Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It's raining books!

I missed the KL International Book Fair due to some unavoidable reasons and therefore i shall feast now!

Click here for more info.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Teaching old cats new tricks

5 cousins & a friend (of a cousin) took up Cantonese recently. On the very first lesson, like the others this cousin struggled with the unfamiliar slang and phrases entirely. She enjoyed learning mandarin in her college days (and got pretty decent grades too.. :)) but must admit that she finds Cantonese even harder. She is uncertain whether it's the age that has started taking its toll (because she learned mandarin like 4-5 years back) or it is in fact more difficult as compared to the latter (read: she's in denial).

She told the cousins that she needs to reset her Mandarin so as not to confuse herself with the newly learned language but so much so, instead of calling herself
ngo (which means I in canto) and calling you with nei this cousin kept on saying wo (which is I in mandarin) and ni (you) all the time. Sigh. She quickly dragged herself to Borders the next day to get one of those Cantonese CD to get familiarised with the basic phrases (& was described kiasu by someone :p). Thank god the second class was so much better (note: being kiasu sometimes help :D). She has quite adjusted to ngo and nei nowadays (though wo & ni still slip off from time to time) but is still yet to remember most of the words even the simplest ones and not to mention that putting words into a sentence is still quite a challenge. (It must be the age that contributes to the rusty memory she thought.. hmm). Then again, she can't help but notice that some of the mandarin words are very similar to those in Cantonese and it certainly helped her remember the Canto phrases better like:

i know =
ngo ji do (canto); wo zhidao (mand)
zhi is pronounced as jhe]
please come in =
qing/qeng yap lei la (canto); qing jin lai (mand) [qing is pronounced as ching]
please have a drink (tea) =
qing/qeng yam cha la (canto); qing he cha (mand)
because =
yin wai (canto); yinwei (mand)
home maker =
jhu fu (canto); jiating zhu fu (mand)
Mr. =
xin saang (canto); xiansheng (mand)
Miss =
xiu je (canto); xiaojie (mand)
i love you = ngo oi nei (canto); wo ai ni (mand) :D

They had fun the 6 of them, having the class all to themselves
(giving the teacher a large dose of headache twice a week with their constant mispronounced words and unhelpful laughing and being laughed by one another) and tried conversing with each other from time to time, exchanging new words (bad ones no exception) taught by colleagues and friends. They now have another 4 weeks to go to complete the course and she hopes that these old cats will get to remember their tricks come exam on the final week :)

Speaking of which, she has some homework to get to. Have a wonderful rainy day. Don't forget your umbrellas when you leave home (or office)!

Joi gin.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Something to tickle your funny bone

My kid brother introduced me to this comic duo (who refer themselves as 'comedy court') on youtube the other day. I know the elections was a month ago but i find it too hilarious not to share the videos.

Elections blah blah blah:

Who wants to be a Billionaire:

Disclaimer: This entry is strictly pun intended. The author by any means has no such intentions to offend any individuals/parties whatsoever. Thank you.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The day we spent more than 12 hours touring the Lion city (JB-SG)

Venue: Orchard Road & Victoria Street, Singapore
[useless info: Lady Q is a fan of Victoria Posh :)]
It was somewhat a walk down memory lane for him when we travel to Singapore that day as he used to cross the border back and forth for 6 and half years. In my case, well let's just put it this way, i pretty much missed those days strolling down Orchard Road and spending the weeks/months of savings on discounted items especially during the Great Singapore Sale! (Mum reads my blog from time to time so i have to be real careful with the info i impart. Hehe).

However, this trip was not a shopping spree. We wanted to experience Singapore differently. Dad said there will be a massive traffic jam upon returning to JB due to the search of the fugitive, Mas Selamat that fled the Singapore prison few weeks back. But that did not deter us from carrying on with the already planned trip.
As always, i googled for nice, interesting places to visit. I've not been to Clarke Quay before and he said that it is a nice place and we should go. And so i googled the place up to plan on things we can do apart from dining (planning your time is crucial when travelling, right?). One thing grabbed our attention at the bottom of the website - G-Max Reverse Bungy & that immediately topped everything else to be done during the trip!
We took the SBS Express around 10.30am (nak jalan2 tak thrill la naik kereta, kan.. this is also one way to prevent myself from buying unnecessarily and a pretty good strategy because i like to travel light! Hehe). The tickets cost us RM2.50 each. Upon entering the customs, i was stumped to see the 'NO PEPPER SPRAY ALLOWED' sign because i'm sure i have it in my bag and had to declare it at the custom's counter. The guy behind the counter asked why i had it and my reply was that i always have them in my bag for protection (duhh) and that i didn't know it was prohibited. Sadly i had to hand over my 4-year-old pepper spray to the malay officer in the navy blue uniform. He said with a warm smile, "lain kali jgn bawak.." :(
Anyhow posters of the much wanted Mas Selamat was everywhere - with hair, without hair, with beard, no beard etc. (But only saw one poorly photostated copy on a pillar at the Malaysian immigration when we got back).
We reached Rochor at about 30 minutes after. We first stopped by at Sim Lim Square because he wanted to check out how much they are selling the communication walkie. Fyi this is a heaven for those who are into electronic stuff. I'm not so much of a gadget person, but was still very much enticed over the great deals of cameras, laptops, phones etc. We did not get anything though, but the walkie set he checked was way much cheaper as compared to in KL even that of Jalan Pasar.

