Wednesday, 30 July 2008

My Favourite Modern Building

The Petronas Twin Towers is my favourite modern building in this whole wide world. I use the phrase 'modern building' because the Petronas Twin Towers cannot be compared to buildings like St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City or the Louvre in Paris, since they were all built in different eras.

The Petronas Twin Towers looks magnificent especially at night when the entire structure is illuminated. If you look hard enough, sometimes there're white birds circling the lower part of the towers at night. I wonder where these birds come from.

Although I can see the Petronas Twin Towers from my apartment and from my office, I never get bored of looking at this 88-storey building. On the bus home from work everyday I will try to sit on the side of the bus that faces the Twin Towers so that I can marvel at it as the bus passes by.

The highest floor I've been to in the Twin Towers is on the 66th Floor when I was at the Bloomberg office for a training session recently. And the view from that floor was breathtaking ...

There was once I was on the Monorail late in the evening. A group of Chinese or Taiwanese tourists (never could tell the difference since they all spoke Mandarin with that China-mari accent) were looking enthusiastically out the window, moving their heads about as if looking for something, and chattering away in Mandarin. Since I can't speak the language, I was wondering what were they looking for.

As the Monorail pulled into the Bukit Nanas station, all of them exclaimed loudly, "WAH ... !!!!!" and pointed at the Petronas Twin Towers. I could only smile at these tourist who must have been astounded at the beauty of the towers.

Being the tallest twin towers in the world, many tourist attempt to snap photos of their friends with the towers in the background. I always chuckle when I see them snapping away in front of Menara Public Bank on Jalan Ampang. Some even resort to lying down on the ground to get the entire building into the viewfinder!

Let me share the best spots I know (unlimited) to snap these massive towers:

  • In front of Menara Public Bank on Jalan Ampang.
  • In front of Dang Wangi LRT station.
  • In front of Menara ING on Jalan Raja Chulan.

My lecturer once told his students that approximately 2,000 miniature Twin Towers is sold per day. This is some serious $ we're talking here. I also learned at an insurance presentation that the entire building in insured for RM8 billion!

Although the Petronas Twin Towers once reigned as the tallest building in the world, only losing to Burj Dubai, it still reigns as the tallest twin towers in the world. But whatever it is, the Petronas Twin Towers is my favourite modern building in this whole wide world!

Monday, 28 July 2008

Being Thrifty 2 - Don't Subscribe to Paid Television

This is a follow-up on my earlier entry, Being Thrifty - Change Your Eating Habits, on how to save money by changing our way of life.

I'm know I'm gonna make enemies with Astro, but I have to say this: One sure way to save money is do not subscribe to paid television. The cheapest package on Astro costs RM37.95, which is an annual savings of RM455.40. But a majority of subscribers go for the more elaborate packages costing at least RM100. You could put that money to better use like investing in unit trust.

The only time I kinda regret not subscribing to Astro is during international sporting events and whenever there's an important world event taking place because Astro's coverage is beyond compare to the local stations. But it's not a life or death situation if you don't subscribe to it.

It's funny how Astro's tagline is 'Making Your Life Richer' when they are draining at least RM37.95 a month from their subscribers. Astro is merely a form of entertainment - you don't need it to survive. And I don't believe in making other people rich unnecessarily.

Friday, 25 July 2008

5,000 Years of Civilisation

In February this year I went on a 2-week backpack trip to Egypt alone. Most people told me I'm crazy to do that, especially being a solo female traveller in the Middle East.

But sometimes in life I've gotta do crazy stuffs so that when I look back I won't regret not doing the things I really wanted to do.

This entry chronicles highlights of my journey in Egypt. If I attempt to put in every single place I visited, there won't be enough MBs. So here goes ...

My journey in the Land of the Pharaohs began in Luxor, home to Tutankhamen's tomb in the Valley of the Kings.

After having a jolly good time visiting tombs, temples, museums and listening to the amazing stories of the pharaohs and queens, I took the train down south to Aswan, where the majestic Temple of Abu Simbel stands.

I was lucky to be at Abu Simbel for the Coronation of Ramses II which happens only twice a year - 22 Feb and 22 Oct. On these two dates, the sunrays will illuminate the honoured deities of the temple: Ptah, Re-Harakhty, Amun-Re and Ramses II himself.

After that unforgetable visit, I hopped onto the train heading north to Cairo to visit the Pyramids and the famous Egyptian Museum which houses the treasures of Tutankhamen.

The Egyptian Museum

In Cairo I also experienced a deep presence of Christ in Old Cairo,

watched sufi dancing in Islamic Cairo,

and went for a bout of shopping at Khan Al-Khalili.

