguna. Resolusi hanya tidak berguna apabila seseorang gagal bekerja di atasnya. Seperti yang selalu disebut, jika anda gagal untuk merancang, anda telah pun merancang untuk gagal.

Untuk tahun 2015, saya bertekad untuk ketepikan masa untuk benda atau orang yang berharga dalam hidupku. Salah satu kelemahanku adalah caraku mengalami pengalaman-pengalaman dalam hidup, memberi fokus kepada tugas yang perlu dilaksanakan, daripada orang yang sedang di kalangan. Kadangkala ini menunjulkan lebih lagi kelemahan saya. ISH.

Itu adalah salah satu daripada resolusi saya untuk tahun hadapan. Azam saya adalah untuk mengetahui kelemahan saya dan bekerja ke arah membaiki atau memulih kelemahan-kelemahan tersebut. Marilah sertai saya dalam perjalanan ini!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Ten Amazing Creatures My BF Wants to See at River Safari

10. Alligator Gar.
This fish has a mouth like an alligator! How cool is that?

9. Terrapin?
This tortoise/turtle has no shell! I wonder how it feels like...

8. Paddlefish
You do NOT want this fish's nose up in your face.

7. Random Fish
Doesn't this look like the fish characters from Spongebob Squarepants?

6. Sturgeon
Swimming, living army tank in the form of a fish.

5. Red Panda
Looks like a cat, walks like a dog, hugs its tail for warmth when sleeping. EEEEE!

4. Manatee

3. Sea Otter

2. Arapaima
This thing scares me. At least 8 feet long?!?

1. Me

Reflections: A Rainy Day

I just got home from cell, after braving through the usual one hour KL-Klang crawl that's typical of a rainy Friday evening. Everyone else was late, so we started late but had good fellowship and great food (bread, spreads and chips for the body and Mark 12:41-44 for the spirit).

I can really say that I truly enjoyed today. It's a normal day like any other, and I still have things on my plate to deal with, but there is so much to be thankful for, and so many little things to relish in. The sound of today's heavy downpour, the smell of the fragrant chicken rice I had for lunch, the soft, cloudy texture of the matcha wafer sandwich I had, the feel of smooth brown paper on my fingers. The relationships that I have with the people in my life, which I must treasure and water daily to maintain it.

Ah, such is the life.

“And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is."
-Kurt Vonnegut

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Dinner at Porto Romano, TTDI

For K's bachelorette weekend, we had dinner at Porto Romano at TTDI. Here's a food diary of the things we ate!

The Albanian Village salad is something you can create at home. Cubes of feta cheese and cucumber, tiny wheels of olives and onions on tomato wedges drizzled in a light, olive oil-based dressing. A nice and light opener for the next dishes.

Aglio olio with lamb slices, an October special. Well-marinated and tender lamb discs which everyone enjoyed, together with the oily and only slightly spicy spaghetti strands.

Pizza margherita, a thin crust pizza simply topped with melted cheese. As delicious as it sounds! Eaten up quickly because cold pizza sucks!

Seafood paella. Mussels, prawns and squid on a bed of red-colored rice. Each spoonful of the rice brought to our tastebuds a taste of the sea, balanced with the stark tartness of the tomato. I'm not a fan of the peas hiding inside there though, totally put off the texture of the dish (mushy plus more mushy). A crunchy vegetable would have been a better alternative, perhaps?

(No photo! Gone in a flash) Salmon ravioli. 5 salmon pillows sitting in a warm broth. Tasted quite fishy but edible all the same, filling was too mushy for my liking though :P

Tiramisu, when it's well done, is sublime. This barely made the cut because of the excessive use of cream. The only saving grace is perhaps the espresso-soaked lady fingers, which was hard to taste under all that cream. Also...I don't recall Tiramisu recipes calling for a mountain of cocoa powder as topping! (Luckily, the one I had at Italiannies the next day was suuuuper nice and made me forget about Porto Romano's...until I had to write this blog post -.-")

I would come back for the pizza and maybe to try the other pastas. And definitely come back for the environment, it's quite quiet and lightly-lit enough for a nice evening.

