Wednesday, December 31, 2008

City Slickers! : Day IV


Kuching20089
Swiped from williamnyk.
The day started off with another hearty breakfast out of town (forgotten the name!). Four bowls of exquisitely-made noodles with char siew, a piping hot bowl of pork and vegetable soup in the middle and a round of coffee and milo only cost MYR12! It was delicious and freaking cheap. A very quiet place with real honest folks. Nic dropped his wallet there some days back and he actually got it back. After breakfast, he headed back to town pray at the oldest Tua Peh Kong Temple in Kuching. The temple's located at a busy intersection in town and is currently under restoration. Just opposite the road was the Chinese Museum, supposedly the only Chinese Museum in Malaysia, according to the caretaker. The simple, one-room museum housed musical instruments, clothing, artifacts and stories about the various Chinese groups that came to Sarawak in the early days.

Kuching200810

Finishing that, we visited the Waterfront. Nothing much to see there. Just interesting to note that one can a take boat tour to see dolphins from there. Walking opposite the road, we did some last minute shopping for souvenirs at the pre-war shoplots. Mostly wood carvings, layer cake (with all the colours of the six-colour rainbow), gambir, tongkat ali, pua, tourist-y t-shirts and other handicraft. Our next stop was the museums. Parked our car at the St. Thomas Cathedral and walked over, passing by Merdeka Square. We stopped at the Sarawak Art Museum (where contemporary and tribal arts collide), followed by the Marine Museum (a whole bunch of aquariums), Ethnology Museum (taxidermy heaven) and Sarawak Museum (Sarawak Cultural Village under one roof).

Kuching200811

Having depleted our batteries, we headed over to the nearby "open-air" foodcourt for lunch. Had an average laksa, seow bee (Kuching style Siew Mai with meat that is too ground for my liking), pork-vegetable soup, squid and kangkung salad, fruit rojak, more mee kolok and KH's elusive "White Lady". It's basically shaved ice with syrup, canned fruits and squeeze of lemon. After lunch, we walked over to the Harmony Arch area to sample POS's favourite fishball noodles. Also tried some pork satay (see the pattern? Pork, pork and more pork).

Kuching200812

Later, we managed to get a great view of Kuching at the Civic Center observation tower. There's only 3 floors to choose from in the elevator, but there was a big-ass difference between the 2nd and 3rd floor. The view was great, but the sky was a little downcast. POD then brought us to SinPiao, a hidden hypermarket of sorts selling crafts and local foodstuffs. His Sarawak heritage secured for us a 25% discount off the retail price. Bought some rice crackers, Bario rice and smoked prawns. Dinner was at POD's uncle's favourite restaurant in town (Something Something 2004-- Kuching-ites love putting the year in). I was surprised that the lady boss could converse in Cantonese. A hearty meal of braised pork trotters, steamed siakap, midding and beancurd.

On the last night in Kuching, we had checked out of Hung Hung Inn and transferred over to Somerset Gateway. A great leap in terms of cosiness. KH and I had a great night there-- always wanted to feel how it was like to lie in a hot bath with him. ;P.

...Next: Epilogue...

Monday, December 29, 2008

MOF


XMASOffice2008
Swiped from williamnyk.
Fancy Japanese desserts and coffee? Don't mind paying a little extra for your sugar rush? If you responded positively to both questions, then you should give MOF a try. Located at The Pavilion and brought to you by Izakaya. The abbreviation stands for Ministry of Food, not the Ministry of Finance. The decor is nice and the place is spacious, but the only thing that irks me is the furniture. Small and cramped. MOF is hardly a place of high customer turnover, so I do not see why they employed such a char chan teng approach. Went there because I managed to "convince" my colleague (who was celebrating her birthday) to semi-treat us. Every item on the menu only MYR5!! Hehe.

Having the subsidy made the food so much more affordable. I ordered the Macha Imo for MYR11. Like the MOF in Singapore, certain items from the menu come served with an information card to help you better enjoy the food. According to my card, the dish is a marriage between hot and cold desserts-- Hokkaido milk-base soft-serve ice cream + premium sweet potato hash brown + Hokkaido red bean paste + green tea sauce. One is supposed to combine a little bit of everything. A good mix. The sweet potato was really fragrant and the red bean provided whatever extra sweetness required. The recurring theme one would see on the menu is Hokkaido red bean paste, fruits, glutinous rice balls. Go give it a try lo.

