Saturday, 27 June 2009

Across the Universe - the movie (2007)

My current favourite musical is 'Across the Universe'. The cinematography is a great work of art. The movie transform into a slide show of beautiful video clips, each suiting to the music and mood of the scenes and the soundtrack, all cover versions of the Beatles, are sung so beautiful. I've watched this twice and I still feel so good about the movie. What's great is that the songs are cleverly arranged to fit the flow of the plot. It's a definite piece of work! The plot is pretty alright, it's a romance story with a lot of hippie stuff going. A truly beautiful movie.

Check IMDB and Wikipedia
Sony Pictures Entertainment

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Nirvana Maju and Dessert's Bar

On my last night in Subang, D brought me to Nirvana Maju for dinner. It's a nice Indian restaurant that serve food on banana leaves. Indian lanterns decorated the place. It reminded me of the Thai lanterns which were put up at the pool area of Nippon Maru when we celebrated the Loy Krathong festival.

At Nirvana Maju, the waiter would come with varieties of food kept in tins where he would scope helpings onto the banana leaves. I was so fascinated by this! And, it tasted yummy! As usual, whenever I eat Indian with Dina, I'd used my hand. This time, D taught me to use my thumb to push the food on my palms into my mouth.

The restaurant is populated with people on a week day

The restaurant, not air-conditioned, is open on one side to let cool breeze to enter.

The waiter scoping raita (my favourite Indian salad) and other vegetable dishes on to the banana leaves

The banana leaf is huge so mine was overlapping onto D's. We have chicken curry on the rice, the reddish stuff at the top is deep fried veggies, greenish and yellowish mixed veggies and raita is the salad flooded in white liquid. It came with soup as well.

That's the soup. The banana leaf is to be folded inwards to signify that I have eaten and I liked the food. If folded the other way, it means I didn't like the food.

The following afternoon, we went to Parksons' mall building where I found a backpack for all my purchases I made days earlier. We had lunch at Dessert's bar. The chocolate crepes were yummy!

Cupcake Chic @ The Curve, Mutiara Damansara

After all that shopping at Ikea, we crossed the street to a nearby shopping mall where we had cupcakes at Cupcake Chic. It was a nice little place selling a wide selection of cupcakes. However, they sell 12 different flavours on different days.

The choices are wide and some interesting while others tempting

The pricing: One for RM4.50, 6 for RM25 and 12 for RM48

Flavours sold for the day

We ordered 24 karat (green), butter pecan (cream) and fatal attraction (chocolate) and it's so delicious!

After our cupcake fest, we went into the building. D had wanted to get some vitamins for at the pharmacy. But, I got so distracted the moment I saw Borders and stayed there longer than the planned time. I got three books on poem plus one by Elizabeth Alexander titled Praise Song for the Day, which is a poem for Barack Obama's presidential inauguration earlier this year. Sorry, Din Din! We got the vitamins on our way back.

IKEA, Damansara

With the exam out of the way, I found it easier to relax and have fun. D decided to take me to Ikea in Damansara. I thought what a good idea that was! There I was trying to think of a place to look for practical gifts for my loved ones at home. Ikea is ideal for its innovative, practical and affordable products. We spent a few good hours there as I scouted for small but still practical items that I could easily pack in my bag. I got a throw, some book holders, some pockets, a dish holder, some stationery holders, some framed mirrors, some photoframes, some rugs and other stuff I cannot remember now.

I caught this canvas photograph at the warehouse section, just before the cashiers. Sweet!

What do you think this is? Drawers from a clothes cabinet?

These clothes stickers were pasted on the stairs.

There D and D posing for me in one of the "bedrooms"

I found two very interesting products: First, the lamp which is bucket of light bulbs. It's not very pretty but I thought it is clever art.

And this! A rotatable rattan panel with a mirror on one side and clothes/shoe hangers on the other.

When we got home, I ran through my purchases and realised I didn't have enough space to fit in my backpack. I eventually bought a 35L + 10, orange backpack by Deuter on my final day in KL. I was looking for a lime green one to match my camera/laptop bag but the green model did not have the compartments I like. After having made D walk with me through several stores, I finally decided on the orange one.


Amber is D's dog. She's a golden retriever and she looks like a little lion. During my stay at D's, I've fallen in love with Amber. She looks dangerous but she's extremely gentle and loving. I love hugging her. And, she loves licking my hand until it's all wet and slobbery, hahaha. She likes playing catch and tug. She loves soft toys and would play with them until they are all soaked wet with her saliva. Hahahaha. She always likes cupcakes and I got to share one with her because my heart went all soft when she kept looking at me eat one. I love playing with her until she gets so excited, she'll roll on her back with her legs in the air.

