Archive for the Category » Issues «

Gone Bananas

wpid-2012-09-22-11.30.14.png-2012-09-22-11-34.jpg

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.

wpid-06141012-2012-08-3-08-581.jpg

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.

wpid-06141016-2012-08-3-08-58.jpg

wpid-ChefEbrahimMohdfromSyriaspealizesinArabicCuisine1-2012-08-3-08-58.jpg
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.

wpid-06141014-2012-08-3-08-58.jpg

wpid-06141013-2012-08-3-08-58.jpg

wpid-06141025-2012-08-3-08-58.jpg

wpid-06141027-2012-08-3-08-58.jpg

wpid-06141032-2012-08-3-08-58.jpg

wpid-ChefSantoshChaniyalfromIndia-2012-08-3-08-58.jpg
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.

wpid-06141031-2012-08-3-08-58.jpg

wpid-1__@__06141032-2012-08-3-08-58.jpg

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.

wpid-MalayfoodexpertfromHIKLG-ChefHaniff-2012-08-3-08-58.jpg
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.

wpid-TunkuAbdulRahmanDAD-2012-07-29-15-22-2012-07-29-15-22.jpg
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!!! ?

wpid-KingNDad-2012-07-29-15-22-2012-07-29-15-22.jpg
Dad with the King! Beside the King is Dad’s cousin, Uncle Pow Thong.
wpid-Screenshot2011-12-29at20.11.42-2012-07-29-15-224-2012-07-29-15-22.png

wpid-78d8791b-3cc6-4c00-872a-9d2f77fd2348-2012-07-29-15-224-2012-07-29-15-22.png
wpid-87b9141f-f264-4f2e-b970-ba0860ff9a36-2012-07-29-15-223-2012-07-29-15-22.pngwpid-cedd88a2-03b2-47b7-8966-51ed47ae96cf-2012-07-29-15-222-2012-07-29-15-22.png

wpid-e3869ed3-dea5-4a6a-abdc-57c42cc1c792-2012-07-29-15-222-2012-07-29-15-22.pngwpid-Screenshot2011-12-24at21.33.37-2012-07-29-15-222-2012-07-29-15-22.png

wpid-Screenshot2011-12-31at08.05.33-2012-07-29-15-222-2012-07-29-15-22.png

wpid-51cc1344-bc6f-4a25-b18f-0f826342fa92-2012-07-29-15-222-2012-07-29-15-22.png

wpid-f7d58c42-a350-4523-b331-2a302d4e5512-2012-07-29-15-222-2012-07-29-15-22.png

Doggone Good in CAT

wpid-20120723_153437-2012-07-28-21-491.jpg

The Canine Advisory Team (CAT) meeting started with a minute of silence in honour of our departed friend, Sabrina Yeap, who had demonstrated love & compassion towards abandoned & unwanted dogs & cats in her 22 years of service in animal welfare organisations. The team is chaired by Anthony Thanasayan, the councillor in MBPJ who champions causes for the disabled community as well as founding an animal welfare group to train dogs for animal-assisted therapy for the Disabled and Elderly Association.

32 members of the team were invited to attend the meeting from all over Selangor on Monday 23 July, at 2:30pm, comprising of councillors from various municipalities, DVS (Department of Veterinary Services) and non-governmental organisations such as SPCA, MIAR (Malaysian Independent Animal Rescue), MKA, MSAVA (Malaysian Small Animals Veterinary Association) & Pet Positive. The chairperson set the tone for the session that followed by giving every party an opportunity to air their views including objections.

We addressed issues of gazetting dog parks in existing parks to enable dog owners to have recreation time with their beloved animals. Noting that almost all public parks are off-limits to dogs, the team endeavoured to look into the sensitivities of other cultures such as the majority of Muslims in the country who are averse to dogs & how best to educate the public in responsibly managing their pets when outdoors. Dr. Fazillah of DVS was very supportive of the proposed plan & even noted that she grew up with 8 dogs when her father was managing an estate then. She is now a veterinarian & she’s a Muslim. Her input has enlightened many who were present at the meeting & everything had to start with awareness & education.

Another effort the team is looking into is the setting up of spay clinics with subsidised rates for spaying/neutering of strays brought in by the public. We even discussed the possibilities of involving the public in adopting strays in their community, a classification of stray dogs that Dr. Fazillah calls, ”˜community dogs.’ Being all for the idea of ”˜catch, neuter & release,’ the team was made to understand that when dogs are removed from a place, other strays dogs will come in to occupy the void. Better to have dogs you know & are familiar with than dogs you don’t know/are not familiar with. The purpose is to help curb the stray population & prevent unnecessary proliferation of strays.