Addition:
Since the last I wrote this, I went to MOF again. The second time round, I was the one to treat (what goes around, comes around). I tried another chef's recommendation-- Shiratama Kurian. It's a soft-serve ice cream sundae with peaches, strawberries, kanten jelly, glutinous rice balls, Hokkaido red bean paste and served with a black date-prune sauce. Delicious! I was trying to connect to their wifi, but it wasn't working. I complained to the waiter, and the kid immediately whipped out his iPod Touch with a flourish to check the connection. Temp jobs pay well these days...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

All Under One Roof: Day III


Kuching20085
Swiped from williamnyk.
Recuperating from the previous day's great outdoors adventure, we decided to take it a little easy and head to the Sarawak Cultural Village, Damai Beach. Breakfast was at the wet market again, but this time we had hand-made noodles. Also delicious. KH tried out Dian Bian Hu-- a Teochew dish that's made out of flour that scraped off from the edges of a giant wok into a broth of pork. Never seen anything quite like it-- eaten with a spoon and has "sick person food" written all over it. It was another bumpy 40-minute car ride out to Damai Beach, Santubong. Was quite a challenge to take pictures of Santubong mountain from the car. There's this legend that Gunung Santubong and Gunung Sejinjang were once extremely beautiful princesses from the Heavens who eventually bloodied each other with a weaving knife and a paddy mortar due to jealousy. Nearly forgotten song. I remember singing it during my primary school days.

Signage was really non-existant. We found ourselves at Holiday Inn Resort with no more road to traverse. POD finally fired up his GPS and we found that it was very-very near. Not a single sign in sight. Really amazing. SCV sprawls across 17.5 acres of land with 7 authentic ethnic houses built around a man-made lake. The houses represent the main ethnic groups in Sarawak-- Chinese, Malay, Bidayuh, Iban, Penan, Orang Ulu and Melanau. Basically, one gets to see how the indigenous people live with examples of games, handicraft, food preparation, song and dance and weapons forging. Each house has a few attendants who are suppose to explain things, but we found that some houses were either empty or the attendants too berat mulut.

The most oustanding service we received was at the Chinese Farm House. Cecilia was our guide and she went through her whole routine of explaining to us the pepper industry (the processing of white and black pepper), birds nest processing (she told us that blood birds nest is due to the high iron content in some of the caves) and the culture of the Chinese immigrants in Sarawak. She had MUCH more to say, but we had to say our goodbyes. It was interesting going around the long houses and climbing up the Melanau tall houses. Such fun using the rough-hewn timber stairs.

In addition, we caught their cultural show which showcased several ethnic dances, namely the ngajat lesung where the dancers dance with a mortar (supposedly 20kg) gripped with their teeth. I can't remember the names of the rest as the commentator talke as though he had a mouth full of tebaloi. But among the more interesting ones had a dancer spinning on a bamboo pole. He must have an iron-clad abdomen. The other hallmark dance involved crossed bamboo poles being brought together and released in a rhythmic manner while dancers step through them without getting their legs caught. Comic relief was provided by a "cocky warrior" (KH hated his posturing) and his fat friend with a blow pipe challenge thrown in with good effect.

The heat was getting to us, so we retreated to the Cat Museum. Entrance was free but taking photos would set you back MYR4.00. A whole lotta feline-themed merchandise, photos and books. Practically a temple dedicated to Bast, Maneki Neko and Doraemon. Interestingly, there's a story that a woman mixed her cremated dead cat's ashes into tattoo ink and had it tattooed on her leg. It rained again soon after we left and we found refuge at tHe Spring (the capital H is a mystery). Parking was an obscene MYR3.00 by Kuching standards. Usual mall fare. Dinner was on POD's mum. Brought us to Restoran Fook Sing. Had an interesting dish of "checkerboard duck"-- yam puree wrapped with duck meat.

Supper was at another wet market where we sampled a famous kway chap. Nic loved the whole herbal-y and innard-y goodness. I managed to buy a piece of Teochew Kueh (savoury glutinous rice in a flour casing) there too. I had searched high and low for it in KL. Was seriously full that night but we managed to work it off later... :P

...Next: Museums and last minute shopping...

