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A Great Man Has Gone Home

Rolihlahla (Nelson) Mandela. 18 July 1918 – 6 December 2013.

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Taken at Madame Tussauds, Wien, Austria.

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Taken at Madame Tussauds, Wien, Austria.

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But I’ve only just met you! Or your towering wax figure Tussauds made out of you. You looked so weathered, stood so tall, yet the battles you fought for the people against apartheid and poverty will make us all stand proud with you for eternity. God bless your soul and may you receive the many promised crowns in heaven!!! Thank you for the gift of yourself, Mr. Mandela!

Hiatus Ended

Whenever there’s a hiatus from my blog, I take time out to do everything that I’ve been wanting to do for the year before finding that inspiration to write again. After my round-Malaysia camping trip with Rufus, my work started to pile, visits to my clients’ place became more frequent & delivering my assignments meant I had to burn the midnight oil. Not that unusual but sleeping late doesn’t sync with Rufus’ timing to get his walk in the morning where he struts happily to shower the caterpillars at the shrubs near the pond. Beckoned only by the crows tailing us as we encircle the our morning fields, we watch the Purple Heron from a distance, an indicator that winter migration has begun.

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Before the season of diving ended I was plagued by a childhood injury & dislocated my hip again. Having the Low family help me in & out of the water during their certification trip was somewhat embarrassing but when I was water-bound, I was weightless/painless & free. Grimacing as soon as I leave the ocean, I spent Raya being bedridden till I could access my chiropractor after his holidays to have my hip adjusted into place. While horizontal, I got acquainted with Chinese serial dramas again & was given the desire to see China. Lo & behold, Soo offered me to take over her trip & when God healed me during a specific altar call where He had given me a vision 4 days prior at the start of the Pentecostal World Conference & just after a lady gave me a book entitled, ”˜The Church in China,’ I was convinced that God was indeed, sending me to China.

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I visited my reefs & said hello to the resident Risbecia tryoni while the inquisitive Sea Perch decided to have its picture taken as well. Doing several dive trips before the season ended gave me an opportunity to accustom myself with the Olympus E-PM1 & the housing.

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In the month of Ramadhan, I witnessed the Tourism Minister together with Secretary General of Tourism giving red packets to under-privileged children at a buka puasa dinner hosted by the Ministry of Tourism. I caught up with fellow journalists from travel mags & Julini, my ex-colleague from Concorde Hotel.

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In the passed 2 months or so, I couldn’t bring myself to detail all that’s happened because life is just too fast paced & I had tons of writing to do for my clients. From 17-pages reports to drafting letters to minutes of meetings, all of which overworked my braincells & took away my creativity for awhile. I was even getting upset over events that had transpired in a meeting that I was minuting so nothing from me could be comprehensible in the last 2 months.

Just then, Sony Mobile selected my picture for the launching of Xperia Z1 in Malaysia & the picture of the Twin Towers was taken with the phone that they have presented me with.

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Soon after, I participated in another event & another picture was selected. Yes, I got busy with the 20 megapixel camera on the Z1 instead.

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I needed time out & China was a major trip traversing across mountainous terrains spanning over 1000km on the way to Yading in what I deem as freezing temperatures. I guess I’m made for the tropics. Will tell you about my trip in between my travels as soon as I appease Rufus because I’d been away too often & too long…..

Merdeka Giveaway – WinX HD Video Converter worth US$49.95!

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You spot an unidentifiable floating/flirting object, crawling, creeping, undulating or it might even be getting ready to cast its next generation into the ”˜air’ (atmosphere, depending on whether you should terrestrial or marine life) & the first response is to whip out your camera and flash your shutter planes at it. You take a breath & resume your most comfortable position to record the motion instead. Minute by minute, your aching arms tell you that your footage is enough but your bug/slug/mollusc decides to demonstrate some kungfu or calisthenics to stun its prey and you finally get footage worthy of National Geographic’s mention.

You get to your computer & you want to edit it to include your signature & insert music to complement the excitement but you find that you must convert it to MOV or MPEG before you can even edit it. And you have many files to edit. Your free converter only converts one file at a time. For a 500MB video, it takes almost 20 minutes & not all converters can give you a high definition output or give you the controls to increase the volume nitrate or output to any format to be readable by your iPhone/iPad/Android as showpieces. Predicament like this can be solved with having a batch HD video converter like the WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe (for Windows) & WinX HD Video Converter for Mac to convert all your HD videos. Leave it running in the background & before you know it, all your videos are converted!

Here are the reasons why you should get the WinX HD Video Converter for Mac (or Windows):-

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Support Multi-track HD and Blu-ray Video

The first Mac HD video converter that supports converting Multi-track HD video BDAV, M2TS, MKV, AVCHD, TrueHD, MTS, MPEG-TS Audio/Video. E.g. it lets you convert Multi-track MKV to MP4, M2TS to MKV, Blu-ray M2TS to MKV, which is a definitely useful feature when making a digital copy to backup your Blu-ray videos.