In the mornings, she puts on this sad face like in the picture here. She is expressive and puts on many several facial expressions that can send your heart feeling for her.

Amber is so beautiful and adorable

Waikiki Bar, Petaling Jaya

After dinner at the Asia Cafe food court, we headed to Waikiki Bar. Hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur, lies a bar with thatched roof that had the most awesome band swooning me with their style of classic rock. The crowd are mostly working adults. It is an ideal place to hang out with friends and chill with the music. The ambience is laid back with no rules on dress code. The place was full by ten on a weekday. And, I can totally see why.

I was going on about how great the live band was the whole night and the following day. They truly were! They made beautiful music and sang with beautiful voices. They are a 3-person band but the way they were on their instruments sounded like they are more. Brilliant! I am sure the lead's name is Baday, who plays the harmonica, guitar, cymbals and several other instruments. There is a guy whom I'm guessing is Albert who plays the beat box. He probably switched to the other instruments for different songs, which I cannot tell as my view was blocked by the people at the bar. The last guy plays the electric guitar. I can't remember if he played anything else. But yeah, they are completely brilliant!

I had the mango daiquiris but the taste of mango was slight and I found the taste of alcohol too strong for me. The orange juice though made up for the not so enjoyable drink.

So, Waikiki Bar is the place to go with some good friends. I strongly recommend it as the must-go place when you're in KL. It's just away from everything else and with the music, it's perfect.

1st Floor (above DV8), Kelab Syabas, Lorong Sultan , Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Click here to view on Google Maps

Asia Cafe Food Court, Subang Jaya

After D got me from an agreed venue, we left for her place in Subang Jaya. When the door to her room was opened, Amber greeted us. We took Amber for a walk and L came when we were walking along the street right outside the house.

D had planned to take me to the Asia Cafe, not too far away from her house. As it is a food court, there are many choices of food to be had. I ordered the curry prawn noodle which D recommended, not wanting to settle for anything which D couldn't vouch for its tastiness.

In the vicinity of the food court were colleges such as Inti College, Taylor College and the Metropolitan College. Thus, it comes as no surprise to see students having their meals at the food court.

The highlight of the evening was really the fried mushroom. There is a stall that sells nothing else but mushrooms; button, abalone, etc. They serve them fried. And, they are tasty! I was getting quite addicted to them and was muching away without realising how much I had eaten.

Click here to view Asian Cafe on Google Maps

Looking like a typical food court

Vendors trying to entice customers with their menus

Chefs cooking away

The wonderful Fried Mushroom

Monday, 22 June 2009

Sheraton Imperial Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Despite the high hotel rate, I chose Sheraton Imperial to stay for a night for its convenience. The Faber Imperial Court, where the Prometric Test Centre for GRE is, shares the same building with the hotel. I figured that I'll do away with the maps and the getting there. Plus, with all the current pressure from work and the intensity of the exam itself, Sheraton Imperial is just about the ideal place to rest and leave the worries behind. Without the breakfast, the deluxe room cost me about 190 Brunei dollars.

As I walked into the hotel lobby, quizzical looks were thrown at me. I wasn't sure if it was the clothes I was wearing - I was wearing a jacket over my t-shirt and three-quarter pants, and carrying a backpack, looking like a backpacker - or if I appeared as a little girl stepping into the hotel at the late hours alone. I headed straight to the reception counter which was facing pretty curtains of stringed of shells. The guests at the lobby all appeared either business-like or sophisticated, which made me feel a little out of place. But, the warmth and friendliness of the receptionist who attended me was reassuring.

As I walked into the lift, I tried to figure out the floor I was supposed to be heading. My room number was 2120 and I had thought it to be on the second floor, which I pointed out aloud to a lift of silent guests as the lift was shooting up to the 22nd floor. I wasn't exactly paying attention to the receptionist who had pointed out the numbering system earlier, which I then vaguely remembered. So, silly me, the room is on the 21st floor.

The deluxe room is impressively spacious and tastefully furnished. I like the colour choices of the cushions and the designs of the lamp covers. And, the flat screen is so humoungous that I actually got frightened watching it all by myself and switched to the channel switching mode for a smaller viewing area. Sheraton was thoughtful to add a welcoming message on the tv screen with my name personalised. I took more than 15 minutes absorbing the interiors of the room as I went around to take photos.

Unfortunately, I failed to relax as I had planned to. The bed is so comfortable and the pillows are wonderfully soft but I couldn't sleep until 6am in the morning. I wanted to soak myself in the bath but thought about the amount of water I'd be wasting and opted against it. I was worried about the exam but I couldn't concentrate when I tried studying. I was worried about the one month I am left to finish up all my work and the supposedly exciting holiday plan that is coming up, which I am now having mixed feelings about.