Kuching20087

Friday, December 26, 2008

Confusion

I had short and sweet trip to Singapore and I'm penning down my
thoughts from the express bus. It is best described as a Triple Play-
a family trip, a shopping trip and a BF trip.

On the family end, got to see my bro before his vacation in Australia
and also my aunt and cousins. Got to see my niece Miko too who has
grown to be quite a little princess who rolls her eyes in disdain a
tad too much. Had a nice lunch buffet with them at Sakura,
Omnitheatre.

On arrival, we shopped for eight hours at Orchard! Mum and SK bought
several pieces of clothing and shoes at the first mall we entered. I
too managed to some work shoes at Pedro. Interesting highlights were
seeing Charleswanmushi (huge pecs, that guy) in the flesh and the Xmas
decor.

I managed to spend time with KH on Xmas day after the mass at St Mary
of the Angels that incidently has a very young and cute Franciscan
Friar. Looks so adorable in his cassock. Met up at City Link mall and
later joined Potato Bill and his BF, Stan for dinner at 8 Cafe and
Bar. A nice cozy queer place with great food and service. I had the
seafood chowder, ribeye steak and champagne jelly. Lots of laughs and
catching up. Might have been the wine. It was great to meet Stan and
once again, thanks for dinner, Bill.

Well, you guys must be wondering about the title of this post, right?
Well, I find that the guys in Singapore are too "outstanding". Screws
up my Gaydar. It will be pinging like mad, then I'd see a girlfriend
on his arm. They even seem to get the queer mannerisms right. They
should just get their act together. >_=".

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merii Kurisimasu

Tomorrow I'll be on a mission to spread Christmas cheer to my fellow
queers down in Singapore. But most importantly, I'll be visiting a
certain naughty boy and making sure he gets a piece coal in his sock
and a kiss on his lips. :). So, a Merry Christmas to all of you!

--
Regards,
William

Friday, December 19, 2008

Raining on Land and Sea: Day II

On Sunday, we got up early and headed to Kenyalang Park Wet Market for a quick breakfast of Sarawak's fabled Mee Kolok. The food court was located one floor above the wafting smells of dead chickens, pigs and assorted seafood. Sure brings back memories. I'm amazed by the sheer amount of fresh produce they have. Needless to say, breakfast was superb. Though simple, the springy noodles and the char siew provided much satisfaction. The meal was completed with a cup of coffee (I still can't seem to convince KH that every cup of coffee served in Sarawak IS Sarawak Coffee :P). Post-breakfast entertainment was a pair of humping dogs at the parking lot. We exited after paying MYR0.20 (!!!) and headed for Bako.

The road there was real bumpy. It was worse for us sitting at the back of POD's Kancil with super hard springs. A few times during the trip I felt that my Mee Kolok was about to do an escape. But we survived and arrived at the Bako National Park Terminal in less than an hour. Paid for the entrance fee and arranged for a boat to bring us in. There was a "Beware of Crocodiles" sign but we only came across one sunbathing juvenile crocodile. Bako is right at the coastline of the South China Sea and is lined with mangrove swamps. A different feel from the Jerantut National Park which is smack dab in the middle of Peninsular Malaysia.

Kuching20083Bako

The main draw of Bako seems to be its Proboscis Monkeys but I saw none during my visit. :(. We trekked the Teluk Pandan Besar and Teluk Pandan Kecil Trail. It took us about 2 hours to cover the 2.5km distance inclusive of the short detour into Teluk Pandan Besar. I think I was a little exhausted from the night's before's activities as I felt really giddy after finishing the ascent portion of the Lintong Trail. Luckily, I regained my stamina after a short rest. However, after the shady forest trek of Lintong, we were at the mercy of the noonday sun at the sandy plateaues towards Teluk Pandan Kecil. One cannot descend to Teluk Pandan Besar, so we just admired the bay from the atop the cliff. Teluk Pandan Kecil is smaller as the name implies and we could actually trek right down to the beach.

Kuching20084Bako

The stones had interesting patterns from water and wind erosion. At the beach, we took more pictures and played in the sand and surf (nothing of the Surf Surf Revolution variety, sorry!). Hermit crabs aplenty and even a stranded jellyfish. We were quite pooped from the trek, so we asked the boatman to pick us up from the bay. On the way back, we saw the Sea Stack (a highly-overrated column of stone). Halfway back, the sunny skies turned dark and it poured on us. We used the life jackets as shelter. Soaking wet, we drove over to nearby Kampung Muara Tebas for lunch at Sin Soon Lee Seafood Restaurant.

