business trips, child, cosmetics, dinner, food, friends, great assignment, Happy thoughts, inspirational, job, lucky, me, technology

Post Hong Kong

I’m back people!!!

My working trip to HK was — in short — successful, inspiring and memorable. I met really nice people there, was wowed by the efforts of the teachers who attended the forum and amazed by the sights and sounds of Hong Kong.

There were nine of us from Msia — 3 media reps, 3 moe reps, 2 ms reps and 1 teacher/quarter-finalist. Most of us had only met for the first time at the airport. Having gone for the regional event in Hanoi in April, I was already familiar with the 2 MS reps and teacher. It turned out that one of the media reps was formerly from BH in JB (hansolo, I’m sure you know who she is because she left the company a few months ago to work in KL). We had met each other perhaps a couple of years back but both of us couldn’t remember what assignment or occasion it was. We became fast friends anyway.

We left Msia at about 9.30am. That meant leaving the house at about 6.15am to check in by 7.30am. I had omellette and watched Baby Mama on the plane. I really recommend this movie because it is funny as h3ll!! I laughed and cried watching this movie — the guy sitting next to me probably thought I was crazy. If you’re into spoilers, read all about Baby Mama here.

I could relate to the movie because I’m trying for a baby myself. It hasn’t been particularly easy for me so this movie, about a successful business woman who’s trying to have a baby alone at 37, hits a chord with me. Tina Fey and Amy Pohler were both hilarious and excellent actors. I knew that they were funny from the Saturday Night Live days but I never knew that they could do drama as well. Believe it or not, the movie was categorised under Drama under the Movie on Demand list. The script is brilliant at mixing hilarious moments and touching ones all in one scene.

I loved the film so much that I recommended it to the former BH girl but too bad the movie was removed from the play list on our flight back to Msia. I wanted to watch it again but because it was no longer available, I decided to watch Wall-E. The missing narration makes it a bit boring but I still think it’s a sweet movie. I must be really hormonal then because not only did I cry watching Baby Mama, watching Wall-E go about his work all alone on Earth too almost moved me to tears 😛 I loved the movie. Well at least I didn’t fall asleep watching it as I did while watching The X-Files right after Wall-E. Not that it was incredibly boring or anything. I think I was just tired by then.

My stay in Hong Kong was wonderful. I would have loved to do more shopping but I find HK to be rather expensive. I mean, a bottle of Evian costs RM5 there. A bottle of regular mineral water costs RM3. So you can pretty much tell how expensive other things can be. It didn’t help that our hotel, The Langham in Tsim Sha Tsui is right across a Louis Vitton boutique. It was an exclusive area, so shopping around the jotel area was limited.

But Ladies Market was just four MTR stations away. I didn’t really like it there because I found the bargaining process really tiring. Some of the proprieters are rude — they just shoo you away. But I managed to get the usual souvenir stuff — fridge magnets, t-shirts etc — for not-too-bad prices. The t-shirts were of good quality so I’m happy with that. I wanted to buy a bag for myself but I ended up with a pair of flat shoes instead. It was for RM32. I’m happy with that because it looks good with my jeans.

I loved watching the young women in HK. They dress really well, very trendy with their calf or knee-length boots. HK this time of the year is slightly cooler than in Malaysia and less humid too. You don’t need a coat or anything. You’l be fine with your t-shirt. But if you were to wear your jeans and t-shirt, you’ll look slightly out of place in Tsim Sha Tsui area where the girls were shorts, dresses or pretty blouses with skirts and boots. Sure, there will be people in just t-shirt and jeans but they’re mostly guys 😛

Books in HK are pretty expensive too. If you think your RM34 paperback is pricey, wait till you have to fork out RM45 for the same paperback in HK! I’m never taking book prices in KL for granted anymore. Of course, I’ll buy them online so I’ll get a 30 per cent discount.