The room is wonderful and I do think that it has managed to make me feel as comfortable as I possibly could with my uncontrollably troubled state of mind.

The bedroom

Spacious lobby that leads to the bedroom, bathroom and dressing room

Study table furnised with travel, audio and tv adapters. I am not sure if you can actually connect your computer to the flat screen.

The bathroom


Shower cubicle

A room to keep your clothes with ironing facilities

More clothes/shoe compartments

A painting of a turtle facing the bed

Donate a dollar to UNICEF when you check out

My in-room breakfast, egg benedict with beef bacon and hollander sauce, which I decided to have instead of the breakfast buffet

After the exam, I grabbed a bite at the Pavillion Cafe in the hotel while I waited for D to get me. Listening to the jazz music and sitting on the three-seater couch made me relax as I mentally went through the list of to-dos left to be done. I laid my head on the couch and noticed the ceiling. Thought, I'd just snap a photo.

Quiet and nice, Pavillion Cafe

D didn't want to be caught in the traffic as it was building up. So, I was instructed to meet her elsewhere instead. Got myself a cab and saw Tune Hotel as we went passed. Tune charges about 50 Brunei dollars a night if I remember correctly and I was going to book Tune until I read several unsatisfying reviews online including one that suggested that the hotel is haunted. Just yesterday, J told me that she's heard from another friend that it is haunted. The plus point about this area is that it is 5-minutes walk to the nearest mrt station and it is located about 5-minutes walk to the Asian Heritage Row where the clubs, bars and bistros are if you are into that sort of thing.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

What is NGV?

I made a trip to Kuala Lumpur just recently. After the plane touched down, I purchased a taxi voucher which cost me around 60RM to get from KLIA to KL. The taxi driver who took me was friendly. We shared our thoughts about the pros and cons of turning a city metropolitan. Along the way, he stopped by the Petronas fuel station for a top up. I was intrigued when I saw him lift his car bonnet. Usually, sedan cars have their fuel tanks by the side just above the back wheel. He then plugged the hose from the fuel dispenser into where the engine seems to be.

I noticed the label on the fuel dispenser, stating NGV. "What is NGV?", I later asked the taxi driver. He said it is a type of fuel that's like cooking oil but meant for cars. It is cheaper than diesel or gasoline. And, the conversation followed along the lines of this:

Me: What car parts do you need to change for your car to take NGV?
Him: You will have to install a fuel tank that can take NGV
Me: What about the engine? Does it need a different type?
Him: No, it's just the fuel tank that needs changing.
Me: Do all taxis use NGV?
Him: Yes, all if not most taxis use NGV now.

At this point, we passed by the Shell fuel station.

Me: Does Shell have NGV?
Him: No, only Petronas has NGV.

There, we went on to talk about oil companies in our respective countries. Unlike in Brunei where we only have Shell fuel stations, Malaysia has several. There are Petronas, Shell, Caltex, ESSO and BHP.

After a bit of surfing on NGV, it turns out that NGV are vehicles which use liquefied natural gas, a cleaner alternative to gasoline. NGV stands for Natural Gas Vehicle. I googled and found these: resource 1 and resource 2. It's always good to read from several resources to make sure the information is coherent.

Fuel dispenser hose inserted into a fuel tank at the front of the car

Fuel dispenser for NGVs. The steel nozzle on the top right is where the hose will be placed once the refueling procedure is completed.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

A film of poverty and hunger: Chicken a la Carte by Ferdinand Dimadura

A colleague of mine sent me this video and it was heartbreaking to watch. Sometimes, we are so caught up with the materialism of this world, we forget about the others who struggle for the simplest of things to survive.

"Synopsis: This film is about the hunger and poverty brought about by Globalization. There are 10,000 people dying everyday due to hunger and malnutrition. This short film shows a forgotten portion of the society. The people who live on the refuse of men to survive. What is inspiring is the hope and spirituality that never left this people."

I remember talking to a friend about globalisation and how I did not wish to see my country globalise so much. It frightens me that people get so competitive to the point of losing humanity in themselves because of globalisation. It is true human darwinism at work. D and I were on the topic as well during my recent education/travel trip. It doesn't help that commercialisation helps drive globalisation. How commercialisation is taking every single freedom we have and messing our mental and emotional states completely scares me.

Like roads which you have to pay to use, when it was once free. And, you even have to pay different prices (They are not cheap! And, someone's getting their Chopards soon!) for different lengths of the road. Someone once suggested that we may well be paying for oxygen one day and I didn't think it is not possible.