Kuching2008

Lunch highlights included our first taste of midding, a local, wild vegetable that's related to ferns (love at first bite), oyster omelette (more like keropok topped with an interesting garnish, ansui), steamed pomfret, stir-fried chicken with ginger and spring onions (tasted like my mum's version) and sea cucumber soup (the starchy type). Feeling extremely full, we decided to walk it off at Ching San Yuan, a temple on the hillock just opposite the restaurant. It was built by the early Chinese immigrants to Sarawak.

Kuching20086

We headed home and cleaned off the day's sweat. Dinner plans were cancelled after POD developed a migraine from catching too many rays at Bako. Being the quiet town that it is, the only place that KH and I could eat (without transportation) was at the General Hospital! The food was horrible. Back at the hotel, KH and I snuggled in bed and watched "The Nutty Professor", but we didn't finish watching... :P.

...Next: Hidden Culture...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Nirvana

My boss shocked us all with the following statement today,

"I had nothing to do on the LRT today, so I gave it some thought and
managed to raise three error logs!"

To which my colleague retorted,

"Wow, you could that without even physically accessing the system?!"

I guess his workaholic nature has finally raised him to another higher
plane of consciousness. For the betterment of the system. Heh.

Chou for yap mor.

--
Regards,
William

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

In the Clear

Remember I told you guys that I managed to get my General Manager to
defer the twenty three days of residual annual leave I had lying
around? Well, turns out that I have to clear those days by March 2009
and I have to submit my leave plans for those days by the end of the
year. That being the case, I have been stringing my Xmas and New
Year's leave together and also my CNY and Federal Territory Day leave.
But that still leaves me with a fortnight. Quite impossible to
schedule and that still depends on the approval of my Project Manager
and how smooth things go during the User Acceptance Test. Well, I just
hope that my year end leave is approved first and worry about the rest
later.

I hope to be able to say to my colleagues, SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!

--
Regards,
William

Monday, December 15, 2008

Not Going Home Yet?

Ever since I started swimming more than a year ago, I have noticed a
general improvement in my health. Week by week, I'm swimming a little
more laps and I no longer feel like my hands and legs are gonna fall
off. I'm glad that I actually went through with this New Year
resolution.

In addition to the obvious benefits to the cardiovascular system and
the muscle framework, it also works wonders for my eyes. Just
yesterday, four eye candy were frolicking in the pool. A nice mix of
lean twinks and semi-hunks. The semi-hunk was from the Mainland and
was real tanned with a strong chest and shoulders. He was fooling
around in the pool, being all playful and stupid. He kept on shaking
the water from his hair and grunting in pleasure from his exertions.

But the best thing was, he kept stealing glances at me and SK. After
horsing around with his basketball, getting in and out of the pool,
hitting his head on the pool wall and trying to look cute rubbing his
forehead, he suddenly spoke to me with his thick accent,

"Not going home yet?"

I was a bit shocked before I replied in the negative. He went his way
again, doing his thing, then we really decided to go. As I was rinsing
myself off at the pool side shower, our friend stops there look. And
on my way to the changing room, he remarks again,

"Going home ah?"

I just waved him goodbye and smiled. Looks like that's all he can say.
Oh well. I did leave with a sloppy grin on my face. Hehe. End of
story.

--
Regards,
William

Friday, December 12, 2008

Raining Cats and Cats: Day I


Kuching20081
Swiped from williamnyk.
Note: Long overdue!

My November trip to Kuching was quite a milestone as it was my inaugral trip to East Malaysia and my second holiday with KH. It was a great experience and the company was good. Definitely "My Most Unforgettable Experience" essay material. Haha. Starting out, the trip seemed to be full of obstacles. On the morning we were supposed to leave for the LCCT, some transportation difficulties cropped up, but SK settled it for me very quickly. And then, on our way to the LCCT, SK missed the last exit and she had to fly at 140km/h to make up for lost time. Arriving at the check-in counter, we were solicited by a Sarawakian auntie to bring some stuff for her onto the flight. I was naturally cautious, but it turned out that she didn't want us as drug mules, but as IKEA mules. :).