Sasa in HK is cheaper (certain items) and bigger. I almost bought a Sasa-brand lengthening/volumising mascara for HK$98 (98xRM0.46= about RM45) but decided against it. I didn’t really need it. I already have my Maybelline mascara that does the job for less than RM40. Never mind that I still think about it now (I think I’m in love), enough to make me want to go to a Sasa store and see if they sell it here too. But I bought 3 miniature perfumes — Eternity (15ml) and two Burberry Weekend (5ml) — for RM50 from there. Not bad eh?

All this talk about shopping makes you wonder whether I did any work at all in HK. Of course I did 🙂

I was there to cover an international forum for innovative teachers and met teachers from 60 countries who are not short of inspirational. If all these teachers were to work in one school, that would be one heck of a brilliant school. These are teachers who worked outside of office hours to create games, movies etc to enhance their teachings. You will be amazed by what these teachers can do. Some of these schools are rural ones that have no Internet access at all. Yet the students learn with the aid of technology everyday.

I really want to do justice to the article which I will prepare in the coming days. I hope I will do a great job at it.

Anyway, after spending four solid days in Hong Kong, staying at a 5-star hotel with great breakfast and company, it still feels good to be back in the comfort of my own messy room and table writing this entry.

Oh, that just reminds me of something. I need to register the free MS Office One Note 2007 software I got from the forum online and also check out Piggley’s blog. Piggley is the mascot of a school in rural Nothern Ireland. From his blog, I could see that he had a whale of a time in Hong Kong. Read all about him here and also notice how Piggley asks the students to look up some information on Hong Kong and its culture. This is the kind of learning that these teachers are promoting. Fun, isn’t it?

Well, I’m signing off too. I wish I could have done a day-to-day blog like Piggley but to tell you the truth, the Internet charge was too expensive and I frankly didn’t have the energy to even switch my laptop on at the end of the day.

Anyway, see you soon!

P/S: No pictures yet. I’ll probably transfer some photos tomorrow and I’m also waiting for some REALLY good pictures from MS representatives. More of that next week I guess. I’l probably upload them on FB. Later!

cousin, exercise, family, fashion, food, friends, holiday, husband

All you can eat weekend

Looks like it’s going to be a weekend of eating, eating and eating.

It started with my friend, Shah’s 30th birthday bash on Thursday. It was a cosy get-together. He had some food catered but many of the guests brought their own. It was almost a pot luck affair. Some of them brought triffles, roast chicken, creme puffs etc. I loved the white chocolate birthday cake. Normally, I hate white chocolate because it’s too sweet. But this one was different. It had almond in it and it was not sweet at all. Just perfect!

The venue was our friend Sh3gar’s boutique-cum-office. He’s trying to develop his own clothing line and already has, at least, two local celebrity clients – both girls have been VJs and are top local actresses. As the office is quite new, he hasn’t come round to fixing the prices on his clothes. I told him that his designs are something that I would definitely wear. If they’re not too expensive, I would definitely buy em 🙂

To burn off all the calories I consumed from the party, I went to the gym and had a good 40-minute walk/climb/run on the treadmill. I think this is the perfect routine for me because although “switching gears” is hard but it made the time fly by. Before I knew it, I was already on my 35th minute!

I discovered one trick to distract me while I’m running, especially when I’m not listening to the iPod – play games on the treadmill. By that I mean as I run, I make a square. One second I’m on the left side of the conveyor’s belt and another I’m on the right. It’s like I’m running in a zig zag motion. I found that although I was on a relatively comfortable speed, I exerted more energy just to keep up. Whatever it takes to get my heart rate up, yeah?

After the cardio, I did some squats, walking lunges, sit ups on the exercise ball and threw some punches with a 5-pound dumbell on each hand. Just moves that I remember reading from my health magazines.

Right after gym, I had a shower and met my husband who played three rounds of volleyball on the rooftop. After both of us were done, we went straight to my husband’s cousin’s place. An@s (the cousin) had a going away party/kenduri doa selamat. He and his wife, A1re3n will be leaving for Istanbul on the 12th as he will be doing a three-year dentistry postgraduate course there. Istanbul is also where his parents-in-law are. His FIL is the malaysian ambassador there, if I’m not mistaken. I think by the time they come back to KL, they would have had a kid or two 🙂 Insya-Allah.