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Convert Videos from HD-Camcorder
Convert AVCHD, MOD, TOD and MTS videos recorded by HD camcorders, such as Panasonic, Canon, Sony, JVC to AVI, MPEG, MP4, FLV, JVC and other most popular video formats, so that you can play the videos on portable devices or edit the video in iMovie.

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Convert Videos to Portable Devices
It can convert all HD and regular videos, such as AVCHD, MKV, MTS, M2TS, MPEG-4, AVI, WMV, FLV, MP4, to other formats for playback on most popular portable devices like iPod, iPad ( iPad 2/iPad 3), iPhone (iPhone 4/4S/5), Apple TV, Xbox, Xbox360, PSP, PS3, etc. So you can watch them without assistance of third-party codecs.

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Create VOB Files on Mac for DVD Burning
It can also create VOB files (one of default DVD video formats) from the videos recorded by HD camcorders, downloaded from online video sharing sites, or made by your own, and then you can burn the VOB video to DVD Disc by your DVD authoring software. It offers an all-round solution to make backup copies of your videos.

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Youtube Video Downloader and Converter
With a built-in website video downloader, it is also a video tool for online content downloading to help you extract videos from millions video sharing site like Youtube, Vimeo, Google, Facebook, Megavideo, etc. Then you can convert all downloaded video directly.

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Amazing Output Video Audio Quality
High Quality Engine is built in this HD video converter to manage the output image quality. With advanced De-interlace Accelerator, it delivers more original output video, compared with similar Mac HD video converter. Besides, you can balance the video/audio quality and file size by adjusting the bitrate resolution parameters.

To be entered in the giveaway, please drop me a comment & tell me the model of your camera that you shoot with & the current converter you are using & include a shout out ”˜MERDEKA!’ at the end of your comment. (Merdeka is a Malay word for independence, shouted by our Prime Minister on 31 August 1957 when we gained independence from the British). Please include your email address & state whether you need a Windows or Mac version. And thank you for sailing by Pummkin’s Pitch!

Giveaway is sponsored by the good people at Digiarty.com! For more information, please visit www.winxdvd.com.

Half A Year Gone

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Taiping Lake Gardens.

There are not enough hours in a day for me & every minute is precious when I’m doing the things I love to do most. When Wolfgang visited, we spent a week exploring the jungles of Malaysia equipped with tents, poles, four-legged companions & survival kits. We learnt that even a simple tent can bear quite an effect on your sleep if the roof is not vented & the fly-sheet is not totally waterproof. The tropical rainforest usually lives up to its name when you are least prepared and with Rufus & Spice coming along, there’s no option to stay in a resort. I have no problem with that & it’s so nice to see Rufus getting all protective of his space & master (or slave aka me).

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Rufus having a snooze while I drove.

Hearing the nocturnal insects & the quaak-quaak frogs at night made me feel like I was on a different planet. There was no ”˜ribbik’ nor the ”˜oowooongg’ noises from the bullfrogs but a very distinct & loud ”˜QUAAK!’ which is then answered by their fellow species somewhere else. It was an interesting night. Rufus was adapting to all these foreign noises too. Aziz had to alternate between his tent & the 4WD because Spice kept him awake frequently with the need to answer nature’s call. He decided to sleep in the car so as not to wake Wolfgang.

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Rufus taking a cool dip with me!

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The Milky Way!

We spent nights shooting the Milky Way & visited Lawrence & Ina in Gua Musang in Kelantan. After that, we headed to Grik & spent a night at Belum. There, I was visited by a wild boar while I was in the tent. We drove to Taiping for some sight-seeing before returning to KL for a dive trip to Aur & Tenggol. In between, I caught up with my ex-boss, Dato’ Loy & ex-colleagues to celebrate his birthday & facilitate sessions for FInancial Psychology’s workshops.

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Ex boss & colleagues.

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Pulau Dayang, off Pulau Aur.

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Sandwiched in between a colour-coded (coincidence) dressing for the day, Bose & Soo.

I am constantly reminded that I have to stop & smell the roses each time work gets too hectic or when the assignment gets the better of me. I found one in such splendour that smelling it alone would not justice to it. It put a smile to my face that God flutters the heart of His children when His flora flourishes! Here’s to more discoveries in the wild!

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F.U.D. – We Can Pee Like Boys Now

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My childhood dream aspiration of becoming a boy has become a reality now after facing numerous challenges in filthy,  tight & uncompromising lavatories when I am travelling. It’s annoying when you carry a backpack of stuff, be it your camera gear or your daypack of essentials, entering a public loo is so indignifying. Especially those that haven’t been cleaned in a century or those that have lost sight of care. I can’t count the number of times where I cringed before peeing, having to hover over soiled toilet seats while taking extra precautions NOT to come into contact with the equally dirty walls on my backpack. 