Next, we walked to Arab Street for lunch. We had Murtabak and the spicy Chicken Beriyani at Restoran Zam Zam and walked out fully satiated to the next destination - Bugis Junction Shopping Mall where we browsed through stuff between the many people as it was lunch time. Went to Charles & Keith too to compare prices with my purchase in Sabah and found out it was slightly cheaper there in Singapore by about RM20 or so on most of the stuff (but i manage to refrain myself from buying anything, so proud!). Everything else was expensive.
I thought of going to Clarke Quay late afternoon after the stop over at Orchard Road (he wanted to look for a backpack) because we wanted to do the bungee before it gets dark and i thought it was better to stroll down the peddlers walk right after and get dinner since Clarke Quay is more alive at night. But apparently 'someone' couldn't wait the adrenaline rush! (But there's no point in arguing when you are on a trip because it will only put stress and kill the moment). And so, we took the MRT from Bugis to Clarke Quay. We started looking out for the Bungee and as we walked towards Coleman Bridge, there it was! He had this smirk on his face like a 2-year-old who had just spotted the carousel at a fun fair (but i was ecstatic too to be honest!) :)
Unfortunately for us, by the time we reached Clarke Quay the sky was all but happy. Clouds had gathered, showing us signs that it was going to rain. After we bought the tickets, we had to wait as the guy was strapping on guests on the GX5 (the extreme swing). Rain started falling minutes after. No way i'm gonna go on the ride in the rain, i said. So we told the guy we would come back when the rain stops.

Waiting for the rain to stop

We walked around the many (still closed) fancy looking restaurants and in the back of my mind i thought, we would not have had to face this if we were at Orchard Rd that time :p but i didn't wannna make a fuss so i just kept quiet. About 30 minutes or so later, the rain started to wane. Refused to just sit and do nothing at one unopened restaurant while waiting for the rain to finally stop, i suggested we take a river ride in the drizzle, and so river cruise it was for us (time is of essence even for a homemaker like this one). I guess it was a blessing in disguise. It costs SGD18 per adult but it was worthwhile. It took us from Clarke Quay to Boat Quay, Marina Bay, Robertson Quay and back to Clarke Quay. I finally get to see the Merlion, trademark of the Lion city. While cruising the river he turned to me and said, "I think i want to steer (is this the right word?) a boat like this uncle when i retire. Boleh tak?" Haha.
Anyways, here are some snapshots on the cruise:

I was instructed to pose before the cruise. It was still drizzling ..

Him and his idol in the background. lol
Boat Quay

The gorgeous Fullerton Hotel during the day

The Esplanade aka The Singapore 'Durian' Convention Centre
on the right: The Singapore Flyer

A Leo seen here with the Merlion
The rain had completely stopped by the time we got back to Clarke Quay, giving us way for the much anticipated G-Max bungee now. It was HORRIFYING with a capital H!!! I've never experienced such a thrill, my two legs were shaking when we got down!!! I was screaming like a mad woman who had lost her mind somewhere up there but my other half was expressionless and unresponsive *scratching head*. Going up was not so bad but the most terrifying part was when the capsule dove straight down leading us to the ground at full speed, it felt like my soul was left up in the blue sky! It is by far the utmost terrifying ride ever for me! The deadly ride lasted approximately 2 minutes. U can go for another round at SGD20 if u stay in your seat. If not, another ride will cost another SGD40. If you are an adrenaline junkie, be sure to drop by Clarke Quay to experience this stimulating ride. (For details click here).

[Useful tip: you can purchase the dvd of your ride at SGD10 but do skip the SGD5 for the photo because the photo will be taken only after the bungee, in which you can get them to snap using your own camera - We thought the still pix would be captured from the capsule camera during the bungee].

Fingers crossed
Ready for take off
It was about 5pm when we left Clarke Quay for Orchard Rd and guess how we got there? We went on a trishaw! It was unplanned and was my first time to be in one. A very good experience but i was kind of nervous sitting next to huge buses and other engine-running vehicles even though the uncle said "..don't worry, it's very safe!". Uhuh.. He was kind enough to show us around and telling us tales about the buildings and all but to tell you the truth, we couldn't really hear him. Hehehe. Though we were taken through a very nice path upon reaching Orchard Rd.