Just this afternoon, his uncle of his had a housewarming party. I’m still stuffed from the beriyani and ayam masak merah.

I suppose tomorrow we will be eating in. But since Mak Na (his aunt) and her husband, Uncle J0hn and two children – Ad@m and B3n, are down here from New Castle, mom-in-law is sure to have some dinner plans. 

Now usually all this eating would make my stomach go haywire. But since I started taking DigestAid, I have had little to no problem. The only uncomfortable side effect is the flatulence. Either I’m farting all the time or I’m having difficulties passing wind. But that beats needing to urgently pass motion. It’s one evil or the other, I guess. Remember, beggars can’t be choosers!

But I think I’m going to try to substitute my DigestAid pills which contains papaya and pineapple enzymes for the real thing – papaya and pineapple fruits. Like on Friday, I missed breakfast, so I took a long piece of papaya just before lunch. After lunch, I took a pill. The surprise was, I was fine. No stomach cramps and urgent need to go to the toilet. Success!

I think Princess wants to do dinner on Monday. More eating! But I must reconfirm with her. So, later!

P/S: I have Rihanna’s Take A Bow minus one. Next singing contest, I’m singing Rihanna for sure 😛

exercise, food, home

Too much fast food ain’t good for ya

I’ve been eating a lot of fast food of late. I had Big Mac for dinner Thursday night and then Quarter Pounder for lunch yesterday after my assignment because McD’s was just next to the college I went to. Today for lunch, my husband wanted KFC. I didn’t have the heart to tell him, no I don’t want another fast food lunch, because it’s not often that we have KFC anyway.

I think I wouldn’t mind so much if I had been strict with my exercise regime but my hectic schedule this past week made it near impossible to slot in even 20 mins of exercise. I woke up early two days in a row but both occasions were to make time for work. I was thinking that I could start again this morning but I woke up at 11am. By then, I had to start with the packing (we’re shifting house some time end of this month). Now is my one hour break from packing.

It shocked me that I may need to do something equivalent to mowing the lawn for an hour to burn off the calories from the Quarter Pounder I ate yesterday. I read that here.
Guess, I should really start finding a full 30-minute today to fit in some cardio *lol*.

Well, as long as I get my butt off the chair or bed, I’m good right? Better get cracking now.

business trips, dinner, drama, food, great assignment, inspirational, living abroad

B0ts

I was going to wait until the internet connection at home is better to blog about my recent trip to B0tswana but it looks like it ain’t gonna get any better. The pictures will have to wait, though.

I took the day of on Thursday in preparation for my flight that night. A major drama actually took place that morning – major as in HUGE. Needless to say that I left Malaysia with a heavy heart. If it had been a personal trip, I would have cancelled but it was work and I had to fulfill the commitment I made. But suffice to say that drama now has been sorted out.

The drama during the day probably tired me out because I slept even before they served supper on the flight to Jo’burg from Spore *lol* That was good tho because I sure didn’t want to stay awake on a 10-hour flight. It was a good thing that I had slept about 6 hours on and off because it made me too groggy to be stressed out about the turbulence we experienced. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give the shaking a 7. The plane literally swayed from left to right for what seemed like an eternity (maybe 10 minutes). At one point, we felt the plane “drop” (I believe this is what people call the plane being caught in an air pocket?). I actually woke up a few seconds before it happened. The turbulence was THAT bad. But I have experienced worst. I was on a plane to Sabah, I believe, and the plan “dropped” 3x in succession with about 5 seconds of breaks in between “drops”. I actually let out a nervous gasp on the third drop and the lady next to me was looking panicky herself. I must have scared her more *lol*

Anyway, that was the not so good part about the trip. There’s actually another one but I’ll save that for later.