As I was kitting up for my Survivalist Sack, I came upon this Female Urination Device called P Ez. It seems to be the solution to all my on-the-go urgency problems so I ordered one & two months later it arrived. Perfect for my 10-day expedition in Borneo. Being somewhat excited at the thought that I’d finally be standing up to pee, a flurry of thoughts came to my mind. What if I pee all over myself? What if I made a mess of my bathroom? What if it DOESN’T WORK??? I guess these are the angst of one who’s finally getting a feel of what being a boy is all about. As a child, I used to aspire to be a boy. Now don’t ask me why, perhaps it was due to the clothes my mom made me wear as a toddler or the fact that I loved playing with gadgets that don’t go well with my sisters or just being plain curious about the opposite sex. Either way, I wanted an appendage. 

So it arrived. I opened the box with glee. I was greeted with a misshaped lilac coloured funnel that I’m supposed to put on my cherry. I examined the rubbery plastic thing for awhile & proceeded to enact a ”˜travel situation’ where my back has a camera backpack, me wearing pants & this bionic cuckoo bird being whipped out from my waistpack. Having to figure out which way is ”˜outward’ is easy. Just look at how it points & you will know how to position it to your body. 

The moment of truth came. I’ve never had to touch any of my body parts when answering nature’s call & this is a rather absurd act as we girls have never thought about putting our hands onto our cherries to direct the shower of our power. So okay, here goes…….the funnel is pointing to the bowl & I’m ready to go…….the initial spout was fine when I got the aim right but as soon as it started to trickle, it trickled everywhere!!! How do you men deal with sprinkling when you’re tinkling??? Now don’t you ever leave the washroom WITHOUT washing your hands & appendage because now I know what you are down to. By the time I finished, my toilet bowl rim was splattered with pee & though I felt triumphant having DONE it like a boy, I had to clean my toilet bowl, the floors & also disinfect the area around it! Good thing I had the seat up too! So much effort! I felt I need more practice over this bionic cuckoo if I were to master the use for my Borneo expedition! This kinda explains why boys need a lifetime to become men & even then, can’t get their aim right. 

The instruction says I have to wash the device with warm soapy water & air dry. Having wet wipes & sanitiser ready helps if water is not available. I washed it & put it near the window to dry. This appendage will be handy if I go into the wild & when I have to go. 

The upside is, I now would not need to ”˜hover’ above the toilet bowl when there’s a germ infested toilet seat (or there’s an absence of one) & would be delighted to pee in the jungle without having my bottom pricked by shrubs & twigs! 

The other option is to use TravelJohn™ Disposable Urinal in situations where you can’t find a lavatory at all. Those who have been there & experienced that would know what a God-sent items these urinal devices are. Get the TravelJohn™ at Lafuma & P Ez on eBay by searching for ”˜female urination device.’

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Drive Around New Zealand in a Rented Car!

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Photo by Thomas Young

Seeing some of the pictures on National Geographic website, I’ve been stirred with the thought of exploring the land of The Lord of the Rings by road which would be the best option to see places of interest at my own pace. New Zealand is also known as the land of Kiwis and packing for a birding trip would be easier if I don’t have to worry about transportation that can accommodate all the detours I’d be making with a discovery. Checking my options, I found a car rental site that can provide me with a supersaver compact car for only NZ$25 per day! It’s RM2.458 to NZ$1 which is about US$0.815 only. Being mobile can take me to more places than if I were to stay in one place throughout a 10-day trip.

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There are two islands, the North & South islands to explore. Snap Car Rentals offers a range of rented cars from economy to premium depending on the size of your group. They take care of reservations of ferry tickets by Interislander Ferry if you want to cross the islands too. What makes it more convenient is that I’m able to select a pick-up at Auckland airport & choose to return it in another airport! The options are available as shown below in a simple dropdown list form to check the availability of the car of your choice for your dates of travel. While you are there, pick up some hip bags or some cool motorcycle gear in Motormart with a 3-day shipped to you option in New Zealand! And if you fall in love with the country & want to buy yourself a holiday home, check out this mortgage site too.

The notably large number of unique bird species & a mild maritime climate, this land was mostly covered in forest. New Zealand’s varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks caused by the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. This undulated landscape makes a perfect picture & one of the places I must visit is Abel Tasman National Park in the South Island. Self-drive is an option I choose to get the birds on my list to photograph!

Brought to you by Snap Car Rentals, New Zealand.
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Landscape of Lake Tekapo by Pichugin Dmitry.

Everworld on Christmas 2012

There’s nothing like watching a brilliant cast put together by SIBKL’s production in a musical called Everworld on Christmas Day. The four of us headed to SunwayMas to watch Joshua & Jin perform. Joshua is the Programme Director of StART, where I used to teach swimming to the kids who come from underprivileged homes now living in the welfare homes around Klang Valley. (The pool had been out of order to commission a repair is too expensive so until we can find a venue to take the kids to, swimming lesson is halted.) And Jin, was my little student, now not so little as he has turned into a handsome young chap with an excellent voice. I spent the whole time taking photos of the musical & am very happy that I got to spend it with people who matters to me.

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Joshua, playing the lead role as Prospero.

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Tabitha, whose voice is more resounding than her stature, gave a wonderful performance.

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My charming student, Li-Jin & his co-actress!

