Friday, January 13, 2006

2005 bangin' choons

here are albums I've got for 2005 - not in order of preference

1. franz ferdinand - you could have it so much better - 5/5 ace !
2. feeder - pushing the senses - 5/5 top ace !!
3. athlete - tourist -5/5 top ace !!
4^ the posies - every kind of light - 5/5 top ace !! melodic band from the US, doesn't exactly jive does it?
5* beck - guero - 5/5 ace !! - oh yeah, he's from the US
6* the killers - hot fuss - 5/5 top ace !! also melodic, electronic tinged band from the US
7. embrace - out of nothing - 4/5 only listened twice, got to listen some more
8. starsailor - on the outside - 3.5/5 will give it more chance
9* sigurros - takk - unrated - definitely have to digest more - they grow on you
10. gorillaz - feel good inc - 4/5 a bit inconsistent - but there are majority stand out tracks - go damo & inc !
11. coldplay - x&y - 4/5 - good, but they could have it so much better (hehe, borrowing franz's album title)
12. chemical brothers - push the button - 4/5 ok, but chem bros fans might diss me for not being as appreciative
13. kasabian* - kasabian -5/5 ace !!
14. the bravery - the bravery - 5/5 ace !!
15. doves* - some cities - 5/5 ace !!
16. kaiser chiefs* - employment - 3.5/5 imho overrated, but some fun, radio friendly songs though
17. bloc party* - silent alarm - 4.5/5 promising

* monetary credit to big bro - he bought 'em
^ effort credit to big bro


mama's recipe - banana muffin

Have fun !!!

Combine and sift:
250 g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

75 g soft brown sugar
250 g ripe bananas (mashed)
50 g chopped nuts (walnut or pecan or hazelnut)
50 g raisins

2 eggs, lightly beaten
150 ml milk
½ tsp vanilla essence
110 g butter (melted)

Preheat oven to 200 deg. C. Brush a muffin tin with melted butter or you can use paper cups if you like.

Put sifted ingredients in a bowl. Add sugar, bananas, nuts and raisins. Mix the ingredients together carefully. Make a well in the center and add the combined ingredients and pour in melted butter. Lightly stir with a fork until just combined. Do not over-beat, the batter should be quite lumpy.

Spoon mixture into prepared muffin tin. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown. Loosen muffins with a spatula or knife and turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Do it ah chin style

This is Ah Chin


Thursday, January 12, 2006

travelogue - Medan - Lake Toba

Lake Toba
07/11/05 Medan – Lake Toba
Morning flight 0830 hrs. I hate A** A***! (I don't want to get sued). Everyone pushing around, fighting for seats. The seats are ugly and not comfy. Luckily it’s just a 1 hour flight.
Arrive at Polonia same time local time. Pak Muliyadi the tour guide is jovial, fun, energetic. Together with his trusty assistant Iwan the schoolboy. Ah, we’ll be whisked around in a Kijang. Memories of Jakarta comes back to mind. Last visit to Indonesia was in 1998 !
Journey takes 4 hours. On the way we buy kacang tumbuk at Permatang Siantar. Nice one! Ooooh, and along the road we see 3 to 5 star Orang Batak tombs. They decorate the tombs nicely, and some even have gates and are nicer than the living's own homes !
We arrive at Lake Toba just in time for lunch – Minang style! Nasi Padang with at least 7 courses – you don’t have to eat all. They pay you by courses.
Our room is not ready yet. We take a boat ride from Prapat to Pulau Samosir. First stop at Tuk Tuk with the Raja Sialiagan Stone Chairs. Small village here, resided by the Batak Toba people. Next to Tomok with the Chief Soribuntu Sidabutar’s Tomb.
I snapped really nice pictures of the Lake Toba scenery. Breathtaking !
Dinner at our hotel – nice vege ! No air cond in the room, just natural cool air. Lake Toba is about 1300m above sea level.