The flight was uneventful except for a debate I had with KH regarding EM waves and airline safety. Kuching International Airport is quite impressive in the sense that it kinda looks like KL International Airport. Immitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Nic and POD picked us up from the terminal and whisked us off to Hung Hung Inn. On the way there, I noticed several things about Kuching:
  1. It's HUGE. Roundabouts are big enough to house buildings. Parking lots can accomodate two kancils. Maybe coz lotsa people drive Land Cruisers!
  2. Semi-Ds (apartments are quite difficult to find) and malls are EVERYWHERE.
  3. It's CLEAN. And I thought my hometown, Kuantan was the cleanest in Malaysia.
  4. Public transport is quite sad. Taxis are mostly only seen at the airport and busses are quite empty.
  5. Some graves face roads the way houses do. I wonder if they need to pay assessment tax...
  6. Child labour is rampant! The waiters who served us look no more than 13!


The place we stayed for 3 nights is located just next to the General Hospital. Not the best of accomodations, but at MYR70 a night, it's to be expected. The first thing I did was spray the whole room down with FeBreeze. At night, one can hear the ambulances blaring into the Emergency. We were "lucky" enough to run into school trip, so the kids were practically bouncing off the walls. After checking in, we immediately went to the weekend market. Quite like a miniature of BKK's JJ Market. At the pets section, I saw a peculiar sign, "No Finger Licking"-- no KFC near the pets? It actually means "don't let the doggies lick your fingers". -_-".

Well, it practically rained cats and dogs soon after. We got ourselves soaking wet from the rain and the hidden reservoirs of rainwater on the tarps. Dinner was at Hong Kong Noodle House in Wisma Saberkas. A restaurant that has no crowd control. Instead of "Please Wait to be Seated", the restaurant uses a food court style approach where customers just roam around looking for seats. Pengz. Anyway, we ordered Cangkuk Manis (delicious and in an uncommon egg drop style), dumplings (below average as they had disintegrated in the soup and the skin was thick and floury), roasted duck (great taste and strong with star anise aroma) and claypot fish curry (thick and full of vegetables).

After dinner, POD dropped us at the hotel to rest up. It was kind of early, so we unpacked and spent some quality time together.

...Next: The Jungles of Bako...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Family Tree


This is to celebrate the latest addition to the family-- Cheryl's 8th Dear, Leonardo. Reference.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Tridiuum

One.
My fatty boss called a colleague of mine to reprimand him for not
supporting him during a resource meeting. However, I left the meeting
thinking that his objective was met. If he didn't get what he wanted,
then I guess that it's his fault for not making it clear with the
other party. Shifting the blame. The weasely way out.

Two.
The funniest thing I've ever seen on the rush hour monorail- a
monorail attendant forcefully extricated a annoying passenger at the
entrance who was blocking a whole load of people who were trying to
alight. Like popping a stubborn pimple! I laughed out loud!

Three.
The simple pleasures of life- Stuck in close quarters with three
Korean Navy boys in a packed monorail car. I now have a new-found
appreciation for men in uniform. Yummy!

--
Regards,
William

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

ASM

As of lunch time today, there's still 94 million ASM units left for
investment. Go over to your nearest PNB agent now!

--
Regards,
William

Monday, December 01, 2008

An Earful

In my company, resources often lose focus and become demoralised due to ad hoc requests. The opportunity for new business is always a priority at the expense of disrupting current deals that had been closed. But this does not mean one does not need to deliver. Things are always rushed and non-existant features are always expected to be provided at the shortest notice. Shoddy work and even if we get the job, the shoddy-ness will find it's way into the project. And so, I was called to work at 9:00am one Saturday morning to do some nonsensical things only to find that nobody had the key unlock the office!

And so, I wasted 90 minutes of my time at a nearby mamak shop with my fatty boss. Had to listen to a pep talk that had been rehashed time and time again. This is what I heard over a cup of cow's milk tea:
 
"I treat you like my brother."
"I often think about your career path."
"The grass isn't greener on the other side."
"I do not see you guys doing this forever, I want to push you up."

It's such a universal load of crap that even my partners from Myanmar hear the same things from their bosses. Pengsan.
 
The day I can spew the same crap on hours on an end is the day I have joined the ranks of management. Sounds easy enough. Scott Adams did say that the job of a manager can be performed by a drunken chimpanzee. Hehe. Wish me luck.