The flight on the whole was not so bad. Me and the rest of the entourage got to Jo’berg airport feeling a little groggy despite the long walk lugging our heavy hand luggages. Did I tell you we were warned against checking in our bags? Valuables and, worse, bags and their contents have gone missing at Jo’berg especially for passengers whose final destinations are to other african countries. One staff of l_k_w didn’t get his luggage until the day he was to leave the country. Boleh? Ghetto giler k?! You wouldn’t think that something like that can happen in such a modern airport. I mean, I can tolerate things being “removed” from the luggage but for the entire luggage to go missing? The scary part is it happens to so many people on a daily basis. Macam tak ada undang-undang je 😛

Note: Just to show you how serious it is, I googled jo’berg airport lost baggage and found a NYT article on the subject. Here is what the article said:

In Africa, Johan Breytenbach, an analyst on iJET’s Africa team, said that theft at the Johannesburg airport, Africa’s busiest with more than 13 million passengers a year, occurs daily – NYT

Anyway, we arrived in Gab0r0ne about 10am. After a short briefing by one of the l_k_w staff, we were taken straight to our hotel. We were warned that our hotel room would be “cute” (i.e small). But the rooms turned out to be cosy and pretty. I loved my room and I loved the idea of having the tv “suspended” like tvs in hospital rooms. The only bummer was that the rooms didn’t have any phones. It would not have been so bad if we had roaming. None of the services – nope, not even cel-to-the-com – have roaming there. So we had to knock on each other’s room to communicate/make plans/etc.

After I showered, I heard a knock on my door. It was the kakak from B*H. She asked me if I wanted to see the town with her. Frankly, I was scared to go out but because she had asked, I said yes. I mean, we had six hours to kill before dinner, so what the heck? I was with her and she looked super confident, so off we went. I’m glad we did because we managed to see a bit of Gab0r0ne, its people and shopping areas.

We learned that cars in B0ts are cheap so no one rides a motorcycle there. They’d rather walk than ride a bike. I’m joking. But the truth is, I didn’t see any bikers at all. I saw many people either in cars or walking, though.

Just like in Shah Alam, there are actual taxis and teksi sapu in Gab0r0ne. If you ask the drivers if they have receipts, they’ll say yes even if a notepad is all they have to write your “receipt” on. Cute, huh?

I notice that Gab didn’t have many places in town selling crafts. That made looking for small souvenirs difficult. They had all the wood carvings which are nice but not exactly practical for travelers who can’t check in their bags. What they had in abundance were mini marts and shops selling clothes and shoes for “cheap”. Fruits and veggies are cheap and so is beef or chicken. But other things can be pricey because they have to be imported from next-door-neighbour-with-the-port S.Africa.

The kakak and I were impressed with the fact that we didn’t see beggars on the street at the three shopping areas we went to. We were starred at a lot – being non-Africans – but no one came up to us for money or anything. But I suppose Africans in Gab0r0ne are getting more used to seeing Asians now that the Chinese have set up businesses there. You’ll be amazed with the number of Chinese restaurants and shops which have mushroomed at Gab0r0ne. There’s one halal Chinese restaurant just next door to one of the l_k_w’s campuses. The food there, apparently, is brilliant.

When it comes to “fine dining”, Gab0r0ne has a lot to offer. On Friday night, we went to this place called Bull and Bush (or something), a steak place. Before you ask, beef in Gab0r0ne at least is halal so the muslim staff there have been happily wacking beef since they arrived. Portion sizes are huge. I ordered the finest fillet cut and still couldn’t finish it. I loved my meal but was disappointed that my side veggies were blended beyond recognition. They were probably delicious in their original form but after being blended? Yuck!

The B&B place was very “happening” on Friday night. They had a cute young caucasian Dj who played songs by Sean Kingston, Neyo, Chris Brown etc. People of all ages, shapes and sizes shaked their booty on the dance floor. One black guy was really good. I bet he does break dancing.

