Friday, October 12, 2012

How "Turning A Blind Eye" Gets Its Meaning

Last week, I was doing my shopping as usual. I would look around at the home improvement department while my wife will shop for our grocery. Soon, we met up at the washing detergent area. They were doing a promotion item on one of the dish washing liquid. My wife chose the fragrance while I look for cheaper alternative than the one she was about to buy. You see, I don't mind spending less on cleaning detergent even if it is the hypermarket brand. After all, it does not matter if the brand is Glo or Tesco Value or Kedai Rakyat or Mydin. As long as you get the job done.

Mosquito spray and repellent shares the same lane with the dish liquid. One family was standing near to me. In that family, I noticed one of their children managed to grab hold of a mosquito spray and get to press the spray nozzle and release a spray. He was smiling and amazed by his new found 'toy'. On the other side, I  was annoyed and shocked at the same time. Naughty little rascal. His parents didn't keep an eye on him. Soon, his elder sister (by one or two years) was walking towards him. There was this devilish face in that young little boy' eyes.

He does not know the purpose and the effect of the canister he was holding you see. He might thought that it is just the Power Ranger water gun he had at home. Or maybe the spray his dad used to neutralize 'nuclear radiation' after a toilet session. He was about to aim the spray on the face of his sister whom was not really knew what 'toy' holding either. I was standing 2 meter away. AS the sister walk nearer to him..... His brother was about to exert force on the nozzle spray. I quickly dashed to the boy....

I shouted, "No!!!"

With my out-stretched left hand managed to cover the nozzle, I pulled the canister away from his hands. All the sudden, the shoppers at the same lane startled. The father of that boy saw me. Without explaining anything, his father knew what had happened. The boy was red-faced. His once devilish eye now brimful with guilt. Though no clapping hands like how a superhero saves the day, I felt a hero in my heart. I knew if I turned a blind eye initially, the poor little sister might not be able see another ray of light. Blind.

Unless she worn something like this.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Blowing Water

It's been quite a while since I last blog. Married life do take some of your free time I guess. Having said that, working has been quite hectic since. Furthermore, weekend is like a attending living skill (Kemahiran Hidup) classes. Ever since we moved into our new house, both Han Ching and I has been spending time on decorating the house. Furniture was one by one bought and moved in since last year. The one that thrill me of course was the installation of all the lighting, fixing of plumbing system, installation of TV cabinet which was done by me personally. Though I won't claim myself a specialist, but at least the outcome is presentable I think.

Finally I was able to get my long desired study table which I managed to build it. With some special fixing and some ASIS product from IKEA, I manage to turn wardrobe into a study table!

Throwing out and moving in furniture is quite a fun activity fur us. I guess the whole resident in my area will remember me and my wife for being the only couple to throw away bed linen wrapped door, wooden blind and moving a cupboard 300m using a market trolley! Even the security guard was caught by surprise of our feat! And from this, we even discover the full capability of my wife's car Proton Waja by transforming itself to a small goods delivery truck. You will be surprise how we manage to transport the 2.5m x 1m wardrobe table all the way from IKEA to my house. And that was accomplished without even leaving the car hood open!

Along all this ordeal, we managed to meet good Samaritan who could not stand to watch and stop by to lend a hand on these two ambitious "Bangla" worker. It somehow make me believe that there are still good people around. Having been brought up in KL, I was being raised up to be cautious with stranger. The old saying goes, "Never talk to stranger" has been ringing in my ear since. You can't really blame us when people from outside KL claimed that we are not as friendly as people from other states. 

Just open the newspaper nowadays and we will be bombarded with news of people getting cheated, conned, duped, hypnotised, or even kidnapped. In order to prevent ourselves of being a victim, we eventually resort to creating shield or barrier against other people. When you are confronted by anyone that suddenly come forward to you by the street, the first thing you do is raise your hand and say sorry. We speak the words " Tak Nak" even more frequent to these people than to the smokers themselves. 

It is just sad to note that sometimes, those really need help was turned off. I believe in everyone's heart whenever an old aunty came begging on the table, you will have the slight heart wrenching moment of reaching your pocket. But when conscience came in and memory of the newspaper article you read recalled or the name Michael Chong struck your mind, you decided to backtrack. 