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This year, I received several gadgets for Christmas, one of them had been my wish for ages, a Fa&Mi underwater video light!! Off to savour my other presents that came in the form of jars of anchovies & precious truffles in honey! Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas!

For more pictures of the production, go to my Flickr & look for Events & Festival collection.

Visiting Kuala Lumpur’s Colourful Past

The Chinatown walking tour is one of the most enlightening tours of Kuala Lumpur that you can be in. Arriving at the meeting point for the Rakan KL’s 2-hour tour, I had just picked up Wolfgang from KL Sentral where he had just landed from Italy! Entering an old hotel and walking along the buildings on the streets that have somewhat lost its lustre, I looked at what will be demolished in due time for the erection of the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) in the area. It was interesting to note that before Pudu Jail, there predates it was a smaller prison that sits on Jalan Panggong (Theatre Street) where arts & culture once thrived. This street served as the centre of entertainment & cultural development of sorts from street arts to opera. A few legacy shops selling artistic wares still exist today but for how long, we don’t know.

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We continued to venture with the guidance of the prominent artist, Victor Chin & environmental guardian, Adrian Yeo & his team to the back lanes where we got the chance to enter a house that resembled a ”˜secret society’s den’ in the heydays. It looked like a clan house. The doors had vertical bars as barriers, something that you don’t see in modern architecture anymore. Then we stopped for a mid-morning snack where I had a bowl of yee mee for breakfast & a generous handful of spongerusks that Victor handed out. I forgot what it was like savouring the flavours of Petaling Street where my late mother frequented when I was growing up. Four generations of my family have lived & breathed the air of the confluence of two rivers, known as Kuala Lumpur & never before have I felt so depressed about the lost of a heritage site. Sitting by the sidewalk is an gentleman of Indian heritage who came here as a boy at 5 years of age. Today, he 58 years old. He sells sundries, newspapers & magazines for as long as he had been there.

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Walking further along the street heading to Chin Woo Stadium, I got to see the art along the side walls of Yan Keng Benevolent Dramatic Association. Here is where a prominent tailor, Kwong Fook Wing, made his royal commissions. The KL Commercial Book Store is also situated here. After the final stop at Chin Woo Stadium, the highest point in Kuala Lumpur city, we made our way to lunch in a backstreet restaurant before parting ways. It is reported that one is able to look directly at Bukit Aman police headquarters where before it wasn’t possible during the British occupation in Malaya!

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When The Old Has Gone

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Sometimes, things don’t go as planned or just find that plans have gone entirely off track. In the last one month or so, I’ve had the opportunity to experience friendship like I have never before. I went in search of a new place of residence without really knowing where to start except that I have a budget to keep & I have Rufus to consider. And after much praying, God showed me a sign. In the following few days, the ”˜sign’ was spoken of by friends in a conversation. When I went to view the house that I was to occupy, I saw the ”˜sign’ in the house next door. The day after, during a management retreat with NST in Bukit Tinggi, I was asked again about this ”˜sign.’ I take it that God had found the place for me & I made plans to move. My new landlord is a very nice guy who fixed a new water heater for me too! The thought of buying a house & getting into debt is just not what I want. I can’t afford a lifestyle where I’m a slave to it. It may be for most people, to progress in life to buy a house but somehow, I know I will go where my work takes me, no matter how far & that means, I have to be as mobile as ever without any incumbrances.

Then comes the friend bit. My friends came to help me out. Kenny & Gary offered their trucks to move my stuff. Aziz was helping me pack & get organised. Edmund came with his staff to help me move several loads. I called my favourite mover, a lorry driver who came with his two sons, to move the big items. He never fails to make me laugh. We became friends in the course of moving several times in the late nineties! Rufus wasn’t very happy at first but he’s already resigned to the fact that this is his new home after the bulk of the items came in. I had to ferry him in my car wherever I went because he was unsettled & whimpered when I left. I can’t have that. So I strapped him to my passenger’s seat & he would be happily restrained by the seatbelt contraption that my cousin, Lisa, bought for him.

Finding stuff that’s been hidden for so long caused me to rekindle a passion that I had for crochet. I made hats, scarfs, gloves, amigurumi (toys), cosies, bags & cases and I wondered where did all that love for crochet go all these 7 years??? God had showed me signs early this year when my orchids that had never flowered since I set foot in that apartment 7 years ago, had started to bloom. He told me it was to be a new beginning. I didn’t understand it then but I did not question Him because I know whatever He brings, it is always good for me. And I started to crochet again. Follow me on Pinterest or selectively follow my Things I Would Crochet board if you want some inspiration!

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I got myself a king sized Luxury Escapes (King Koil) mattress for the new king bed was still in its original wrapping, packed flat, when I got it years ago. I had been sleeping on my existing queen bed all this while, never found a good enough reason to upgrade till now. Guess who has free reign of the bed? ?

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Moving to the countryside has a great advantage of being stress-free & I have many things to post but I have to take some time to find things in this mess & should be quite occupied over the next 2 months!

Category: Personal  Tags: ,  2 Comments

Why Do I Blog & Do You Blog Too?