The uncle was telling us something.....

An old building of the Fire station

Smiling quite nervously :)

There, the trishaw. In case you don't believe me :)
It is a known fact that Singapore is a green and clean country. It is also well known for its rapid development and unconventional transportation system too (trishaws not included). They have the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) which is complemented by the regional Light Rapid Transit (LRT) systems (circled in pink below by yours truly ;)) that link MRT stations with housing estates. It operates from about 5:30am and ends before 1 a.m. daily with frequencies of approximately three to eight minutes, very efficient indeed!
But most of all i really adore the nicely and well preserved old buildings standing amidst brand new tall ones. In which some, new modern units are built in addition to the old ones for more room. I think our government should impose the same on our old existing shophouses and other old buildings too rather than demolishing them and rebuild everything from scratch. Each surely has its own charm. Look how stunning they are!

Bugis Village
Somewhere around the Robertson Quay Precinct
At Clarke Quay
Raffles' Landing Site

another elegant one we saw on the way to Orchard Rd
It is an opportunity not to be missed to go on the Singapore Flyer that was completed only in March this year if you visit the city on your next trip. We got to know about it when spotted during the river cruise earlier at Clark Quay. From Orchard Rd, you need to take the MRT to City Hall (where Raffles City is) and walk a distance to reach the location (i think it took us about 20 minutes). The area is still under development and they are building the 'Promenade' MRT station which are expected to be ready in 2010. My feet were already starting to feel the pinching of my spanking new white sneakers by then. The 30-minute ride was brilliant to simply put it but be ready to pay a hefty SGD29.50 per adult! It was a spectacle sight with the city lights showering the buildings beneath us and since it wasn't a peak time we had the capsule fit for 28 people all to ourselves!

To end the day trip, we travelled back to Boat Quay on (aching) foot that took us about an hour to have lobster for dinner but alas later informed by the waiter that only large (meaning pricey) lobsters were available. Famished, we opted the king prawns instead. The service was slow but the food was good
. We took a cab to Woodlands and i was awfully relieved to find that there was no horrific jam at the causeway and that we managed to get on the last bus (thank God!!). Had we not been on the last bus, i honestly think that my feet are no longer in its place today! Haha. Reached home at 1.30am. Thus our trip to the Lion city this time certainly proved to be a whole new experience afterall.

The gorgeous Fullerton Hotel by night
- smiling in pain
Pan fried red snapper & Grilled king prawns
Venue: Boat Quay
Here's to a memorable one!
Me & my mocktail
- don't be deceived by the name, it was delicious! Cheers!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The day we "Balik Bandar" (KL-JB)

I always have this little irk whenever someone asks me "Tak balik kampung?" or "Kampung kat mana?". Not because i am ashamed of being called a kampung girl nor am i being a bloody stuck-up girl who has forgotten her roots. It's just not particularly correct because my home in JB is really NOT a kampung and Johor Bahru is a city. Moreover, both my paternal grandparents and my maternal grandma all reside in JB town too. Hence as much as it's merely a figure of speech because we Malay originally are all from kampung, but truthfully, my kampung is actually a bandar.

Anyway, we were really looking forward to this trip since the last time we went back was during
Hari Raya and every visit prior to that were all short ones (including the one during Hari Raya) due to our nature of work. So this time, we drove down south for a few days' stay after the last minute two-night stint in KK. We started our journey at 10.30pm from the LCCT Airport and finally arrived at my parents' home at 1am.

I had this idea in mind where this entry would be exclusively about
makan-makan because JB is such heaven when it comes to excellent food (i couldn't wait for the indulgence - yes, this skinny girl loves food! And what's more, my little nephew was there too! Mum is looking after him because my SIL was away in Terengganu for a training course). We already had a list of requisite places to visit in our minds, however i would be lying if i say that i am not at all disturbed by the development in JB and i personally feel that i need to have a write-up on this. So this entry will be anything but a short one, let me warn you.
[Sha, if you're reading this, i'm sorry to have to put up more entry on local food].
First, i thought of bringing hubby to a stall, near the fire station in Larkin for their famous
Kacang Pol, but when i woke up to hit the shower, i saw Kacang Pol was already on the dining table served for breakfast. Obviously dad had gone out early in the morning to get them. Mum must have told him that i asked about it the previous night. Sigh. Felt kind of bad, but was grateful nonetheless. (But i forgot to take a pix, sorry).