Of course, there were joy when you received help along the way. We were dumbfounded when there's a lady who stopped by looking at us trying to squeeze our "furniture" into our car in IKEA. She offered us a simple solution which eventually solved our problem. Her simple approach put us in shame to be exact. We were just laughing and talking about the scenario along our way back. Whenever we visited IKEA seeing other customer trying to load furniture onto their cars, we will smile at ourselves for we were doing same feat the last time around that people can't stand to watch and decided to help us instead.

I guess sometimes we have to indulge in a moment of silliness in order to find happiness.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Finding Honey on The Moon

When it comes to money talk, everyone will have all the reason to support his/her spending. The issue of spending a huge amount on the car registration plate number has been hogging the limelight recently. I guess even if the winning bid was won by any rich business man, people will still talk about it. The fact that we are bickering on other people's spending is purely down to one word. 


You see, to some people money is the yardstick to gauge one person status in the society. Rich people are often rank top in the society. Don't agree? Nowadays, majority of successful people are often linked with wealth. Will you know who is Mark Zuckenberg if he invented Facebook yet earn nothing? I know him because of him being the youngest billionaire. People often get famous because of wealth. Of course, there are other way of getting famous but my topic is focusing more on money effect.

When money comes in your life, the next word that linked to it is usually 'spending'. I have known one uncle from Hong Kong who told me, hard earned money must be spent. Treat yourself good, son! You suffer so much to save and die the next day without even enjoying a single penny of your wealth. Wouldn't that be a pity?

That is why most of us are pampering ourselves with some vacation every once or twice a year. That's too thanks to Mr Tony Fernandez for making this possible. Some of the people thought by going vacation, you will spend a lot. That's not true. Traveling is considered a luxurious thing to do back then and the frequency of you doing it is like every 5 years once.

Therefore, when someone get to do it on a reduced period, comparison of the previous scenario often make one feel guilty of traveling. So the question is are we too pampered on ourselves? Aviation industry has taken a huge leap. Tickets have became so cheap that the taxi fare you pay to get you to the airport is even more expensive than the flight ticket itself. Tourist nowadays are tech and spend savvy too. Youngsters especially often opt for cheap accommodation. Joining a tour is out of their plan as tour organised back then give you no option by staying at least 4 to 5 stars hotel with all meals provided. Sometimes, tips are automatically included.

But a little bit more research thanks to internet, blog and forum who share their experience on the best mode of transport and cheap food to go for, tourist are more daring to hit the road themselves with "Lonely Planet" book on one hand and map on the other.And English being the international language and the fact that there are more educated person, conversation is no longer a barrier among the tourist with the locals.

That is travelling. But how about spending on phone with all this smartphone frenzy? I got my first phone when I studied in university. Even then, many of my friends still rely on public phone. And that phone followed me to my first job. Since then, I've seen the transformation era of phone. People keep changing phone when there's a new model launched. The trend is you buy a phone for RM2000 plus. Use for one to two years, contract ends and you sell the 'old' phone via EBay for half the price and buy another new model. 

"This is to keep updated with technology", exclaimed one of my friends.

Yes I do agree that the phone technology is so advanced that it would be silly not to keep up with the flow. I have no ill feeling towards those who keep changing phone nor did I have grudge on those who laugh at my prehistoric-throw-at-dog dumbphone.

I would like to have a Samsung Galaxy SIII or even an IPhone 4S but the feeling is just not there yet. Reason? Mainly it's too pricey. Another thing is the telco package that we have to sign up. For someone who use less than RM 20 a month on phone bill, it's difficult to commit to a post paid plan which I know I won't be fully utilising it. Last but not least, the main reason is the data package offered in this industry is not matured yet. Imagine that you are lost in the middle of no where and would like to search the company's telephone number to ask for direction. You stuck there for 10 minutes only to load the Google page. And further 10 minutes to get your search result. The fact is the telco in Malaysia is not on par with those in UK or Hong Kong yet.