From Cairo, I managed to squeeze in a day-trip to breezy Alexandria, before heading back to Luxor for my flight to KL.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria

Egypt is an easy country to navigate - all its famous places are situated along the Nile, and easily reachable by train or bus. My only regret is that I did not climb Mount Sinai due to time constraints. Mount Sinai is where Moses received the 10 Commandments. Should have been an awesome adventure but obviously I cannot cover an entire country in 2-weeks!

My word of advice for those planning to visit this marvellous country:

Don't visit Egypt for its luscious landscape or good food, because there ain't any.

Instead, visit Egypt for its friendly people, rich culture and mystical wonders of its amazing history!

Monday, 21 July 2008

Fraud in the Name of God


First it was the internet lottery scam that caused many people to get cheated. Since most people have become aware of such scams, these crooks are resorting to using God's name in vain to continue their crooked ways.

I received this email a couple of weeks ago from a Mrs Rebecca Williams from Kuwait. Her late husband Benson Williams died in 2004 after a brief illness. When he was alive he deposited 2.5 million US Dollars in a bank in Abidjan in a suspense account.

Now that Mrs Rebecca Williams has contracted cancer and stroke and since she doesn't have any children to pass the money to, she wants to donate the money to any church based charitable organisation or individual so that the money can be put to good use.

And of course Mrs Rebecca Williams asks the recipient of the email to contact her via email to discuss further how the money can be transfered, etc.

Now whenever I receive these kind of emails I will delete it immediatly without even opening it. But this time I kept on reading to see what new tactic and angle these crooks are using.

What pisses me off is this para:

"The Bible made us to understand that blessed is the hand that giveth. I took this decision because I don’t have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are not Christians and I don’t want my husband’s efforts to be used by unbelievers. I don’t want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly way. This is why I am taking this decision."

Mrs Rebecca Williams has not only used the name of God to cheat people but she has also defiled the name of God by speaking untruths about God and being a lousy witness, if you even consider Mrs Rebecca Williams a witness of God, so to speak.

First of all, she doesn't want the money to be used by unbelievers. Since when did Jesus say that Christians must help only Christians? Jesus said, "Love one another as I have loved you." - John 13: 34. Jesus didn't say that we must only love Christians; he said love one another.

Secondly Mrs Rebecca Williams used the word 'ungodly'. How can anything be 'ungodly' when the spirit of God exists in everything? That's Theology 101 for you.

As it is, so many people have been cheated by the lottery scam. What more when people receive an email like this wanting to give the money to charity. The crooks behind this scam knows that people are usually more responsive towards God and charity. After all, if someone wants to give the money to charity and quotes the Bible couldn't be a lie, right? Wrong!

Using God's name to cheat people and at the same time spreading untruths about Him is too much. It is one of the things in life that I have no patience for; it makes my blood boil. These scums of the earth are so low that they have resort to the lowest of ways to cheat people.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Banana Leaf Rice in Bangsar

I had a banana leaf rice dinner yesterday at Restoran Sri Nirwana Maju (or 'Nirwana' in short), on Jalan Telawi 3 in Bangsar. It is located in a row of shophouses opposite the back entrance of Bangsar Village.

This restaurant sells one of the best banana leaf rice around. The fact that the place is always pack during dinner speaks for itself.

What I like about this restaurant is its fried bittergourd. All restaurants selling banana leaf rice will have this dish, but what makes it different at Nirwana is the batter that is used to fry the bittergourd with. The end product is crunchy and tasty, absolutely no bitter taste at all and very different from other fried bittergourd I've tasted before.

I will always ask the waiter to put more of it. But if you finish your helping and want more you'll have to pay for it. I think it's RM2.00 per portion, if I remember correctly.

As a creature of habit, I like to have my banana leaf rice with chicken varuval and banjir the rice with dhall and fish curry.


Chicken varuval in the background. The fried bittergourd are red in colour on the right hand side.

The food is tasty and value for money. Two banana leaf rice set with chicken varuval and a teh tarik costs RM15.20.

Service at Nirwana is fast and waiters take orders accurately.

My only complain about Nirwana is that if you want to chat with your friend after eating, the waiters will stand beside you to give you the hint to leave. Or they might even put a 'Reserve' signage on the table while you're still sitting there. I can understand if the place is pack and they need to clear the tables quickly but they also pull this antic when the place is not full. This can get annoying and I usually retreat to another mamak shop to continue the conversation over a cup of teh tarik.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Sitting in the Dark

After yesterday's horrendous traffic jam after work, here I am again with another bad after-work experience.

Traffic after work today was good. I did not have to wait long for the bus and the journey back to my apartment was a smooth ride.