I guess how some humans managed to counterbalance the detriments of commercialism which befall on them in order to keep a float is truly admirable while most of us whine about the trivialities. The common people are easy sacrifices for a stronger economy. Cliche but true: it's life.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Saving our forest at Badas

Last Friday on 12th June 2009, I joined the BPYs on a road trip to Sungai Liang. Right after we had our breakfast at a restaurant in the Soon Lee building, we met the other volunteers at the parking area, where we got on a bus to get to the designated tree planting site.

I had hurried to bed by midnight so as to be sure I could drag myself out of bed by six to meet the gang at the JP car park. Meeting the BPYs are always fun. There's always laughter and silliness to be shared. And, reminiscing on the SSEAYP days for the ten millionth time never bore us.

The tree planting went smoothly and very quickly too. We planted 600 trees in less than an hour! I was so excited about the whole thing and I am sure everyone who participated felt the same. The moment after we were briefed on the simple steps to have the tree planted, we each took our area and started without hesitation.

Lined holes were already pre-dug for us to efficiently placed the young trees in. All that was needed was burying the roots with soil, which laid in small heaps by the holes. We also had to make sure that the trunks of the young trees are placed upright.

Bush fires that had claimed some areas of the forests

Water pipes that run along the dirt road that leads into the forest reserve

Several other tree planting projects have already started such as those by ISB and BLNG.

Prepared holes for the tree planting

Volunteers at work

Other tree planting project that is adjacent to the area we were working on.

Irrigation system for the trees

Along the Bandar-Seria highway, we could see many areas with fumes of smoke coming from the smouldering forest.

And, there is most of us. Pablo is not in it because he took this picture.

More stories and pictures on this can be found here, here, here and here.
Click out the ISB Million Tree Project.

600 trees planted in an hour

The Brunei Times
Hard work: Planting trees at the Badas Forest Reserve yesterday. The activity was organised by the British High Commission and International School Brunei. Picture: BT/Haji Mohd Ali

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A TOTAL of 600 trees were planted at the Badas Forest Reserve in a continuous effort to increase awareness in reducing carbon emissions.

Organised by the British High Commission in collaboration with David Taylor, executive principal of International School Brunei (ISB) "One Million Trees" project, the trees were planted by staff of the High Commission, well-known bloggers and journalists.

A total of eight hectares is allocated for the project, where half of it is included in the Badas Forest reserve area. Designated under the Heart of Borneo, the kerangas (heath) forest is characterised by its sandy soil.

Taylor said the slightly blackish colour of the soil is attributed to pieces of charcoal from a forest fire that happened in 1998. One hour was all that it took to plant 600 trees by a group of 20 people. "Once the trees are planted, we have to maintain it on a regular basis. For the first few weeks, it is important to water them regularly. We have dug a well in the peat swamp forest to supply the water," said Taylor.

The trees planted will replace trees in the burnt areas so that it will become a solid forest again, he said. In addition to agathis borneensir (tulong) which had been planted in the area, the group was given 600 drybalanops rappa (kapur paya) tree saplings to be planted. Introducing another species of trees, he added, will create tree diversity in the area.

He said, "The British High Commission over the last year had presented over $6,000 to the ISB 'One Million Tree' project which is equivalent to 1,200 trees". He added, "We are going to plant all the trees before the British High Commissioner leaves in July. Half of the trees are planted today and the other half next Wednesday morning by the British High Commissioner himself."

"The British High Commission in Phnom Penh, Singapore and Jakarta are also going to plant trees here to offset the carbon footprint of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's birthday celebration," he added.

"Every trees you plant can offset equivalent to about 20kg of Carbon Dioxide per year," he said. Forestry Department, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources have provided all these trees free of charge, he said adding that the expense is in doing the survey, setting it all out and maintenance for two years. With 600 trees planted yesterday, the project has already succeeded in planting 6,000 trees around the Badas forest reserve. The project began last year with the planting of the first 1,000 trees.

Taylor added, 80 members from the Brunei Darussalam Motorcycle Association (Pemoda) will plant 2,600 trees on Monday, and another 1,000 trees will be planted by ISB students on Tuesday.

He also said that the British High Commission and Standard Chartered Bank are funding a study into peat land around the Badas Forest Reserve area "to convince the Public Works Department to block the drainage channel along the pipeline that lowers the water level". He added, "If the water level goes down, the top of the peat land dries up and this makes it prone to fire." The fire can be stopped, he said, by restoring the water level.

He said other schools have also been invited to get involved in the project.

The Brunei Times