OK, you can get better plan or connectivity from another plan/ telco but then again it costs you a slightly premium price for that slightly extra speed. Everything is money. I visited my sister in law recently in Australia. I noticed she just got  a new phone and was instantly hooked to it. One year back when I met her in Hong Kong, I told her to change her old Nokia. She was saying that she don't feel there's a need for it. When she got back in Australia, she got a contract for a smartphone package. Good connectivity, great call plan plus a free smartphone. The telco plan is so cheap there that the monthly subscription fee you are paying is 80% on the phone itself.On the other hand, it is the reverse here. 

Having said that, getting one smartphone is a matter of time but just when and which? Ice Cream or Frutti Tutti?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Malacca - Admiral Cheng Ho Visit

My best friend registered his marriage last year. Just one day before my marriage registration. Ironically, my wedding ceremony is just one day earlier than him. So when I got to know that we won't be able to attend each others wedding ceremony I was a bit disappointed that I can't be his true brother (fist hits 3 times on the chest) on his big day. But after sharing our own story on the actual wedding day, I'm glad I escaped the torturous sister's treatment from his side.
 Since, I won't be able to witness his big day, he invited me to his marriage registration in Malacca. It was a mass wedding registration function. I reached there one day earlier. Though this is the second time he brought me about  in Malacca, it will never be enough. Food, heritage and sight-seeing is aplenty here. And when you talk about food, how can one missed out the chicken rice ball here. The last time I remembered about chicken rice ball was way back in university when I first came here with him. Boy, I must say that the chicken rice business has transformed into one copycat business. There are a lot of owners trying to dupe visitors into believing that their stalls served the authentic chicken rice ball. There's even one franchise which used Mr Sayur Rosak's name to 'claim' it was recommended by the celebrity food critic himself.
With in-depth knowledge of all the history in Malacca, my friend told us that there are only 2 famous shops serving the chicken rice ball. One is Chung Kee and another is Hoe Kee. And they are just a stone throw away from one another. On weekday, the queue is not that great. But come weekend, the queue between the 2 shops though are 100 metres apart, can even joined for God's sake! I observed most of the visitors are mainly from Singapore. Crowd aside, the quality of the food is balliciously executed. We waited outside for 10 minutes but the queue was shortened quite quickly. If you come here alone and don't mind sharing table, you will be seated even faster and easier.

When Malacca was listed as one of the World Heritage site, the tourism industry here has taken a boom. Of all sudden, almost every monuments in the Malacca has transformed into national treasure. Any items that look old are considered gold. The hotel business is booming too. You will find small timer hotel operator now gaining weight against the much established hotel here. Prior to my stay here, I was staying at one hotel (so-called 3 stars) for a day job trip as a translator. In short, the hotel was horrible. Anyhow, that was paid by my company so I won't elaborate much. This time, I booked this hotel called Fenix Inn from HotelClub. In short, the hotel inn was fantastic! Basically, it was the old-fashioned motel above the shop lot in KL. Just that they had done a good job on the renovation and modernised the budget motel business. That's why they don't even want to associate themselves with the name motel but rather the word inn.
  Below are the comparison:

So-called 3 star hotel vs Fenix Inn

Box TV set - LCD TV set
TV on old cabinet - TV hung on the wall (can even rotate)
Only national TV stations - Astro with Supersport!
Carpet flooring - Wooden flooring
2 bottles of drinking water - Delcol water dispenser outside (you can fill more than 2 bottle)
No ironing facility - Shared ironing facility at the aisle.
Psycho-feel bathroom -See-thru partition with Alpha water heater
No car park - Car park inside shops (need not worry your car being towed at 10.30PM)

