Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Travel Teluk Intan I: Tyre Troubles

Every November, my family makes a trip to Teluk Intan for All Souls' Day. This years trip was pretty eventful, as it kinda went wrong from the get-go. First of all, mum actually didn't wake up on time! That's the most shocking thing. Usually, when she had a trip, she would not sleep well. The whole night long, you could hear her getting out of her room to pack something obscure that she might need for the trip. In and out, up and down the stairs. When my sister reached our door step at 6:00 AM, I was wondering why my mother had not come down. I sent Little Monster to investigate. Turns out she had just woke up! And I thought that she was the one who knocked on my brother's door at 5:30 AM! Due to that, we started our trip 45 minutes late.

My brother-in-law was not feeling well and he had been working pretty late recently at work, so I was the designated driver. For the first time in years, it was a rainy trip to Teluk Intan for All Souls' Day. Stopped at Shell station some where before the Sungai Buloh rest stop to fuel up. Saw that they had a Costa, so I was a little excited. But when I discovered that it was MYR10 for a cup of coffee from an automatic dispenser, I decided to save my money.



The drive was pretty smooth, and we reached Bidor in below two hours. As we left Bidor and crossed Sungai Bidor towards Teluk Intan, I felt the MPV lose control for a brief moment. I didn't think much of it and continued driving. Some 30 minutes out of Teluk Intan, near Kampung Baharu Coldstream, things started getting weird. My sister's Nissan Serena started getting very bumpy although the road was smooth. I immediately stopped the vehicle and switched on the hazard lights. With no proper road shoulder, it was pretty dangerous because lots of trucks ply the trunk road between Teluk Intan and Bidor. With a big umbrella, I went down the road to warn oncoming vehicles of the hazard.

No surprise that the tyre gave out, but what was shocking was the fact that it looked like a serious blowout. We could see the rubber and fabric was shredded through, and the tyre was halfway out of the rim! BIL tried to change the tyre. He managed to loosen all the nuts except one. Even 90 KG of body weight on the tyre iron could not budge it. Since we could not settle the problem ourselves, Sis made a call to the motor insurance auto-assist service. They promised that a tow truck operator would call us within an our. During that time, several people stopped to take a look and offer friendly advice. We explained the situation and they went on their way. Police vehicles also drove past  without giving us a second glance. Couldn't be bothered.

Burst Tyre I

Some forty minutes later, two Indian men on a motorcycle stopped and were very confident that they could rescue us. One of them ran into one of the houses beside the road and came out with a long metal pipe. He used it to lengthen the lever so that he could easily apply more torque on the nut. That's physics at work. Haha. Watching him work, the fella was definitely very experienced. He put in the spare tyre in less than half an hour, and recommended us a tyre shop at Kampung Batu 12 to get the tyre fixed.

Burst Tyre II

To be continued...

Monday, December 11, 2017

New Places, Old Faces

IMG_20171029_134430

For several weeks now, I have not been going to Paradigm Mall after church. Visited Publika instead. Mum ate at the food court, while I had my Nu Skin ageLOC Trim Shake. She didn't really like Kin Kin Pan Mee's chili pan mee. Guess she doesn't like the concept. And I did find it kinda disgusting that they put a whole bunch of icky factory-made fried shallots on the noodles. There's also a new addition to the food court-- ME.REKA, a space designing and making. Arty stuff la. Haha.

Millennium Falcon

The 10th International Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival 2017 (KLEFF 2017) was also happening at Publika, so there were some special stalls in addition to the usual flea market vendors. Bumped into Bibik Nyonya there, someone who I have not met since the Serendah trip in 2007! He's in the artisanal soap business now, so he sells his wares at flea markets around the Klang Valley. Glad to hear that his business is doing well. Also visited B.I.G. and was wow-ed by their huge selection of Halloween stuff.

bXie Blonde

Soap Salon

On the way back, we stopped at Cafe Ame Soeur, Jalil Link for some Royal Belgian Coffee. Unlike my last visit, there was no crazy waiting list. Easily found a good table for all our swafoto bersama needs. The coffee was still as good as I remember it, but without the promotion, it's MYR20 before tax. Before your eye bug out, you can actually get two and half cups of coffee from it. Cafe Ame Soueur's customer segment remained the same-- fashionable young girls with thick make up, flowers, and balloons, and couples. And the occasional gay boy and his mother. Wakakaka.