The team also addressed campaigns to promote responsible ownership of dogs & recognising independent rescuers from the public to work with. The meeting gained momentum when all NGO’s gave their views in support of ideas proposed. We came away knowing what we can look forward to achieving.

I am optimistic that we will finally get somewhere with Anthony being at the helm as soon as he was reinstated after an irrational, multiple personalities newswoman abused her position to campaign for his removal from the council. To think that this monumental effort of CAT that started in 2008 by Anthony himself was suspended, halted & possibly ended just so that one person gets her revenge is absolutely unthinkable. God has restored his authority & I hope he gets vindicated too. By the way, Anthony is a disabled person & his optimism & focus is not on himself but on how he can be of assistance to those who need it.

Unfortunately in this country, in the world of dogs & their fanatical lovers, there is no reasoning, rationale, logic nor sensibility when they resort to hounding & harassment of individuals who are opposed to certain practices or those who have the discernment & knowledge to unearth their dirty tactics of appealing to public’s sympathies in their endeavour to get funding. In their desperation to defend their territories like dogs who pee to mark their boundaries, they will go on a rampage like rabid dogs to discredit & disparage anyone who exposes them. There is no vaccine for people with behavioural issues & they can only go as far as their bark. I certainly hope they seek professional help before they spread their contagious convulsions to their ignorant pack of sidekicks.

wpid-20120604_153024-2012-07-28-21-491.jpg
Swearing-In ceremony with Menteri Besar

wpid-20120604_154023-2012-07-28-21-491.jpg
Anthony taking a snapshot with me.

In Loving Memory of Sabrina Yeap, 1963 – 2012.

wpid-Sabrina-2012-07-17-21-48.jpeg

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. 

wpid-SabrinaCleoDog-2012-07-17-21-48.gif
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.
wpid-P1020435-2012-07-17-21-48.jpg
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.

wpid-IMG_1855-1-2012-07-17-21-48.jpg
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.

wpid-P1020633-2012-07-17-21-48.jpg
Sabrina kissing Jerry, the snoozer, at FFF.

wpid-P1020337-2012-07-17-21-48.jpg
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)

wpid-FFFGroupPix-2012-07-17-21-48.jpg
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.

 

visitPA-Roadtrip_box_720px.jpg

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!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Wonder Device To Restore Women’s Confidence

image

If the sexuality of a woman depends upon her ability to satisfy her man, would she feel inadequate if she can’t? There could be a number of reasons why a woman is subjected to such feelings & one of them is purely medical. Let me share what I’ve learnt in the launch of a very cute & sexy medical device designed to restore a woman’s ability to maintain her grip on her man.

image

Puan Suhaila - physiotherapist

When the good people at BioInfinity asked me if I have heard of Kegel’s exercises & would like to know more about a revolutionary device to help women, I said yes. At the launch, Puan Suhaila, the physiotherapist from HUKM, gave a tremendous insight to what women suffer from when they begin to age, after childbirth or when their pelvic floor muscles are weakened leading to incontinence problems. Pelvic floor muscles? Well, it’s not muscles you can workout in the gym, I assure you but it’s the part of the woman’s anatomy that holds her pee inside & prevents her from leaking. That will happen if your pelvic floor muscles are weakened or injured from childbirth, surgery or if you lack targeted exercise. We will get to what targeted exercise is about later.

image

Bloggers & press people

Many women prior to being Puan Suhaila’s patients, couldn’t understand how to exercise that part of the anatomy, being hidden & obscured from their vision and so her instructions had to take them through on a journey of self-discovery & practice. That’s when the workshop became hilarious with Puan Suhaila’s descriptive & suggestive gestures! Soon, the floor (not the pelvic) began to open up with questions, a few being quite bizarre. We were, after all, in a room filled with ladies only, making it perfect to ask everything under the sun and about areas where the sun don’t shine. We were shown pictures of how a woman’s uterus can fall out of place (and into the open) when the pelvic floor muscles weaken. This is definitely not sexy. I can’t imagine anyone telling their spouse, “Honey, can you go down on my uterus?” during foreplay. Some things are just not on when out.