I was looking forward to my marathon of TV series on Tuesday nights: CSI: Vegas, Pushing Daisies and Desperate Housewives.

Alas when I got home there was no electricity. My apartment was in darkness whereas the other units were brightly lighted. After switching on and switching off the switches, I gave up and called the handyman. He's the guy everyone calls to fix this and that in their units. However he was busy with his kid and said he'll call his friend to take a look.

After that call I managed to fix myself an egg sandwich in the dark and I'm now typing this with aid from fluorescent lights from the corridor. Thank God laptops run on battery!

I better push the 'Publish Post' button now before my battery runs out. Life ...

Monday, 14 July 2008

All Hell Broke Loose

When it rains in Kuala Lumpur all hell will break loose. And all hell broke loose today.

It started raining cats and dogs at about 3.00pm and by the time work ended about 5.30pm the traffic jam was atrocious. In fact 'atrocious' is too mild a word to describe the after-rain traffic jams in Kuala Lumpur. I didn’t put a picture for this entry because it’s depressing to see so many souls while their time away in traffic.

It took me approximately two hours to get from my office in the Golden Triangle to my apartment in Ampang. That’s two freaking hours just to travel approximately 8 kilometres. That’s two hours of sitting in a sardine packed bus with ladies bumping their handbags against you because they are holding on for dear life as the bus driver manoeuvre the bus through the horrendous traffic.

I was lucky enough to secure a seat on the bus. But by the time I reached my destination my butt was getting numb; numb from sitting on the hard seats of the RapidKL bus that are not meant for sitting two whole hours. I just wanted to retreat into the serenity of my apartment and bolt the world out.

I wonder how come traffic jams in KL get so bad when it rains. Traffic is already bad on a normal day but it gets worst whenever it rains. How come the influx of cars suddenly increases when it rains? Did everyone suddenly decide to get into their cars and drive home from work? Is it because of floods? Is it because of the strong winds that caused trees braches to fall and block traffic? What?

Sure traffic problems are a bane in most cities. But what distinguishes a developed city from an emerging city (read: Third World) is good connectivity within the city with hassle free traffic.

City Hall has realised this and the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020 has come into being to steer Kuala Lumpur 'towards a world class city', as its tagline goes. If you visit:

http://klcityplan2020.dbkl.gov.my/eis/

you'll see that Item 5.0 - Connectivity and Accessisibility Within the City has a few strategies to manage traffic within the city centre.

But do we have to wait untill 2020 to see improvement in the city's traffic? By that time all of us would have grown old with all the time wasted while stuck in traffic. Rome was not built in a day and to achieve Item 5.0, City Hall has to work on it gradually; don't expect miracles to happen overnight. As it is city folks have been waiting forever for City Hall to do something about the traffic and now that the Kuala Lumpur Structure Plan 2020 is in the works, it bears hope for all of us.

I just hope that the plan will be implemented throughly and not be another case of NATO (No Action Talk Only).


Thursday, 10 July 2008

Gunung Brinchang - Mystical & Beautiful

I hiked up Gunung Brinchang (in English: Mount Brinchang) with my travel buddy, Angie Tan (http://crakerr.blogspot.com/) in February this year. Before I continue, I must give her credit for the lovely photos in this entry.

Gunung Brinchang is situated in Cameron Highlands, in the state of Pahang in Malaysia. The mountain is famous for its Mossy Forest - a forest that looks like a movie set from Lord of the Rings. You will see what I mean later.

Before we set off that morning, I devoured a bowl of noodle soup, two half-boiled eggs, a pair of 'roti bakar' (toasted bread) and washed it all down with Chinese tea. I always believe in doing anything, especially hiking, on a full stomach :-)

We then drove to the water reservoir in Brinchang town where the trail began. However we could not find the trail, so we went to the nearest police station to enquire.

The police officer on duty gave us a funny look. Apparently Gunung Brinchang is notorious for missing hikers. When I heard that, I started chickening out. Then I remembered Jim Thompson, the famous Thai silk king who went missing in the jungles of Cameron Highlands in 1967. His body was never found and remains a mystery till this day. You can read more about Jim Thompson in:

We left relevant details with the officer, who strongly reminded us to inform the station when we got back. He also gave us a few 'laws of the jungle' when entering mystical Brinchang forest:

1) Do not use foul language, swear or speak negatively about the jungle. The spirits who dwell there do not like if we belittle or speak negatively about their domain.
2) If we see a three-prong fork in the road, turn back. There's a high possibility the spirits of the jungle are attempting to confuse and mislead us. This mostly happens if you break Rule 1. There have been many stories of people being kidnapped by 'orang halus' or spirits into the netherworld.
By the time I heard those 'tips', I freaked out and almost did not make the climb. But in the end we did make the climb and here are pictures of our little adventure on Gunung Brinchang:

The journey begins ...