Meritus Pelangi Langkawi Resort Breakfast

One of my very favouritest things while on holiday (not backpacker holiday) is the hotel breakfast. It goes without saying that when I arrived at Meritus Pelangi Resort & Spa on Langkawi, I had to indulge in every area of the breakfast...

(Sorry for overdoing the warmth on the editing, teehee)

As you can tell, my favourite part is actually the western/continental breakfast part. Spice Market serves mediocre sausages, pancakes, faux bacon, no waffles, no hash browns, omelettes that are more like fried eggs and condiments than omelettes. But their croissants are buttery and warm, and I had four raisin danish rolls each day.

Asian breakfast - nasi lemak condiments but no actual nasi lemak spotted. Some chapatti and curry, porridge station and a noodle station. I like that they had a small section for Japanese breakfast, where there was always rice (plain white rice, sorry), a stew-dish and a fried-cake-dish. That was cute!

Although the two types of cold cuts were boring, at least there are cold cuts. There's also a platter of cheese hunks (mostly cheddar I think?) next to it. Next to this was at least 5 salad options and a lot of toppings like compote, apricot and walnuts.

Plenty of fruit juices for you to choose from, as evidenced from one of the photos above, as well as a special canister (you'll have to hunt this one down near the yogurt area) of freshly-squeezed juice! On Sunday it was watermelon, on Monday it was honeydew. Both times I had at least three small glasses.

Overall, variety was smaller than I expected. Still an okay breakfast joint :)

Hotel Breakfast Diaries:
Parkroyal on Pickering Singapore breakfast

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Consumer Behavior: Why I Buy What I Buy

Today I went to Cold Storage Subang Parade to buy foodstuff. I chose Cold Storage over Jaya Grocer at Empire because I know it has more Halloween items on sale. And I was right! There were the jumbo-sized bags of candies, eyeball chocolate balls and even boxes of Peeps, so cute. I didn't buy anything Halloween-themed but it was nice to look at. (I also chose Subang Parade over Empire because there's an MPH in SP. You hear that, Piglet?)

I first looked at the cheese section and searched for Cheddar cheese, 250g. There were so many different types of cheese in different sizes and textures and flavors (even the Pepper Jack that is on my must-try list, normally hard to find, came in three different brands!). I settled for a RM18 chunk of mild cheddar, walked further down and saw a block of processed cheese going for 30-40% less than the mild cheddar chunk. Of course I took the cheaper one. If I had extra to spare, I'd go for the premium one.

Then I went to look for milk. Since the recipe only called for 250ml of milk, I grabbed a 300ml carton and prayed that the macaroni and cheese would be extra creamy because of the additional 50ml.

Next up, I had to grab a bag of macaroni. This was a bit tough because there wasn't that big of a range for me to choose from. I mean, there was organic spaghetti and colorful pastas, but macaroni only came in a few brands. In the end, it was a toss up between San Remo macaroni or Kimball's, and I went with Kimball because once you boil pasta, nobody can tell if it's the cheaper brand or San Remo. Sorry, San Remo. Maybe when I have a bigger disposable income, okay?

Then, I needed a can of soup. My family argues that condensed soup is not the same as canned soup but I think it's the same, because soup in a can IS soup in a can, therefore it is condensed! I just took Campbells' because there was only one brand of canned soup available.

Finally I took a glance at the clearance shelves (I LOVE the clearance shelves at Cold Storage) and grabbed two cans of alphabet pasta in tomato sauce for RM2 each (from RM6 each).

Me at Aeon.