Royal Belgian Coffee

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Rice on Rice

Teochew Kuih

I have a love affair with Teochew Kuih / Png Kueh / 潮州饭桃. This steamed cake is actually rice flour dough over glutinous rice. Practically rice on rice. Sticky rice? Haha. And its shaped like a peach, a very traditional and stylized rendition. I love it savoury where the glutinous is stir-fried with shallots and dried shrimp. If you don't finish it within a day (unlikely!), the next day you can pan fry it for a different kind or enjoyment. Anyway, its hard to get good ones in KL. By luck, mum came across a stall in the OUG morning market that sold Teochew Kuih from Tanjung Sepat. In addition to the usual pink ones, they also had some blue ones which had a filling mixed with mung beans (tau sar). Those were great too. Now I know where to get my Teochew Kuih fix!

Blue Teochew Kuih

Inside Blue Teochew Kuih

Monday, December 04, 2017

Deepav-nam

Deepavali 2017

Brought mum to Pavilion to view the giant kolam at center court. Lim Kok Wing students made three huge patterns (elephant, peacock, and the traditional circular design) and the effect was more dramatic thanks to floor stickers. Mum and I were lucky enough to catch a short dance performance accompanied by popular Bollywood songs. Noticed several changes in Pavilion. Will have a Dean and Deluca soon, and also a Kakigori. Snowflake is still there, popular as ever, but they had a recent face lift. For some reason, I think that's the only outlet where I ever notice Malay customers. Our shopping luck was poor that day as we left empty-handed.

Deepavali Kolam 2017

Deepavali Photoshoot

Ventured to Bandar Puteri Puchong for dinner with SK. She recommended that we try V-Nam Cafe at a quiet row of shops near Columbia Asia Hospital. We had the classic gỏi cuốn, pork stewed in coconut water (recommended, we loved the gravy), crispy fried chicken (sedap sehingga menjilat jari). and pho bo. At night, the place is kinda dodgy, so be aware of your surroundings. Oh yeah, if you do go there, do let me know, I left my water bottle there. Hahaha.

gỏi cuốn

Pork stewed in coconut water

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Sunny Sasaran

Taoist Temple

More than a month ago, we made plans to visit Sasaran Sky Mirror, one of the latest commercialized day-trip attractions. The challenge about visiting Sasaran Sky Mirror is that you can only visit it 4 days before and after the 1st or 15th day of the lunar calendar. During the other times, it's submerged, in the middle of the sea. In oceanographic terms, I think its called a shoal. During those days when the tide is low, you can walk on the shoal, and if the weather is good, the flat terrain appears to act like a giant mirror. We made our booking through Sasaran Sky Mirror Services, one of the homegrown tour operators in Jeram. Best to communicate with them in Mandarin.

Making Rice Puff Cakes

On the eve of the trip, the tour operator told us to arrive earlier, 7:30 AM to be exact. Originally, we were slated for 8:00 AM. And so, KH picked us up at 6:30 AM. Just an hour away. Pretty close. The meeting point was actually a Taoist temple in Kampung Sungai Buloh, but it doesn't show in any map. When we arrived, quite a number of people were already there. One can tell from their colorful attire which is recommended for the most eye-catching photos. There was just a small banner at the side of the temple that gave us a clue that it was the right place. Nobody was there to greet us. We just proceeded to have breakfast at the one and only stall there. As we waited, more stalls were set up. Some selling snacks, some selling T-shirts, some selling accessories like scarves, colourful pinwheels, and rainbow umbrellas.

Ready to Go

The tour operators did not show their face until 8:30 AM. Turns out that their forecast was wrong. The tide was still high. But anyway, they ushered us on to the boat at around 8:45 AM. From the river, we traveled out to the Straits of Malacca. The boat zoomed straight for Pulau Angsa, 'blessing' many of us with sea spray. I had to use of the spare life jackets to cover my head. In the original itinerary, we weren't supposed to get to Pulau Angsa until after Sasaran Sky Mirror. We were there to kill time, to wait for the water to recede. Our boat encountered some difficulties berthing. The engines sputtered and died several times. Luckily they sorted out the problem.