Later in the afternoon, we went to
Ayer Molek for an ice kacang session. This is a place where i have been to all my life, along with my brothers and cousins when we were kids. Grandpa used to treat us with the ice kacang after dragging us around JB town (and left us in the hot, steamy car under the scorching sun) while he went off to meet his suppliers and customers. The place is right next to the Immigration office building, opposite the Istana garden. Gerai Tan Kee serves the best ice kacang in the world, seriously! (Ok, i may be exaggerating, but i honestly never tasted any ice kacang that came as close to the one they have here elsewhere). They also offer local desserts and appetisers to die for like the rojak (buah), tahu bakar, sotong kangkung, ice jelly, cikong sejuk/panas other than the ice kacang! Hubby loves the charkueh rojak.. Everything isso yummy! I can drool just by typing about it.. hihihi. We actually made a second comeback on our third day of stay and i wish i had a bigger belly to stuff myself with the cikong. Yummmm... (gluttony alert!!)

The ice kacang yang tersangat sedappppp.
You must think that the above pix was suppose to be the other way round, right?
Well it's no accident, friends. The one below is him gorging on the second helping.. tsk tsk..
The ice jelly.
(It's shaved ice covered with fruit cocktails on top and sweet orange coloured jelly at the base.
Squeeze the lime, and you'll get a heavenly dessert!)

Hubby tried it for the very first time and concurred that it was indeed very good! We also had tahu bakar but i'm sure you know how they look like. Words can't do justice in describing how delicious the ones the have here. On top of that I had Nasi Ayam Goreng (from the stall next to Tan Kee's) which you can never find at any other place in Malaysia. It's different from Nasi Goreng Ayam, mind you - where you'll get ayam goreng alongside your fried rice. The nasi ayam goreng is fried rice served with chicken (as used in chicken rice) cooked in sambal and served with the chicken rice soup.

That night, we went to another eatery next on the list (it's a steamboat restaurant) called "Rawa" at Taman Pelangi. They serve chinese dishes and the steamboat is gooood! Our fav is the Lemon chicken in which they prepare like no other. The fried rice and Singapore beehoon are awesome too!

on the right is the almost finished Singapore fried beehoon.
We went to Singapore the next day (details on the trip will be posted next).

On the fourth night, it was
ikan bakar night at Gerai Tip Top. It's another hawker stall which used to be at the famous Tepian Tebrau. They are now located at a brand new place near the English College at Kg. Mohd Amin. The crowd was already flooded with patrons but we somehow managed to get a seat for 4 as the owner opened a small table specially for us, *grinning from ear to ear*! You can also get similar snacks & desserts as served at Gerai Tan Kee here but as i said, the one at Ayer Molek is the best! They don't even come close though located just a few minutes drive from one another. But the ikan bakar holds a different story altogether. Before, my family and i never actually had ikan bakar at eateries because they tend to smell for not being properly cleaned until being introduced to the ikan bakar here by hubby (then a mere friend of my brother's) years ago and it immediately changed our perception! The spicy sambal is devilishly lip smacking! If you are a fan of ikan bakar and happen to be in JB, you MUST try it!

He digs the crispy baby crabs. The otak2 isn't the typical orange coloured otak2. It's different.
A good different, i mean. Otherwise, tak le tinggal 2 je when the crabs baru sampai ;)

Ikan pari bakar smeared with the marvellous spicy sambal........

On Saturday night (our last night in JB), we get to dine at an old restaurant which serves local dishes as well as Western food. They are well known for their Chicken chop which was featured a couple of times in the newspaper and rated the
BEST Chicken Chop in town by The Star in 2003. The cafe is situated in the heart if the town at Jalan Dhobi. I've been meaning to bring hubby to this place for so long and i finally get the opportunity this time round. We were lucky mum made a reservation or else we would have to wait for seats as the place was full!

the place is called IT ROO CAFE, don't ask me why.

Now, this is a before & after pix. It was Deep fried Chicken chop and Chocohcino for me.
Tinggal tulang je on the plate. What does that say??
Yes, i eat A LOT :)

The crowd (with 2 familiar faces).
You can also sit outside if you're a smoker or that if you prefer the "fresh" air.

The walls are mounted with loads of old photos. Old radio, old clock, old F&N bottles are also being displayed as decor....
Oh, my eldest brother (left) arrived the night before to see how his kid was doing. Rindu katanya.. heh

Before i start my ramblings on the heart-rending development of the town, my makan-makan entry ends with breakfast bought from Warung Saga on the morning we were to leave the city. Even though mum said the lontong is no longer as good as before, my say is that it was still much better compared to other places and we picked up 9 pieces of Murtabak from Kg Melayu Majidee the day before to distribute to family and friends in KL. The only thing i did not get to eat was goreng pisang. I know you can get good goreng pisang in KL too but Johorean eat their goreng pisang with sambal kicap. KL takde..

[On second thoughts, think i'll post a separate entry on my observation on the city's dev & infrastructure because it'll be too long an entry here].

Anyway, here's another reason i enjoyed the stay as mentioned earlier:
he's grown so big in so little time!

Camera shy? Kalau ikut mak dia, tak kot... hehehe
Isn't he adorable? Tapi, dua2 pun cute.. that's baby Harris with my atuk.