Like I say before, food hunting in Malacca on weekend means you will be fighting for seats with others. My friend told us to be prepared when we set our time for the satay celup dinner. It was only 6PM and not even a normal dinner time for us. When I drove near the the shop, I saw a bunch of people lining up along the street. OMG! The queue for our must-try food in Malacca, satay celup had reached 3 shop lots lengths.
With the queue not as fast moving as the chicken rice shop earlier as they need to wait for the food to be cooked inside the groundnut filled hot and spicy, we had no choice but to wait and observe the atmosphere along the street. There is one shop which copycatted this satay celup concept which is just located 2 shops away. If I'm the shop owner I have two things in mind. One. "*&*!#% they are willing to queue up in front of my shop to wait yet they don't even want to try at my shop!". Two. "Thank God those who are not willing to wait in the queue gave up and come to my shop instead $$$".
  Well, some will be tempted to go other shop instead. But we ain't going to give up after coming all the way here. We decided to stick to our original plan. There are notices on the wall of their shop which curse claim that they don't have any brother or sister that open another branches elsewhere. Therefore, they re the only one in Malacca with the name Capitol. Capitol Sister, Capitol Brother, Capsquare, Captain America and any Cap-you-think-of has nothing to do with the owner of this satay celup. Think of celup, think of Capitol. Mr. Capitol, we heard you. 
  So, what make it so different from the "luk-luk" you have in those day  where the stalls were opened in front of the cinema. If my memory serves me right, I remembered dipping a few stick of raw food into boiling soup to cook it. Then we will put the sauce either sweet sauce, chili sauce or the favourite of all, satay peanut grounded sauce. The concept is same with the satay celup here in Malacca. Just that they skipped the boiling soup part and use the sauce instead to cook and sauced your food in one go. They mix sugar and chili into the peanut grounded sauce to your liking and resistance. 
 If you asked me what is the main difference this shop has to offer that other can't, I can't really answer that. I guess authenticity has a thing play here. Nobody remember the name of the person who reached the peak of Mount Everest second right? Another thing I can point out maybe due to the freshness of the food they offered and also the sauce used to cook the food. What I like most here was when they have this bonus hour where they will put a few stick of abalone, tiger prawn and some slightly expensive seafood on your table.

Me: Boss, this one I didn't order oh.
Boss: No worries, you eat I count. No eat I won't count.
Me: ???
First-timer like me for sure won't dare to even eat or even dirtied it with the sauce. Such an expensive food. After that, we came to know that this 'special' food are counted the same price as what we saw on the fridge. Yup, tiger prawn for the same price you pay the for the meatball you picked from the fridge. This is what we called bonus hour. By the time they served up this bonus hour items, we were already 80% full. And nope, you can't offered it to other table. Nevertheless, we took a few and decided to give up on the rest. It was already 7PM and the crowd grew longer to 4 shops instead. Well, it is the tougher you get your food, the more appreciative of you on the food I guess. Apart from the preservation of ancient monument, Malacca has also experienced a boom in international hotel investment like the Casa del Rio Hotel in the heart of the city. The architectural design pays tribute to the Portuguese heritage of Malacca. The cheapest room you can get is RM 388. For that you got to fake your IC to be a senior citizen.
Having this building along the river is truly a sight to behold. When I first saw the Malacca River during my primary school trip, it was small and of no difference with Klang River or teh tarik. It is hard to imagine that this was the same river that attracted the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British to make this place the central of trading port. The Malacca River with its cruise is the biggest surprise I heard of when my company organised the company trip a few years back. I took the opportunity this time around to experience myself  since I missed my company trip. Clean embankments on both sides stretches for several kilometres. You can even see mangrove tree being preserved to prevent soil erosion. The idea was basically to make the river pollution-free. The back of the shops had been converted so that you can have a cup of tea while savouring the breezy river brushing down your hair.

It's makes you feel like the ancient Admiral Cheng Ho having a cup of tea with the Prince of Rome.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Pearl Of The Orient

For the first time, I get to travel with my sister-in-law, my brother and her parents from Hong Kong. I think my brother was jumping for joy for this trip after spending most of his time abroad. Actually, they were here back in August last year to attend my eldest brother wedding. Well, Penang of course is the favourite choice of destination for Hong Kong people and also the obvious choice which my parents would like to showcase to them. There are more Chinese food to savour and the most important is it's a World Heritage site.

After driving for roughly 5 hours, we reached there in time to have our lunch at my famous Teo Chew porridge stall. This stall is located at Gaik Ten coffee shop along Magazine road, just opposite Trader’s Hotel. I got to know this stall through The Star newspaper's Thumbnail section where they showed an uncle eating porridge while squatting cum shitting sitting on a bench.

This time, I was staying at this so-called long long time ago when the name of the hotel is considered famous. After checking in and tried out the bed, I can actually bounce back if I were to jump to my bed. Nevertheless, my parents will killed me I were to book Tune Hotel for them. But come to think about it, Tune Hotel is even better. At least their bed is not trampoline feel.