Mossy Forest - Like from a movie set of Lord of the Rings.


I saw an Ent!


I made it!


View from the top.

It was raining the night before, so it was a muddy climb.

Climbing Gunung Brinchang is not difficult compared to Mount Kinabalu. But the experience and beauty of it is breathtaking, and we are definitely game for another climb in the future, with or without the 'orang halus'.

Monday, 7 July 2008

A Damn Good Bargain

The Malaysian Mega Sale is back. This is one event all shopping enthusiast (read: women) look forward to every year. During this time most, if not all shopping complexes and retail outlets will slash prices till your eyes pop out by just looking at the new price.

I was in KLCC last Sunday and decided to pop by Isetan to see what discounts they have. On top of that I also wanted to buy a few pairs of slacks for work.

While browsing the rows of clothes, I found this lovely ESentual dress:

It is made of quality European fabric, has a sweet feminine look to it and comes with a price tag of RM219. But during this sale Isetan members get a 70% discount which slashes the price down to RM65.70. Obviously I grabbed it. I mean who would let go of an offer like that. Most quality dresses costs a minimum RM150 these days. Luckily they still have my size because the common sizes usually runs out fast during sales.

I went home that day feeling satisfied with my shopping trip.

Concert Gone Wrong

I was at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas in KLCC yesterday afternoon for a Chamber Concert, specially to listen to Johann Sebastian Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, one of my favourite classics.

But when I arrived there, there was an announcement saying that Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 will be replaced with Trio Sonata in D Minor, also another work of Bach.

What a bummer ... the Brandenburg Concertos are one of Bach's best work, and I was looking forward to seeing and hearing the musicians play it. Moreover I had good seats too, seats in the A category.

Sure I can listen to CDs, but nothing compares to listening and seeing a live performance of Bach's brilliance.
In the end I sat through the entire concert, which I did not enjoy at all. It was not the musicians; they were good. It was the choice of pieces - all so boring and monotonous. I kept looking at my watch and could not wait for the concert to end, which took longer than usual because of a 20-minute interval. However the third performance, String Quartet No. 13 in B flat was quite good.
After the concert I headed to the Signatures food court on Level 2 and wolfed down a plate of fettucine carbonara.

Friday, 4 July 2008

The Wedding Test

My colleague sent me a superb joke today:

"I was a very happy man. My wonderful girlfriend and I had been dating for over a year, and so we decided to get married.

There was only one little thing bothering me - it was her beautiful younger sister.

My prospective sister-in-law was twenty-two, wore very tight miniskirts, and generally was bra-less. She would regularly bend down when she was near me, and I always got more than a nice view. It had to be deliberate. Because she never did it when she was near anyone else.

One day her 'little' sister called and asked me to come over to check the wedding invitations. She was alone when I arrived, and she whispered to me that she had feelings and desires for me that she couldn't overcome. She told me that she wanted me just once before I got married and committed my life to her sister.

Well, I was in total shock, and couldn't say a word.

She said, "I'm going upstairs to my bedroom, and if you want one last wild fling, just come up and get me."

I was stunned and frozen in shock as I watched her go up the stairs. I stood there for a moment, then turned and made a beeline straight to the front door. I opened the door, and headed straight towards my car.

Lo and behold, my entire future family was standing outside, all clapping!

With tears in his eyes, my father-in-law hugged me and said, "We are very happy that you have passed our little test. We couldn't ask for a better man for our daughter. Welcome to the family."

And the moral of this story is: Always keep your condoms in your car.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Being Thrifty - Change Your Eating Habits

The Government has been advising the 'rakyat' to change their lifestyle after the oil price hike on 3 June 2008.

As a believer of delayed gratification, I have been living in moderation long before 3 June 2008. One way is to eat moderately, especially during lunch at work.

Eat less meat. I normally have lunch at the mix rice stall where I have 'nasi penuh', vege, fried egg and 'banjir' with curry. This only costs me RM2.50!

Another crucial tip is don't order drinks when eating out. The price of drinks usually costs as much as the price of a meal in higher end eateries, which I find absolutely ridiculous. If I'm at work, I'll go back to the office and have my cup of water - FOC. If you must have drinks in case you 'cekik' while feasting on your favourite food, there are many options:

  • order 'sky juice' or Chinese tea.
  • order a soupy dish like noodle soup so that the soup can become your 'drink'; and
  • my favourite option - always bring along your own bottled water.

Now that my friends know why I always order plain water or don't order any at all, I'll continue to share other tips on living moderately in my future entries.

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