image

So when the room is full of 20 somethings & 30 somethings, unmarried & married women, it becomes a place of free expression. When we were taken to the gym to work out our pelvic floor with exercises that required us to gyrate, we made heads turn, although it’s ultimately what some women want to do in the bedroom after these exercises! After going through some hip-tossing movements & back-arching workouts, I definitely want to know if my muscles will keep my organs from falling out, not that anything is out of order but from the medical perspective, it is a very good idea for a self-assessment.

image

We each took home the Vibrance Kegel Device to test & give a full review on what the device does for a woman’s esteem besides the main purpose that it was designed for. Wait for my review on how it functions after I lay my hands on this little wonder of a medical device in a week’s time! Watch this space!

image

My Hero!

Armed with my GPS & other gadgets, I was out recce-ing in Rawang for the next heritage trail event & decided to drop into Furry Friends Farm to say hello to Sabrina & my furkids rescued in 2009.

Kuning, the chief rescuer who together with Hitam (departed), assisted us to successfully catch 29 dogs in Pulau Selat Kering. (Go to my Rescue category to read about it.) He has just been appointed as the 6th Dr. Dog Ambassador in Malaysia, a programme by Animal Asia Foundation’s CEO & Founder, Jill Robinson. Yay, Kuning!!!

Sabrina is the magnanimous lady who is taking care of these furkids & I am forever grateful for the work that she has done in FFF. Please support her in keeping this sanctuary!!!

image

Partner in rescue!

Thanks to Adrian who took the photo on his iPhone! I had my pockets raided & my bag ransacked by the curious mutts and had to hide them from being hijacked. Kuning gave me lotsa hugs!!! 😀

My Mom Has Finished Her Journey

wpid-SAM7458-2012-03-8-00-05.jpg

My mom, Mary Then, has been called home to the Lord on 22 February 2012. She suffered her third stroke in August 2011, the same time when I was attending Chien’s funeral in Penang. It had been downhill all the way & as we prepared ourselves, I prayed & released her. I know she will be better off where she is now, having reunited with dad in heaven. I haven’t been able to focus my thoughts to write what I feel, just as I thought I had overcome the sadness of my best friend’s passing, I have to deal with another. At least I know her pain & suffering from being semi-paralysed is now over.

My optimism belongs to God. He’s there when reality hits me later. That morning, God sent me 9 migratory eagles thermalling in the sky just outside my apartment. He said, “Just as they are on their journey home, so is your mom!” I was comforted in that knowledge & proceeded to arrange for the undertaker.

We had the wake on the same day & the funeral the next. It was a simple service. Thank you for turning up to support us in our grieving.

Thank you, mommy, for living this life for us. We will see you again.

wpid-SAM7461-2012-03-8-00-05.jpg
I had the honour of having Nigel play the keyboards for the wake service. Thank you, Nigel!

wpid-SAM7547-2012-03-8-00-05.jpg
Flowers for my mom

wpid-Funeral-2012-03-8-00-05.gif
The journey for mom & us.

wpid-Crematorium-2012-03-8-00-05.gif
Our last goodbyes before she enters the furnace. It’s hot, mommy but you’re not there anymore! You’re with Jesus!

wpid-SAM7459-2012-03-8-00-05.jpg
And she shall return to our Father in heaven!

What The Last Six Months Had Been

Catching up with my thoughts is a rarity nowadays with the numerous events & assignments I have undertaken to bring the stories to you. Life seem to have gone on a fast forward mode with pauses in between for the things that matter in my life albeit brief ones. I was mourning the loss of my best friend, Choo Tse Chien, the person I have considered as family, since his sudden demise in August 2011. At that time, I had work assignments that required my composure & sense, keeping it all in to project the fragile front that managed to trick a few who did not know me well. I lost a travel partner, a guide, a teacher, a source of inspiration & excitement. I lost my panic button of sorts, a shoulder whose never tired of my outpouring of emotions . Immersing myself with work, I could only think of how my life would be without a reference, a valuable opinion or a confidante. Just how God can take him away at the prime of his life, I don’t want to know. I only know how much I miss him, his nagging & his kiddie-ish sparkle in the little secrets that he shared with me. I am thankful to have been his best friend for the last 6 years of his life & to have known how precious his friendship was to me. The whole of Penang rings of his name & presence at the mere mention & as I drove up to bid him farewell then, I knew Penang would never be the same again.