Estuary

Fishing

Boat

There's a lighthouse on the island, a toilet, and some abandoned chalets. People do some fishing there, and lighthouse operators rear plenty of chickens there. Didn't get a chance to go up to the lighthouse. By the time we had finished cam-whoring at the pier, the tour operators had called for us to board. Sasaran Sky Mirror was pretty close to the island. The boats were beached on the shoal and we got down using a ladder. Conditions were not yet perfect as there was still another two inches of water. We just did our own thing while waiting for the tour operator to find a good spot, and set up their gear.

Untitled

Boat

Abandoned Chalet I

Truth be told, the whole place was pretty crowded. Hard to wander around without encroaching into someone's photo shoot. Don't expect it to be a peaceful experience. LOL. We also tried to take some photos, but it was not easy to get the desired reflective effect. Really need the tour operator's guidance as they know all the tricks of smartphonography. Different groups had different props, and different styles. Some even did trick photography. And I finally realized why the tour guides were dressed in full body suits-- they would get pretty wet trying to get the perfect shot for their customers. The photos were taken very close to the sand, and rely on puddles of water close to the camera. Some even prepared partitions to ensure that the water is still.

Arrival

Water's a bit High

Crowd II

Getting the Best Shot

Crowd I

By 11:00 AM, we had to leave because the water was fast receding (if we missed the window, we would have to wait till 3:00 PM). During our approach to the estuary, we ran into some trouble again. The boats had started churning up mud (be prepared for the heady aroma) because the water level was a bit low. A kid had to keep monitor the engine, and ensure that the air intake is not clogged with mud. He kept prodding the engine with a fishing line. Kinda like Luke Skywalker, trying to fire proton torpedoes down the Death Star's thermal exhaust port. Along the river, the egrets and monkeys had come out to play on mud. The driver pushed along and we avoided distress.

Dredging Up Mud

Pier

Back in Jeram, we ate our free pre-packed lunch at Restaurant Grandma. Just a small packet of chicken rice that came packed with something like sambal nasi lemak. Weird. Once I had settled down at the restaurant, I could finally feel the sun's rays leaking from my pores. Such an overdose of sun even with my UV hand sleeve and sunscreen lotion! If you're going, definitely bring a cap or hat with you.

Free Lunch

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Battleground Brunei

A client of mine in Brunei was very pissed with a bug in their mission-critical system. The problem was related to bad code on a poorly-maintained database that was shared by many others. My CEO got so pissed with the overall architecture that he convinced the client to let him carve it out. Once we got the green light, I was at the forefront of the internal resistance to the change. Since the owners of the problem were reluctant to do it, we had to drive it. I kept documenting all that was needed to be done, and circulated the proposed design for discussion. Most of the time, I was greeted with silence. I pushed on anyway. In the end, we got the owners to endorse the solution and implement it. We pushed it all the way to the UAT cycle where our client took their sweet time to test. They had already missed two so-called unmovable dates to sign-off, so when the third date came, it was firm.

Rainy BSB

On the day I arrived in Brunei, even the items that could have been done weeks before were not completed. What's the point of me coming out with a detailed checklist if you don't plan and act accordingly? I was flabbergasted. At least each affected system sent support staff. Thankful for that. I knew it was going to be a long night, so the team went out for a nice dinner at Restoran Fuchow. Funny thing was, the Fuchow guy who was with us commented that the menu looked like any ol' menu in a Chinese restaurant in KL. Maximum 10% Fuchow delicacies.

Red Wine Residuum Pork

Sayur Manis

Kong Pia

So on that Monday night (and who does a major migration on a Monday night anyway?!), the migration activities dragged on till 4:30 AM. Best of all, the team had to come in to support at 7:30 AM. I woke up zombified after two hours of sleep, shoveled food into my mouth, and upon reaching the office, I couldn't even check on the system health because none of my client's staff were there. Lol. What?! And I even dropped my room key card somewhere. Couldn't find it although I retraced my steps. Perhaps some hunk found it and would return it to me that night.