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I don’t write about mundane things. I don’t think you would want to read about what I do when I wake up as much as what I wake up in & with whom. Wouldn’t that stir your curiosity? ;) 

I spend much of my time outdoors because I can’t see myself getting fat & lazy as writers tend to sit too long to conjure up stories about their subjects when they have no experience to write about. I know of journalists whom instead of following the scene to get news, they would get actors to fake a scene  to make news, but that’s about as far reaching up (or down) the corporate ladder as their standards go. Just don’t believe everything that you read until you verify the facts for yourself. 

Just about anybody who writes a blog is considered a blogger nowadays but what do you actually blog about that details you as a person & most of all, an individual? Why do you read other people’s blogs? What do you hope to get out of reading someone’s blog or by following them? How do you position yourself as an individual? When I started blogging in late 2004, it was a way of expressing what I couldn’t in my work or professional assignments, things that God had led me to do & the encounters with different kinds of people in my life. I detailed my early pageantry participation in a post that made lighthearted sense into a piece that anyone can identify with. When you have skills & use them, looks become secondary to intelligence because over time, beauty fades but your wit will grow with you. Am I afraid of growing old? Well, I’m only afraid of what growing old might prevent me from doing, all my outdoor pursuits in the same vigour that produces my work for you. 

Encounters with caustic people have taught me to know the great disparity between class & crass. I hardly contend with psychopaths for the violent social behaviour that they demonstrate causes me to feel great pity upon them for the life that they can’t have. There are those who are deprived of attention when they lash out on others & that’s entirely their prerogative if they want to be known that way. They are of no consequence to the life I lead & the people who are around me. And I continue producing pieces to engage as much as you want to be engaged. 

If you blog, please remember that your blog is entirely an expression of who you are, what you do & what you deem to represent so when you spew scum or what I would call a solemn utterance with the intention to invoke supernatural powers to inflict harm on anyone, you are indeed, asking for it to be reflected back to you. I firmly believe in Genesis 12:3 as it results from what is said in Proverbs 26:1-3. If you happen to be a person of credence & what you blog about interests the world, people would flock to read about what you have to say but if all you produce is negativity, you will attract all that you deserve, whatever that may be. 

When I’m not writing for my clients, I tweet about life & challenges. I engage people & disengage small minds. I activate what is known as a connection with people, to inspire & rouse them to think on a different level. And I spend a great deal of time looking for God’s marvellous creation in the natural because I love nature & wildlife. I take pictures & videos of them. And I teach my friends to do the same. The simpler you are, the less complicated things will be & the longer you will live. I will not sweat the small stuff. I’m amazed by some of the lies people spin to bring others down. They have such energy to concoct them & coat them with malice to a point that their testimonies become INCREDIBLE. Sometimes it’s so funny to see how the plot is lost in the over-zealousness of such individuals claiming their territory like how animals mark their space with pee. 

Strangely, these are what draws you, as a reader, to my blog each time something happens. If you have come here to catch the latest, I’m promoting a crime prevention programme with NST-Cars Bikes Trucks, AAM & the Royal Malaysian Police in conjunction with Car of The Year (COTY) 2012 happening in November. It’s a free course for women & spaces are limited to 300 only. You can sign up here or visit Venus on Wheels in Facebook. More about it on Monday.

Gone Bananas

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Pink Bananas may sound odd from its recent emergence into the market but I have had them since 2008. Absolutely delicious, the creamy banana is sweet & has a milky taste to it, making it my favourite of all banana species. Found in Bukit Tinggi, Pahang, about an hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur, these dusky rose coloured bananas look strangely coloured and may not appeal to banana lovers at first sight but definitely will at first bite.

Posting a picture of it on my Facebook timeline generated much contention with many insisting that I shared my loot while a few harassed me into getting some back for them. I came home with 10kg worth in bags for distribution to my banana-frantic friends. When it’s raw, it has a pinky rose coloured skin with greenish tinge but once ripe, the green turns yellow & the rose will turn red. I still like to call them Pink!

Go have some today. It’s alright to go bananas & turn pink!

Exotic Combination For Ramadhan Celebration 2012

It’s fasting month! What a way to enjoy your food after a day of reflection! Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur Glenmarie is offering patrons an array of delectable international cuisines ranging from Mughal to Chinese-Muslim, from Arabian to authentic Malaysian. For the entire month of Ramadhan commencing 18th July to 18 August 2012, over 150 local and international dishes featured at the hotel’s Kites Restaurant will whet your appetite for the breaking of fast.

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A group of guest chefs from across the globe has been flown in for their wealth of experience in their specialty. Chef Ebrahim Mohd brings 25 years of experience in Arabic delicacies all the way from Damascus, Syria. He will whip up Middle Eastern foo, which is a complex and spice driven cuisine, using black pepper, garlic, cinnamon, clove, cumin and coriander to create a delightful mix of meat based dishes, with lamb and mutton being the most popular. He’s preparing a selection of his specialty grilled meats, kebabs, and koftas throughout the celebration along with another Middle Eastern favourite, Hummus, a dip or spread eaten with pita bread made from cooked and mashed chickpeas, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic which origins date back to ancient Egypt.