It would have been a great night if not for the fact that the so-called bouncers of the restaurant insisted that I pay for the “cover charge”. BS-lah. Mana ada cover charge. Sesuka hati mak bapak dia je nak suruh orang bayar. One of them actually grabbed my arm and bag so that I won’t run away. I told him sternly to take his hands of me and he did. He later came to our table and spoke to the l_k_w staff. I didn’t hear what they said.

To give you context to what took place. We had entered the place, sat down and made our orders. Then, one of the l_k_w staff asked us if we wanted to see the handicrafts outside. So we went and when we wanted to make our way in again, that was when I was stopped. Well, kalau betul ada cover charge, where’s your stamp to indicate that I have paid? There was none and there was actually no cover charge. Come on, it’s a freaking restaurant! So, that unfortunately had ruined an otherwise good night.

We wanted to dine outside (still within the restaurant compound), where they had picnic tables and a bar much like the one you see in Blood Diamond, but there were too many people already. The food, as I was saying, was nice but service can be a little slow. If you’re hungry, do have something light prior to leaving the house. But the waites and waitresses are well trained. They talk to you, ask you if your food is fine and if you’d like another drink etc. This service at your normal pizza-hut or kfc, ok? Not bad kan?

I wish I could take all of you to this plant nursery place which has a cafe in a beautiful garden we went to on Sunday, just a couple of hours before the event we were suppose to attend. There is a h-u-g-e fig tree in the middle of the garden which was nothing like I have ever seen in my life. Come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever seen a fig tree 😛

Another highlight of the garden is a tree house for the kids. There was a really cute, chubby boy (toddle) who was playing with his older brother and the older brother dug some dirt and put it on the lil brother’s head! I didn’t get a picture of that though.

The l_k_w staff said we must have coffee there, so we did. I had already taken breakfast but I wanted to order the tuna salad because I had a feeling we won’t have time to have lunch – which was true! The tuna salad was fresh. The tuna did not come from a tin and I can vouch for that. It tasted un-tin-like *lol* I shared the salad with the kakak and we cold hardly finish it.

At 3pm, the event we flew all the way from Msia to attend took place. It was a convo ceremony unlike anything I have ever seen. Students were singing songs like Hero, Simply the best, Wings beneath my wing between scroll presentations, boleh? I have a video but I don’t think I’m going to youtube it. Kalau nak tengok, see me personally.

The ceremony was over in about two hours or so. We then went to the press conference, did some interviews and went for dinner. We flew home the next morning. The flight home from Jo’berg was much, much better this time. No turbulence at all and I managed to see two movies – Resident Evil: Extinction and The Invasion.
I wish I had the time and money to go on a safari in Bots. I was told that Bots safari is the best in the African continent. Well, kalau umur panjang, I will get to go there again. Insya-allah.

My impression of Gab0rone? It has a lot of potential as a tourist spot. But the people of Bots must know how to “sell” the country. The simplest example? Produce more souvenirs that tourists can pick up and place safely in their bags. I’m talking about I’m talking about good quality souvenirs – fridge magnets, pens, etc. I found that these were sorely lacking.

I thought that Gab0r0ne was not so prepared for tourists. I wondered to myself, apart from the safari – that is probably 20km away from town – and the food, what else can a tourist like me see and do? I actually asked someone this question and they were a bit stumped for an answer.

I hope with the presence of a creative university in town, the country will be able to produce creative human resource who can transform the country into a vibrant economy. That the country is sponsoring the tertiary education of 90 per cent of its young people means that the country is heading in the right direction. I wish Batswana (people of Botswana) all the best!

cartoon, cosmetics, food, movies, sister

Rat-a-tat-tat (oo-ee!)

I confess: I didn’t want to go and see Ratatouille with my sister. If I had it my way, I’d go and see Disturbia, The Invisible or The Simpsons which are more my cup of tea. Why, I was even tempted to go and watch Transformers for the second time. What can I say…I have a crush on Shea Lebouf!

But since my sister had asked me out to watch Ratatouille (pronounced rat-a-too-ee) with her yesterday, I thought, “what the heck”.