Since my sister-in-law's parents are devout Buddhist, bringing them to the Kek Lok Si temple to witness our very own Giant Kuan Yin statue is a good idea. Hong Kong have their famous Wong Tai Sin temple and Giant Buddha. Luckily in Penang, this Kek Lok Si temple is not bad either.

We went up to the new pavilion where the Giant Kuan Yin statue is still under construction. I would say 90% completion. Once on top, you could enjoy the picturesque view of whole Penang from there. Not so long ago, I was given a clip from Youtube regarding a documentary talking about Penang from TVB show. That documentary was never shown in Wah Lai Toi though it is part of the channel's show. In that documentary they drew a similar comparison of Penang with Hong Kong judging from economy, lifestyle and history.

Come to think about it, it indeed true. Let's draw a list of similar item you can get in Penang and in Hong Kong

Hong Kong vs Penang

Giant Buddha = Giant Kuan Yin

The Peak = Penang Hill

The Peak Tram = The Penang Hill Tram

Both also have Sun Yat Sen museum and both also have been visited by the person himself.

Though Hong Kong people are not famous of spicy food. But no one can resist the spiciness of a good sardine-rich bowl of assam laksa from this famous stall in Penang. My brother's in-laws finished till the last drop of the gravy.

I visited so many Sleeping Buddha. From the the famous Buddhist religion country of Bangkok to the Islamic state of Kelantan. I was surprised when I noted that there is another one at Penang in Wat Chayamangkalaram.

I kind of like this shot down here. This picture depicts as if the Buddha had received enlightenment. Now this is what I called a picture speaks a thousand Buddhas.

We visited another temple nearby. The Burmese Temple (Dhammikarama). Looking at the temple, one would wonder. Why I need to go to Thailand to visit their temple when I can find aplenty in Malaysia!

That put my sister-in-law into great thought. Hmmm, maybe you are right.

Now, the next destination we planned to visit was Cheong Fat Tze mansion. It became very famous that no photos are allowed inside. And also so "action", that it only open after 11am. As we reached there quite early, we don't bother to wait another 30 minutes for it to open.  Though I must admit the view and the painting job they had there is marvellous. Nippon paint maybe? To me, it is just another someones house which we would rather pay the amount of the entrance fee to a hotel. And yet we can sleep, bathe inside, 2 bottles of free water and trampoline to exercise.

So we decided to head back to our hotel which we paid for something where we could do which the latter can't. After checking out, we head to this famous and headline grabbing char keoy teow stall at Lorong Selamat. So famous that people wrote on newspaper and blog condemning the price and attitude of the owner of this stall.

I once told my wife, that if you don't like someones food or attitude then just don't eat. No need to go to newspaper over such a small matter. After all, it's just a plate of char keoy teow. My wife replied me that human are sometimes very funny. They loved to being scolded. This is what we called "fan chien". The char keoy teow was good but maybe a bit overrated. But one thing I must respect her. How can her hat can bend forward yet didn't cover her face?

In Penang, the naming of the street is very funny. Magazine Road does not mean you get a lot of stall selling magazines. Lorong Susu does not mean there is a lot of people drinking milk and I can't even find one milk related item there. Actually, when it comes to milk, one can try Hokkien speaking Indian guy selling milk at Air Hitam. If he were to open his stall at this Lorong Susu, I'm sure this signboard won't be bitten off like this.

One can really see the transformation the state had experienced once it achieved the status of World Heritage site. Those ancient building which we had aplenty in KL has been injected life back into life. Just look at this old era building which I'm quite sure the building in front of HSBC HQ in KL are of same architectural design. But one is post Jeremy Lin while the other is pre-Jeremy Lin.

You know what? I've been to Penang a couple of time. But never a time, I stood still to observe their building and architectural brilliance for one until they was drafted in the World Heritage site. I guess that's human. When you are just the normal stuff and no other people take notice of you, nobody will even pay attention on you. Just when you were recognised from people outside your own circle and all of the sudden, if you farted people will think it smell like Enchanteur.

And why on earth there is a grayscale Pakistan house doing nearby to this vibrant and colourful city?