Everything that I know about birds, Chien had taught me. Every gear that I needed to get, he had done the research for me to make sure I didn’t make any wrong purchases. I made it this far since we started birding in 2006 is because of his infectious influence in my life. He made me enjoy birding so much. When I was on the phone with him one morning after walking the dog, I had seen a very curious blue/green bird with no tail. I described the bird to him & he told me to get my gear back to that spot I had been to shoot the ever elusive Hooded Pitta! And I did. He made everything so simple & attainable. And he worked hard for everything he had acquired, choosing to buy me stuff because I was the female version of him who loved bags. He added to my collection of bags when he himself couldn’t resist getting them. He made decisions when we travelled & it was simple because I didn’t want to think. I can go on & on but I want to tell you that even as I miss him dearly, I have chosen to let my memories stay within the hundreds of letters we have written to each other through email. We even fight through email. Being the big man that he is, he is very quick to make amends & apologise even though it’s my fault. Gosh, I don’t want to cry anymore & I’m sure you would want to read about the happy things happening right now instead.

So I will leave you with this, as personal as I could ever get, I am sad I have lost my best friend but I am glad to know that he loved me even as he had to deal with the biggest brat ever in the last 6 years of his life. I will endeavour to keep this passion for birding that you have instilled in me, for the underwater photography that you have been so supportive of & the cycling that you inspired me to take on. Sorry for all the times I’ve defied you as you have always been right. I just wanted to be a brat. Babes, if I’m not a brat to you, who else can I be a brat to???

wpid-ChooTseChien-2012-02-16-22-16.jpg
In loving memory of Chien.

Happy Thoughts, Happy Trails & Happy Fins!

wpid-Beach1-2011-05-21-15-47.jpg

Staring at my screen, my mind flows to the instances when & where I had been the happiest. My dad instituted in me when I was growing up, that it’s not how much I can make but what I do to get there that would make me rich. It’s not about being with the people who can help me achieve my goals but about making the goals to help the people around me so they won’t falter. He wanted me to go places, to see things, something I couldn’t really fathom at the age of 13, but his words echoed in my mind. I had 4 dogs, 17 cats & 2 turtles which I could never take with me & the thought of going anywhere without them wasn’t appealing at all. I was filled with thoughts of how to save the world – the world being the stray dogs & cats in Malaysia because every time when it stormed, the thought of a stray dog/cat being drenched & suffering in the cold, etched a despairing imagery that made my heart drop. Indeed, my first ambition had been to be a vet & save ”˜my world.’

As if animals had the seventh sense, (detection of impure intentions), my first dog, Mickey, was adverse towards my mother, a Hakka who USED to eat dogs. It’s repulsive to think my mom ate my best friends’ kind but in her days, it’s either dog meat or die of starvation. Well, the feud began as Mickey would wait for the time when my mom would hang her laundry (dad, sis & hers included) & when it was all done, would leap up the lines to pull them all off!!! LOL!!! He even knew which items belonged to her & would shred her clothes to bits!! ( I really shouldn’t laugh but it was such a funny sight to see her going after him with my dad & I running to the rescue! Rescue the dog, I mean…..) When my nanny does our laundry, Mickey would sleep underneath the clothes line to chase away the landing crows. Call this loyalty but it went on for years! I’m surprised she didn’t eat him up. Ppffffttttt! 😀

wpid-PC302818-2011-05-21-15-47.jpg

I went to school daily with several paw prints on my pinafore, drawing curiosity from teachers till they accepted the fact that I had very enthusiastic dogs that bade me farewell in the mornings. We went straight home after school, had lunch & short nap before we went to the golf club for our extra-curricular activities. On weekends, my sister & I would follow dad to the shooting range for his practices. We got acquainted with everyone at the club until I picked up air pistol shooting myself. I didn’t go as far as to represent the country like my dad did in the Asian Games, Commonwealth & SEA Games, but I got an idea how passionate dad was about his practices long after he retired from the sport. Then my thoughts went further back as a child when dad would bring us to the beach in Port Dickson. During low tide, there were lots of soldier crabs which I half expected to leap out of their burrows & nip me. Refusing to walk, I clung onto my dad’s legs for dear life…….with a reassuring voice, he said, “Darling, daddy will hold your hands & you can put your feet on mine. We will walk to the water together ok? The crabs won’t bite daddy’s feet!” That sounded just fine. I could do with that. So we set out with me standing on my dad’s feet, being held up by his hands & we took giant strides to escape the battlefield of claws & clippers….