A Batak tomb

Sipiso-piso waterfall
08/11/05 Lake Toba – Brastagi
After breakfast, we have tea at Simarjarunjung, in the Lake Toba vicinity.
Next, taking pictures at Sipisopiso Waterfall, not really, near to, more likely. Need to hike further down the steep slope.
Buy some fruits at Brastagi market before going to hotel.
We reach Sinabung Hotel, Brastagi just in time for lunch. Very nice Chinese lunch esp. the chicken. The hotel looks well kept too with a lovely garden.
We just take a walk in the late afternoon, then have some tea with kacang tumbuk.
No air cond in the room as well. It’s cool here.

09/11/05 Brastagi – Medan
Nothing much happens on the way back, but nice scenery of the villages and their vege crops. Nasi Padang lunch, then shopping ! Not the modern shopping mall, please !
We get to go to Pasar Ikan, no fishes here though. Only fabrics, clothes and telekung. Got a “parachute” telekung and 2 scarves.
Later, from the hotel, walk to nearby supermarket and got Tora Bika’s 3 in 1 mocha coffee. I don’t like coffee, but this one is nice !

10/11/05 – Medan
Our flight back is 2030 hrs, so we have time for more shopping. But today we’re just shopping at modern malls. Not really fun. I still couldn’t find any souvenirs ! Should have bought them at Pulau Samosir.
I got myself a very nice Reebok walking shoes (Later back home I discovered that it’s made of suede with pig skin- arrrggggh !!! It’s still here with me. I will get a buyer for it. Maybe try eBay ?)
Steam fish lunch – nice, but a bit expensive.
We check out at 4pm. Have to buy the souvenirs from the hotel, which are expensive. Should have, oh well, no use regretting.
I have Alpokat juice (avocado) while waiting for the taxi. And got some buah Salak and asam from the Brastagi fruit market nearby.
Since we’re going back via A**A***, we skip dinner. We have dinner later at home, almost at midnight

Those Reebok shoes


travelogue - Beijing

Tiananmen Square
07/02/05 – Midnight flight
Whew…can’t sleep. Really packed flight! People going back for CNY
Arrived at 6am. It just snowed last night ! Cars covered with snow!
Head straight for breakfast at Sai La Ma Canting Restaurant – daily ritual. All the restaurants are closed for CNY. Lesson learnt – DON’T go to China during CNY season
Got to catch some 40 winks – ah, luxurious bed. Staying at Landmark Hotel.
Roaring to go at noon. Doesn’t look like noon – very somber
First destination – Tiananmen Square. The road leading to the square is largest in Asia – 10 lanes !!! Imagine that !!
Brrr…really cold. My lips are freezing and my fingers are numbed! Oooh, but always a smile for the camera – no matter what temperature ;) We have a camera girl with us
Got a really nice and cheap doll on the way back to the bus.
Lunch is always good – always no less than 7 course meal.
Pray at oldest mosque in Beijing

Oldest mosque in Beijing

Next is Beijing Underground City- what a labyrinth !! Tunnels interconnected to hospitals, schools, etc – to hide from the Japs during the WWII
Our rich Kelantanese gang had to buy all the silk bedsheets they can get here.
A demo down here on how to get silk, starting from the silkworm
Some really nice hot sweet potato whipped up our appetite
Dinner is always welcomed. Sounds familiar ? What do you expect from a food lover ?
Close the night with an Acrobatic Show – sweet !

Acrobatic Show

Forbidden City

08/02/05 – Tuesday
Forbidden City – Palace with 9999.5 rooms. Yes there is ½ a room here, although we never found it
Frozen river surrounding. Today is extremely cold ! Can’t open mouth- i.e. can’t talk much, guess it’s a good thing
Modern toilets here, at the entrance. Automatic push button cubicles
Neat garden with quirky looking tree branches
Ah, lunch + belly dancing. Cun girls
Traditional medicine factory afterwards. One of the sinseh can speak Kelantanese Malay! He’s from Kota Bharu. The sinsehs just hold & take a look at your palms and tell you your health concerns with recommendations for their medicine. Obviously I didn’t buy any, I just kept the prescription. But the Kelantanese ( see day before) did – all of the prescriptions !
Medicine factory is followed by silk factory
We finish early today because it’s CNY eve ! Our tour guide who speaks Malay throughout reckons us to watch CCTV 1 – mom looking forward to Andy Lau
For the “youths”, we feel it’s still early. We’ll venture out yeah. Er, Starbucks is closed.
Take a walk around the city then, in the freezing temperature, hoping to get a glimpse of fireworks. Not much though. One triggered a car alarm. Not neat.
Stop by at McD to have hot chocolate and apple pie, although we’re still very full. Even have a picture taken with the staff. Poor kids, can’t get off for CNY eve.
Hey, found another chain of 1001 Nights restaurant, but marred by the car alarm and an intoxicated guy urinating a tree. Eeeww. Next stop at Hard Rock Café Beijing, just browsing & snapping pics.