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Chef Ebrahim

Our Indian guest chef is Santosh Chaniyal who hails from Nainitaal, India and specialises in Mughlai cooking, a cuisine with a rich history dating back to the 16th century kitchens of the Mughal Emperors who occupied Northern India. Influenced by a mixture of Indian, Persian and Middle Eastern cuisine, Mughlai cuisine uses ingredients like exotic aromatic spices, nuts, raisins, cream, yoghurt and milk to create rich and spicy dishes with a unique aroma. With a considerable influence from Muslim cooking, this cuisine is absolutely not to be missed. It’s almost like bringing India to Malaysia & is my personal favourite.

Chef Santosh will be bringing a collection of his favourite recipes to town for our special guests to enjoy; for a special and unique taste, try the Kashmiri Rogan Josh made with goat or lamb meat cooked with intensely fragrant spices that deliver a mild and rewarding curry. Another dish that should not be missed is the Chicken Biryani. This dish is particularly known for its many layers of flavours and is cooked over a longer period of time to allow the flavours to blend together. The spices used in making the dish are typically not used in everyday cooking, making it a very special dish for guests of Kites Restaurant to sample. Another must try item will be the Jhinga Til Tinka; King prawns marinated with fresh aromatic spices, dipped in a butter made from eggs, green chillies, ginger, garlic & cardamom and cooked with breadcrumbs and sesame seeds. Dum Ka Murgh is another special and popular dish, generally eaten with roti or paratha that uses yoghurt and exotic spices to create a rich and complex meal.

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Chef Santosh

Vegetarians will love to try Quasar-E-Pukhtan, otherwise known as Shahi Paneer. With the name embodying royalty, this dish is fit for kings and is made with the richest of ingredients available. One should not miss out on other vegetarian dishes such as Tarkari Tawa Masala, Dal Bukhar, Dal Dhabe Wali. Other items on the Mughlai menu are Biryani (Gosht ,Murgh , Jhinga), Qurma-E-Firdaus (Hyderabadi Muttom qurma), Khade Masale Ka Gosht, Mahi Sarsom Wali, Tawa-E-Jalpari, and Avadhi Gulnar pari.

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One of the other delights that one can expect at the Ramadhan feast is brought to you by Chef Charles Huang from Zhengzhou, China. His special talent, to prepare hand pulled noodle is a complex craft that produces a wonderful spectacle, and just as importantly, incredible noodles. Made from plain dough that requires incredible dexterity to transform them into beautiful noodles, they are fascinating to watch being created by our food artist Chef Charles Huang as he works feverishly to twist the dough then stretches them delicately by waving the arms and body. Next, the dough is untwisted, looped to double the strands, and then repeated. When stretching, these highly skilled chefs coordinate waving their torso and arms to increase the potential length of the noodle beyond that of the puller’s arm span.

Chef Huang is bringing other Chinese Muslim cuisine delicacies such as mutton noodles, mushroom and chicken noodles, homemade mutton soup, steamed buns and pan-fried egg dumplings during the Puasa month.

Apart from the specialties on offer from our three special guest chefs, Kites restaurant will be maintaining the many popular dishes that were so well received last year. Some of the popular dishes making a comeback this year will be Gearbox Soup – braised beef knee together with a traditional mix of spices, served with condiments such as fried shallots and fresh lime. When mentioning the hot and popular dishes from last year we must mention the Kambing Mamak, a spicy and fragrant lamb curry. This special (and secret!) recipe is one that you won’t get any other day as Executive Chef, Francis Lau has kept this dish only for the Ramadhan celebration.
If you have any room left, why not try our resident Malay Cuisine expert Chef Haniff’s signature dish ”“ Udang Galah Masak Kalio, king prawns cooked in coconut milk with chili padi (chili), lemon grass and turmeric leaves.

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Chef Haniff

Other Specialty Dishes:

Gulai Ikan Sembilang Tempoyak
Catfish braised with fermented durian paste which is then cooked using turmeric leaves and other spices. The specialty of the states of Pahang and Perak.

Tulang Rawan Masak Lemak Cili Api
Short rib braised with turmeric leaves chili and coconut milk

Other items include Mutton Varuve, Udang Galah Masak Kalio, Pucuk Paku Masak Lemak, Kum Heong Fried Squid, Daging Rendang, Kambing Kurma, Ayam Percik Sri Menanti, Minced Chicken Patties with Scallops Sambal, along with authentic Malay desserts to complete your dining experience.

This year our remarkable buffet will be extended to the poolside and Gazebo, adjacent to Kites Restaurant which will be decorated into a setting of a conventional Ramadhan feast combined with a contemporary backdrop. At Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur Glenmarie you can break your fast under the evening sky, decorated with black canopies and a myriad of food stalls. There will be areas designated for the Mughlai, the Arabic and the Chinese-Muslim cuisines alongside the lavish Malay buffet inside the Kites Restaurant.