wpid-PC302761-2011-05-21-15-47.jpg

Mom would disappear into the horizon the moment she enters the water. Used to freak dad out. Dad was the stronger swimmer but mom loved the sea & had no fear. Isn’t it apparent where I got this ocean-streak from??? Mom’s fearless attitude & dad’s wisdom had kept me astute in all other sense & I thank God for their dedication in my life. The last I heard, dad is happily playing golf in heaven. Mom will soon join him there. She can still recognise me but she’s no longer able to talk nor respond to what I say to her. ? – I am thankful that she is in Christ & my assurance is in the promises of God, in the Word that has been established since the beginning of time. I know she will be in a happier place after suffering from stroke twice.

I sail across the reef & look at the colonies that God had designed. It’s so awesome that He pieced them together to build a reef occupied by so many inhabitants. Even my camera cannot capture the marvels of His thoughts & all I can do is show you a glimpse of my world & what goes through my mind when I dive.

wpid-Corals-2011-05-21-15-47.jpg

It’s been awhile since I wrote any heartfelt pieces. I was too busy getting in & out of aeroplanes, stopping to pick flowers but not to smell them, I’ve witnessed but not engaged & I have disassociated from caustic people who tried to rob me of my joy. I have made peace with God to not fret with people who discount me from their lives in their moment of weakness & after trying to make peace with them unsuccessfully, it’s time to move on. The burden is not mine to bear. God fills every need I have & I can’t ask for more. I hope they too, would forgive me for my silence in letting go.

I want to make every second count. I will take more pictures & fill you in on what goes on in my life, if you care to come back here. All these engagements to write for my sponsors are indeed, my own opinion & I will not endorse anything contrary to my beliefs. I have started my new appointment with another travel agency & this new covenant will be for His Kingdom. There will be events & exciting happenings as we roll out our offers soon. Hope you are able to join me in my adventures to make these stories come to life!

How to Get Paid As A Writer – Start By Blogging Properly

wpid-wpid-Screenshot2011-05-09at14.45.40-2011-04-18-02-22-2011-04-18-02-221.jpg

It won’t make you rich but it would enrich you to create masterpieces that editors will call you when they know you have what they want – articles that would astound your readers, selling the magazines & making their advertisers happy. So have you got what it takes to become a writer? Here are tips to make you one even if you don’t think you are cut out for it:-

  • You are deemed a writer the moment you document your thoughts in a readable manner but what sets you apart as a good writer is how well you engage your readers, making up what I call ”˜your audience,’ to keep them glued to read what you have to say. Capturing their attention means you have gotten their interest & you have only so much time to keep them attentive. Once you understand the basic principles of engagement, you are on your way to becoming a better writer & get paid for it.
  • Make blogging your tool. This is what I would encourage you to do to hone your skills if you are a budding journalist or a poetic-scribbles aspirant. A full-fledged writer is one who can sell the art of literary creation to media, publications or portals.

Be an author of your subject.
If you want your blog to count for anything, then be an author of your chosen subject. This subject matter does not cover politics so if your niche is in spinning propaganda, the information detailed below does not apply to you because you are probably paid as a ghostwriter for spinning already. Get your friends who aspires to get published, to read this article.

What is writing?
Writing is not scribbles on paper or random thoughts on your word processor. It is a process of fact-finding, collating, research, documenting & deciphering the information at hand to create your own expression of that work. Sure, it’s not easy but it should not be difficult if you have passion for the subject. Blogging is a good way to stay in practice. It’s also a showcase of your work & personality. It’s an extension of your opinion on the world wide web. It’s to let your audience understand what you represent, who you are & what you stand for. What you put in your blog will determine the impression people will form about you, be it good or bad. The instance they do, you would be branded immediately so be aware of what you put on your blog so that it wouldn’t create the wrong impression if you seriously want to be considered as a writer. When you write for a publication, you represent the image of that company or establishment. To be held in high regard, your work has got to reflect that you are worthy of carrying that regard too. Companies wouldn’t pay you to represent them if you possess a blog that spews out profane references to anatomical parts of anyone’s mother or make any carnal suggestions to send someone somewhere. You are what you create & you can only spew out what you are full of.