When I go out of country, what I really want to do is go to a supermarket/minimart/grocery store and look at the items that they sell there. So fascinating to see the items that you use at home being used elsewhere, packaged and sold in a different manner. I especially love exploring the 7-11s of different countries. Thailand's offers cheap items all around with prices unheard of in Malaysia (RM1 for Pocky crazy!!) while Singapore's is full of yummy-looking quick fixes like beef jerky and chocolate bars in unique flavors. I didn't get to visit a 7-11 while in Nepal, Philippines, or Indonesia, though.

If I go out of state, I also enjoy spending time in the grocery stores or minimarts. Sometimes, the brand of biscuits you get in Port Dickson cannot be found in Klang, but most of the brands you get in Klang, you'll be able to find in PD. Very interesting. I think it has to do with the strength of the company's distribution system.

My life's ambition is to be a mystery shopper in supermarkets or to do research on the mass market brands that people buy.

So, if you asked me, what would I do for a Klondike bar? I'd say, market research. I'd do market research.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Easy Bible Reading in 4 Ways

"Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path"*

"The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand."**

Some of you may have problems consistently reading the Bible every day. I know I do! It's a personal battle for me to find a portion of scripture to consistently read and soak up in. Today I thought I'd share with you some bible reading formats that I regularly use, besides the "one chapter a day" way. Please share if you have other methods! I would like to try them.

1. One Proverb a day 
- There are 31 chapters of Proverbs a day and you can take one based on the day's date. I find this a great way to really align oneself to the ways of the wise. HEHE. No matter what reading plan I'm on, I always try to read one chapter of Proverbs every day.
- Supplement with another chapter from another book.

2. Visualizing Psalms
- I read somewhere that a parent got their kid to read the book of Psalms together. Every psalm that they read, the child drew that psalm out. That was a perfect way of getting familiar with the psalms, besides helping you to remember which psalm talks about what!
- Highlight or write down verses that stood out to you, and what it means to you. Go a step further: write a prayer based on that verse.

3. 1 Samuel -> 2 Samuel -> 1 Kings -> 2 Kings
- I only share this because I've gone through this chronology of books twice now, and it really helps you to get familiar with a portion of the bible's history (David's life, the building of the Temple, the Ark of the Covenant, the kings that caused Israel to fall, the Israelites themselves).
- You start off with the life of prophet Samuel, who, in his lifetime, will see the Israelites ask for a king. Then he is given the task by God, of finding the king. Then you get the history of all the kings in 1 and 2 Kings!
- Go about 3 or 5 chapters a day, then summarize your day's reading in a short paragraph. Highlight or rewrite verses that stood out to you. This will help you to have a rough outline of the book, besides being your own personal bible study.

4. Go Eat Pop Corn 
- Galatians -> Ephesians -> Philippians -> Colossians are all letters written by the apostle Paul to different churches in different places (Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse), each touching on a different theme.
- I absolutely love reading these letters. They contain a bit of wisdom, a bit of advise, and a bit of personal message from Paul himself to the churches.
- Each book is less than 6 chapters long, and very readable. Do the same - read one chapter a day, highlight a verse, pray based on that verse. Go one step further: Before your reading, ask God what He wants you to learn from the chapter you're about to read.

Okay of course I've read more than these 10 books listed above, but these are the most familiar to me at the moment. If I think of any more methods I'll be sure to share them :)

* -Ps. 119:105
**-Ps. 119:130

What I Learnt This Week

1. I went for my first church leader's retreat last week. (Awmagat I cannot believe I said that haha) Although I wasn't prepared to expect, I left with a renewed desire to see God's kingdom come in any and every area of my life. You know, sometimes, it may feel like it's the same message I've been hearing for the past 8 years, but there is always something for the spirit to take in.

2. You cannot be right all of the time.

3. I'm so thankful for this new season. Difficult start, but a start, all the same.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Where we stayed in Singapore: Rendezvous Hotel Singapore (Suite)

In March 2014, I went to Singapore for work and it was fun. Yes. Singapore can be very fun! You just need to know where to go! We put up at Rendezvous Hotel Singapore, which is located in the Bras Basah district, also known as the hub of arts, history and culture in Singapore.