Great Wall of China
09/02/05 – Happy Chinese New Year
A sunny day today. We’re heading to the Great Wall of China. Great!!
But before that, mandatory stop at a factory. This time a jade factory. Got this cool white jade pendant together with Nurul.
Next is already lunch. Can’t believe it! At a huge restaurant, with a shopping mall on the ground floor. Bought a nice bracelet here. They even have a surau here.
Yesss…the moment we’re waiting for – Great Wall of China!! What giant steps they’ve made. It’s really nothing when you go up. Once descending, vertigo sets in ! Hold on to the railings !! If I’ve climbed further, I could have gotten the “I’ve been here Certificate”. Too bad. They have these padlocks at the start of the wall – believed to find love – if you can unlock it. The keys are somewhere there, I think
Then we have the Ski Resort. The kids went for sliding. I’ll pass. Just happily snapping pictures of the background and people burning firecrackers – the more you burn, the more luck. We see our driver, Mr Pang and tour guide, Mr Anwar Lee burning them. Dozens of them !!

Ski Resort

Next factory is crystal factory. They also have silk fabric and clothes here.
Yet to another factory – "koyok" factory. Should have just stayed in the bus and watch the video of us at Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City.
Dinner at Little Penang. Disappointing curry though

Summer Palace

10/02/05 – Thursday
Surprisingly cold today. Start the morning at Summer Palace. Winter Palace more likely. We’re all draped in thick clothing. The lake is frozen.
I have a neat picture of Chinese calligraphy with medium water on concrete. Yup, that’s right! It’ll disappear once it dries. But I didn’t get them to write down my name in Chinese. Su did!
Since everyone is freezing, we quickly ended our tour of Summer Palace. I’m sure it’ll be beautiful during the summer.
Next stop is another factory – pearl factory. Arrrghhh cringe !!
They show you how to get the pearls, complete with the oysters and asking us to guess how many pearls are there in one of the oysters. Mak Su guessed right, and gets to keep the very tiny pearls. Of course the shop will give the most tiniest ones !
They also have pearl cream.… I’ll pass. Got a cheap on sale pearl bracelet though.
We all dread the factory trips in fear of the “rich Kelantanese gang” spending too much time spending their non stop money flow. 3 agonizing hours to wait for the Kelantan Madame’s custom made pearl necklace. With no apologies offered.
Lesson Learnt : Always ask first if there’s any rich persons joining your tour. If yes, do not proceed.
Long wait for lunch as well.
Rejoice in the afternoon for finally we get to go for proper shopping at Ya Show Shopping Mall. 5 floors, I think. You can find cheap clothes, shoes, souvenirs, watches, household items like bedsheet, bracelets, rings, pendants, jade, crystal etc
A visit to China wouldn’t be complete without a Tea Ceremony. Yes, another factory – tea factory. I wonder just how much these factories pay the tour agents to bring gullible tourists here, haha. But this tea ceremony is enjoyable. Love the “little naughty boy indicator” which “urinates” when tea is hot. It doesn’t urinate, it just sprays water.