The buffet dinner at Kites is priced at RM 94++ for adults while for children and senior citizens it is priced at RM 55++. There is a special price from 18th ”“ 24th July where the buffet dinner is priced at RM 84++ for adults and RM 45++ for children and senior citizens.

The hotel also accepts group or company bookings for ”˜Buka Puasa’. Surau facilities with an ”˜Imam’ for ”˜Sembahyang’ are available at the hotel.

Book early before 10 July for substantial discounts – terms and conditions apply.
For booking and reservations please call +603- 7802 524 (9am ”“ 5pm) and +603- 7802 5200 (after 5 pm) or email them at ramadhan@holidayinnkl.com.my

Daddykins, I Miss You Much!

Daddy was a sportsman, who put Malaysia on the world map each time he qualified for SEA Games, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games & even the Olympic Games. Upon a search in the online archives of Straits Times, I found many news articles on him in his days as a national shooter & golfer. I guess we were too young to keep newspaper cuttings then & to find this picture of him in the company of our nation’s first Prime Minister, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman & the former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, was indeed, dignifying. I met Tunku when I was a young girl while he had drinks with my dad at the RSGC. My dad was the first winner of the Putra Cup, a golf tournament in honour of Tunku as the founding father of Malaysia.

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Daddy is second from left, Tunku beside him & Lee Kuan Yew on Tunku’s left.

Daddy’s avid hunting pursuits brought home all kinds of game meat. In my lifetime, I’ve had wild boar, venison, pigeons, flying foxes & even an owl when he heard that it would cure my whooping cough. For some strange reason, it did. What I didn’t know was that he used to go hunting with the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong (The King) too. Dad, you sure shot me some royal pigeons there! How I wish you had brought me along to the hunt with you! You’re super cool, you know! Royal pigeons…….the only thing I’d come close to eating anything royal nowadays is royal jelly. I miss you dad.

In all those times you had represented the country in your pursuit of excellence, you demonstrated your sportsmanship by doing your best, staying in practice even if it meant footing everything yourself because the country didn’t have sponsorship programmes then. Following you to the gun club meant that I got to disturb the admin staff & watch them polish shotguns. And what a highlight it was when you won medals in competitions!

Well, it’s exactly 7 years since you went home to the Lord. I still remember receiving the phone call while I was having my ISO Standards meeting at SIRIM. How fast time flies. And I’m so glad you are playing golf in heaven today. I wish I could play with you one day, daddy. I’m sure I would look as good as you in golf attire too. Hey, wait…..I have your smile, daddy!!! ?

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Dad with the King! Beside the King is Dad’s cousin, Uncle Pow Thong.
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In Loving Memory of Sabrina Yeap, 1963 – 2012.

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Her grit saw her through the many dire situations that Sabrina Yeap encountered in her lifetime. The lives of those furry friends she found on the street, rescued from chains or cages in abandonment, in the drains & ditches and even in mangrove swamps. Sabrina Yeap always had room for one more dog in her farm no matter what her detractors say. And her detractors are simply just that. Sabrina was born, her parents died & her relatives took everything then dumped her at an orphanage. She knew too well what it’s like being abandoned. She never had a normal childhood, yet the love for dogs emanated from within the tiny frame that held her gentle soul, kept her close with the animals that she devoted her life to raising, caring & protecting. She spent 15 years working in SPCA as an Animal Inspector, then under the leadership of (Max) Ian Wheatley who founded the society in 1958. I met her a few years before Mr. Wheatley died when I volunteered at the society. 

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Holding Cleo, one of the rescued dogs of Pulau Selat Kering.

Sabrina investigated every case of cruelty reported & she worked together with the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) to prosecute perpetrators in court right up to 2005. In that time I’ve known her, she always had the welfare of the animals first. She would climb out of the trucks with dogs trapped & the look of triumph on her face told me that she had rescued another cruelty case. My task was merely to feed the difficult dogs their medication but seeing her return with a casualty was like watching CSI solve a case.

Our ties formed when I began travelling, and very often I had to leave my dog with her in her house where she boarded pets as a side income to supplement her low income from the shelter. She did odd jobs like bathing dogs kept by the affluent for RM10 each, which some might think is a lowly job when in fact, she had enjoyed every minute of the bonding sessions with them. She got closer to the animals that she was entrusted with, and very soon, my dog too, started to listen to her command.
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In safe hands!

She had always spent her money on the dogs’ welfare & never for herself. The money belt grew tighter after she left SPCA & eventually started her own no-kill policy shelter with 10 dogs in 2006,  giving tuition classes to earn a living. With a meagre income, she started an adoption programme where people could sponsor a dog for life at RM30 per month. She rented an area to keep these dogs, driving to & fro Kundang to prepare food for them & feed them. When more people got to know her plight upon recognising her exemplary work in SPCA, they begin to give her a helping hand. She built Furry Friends Farm to what it is today with sheer dedication, hard work & determination to give dogs (and cats, goats, rabbits) a sanctuary for their dog days. She gave talks in international schools on responsible dog ownership & had awareness campaigns in exhibitions & expos in the Klang Valley. She ate very little & made sure her furkids ate a lot. By the time she rescued & helped 100 dogs, she knew she had the capacity to take in more. The dogs were jolly, charming every visitor & hounding those who had treats in the pocket as soon as they stepped through the gate. She knew each dog by name & they knew her by her voice. The dogs would be scampering home if they had escaped through cracks in the fencing, much like a kid caught for staying out too long. She could even tell me all their traits as I sit down in the centre of all her most laid-back snoozers. Dr. Jill Robinson of Animals Asia Foundation, appointed Sabrina to be the executor of the Dr. Dog Programme in 2007 & have since raised eight Dr. Dog Ambassadors.