Side note: I love Bras Basah. National Museum of Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, 8Q@SAM, the Bras Basah MRT (one of the most unique architectures), and everything within walking distance...what a dream! No wonder Singapore Night Festival makes this precinct its base each year! 

Just a little bit about the hotel: It used to be Grand Rendezvous Hotel or something, then Far East bought them over. A little refurbishment and a little rebranding and RHS came about! The lobby area is small and you'll have a hard time orientating yourself, since the main entrance...isn't really it's main entrance.

Once you're in, there's a nice vibe to the place that greets you. Sorta like a cool bar kind of feel.

There were three of us in our group, so they put us in a Suite :D

We had a king sized bed (I think, I don't know, it was huuuuge and so comfy) and a rollaway bed/couch that served as a third bed. That one was a bit tough and bony :( but still ok. The entrance is on the right of this image (that door there) and the toilet is just beyond the screen.

Here's the toilet. It came with French Connection toiletries, a bathtub and a view. See the domed structure in the view? That's the National Museum of Singapore! So beautiful, you could even see bits of its lawn through the window.

My only grouse is that they didn't reflect the toiletries to the number of people staying in the suite, on top of having to wait almost the whole day for it.

So. much. comfy. 

My favourite hotel meal of the day is breakfast. Regular patrons head to Straits Cafe on the ground floor. If you have Club benefits, you go to the lounge for breakfast. There were western and eastern options but nothing to shout about. The view of the outside from this circular area was very pleasing, though. It faced the main road of Bras Basah. 

If I had to rate this stay, 3/5. I've seen reviews of the suite in other blogs and those seem more up to date than ours. But it was still a nice stay, comfortable and convenient, especially if you're on an arts-and-history-filled itinerary! Maybe one day I'll share a walking trail of Bras Basah :)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Great articles I read this week


1. This one shares a simple, straightforward and seemingly effective way of combating the habit of worry. (as shared by Bawanie on FB)

2. This one has a very attractive writing style which I immensely enjoyed reading, although I strongly disagree with a few points made. Warning: Content may piss off Malaysians who think Malaysian food is superior to Singapore food all the time, anywhere, anytime.

3. Wall Street Journal featured rising fashion designer Yiqing Yin in their article, and I found this refreshing and inspiring. No matter what industry you're in or what you're doing, I feel like hard work and a desire to see your vision come to pass is one of the tenements of success.

*Tried to find the source of this image, cannot find. Now not even sure if this is Yiqing Yin :/
Originally found on Pinterest

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Where we stayed in Nepal: Hotel Bougainvillaea

On our mission trip to Nepal, we set aside a couple of days to discover the beauty of this nation. #blessedlife. From Kathmandu, we took a 6-hour minibus ride up north to Pokhara. Yes, it is gruelling, your butt is gonna split, but the views are unforgettable - you'll cross ravines and valleys inundated with small villages, orderly terraces of vegetation rising on the face of a hill, rapid-flowing rivers and (my personal favourite), hand-painted "billboards" on rocks!

The mirror-like Fewa Lake, Pokhara

In the town of Pokhara itself, and its surrounding, is where you'll experience the best of Nepal's natural beauty. There are mountain treks and kayaking and adventure sports like paragliding to be had, but most people who head here use Pokhara as the spring board to Annapurna base camp (which is where people head to if they want to see the ranges of the Himalayan, including the Everest).

We stayed at Hotel Bougainvillaea, which is located about 250m away from the main road in Pokhara town. It's a nice walk on a rocky road (which may be tarred the next time we go there, judging by the rising popularity of Nepal as a destination). You'll pass by about four or five similar-looking hotels on your way in. The 7 Continents Hotel, pictured below, seemed quite cute with two cottage-looking villas in front!