Nocturnal

Thankfully, only two minor problems surfaced during the business hours due to some missing configurations. It went better than I anticipated. But I heard another shocking thing during the day-- they were going to swing to their disaster recovery site on Wednesday, just one day after such a major migration. What!? Their IT risk people do have a huge risk appetite. Think they need a crash course in kiasi-ness. Anyway, I was going home on Wednesday afternoon anyway. Couldn't be bothered. My colleague in Brunei bought some famous buns from Chop Jing Chew to celebrate. Their Roti Kacang Kahwin is really heavenly, but oh so sinful. By 9:30 PM, I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore, sleep like a baby till the next morning ...

Roti Kahwin Kacang

P.S.: Because I had a bad flu before my flight, and I forgot to refill my medication, I decided to buy it at the airport. A generic antihistamine that costs MYR1-2 outside was sold at MYR5, and they forced me to take two strips! And I also found out that those blister packs can actually cause the metal detector to go off. So put them in your bag. Haha.

Flu Meds

Monday, November 27, 2017

A Late Birthday Breakfast, An Early Halloween Huddle

Avocado Toast

Mum was back at the dentist for her follow up appointment. He declared that her gums would take another two weeks to heal following the tooth extraction from her last visit. He just did the usual scaling and polishing. We would probably visit Datuk Dr. Wong (rare to see a dentist with a Datukship) again in the coming weeks because mum wants to get some dentures in.

Flamingo Egg

My sister arranged a birthday breakfast with me at Bacon and Balls at Happy Garden. According to BIL, the kids had been there weeks in a row! Food reviews on Foursquare were pretty mixed with many complaining that they were overpriced and lousy. Luckily for me, my breakfast experience was pretty good. Big Monster knew exactly what he wanted-- Pork Lasagna. After tasting it, I wasn't surprised why. His brother's requirements were pretty simple too. Just get him scrambled eggs and lots of streaky bacon. On top of that, we got the Flamingo Egg, a yummy baked egg with red sauce. Also Avacado Toast and Smoked Salmon toast. All of those items came with thick slices of bread.

Pork Lasagna

At noon, I dropped mum off at her center for a Mid-autumn festival event while I went to March Azalea for a drink. I chose to sit at the long table at the back where the red brick walls are lined with potted plants. The space was bright and airy as the ceiling was punctuated with sky lights. I ordered a glass of vegetable juice and did some reading.

Long Table

Later on, I fetched Wai over with Uber (thank goodness for promo codes), and we had lunch together there. He had a carbonara that was served in a soup bowl and I had a Nu Skin Trim Shake. He updated me on the latest drama happening between him and his bestie. When it was time to pick mum up, I sent Soon Wai home on the way.

Vegetable Juice

Been a while since my last visit to the pool, so I dug out my olive Aussiebum swim trunks and drove to my apartment. As usual, there was no eye candy, just pesky kids who only spent their time jumping in and out of the pool.

Beadwork

In the evening, I brought mum to Javian Kitchen to sample some indigenous east Malaysian cuisine. We weren't so adventurous as to try sago worms, so we ordered Umai Tenggiri, Ayam Lulun Cara Pansuh, and Midin Goreng Belacan. Mum gave her seal of approval. She also bought a bottle of Sarawak white pepper. Their Bintulu belacan is also pretty good, but mum rarely uses that anymore.

Umai Ikan

Midin

SK invited mum and I to join her and her ex-colleagues at Street Cool Cafe and Lounge at Taman Equine after dinner. Although I had passed by that place several times, I never walked in. It's located at a very quiet row of shops near the Taman Equine Honda service center. Since Halloween was around the corner, they put in decorations and provided props for customers to fool around with. I provided art direction for SK and Co.'s "Scary Movie" shoot. On weekends, they also have live music at their al fresco section, but it was truly to hot outside to be comfortable. The girls finished five bottles of Sommersby apple cider, while I went for chamomile tea since I was still on my Nu Skin TR90 plan. Plenty of laughs that night.

Halloween