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Picking up Hope at the vet one morning in Kepong.

Sabrina had a quiet demeanour but with a kind of assertiveness that made her the matriarch of the troop, subduing even the most aggressive of males in the pack. She would get herself dirty to rescue a stranded pup & risk her life to reach out to an injured dog. She ferried each dog to the vet & would collect the ones which were already treated, in her little Kancil. Her relentless effort for animal welfare made her a champion for the causes she stood up for, including the Pulau Ketam dog dumping incident in 2009 that garnered international attention.(More on that rescue in the RESCUE category). In that mission, 29 stray dogs were rescued, now living in the farm. Its no wonder those who know her would feel protective of her. She had many friends, some stayed away from the overzealous & territorial volunteers she seemed to attract & helped in a distance. Having spent years communicating with her, we know what she held close to her heart & what she wanted most for the animals. We have lost a selfless saint of neglected dogs & cats on 17 July 2012. May she be reunited with the lives of her furry friends who had gone on before her to the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.

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Sabrina kissing Jerry, the snoozer, at FFF.

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At the kelong near Pulau Selat Kering, Klang

Furry Friends Farm will be managed by her current pool of volunteers & if you would like to pay your last respects, the wake is at Nirvana Memorial Centre, No. 1, Jalan 1/116A off Jalan Sg. Besi, KL. Funeral Parlor No.13 (Rose). Funeral Service:- Friday, 20 July, 10am Shah Alam Crematorium (Nirvana)

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Group photo of the rescuers.

Planning Your Roadtrip with Roadtrip-a-Matic!

This post brought to you by PA Tourism. All opinions are 100% mine.

 

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Have you ever had a trip planned for you with sights & attractions that you want to see with culinary delights that you want to sink your teeth in, experiences that leave you inspired & places that scream to be explored? Roadtrip-a-Matic is a collection of well-planned itineraries in ready-to-ride roadtrips for visitors to Pennsylvania looking for outdoor experiences, small town charm, historic landmarks & learning about wineries on wine trails to distinguish the crisp-balanced whites from the full-bodied reds, shopping sprees, trailblazing in the wilderness & just about anything that sets you on a wanderlust is found here. 

I was instantly captivated by Pennsylvania’s Civil War Trails and Beyond. In wanting to be taken back to 1863 to understand the country’s greatest struggles that took place then, through towns, farms & fields that witnessed war first hand, I want to reenact what it was like when places like Wrightsville and Columbia gave all they had to keep the Confederate forces from crossing the river or at Hanover, where the streets were filled with battle and citizens saved the lives of others regardless of a uniform's colour. I would dress in the fashion of that era & make my commentaries in a video that would re-live the war that we are fortunate to have missed. I want to understand & document a piece of history that would forever etch in my chapter of things I must do while I’m alive. I would befriend someone who lives in the area & share that journey with him/her. Chien, my late best friend & travel partner told me that the best trips are those that you take with your GPS turned-off. And only now I do agree with him. With roadside markers, all I need to do is follow instructions to find the next stop. With the help of "Story Stops" and "Gateway Signs," I want to experience the Civil War through the eyes of sons and daughters who lived through it, set against the backdrop of Pennsylvania's picturesque Dutch Country Roads. 

This is one of pa-roadtrips that will take me to the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, the only museum in the country that lays out the entire-and unbiased-story of the Civil War amidst sweeping scenic views of the Susquehanna River valley.  After which, wandering through The Broad Street Market, founded in 1860, would give me the opportunity to chat with market vendors & have a cup of tea with the folks whom I will coax to share a piece of their history with me. I would ask them for to autograph on my travel logbook & have a picture taken with them to commemorate my trip with faces that emboss an eventful past in Pennsylvania. The historic A.M.E. Zion Church being one of the Underground Railroad stops, I want to stroll through Carlisle’s history of battle & skirmishes before heading to Chambersburg Heritage Centre to start my tour downtown. 

I could literally be in the same secret hotspot room of abolitionists in history! Going to jail may not be so bad considering the oldest jail in Pennsylvania was built in 1818, now a museum & genealogical library. The 4 day trip would be full of relics waiting to be discovered & all these are made possible with Roadtrip-a-Matic’s roadtrips. It tells me where to eat & where to spend my nights. It would be so awesome to wake up in a different place each day. 

If you haven’t planned or do not know where you should head to on your next vacation, check out this site, go to Pennsylvania & share with me what trip you want to go on! All you need to do is pack!

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