Our room in Hotel Bougainvillaea was on the first floor of the five-storey hotel, the one facing the road. There are no lifts, so you'll have to climb up the marble staircases with ebony banisters to your rooms.

Load sharing is common in the whole of Nepal because of some socio-political scarce resource issue, so you will be getting only intermittent electricity (fan, lights, etc). You can ask the front desk for candles and matches. If you crave a breeze, sit in the balcony (like we did to dry our hair) or climb up to the rooftop for spectacular views. On very clear days, you might even catch a glimpse of the tips of the snow-capped mountains. We saw it on our last morning, and it was life-changing, even though it was just a tiny glimpse :D

The hotel has a small dining area at the back, but do ask for an alfresco seat if you happen to be having breakfast here - they open tables on the front lawn if it's not raining. Speaking of raining...walking back from the town one night, it started pouring, so I snuggled myself tight in the raincoat we all brought. I didn't know why Monica was laughing at me until she said I looked like a pao! hehehehee

At the hotel lobby

The hotel staff are accommodating, and I particularly remember the front desk receptionist dressed in a pretty saree, who was always smiling and on the last day told me that I looked like a popular Nepalese actress. 

Other important information: 
- Money changers widely available
- English widely spoken
- Eat lots of momos and puri panees, if you can find it

If you are going to Nepal, let me know! I'd love to hear about your experience there. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Visiting Laduree Singapore

Known as one of the world's best macaron makers, French luxury sweets company Laduree is every girly girl's dream. I had the opportunity to check out the only store in Southeast Asia in Singapore last year, and it was a delightful experience! 

The celadon green storefront calls out to shoppers at Ngee Ann City, where the boutique is located. Stepping in, you enter a world of enchanting Parisian sophistication - a world in its own, truly! Spend as much time as you like browsing through their sweets and merchandise (Laduree scented candles, anyone?) and take plenty of photos - it's a pre-requisite to step into the shop. LOL jk. 

But don't leave empty handed! People have travelled far and wide to taste these mini sugar-burger confections, even famously hand-carrying them all the way from Paris back home (wherever home may be). Or am I confusing them with Pierre Herme? Hmmm. 

Okay back to normal talk. Pretty ex lah these tiny bombs of sugar. SGD4 for one I think? One of the more expensive ones in Singapore! But it's different from other macarons. I love the generous ganache filling, and the tops and bottoms (what do you call them LOL) are chewy, but not overly chewy until it gets stuck in your teeth. There were so many people in the store as well, a lot of people just coming in and going out with what they want. 

Are you a fan of macarons? 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Reads: The Ghost Bride

Since I discovered the genre of "Asian literature" (i.e. melodic literature romanticizing Asian culture and civilisation through the use of a fictional plot by an Asian-born writer, in my opinion heh heh), I have made it my goal to read all popular books that fall in this category.

So far, I've read The Harmony Silk Factory and Map of the Invisible World by Tash Aw, Evening is the Whole Day by Preeta Samarasan and The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (final two reviews pending). All of these books have been shortlisted or longlisted for more than one prestigious, international book award.

The main similarity between these books is that each author, having been born and raised in Malaysia (or Malaya) have inculcated a love for the poetic life in Malaysia during the pre-war or pre-Independence period.

Some critics say that there is more than enough of these rose-glassed historical fiction that paints a too-beautiful picture of Malaysia to readers around the world, and that if you've read one of them, you've read them all (!). I think these critics fear that the charm of the setting provides an unfair advantage for the stories to bloom, but I'm not sure where I read this from, so I cannot vouch for the validity. Nevertheless, this is an interesting point to ponder on, the next time you find yourself falling in love with a story set like this.

(Side note: I recommend any of the books I listed out to everyone who likes to read. Some parts of it are historically accurate, so it may even help you paint a clearer picture when you're studying Sejarah)

Last week, I finished reading The Ghost Bride by first time novelist Yangsze Choo. Like many others, she was Malaysian born also, now based in the U.S. Many of these writers find fame outside of Malaysia and set up base outside of Malaysia. This is a feat I take pride in because I take a very long time to read a book, considering that work and commuting rarely takes less than 12 hours a day.