Streets of Beijing

11/02/05 – Last Day
Continue shopping at Ya Show today. Everyone agrees that shopping should have started on the very first day, instead of going to some of the unnecessary factories.
Oh well, I got some souvenirs here, 2 black watches, one fancy, one Rolex (but it is later discovered that one is already faulty by the end of 2005- they’re cheap anyway)
Noon have lunch at a restaurant, and then it’s time to go home.Sweet memories of Beijing. Arrived KL 10pm. Less passenger going back.


travelogue -Bangkok-Pattaya

01/05/04 - Bangkok city
Arrived almost 6pm local time
Tom Yam + telur bungkus dinner at obscure restaurant with rest of tour members – 3 Indonesians (couple + mother) & a M’sian couple

02/05/04 – Bangkok river cruise + Pattaya
Floating market via boat ride
Coach ride to Pattaya – abt 4 hrs !! Saw a Petronas station on the way
Nong Nooch Village @ Tiger village. Little cubs fed by foster pigs (What are they thinking ???)
Another Tom Yam + telur bungkus dinner, but not joined by the others
Haha, they don’t know nasi goreng pattaya though !!

03/05/04 – Pattaya – Bangkok
Coral Island – just lazing around
Elephant Show
Back to Bangkok
Last of the Tom Yam dinner!!, also only us

04/05/04 – Bangkok – KL
Free for shopping in the morning
Hostile rickshaw driver brought to some sort of factory, had to persuade him to turn back. Scary!
Lunch at airport- then home sweet home


travelogue - Shanghai

the bund by the river and shanghai old town at night
01/03/04 - Monday
Arrived almost 4pm local time
Hotel Portman Ritz Carlton – exorbitant room rate, almost USD 300/day !!!
Room # 2806
Cold temp about 10 deg C
Dinner at 1001 Nights inc. belly dancing. Exotic looking girls mixture of Chinese + Euro (Russian genes)

02/03/04 – Tuesday
Continental b’fast in room –our daily ritual
Shopping !!!! around Nanjing Road, Yuyuan Garden & Old Town Area together with Auntie Pat – without her we’re nothing! Can’t read, just know a few mandatory words like xie xie, ni hao etc
How to bargain you say? Just punch the calculators !! Definitely essential!! Always start at half price. Really value for money experience ;)
Brrr…cold outside, but shopping kept us warm, haha!!
Got ourselves nice & really cheap jackets (mine is jeans, mom’s Burberry hehe )
How about lunch ? McD’s fillet o fish with hot chocolate – our daily ritual

03/03/04 – Wednesday
More shopping !!! Revisit Yuyuan Garden area
We’re humbled by the Little Peach Tree Mosque - thanks to Jack (made friends with him while bargaining at his stall – a uni student, him) for helping us track the mosque
Humongous bowl of noodle for dinner ( you can put your entire face in the bowl). Enjoyed every drop of it.. yummy ( I love food anyway)
Oughta get some exercise after all that eating. Why not walk a few km to the Bund in freezing temperature at night ( 0 deg C). Great pix !

04/03/04 – Thursday
Some sightseeing today + a little intellectual excursion
What a lovely weather to be at People’s Square Park. (OK, the signage offers translation of the park’s name, if you’re wondering how I picked up Mandarin )
Love it ! Almost look like spring. Actually, it was nearing spring, the next month.
Shanghai Museum – the intellectual part ;)
Oh, had doughnut for lunch – hey they’re very expensive !
Got a nice pair of walking shoes – fiery red !! And cheap !!
We found a restaurant ran by a Malaysian – had dinner there.

05/03/04 – Friday
Shopping again, this time at Xiang Yang Lu Fashion Market, something like Petaling Street
Got a pair of jeans, and another jeans jacket – of course they’re cheap !!
Had dinner at a fancy restaurant – sponsored, of course ! Can’t beat that huge bowl of noodle of course

06/03/04 – Time to go home. Zai Jian Shanghai- See U Later
Last minute shopping for souvenirs for friends and relatives, I know, I know, I do remember you
Flight in the afternoon.
Shanghai skyline


late blogger

what to do today? hey! why not create a blog???!!!
a great way to pass the time, document your life
great accomplishment for non techie like me ;)

no reason behind the blog name, it's just a song title (and later spawned its own album of B-Sides, although without the song) - go figure ????
i'll sing it for you if you get it right!! haha