Developing character, not ABCs….
Do you have enough respect for yourself to remain honourable & presentable as a creator of your literature? A good tree produces good fruits but a bad tree can’t. Neither can a good tree produce bad fruits. In my experience of being a writer & eventually an editor & publisher, I find the most desirable trait of a writer is his/her passion. Other than that, the most important aspect a writer should develop is themselves. What can you write when all you do in real life is maliciously slander, curse, criticise & judge others? The true nature of a person is found in the mental & moral qualities that they exude. Everything else is secondary because writing communicates your thoughts & even emotions to your readers if you care to be creatively expressive enough. If you haven’t learnt qualities of others in articles & findings that you read, then you should really be questioning yourself if you have anything that others would like to read about your work. There are writers, however, who thrive on writing criticisms & cynicisms but if you want to paid as a serious writer in publications, forget about these exceptions because they are not the rule.

How to write?
Since I’ve substituted the pen with the computer, I can hardly write singlehandedly with it. I use a magnificent journalling application called MacJournal. For today only, you get a 50% discount if you click on the banner on the right to purchase it at US$19.99. I got mine when it was US$39.99. Plan your article. Write your ideas down. Collate information. Build your plot. Stick to facts & accurate information. Accredit the right people with correct spelling of their names. Read & re-read your article many times & make sure it makes sense to you. Learn to edit yourself. Editors are anal. It takes one to know one. If you have to read tons of manuscripts each day & you catch grammatical mistakes in 9 out of 10 of them, you would be anal too!

The body of your article would have to be the meat that your audience have to chew on. How tasty it is in their mouths would depend on how creatively you put it. The stroke of the pen (keyboard, in my case) should wave electrical synapses to zap them with emotions & give them a reaction that you want. Otherwise, why would you spend your time writing if you are not going to have fun with them???

Develop Your Own Style
Your flair would come as you put your thoughts down naturally. This is why blogging will help you set the stage for it. How you express yourself, describe situations & define your characters will be indicative of the kind of writing that you have passion for. Be creative with words. I coin terms off the cuff to describe things not-yet-found in the dictionary, which I term, Pummkinology. My aim is to wowify (pummkinology) my audience with humour as I lead them through a voyage as if they were living it themselves. Develop substance. Keep your audience entertained. Even dumb blondes have an interesting perspective of life worthy to be told in their blogs.

Connect with your readers. Write as if you are writing to ONE person, irregardless of how many are reading it at the same time. Am I addressing you as a crowd? Or do I speak to you as if you are the only one here? You lose connection the moment you start your article/blog with ”˜Hi Everybody!” unless you are writing an email addressed to several people at once.

How to get published.
There’s nothing wrong with blogging as long as you keep your profession separate. Blogging tends to be informal & lighthearted, sort of like an insight to one’s life & thoughts through personal logs. To a writer, blogging cripples the use of Queen’s English, unless you choose to use it all the time, which means, strict adherence to proper grammar, punctuation, spelling & define all colloquial & slang. You would want your article to be understood across genres, generations & cultures of an English-speaking audience not just a select few. Notice I seldom write informally because I have audience from the world over stopping by to see what I’m up to & what marine creatures I’ve managed to haul up in my camera. Be remembered for something in your life.

Send your articles with a caveat to editors. Include pictures. There are dozens of writers who produce articles but what would make yours standout would be what I had described in paragraph one. The attention-grabber. And lots of pretty pictures. You skip that & you would have lost your pitch.

Mainstream media have editors who are twice your age, have worked through thousands of articles in their decades of experience & will not tolerate improper usage of the language. If you don’t capture their attention in the first 30 seconds, you are as good as gone. What is mainstream media? Not just the daily newspapers but the magazines that have been around from your mother’s time. These are success stories in the publishing world so if you want to carve a niche in any area, start with writing what your audience want to read about & get to know your editor’s style. I have several editors who would call on me (whatever time of day & night) whenever they need a story on a given area of my expertise. Develop that relationship. It helps you get ahead as a freelancer later.

Identify & Select Your Publications

  • Determine the type of publication – cars, fashion, business trends, travel, men’s, women’s, lifestyle, entertainment, luxury etc.
  • Read through them before you decide on which one you want your articles to be published in. If it’s a magazine with lousy English, your association with them will bring you ill repute too.
  • Understanding your audience – look through the publication & identify the style & theme. Gauge your audience’s genre. Identify with their needs. Connect.
  • Plan your pitch.
  • Write to the editor & send teaser shots of the subject you would like to submit. When they reply, send your pitch & then follow up.