And know what? I love it. Absolutely! It’s not as cute as Monsters Inc [speaking of which, a little girl in the movie theatre laughed just like Boo] but it’s hilarious, I can tell you that. The idea of a rat in the kitchen, what more a rat cooking in the kitchen, is gross. But you will love Remy the rat and aspiring chef for pursuing his passion. Well, if you have the gift for it, why not eh?

I’m not sure what the real message the filmmakers want to send to the audience. I’m guessing that it’s “don’t let other people stop you from doing what you’ve been born to do”. But if you are rat, a rodent, a pest, a health hazard – isn’t it dangerous for you to be preparing food? So, it’s okay to hurt people in the process of reaching for the stars?

I know it’s just an animated movie but you have to agree with me that it’s a very weird choice of character to send a positive message across. it’s like choosing a praying-mantis-thin actress to talk about healthy eating. Okay, this is a really bad analogy but you get the message.

Having said all that, I enjoyed the movie immensely because it made me laugh so hard. If you need a pick me up, this is the movie that will do the trick.

P/S: My sister gave me a matte pencil lipstick and pencil eyeliner from Mary Kay which she got for free from one of her wellness programmes for bcps (that’s breast cancer patients, not a new all-girl singing group!) I shall put them on for work tomorrow.

family, food, friends, husband, inspirational

No monkey business

   I just got back from visiting my cousin-in-law’s newly opened cafe in banting. She is 27 and an mba holder who has always been business-minded. So her decision to open up her own eatery (with her long-term boyfriend) does not come as a surprise to me.

However, I have to admit that when I heard that she was setting up food business in banting, I was a bit sceptical. The question running through my mind was: “can a cafe selling mostly-western food work in little banting?”

But having seen her and her friends manning the restaurant in their second day of operation, I think she made the right choice.

What her business does is filling a need. Apparently, there isn’t a western-food restaurant within the vicinity. Nearby eateries are all selling goreng-goreng and tom yam, so she is not competing with any of them specifically. Also, no one in town cooks good western food, so that is also an advantage for her.

Since she doesn’t have overhead issues to think of – the land where her cafe stands belongs to her family – all she has to worry about is making good food and giving good service to her customers.

Right now, the customers are mostly family and family friends. But they’re quite impressed with the food as well as the fact that the business is run by youngsters – my cousin-on-law is the oldest among her staff.

My husband has also resolved to come to banting every weekend to help out in the kitchen. For those who don’t know, he studied culinary arts in college and has quite an extensive experience of working in the kitchen of hotels and coffee houses. Unlike moi, he looooves getting his hands dirty in the kitchen. Being all busy in the kitchen, rushing orders from the customers is almost therapeutic for him. He says that being in the kitchen keeps his mind sharp.

I don’t think I can work in a busy kitchen because I panic too easily. Leave the dirty dishes to me but don’t ask me to take the orders and, god forbid, prepare the food!

Anyway, we are going there again tomorrow morning. I have to remind my husband to buy some bananas before that. He wants to feed the pet monkey (kera) they have over there. The kera got so friendly with him that it refused to let go of him. It even decided to climb on his back and sit on his neck while eating rambutan taken from the tree behind the cafe. I have it on video – I took using my mobile – and I promise to upload it on Yahoo! videos soon. Watch this space!

food, friends, holiday

K Sgor pictures

As promised, here are some pictures from the K. Sgor trip. Enjoy!


a) My kari laksa at Auntie Kop1t1am. Yum is the word!

b) Arn1 (driver) and boss 🙂

c) Ar1ef and Kak Yan1 at Auntie Kop1t1am.

d) An1s, boss and Arn1 at Auntie Kop1t1am.
Btw, I’ve also added some new pictures (from the recent Raya to the weekend retreat at Kalumpang) on my Friendster. These days, I can’t be @rsed to upload pictures on my Flicker or Photobucket. I think they’ve lost their novelty.
But maybe now that I have learnt a new trick on how to compress 1mb pictures using M1crosoft Off1ce P1cture Manager (thanks to my husband), I think I’ll be uploading more often.