I've been wanting to read The Ghost Bride since I read of its debut and review last year, so when I saw it at the Times book sale, I bought it quickly.

The story's introduction is mellow, with uncommonly used words scattered throughout. These words were so unusual to me that it distracted me from reading as quickly as I could, because I had to pause and think of the possible synonyms for it. I had a tough time pinpointing the exact date of the story, but if I could guess, maybe the early or mid 1900s.

When the spirit realm in the book was revealed, and our protagonist entered it, I couldn't gel with it at all. I think I read it with the expectation that it would not go this way, so when it did, I had a tough time grasping or understanding why. In fact, most of the time reading it, I was silently questioning the protagonist "Why are you doing this? Why are you doing that!".

To the end of the book, I deduced that it was a Twilight, lightly veiled as a historical fiction. I'm sorry, but despite her fierce independence, I did not and could not take a liking to Li Lan and her selfish (mis)adventures in the spirit world. It was tough enough that very few girls in that day and time had no jobs to purposefully work at, but she didn't even like the womanly stuff that was due her - like craftsmanship and homemaking.

Her romance with both characters (Tian Bai and Er Lang) was so flip flop, it felt like a Team Edward/Team Jacob thing going on. At times, I couldn't even decide if the author wanted Er Lang to be a good guy or a bad guy, but I guess that was the point - to make you decide yourself if you wanted him to be a good or bad guy. And to me, the person she ended up with had no chemistry with her whatsoever. It was merely a culmination of infatuation and short meet-ups. I was even reminded of Spirited Away at some points of their budding relationship.

I found myself expecting the cowardly ending that Li Lan explained. To me, that would have been selfless of her - sacrificing her own needs for the good of her family. So when she did otherwise, I relegated her to "just another Bella".

No regrets reading this though, at least I found out what the story is about!

Monday, August 25, 2014

A for Alor, B for Bens

A surprise birthday celebration for Visha at Ben's at Publika. VCR/Barlai combo, then to Jalan Alor nearby for some delicious food. Yes Ben's, people only go to you for the convenient location and pretty setting. 

Hot chocolate. (Have yet to discover a frozen hot chocolate confection in Malaysia)

Soft shell crab tortilla. Okay, this was satisfying, 

Jalan Alor, food paradise

Jalan Alor is wonderfully compact and promising. Even at 1am, the roads are filled and lights from each shop flows through your eyes, enticing you to keep your eyes open for just a moment longer past your bedtime. We saw a man riding a motorcycle with a monkey as a pillion rider, and that made our night.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Visiting KL Bird Park

Last Saturday, Amanda & I went to Kuala Lumpur Bird Park. It was my second time there (my first time was 2-3 years ago with PL and JQ). It took us three hours to go through the 20 acres park, which was built in 1991.

While tourists are still visiting the park (up to 200,000 a year), the conditions have sadly deteriorated. Ponds are filled with algae or rivers stuck with leaves, and shrubbery and trees outgrow each other until they block a lot of views. The birds seemed fine though, and the park's pathways seem wheelchair friendly, so thumbs up to that!

I don't know what the RM25 entrance fee is going to, but they may want to pump more money into the up-keeping and maintenance. The weeds growing in every direction may be a naturalist approach to landscaping, but even a naturalist approach needs to be organised for a park of this stature.

This pelican is SO CUTE

One of the main features of the Bird Park is the man-made waterfall (30 feet tall). It's my favourite feature of the park because it's huge and takes up a lot of space. LOL. No lah, I just like the way this portion of the park is built - the walkway meanders down the waterfall to the lake. And we spotted a rainbow forming in the falls, so that was nice :D

I may visit this place again, but only if they revamp their offerings to keep up with the times. Singapore has spoilt me.