Points to keep in mind

Editors may or may not read your email. I received an average of 100 emails per day, half of those I needed to reply immediately, with manuscripts, plans & projects under my nose to read, edit & send back for rewrites, just to give you an idea of what goes on in a publication. There’s no guarantee what you had sent will be accepted so be prepared to send to other publications too.

There are copyright issues to note & what you submit may not entitle you to publish in other publications or media. That’s why a blog is important to establish yourself & to document the work that you do.

The rewards are not measured by how much or how little you make as a writer but by how others see your work in print & recognise you for it. No matter what you write, as long as you stick to the principles of staying noble & true, you will impact lives.

Footnote:- I am in the midst of pitching my travels to magazines & writing advertorials for my sponsors, which is great & this article breaks my monotony of writing on the same subject. It’s my way of staying relevant in the business. Next in the pipeline, is how to overcome writer’s block.

Tribute to Maxine

Maxine, I will not forget your cheerful laughter & all the things you have done to make me laugh. I’m sorry I couldn’t return in time to bid you farewell nor to support your grieving family mourning for the loss of their loved one. I hope the angels have taken over where we have left off & I ask God to be your source of happiness in heaven now. I miss you & will forever cherish all the times we had together.

wpid-MaxineDive-2011-03-31-10-21.jpg

wpid-MaxineDinner-2011-03-31-10-21.jpg

wpid-MaxineFun-2011-03-31-10-21.jpg

Bon voyage, my dear friend!

Tabasco-ing Shells & Such!

This post brought to you by TABASCO® Original Red. All opinions are 100% mine.

Dinner courtesy of Tourism Malaysia, New York in Orlando, Florida.
Dinner courtesy of Tourism Malaysia, New York.

Alighting your tastebuds only needs a dash from the little bottle that we are so accustomed to – TABASCO® Original Red. It adds zing & spice to succulent, raw oysters when added with a squeeze of zesty lemon especially when served with a platter of prawns & lobsters! It somehow brings out the flavour of the shellfish. Having a bottle with me when I travel is handy to spice up food from different cultures!

When I was in Bangkok, the oysters served were in a bed of salad, sweet basit & vermicelli. I added  TABASCO® Original Red sauce to spice things further as I like my oysters that way! In Hanoi, the street fare is usually exotic & consists of different kinds of shellfish from Tiger Prawns to clams & various other edible gastropods. Lime can also be a substitute for lemon & what I do is, combine crushed garlic, shallots, lime, bird-eye chilli, TABASCO® Original Red sauce & some sugar to make a condiment for my mollusks! Tastes absolutely fantastic!

Woman preparing shellfish & grilling over fire in the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam.
Woman preparing shellfish & grilling over fire in the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam.

Select your own from the various kinds of mollusks offered in the streets of Hanoi, get it weighed & cooked on the spot!

Conch shells or better known as Gong-Gong Shells in Tawau, Sabah.

In Sabah, a different kind of shellfish is served at seafood restaurants. Like how I have other shellfish, I get the restaurant to make the same condiment with TABASCO® Original Red sauce but with ginger & honey added for extra zing!

Super Bowl is right around the corner & pizza would be the order of the day, whether delivered or frozen, as you are glued to your TV to root for your favourite team. Here’s how you can have Pizza Perfected recipes & ideas with TABASCO® Original Red sauce to make your own toppings or dips!

Check out the Game-Day Party Menu page for some simple ideas & recipes for food everyone loves!

TABASCO® Original Red was the first sauce introduced by the McIlhenny family back in 1868 and continues to be their most popular sauce of 6 total sauces. Tabasco is not about heat for heat’s sake. It’s about what heat does to the flavour of food. The simple combination of salt, red pepper, and vinegar are perfected in a 3-year aging process that produces a hot sauce with the uncanny ability to bring the most out of your food. Other hot sauces add their own specific flavour to food. TABASCO® Original Red simply enhances the flavor of food.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Category: Personal  9 Comments

Anticipating Adventure

wpid-Marine-2011-01-12-16-074.jpg

The New Year began with a new model for business & as I cover more destinations for magazines, resorts & travel agents who engage my services to explore uncharted territories. It has been a great year with 2010, ending 2009 with a trip to Orlando, meeting Tourism Malaysia, New York office & having dinner with the Malaysian delegates, Disneyworld & starting the following year with Koh Lipe & ending it with a journey up to see Moses burning bush in Mount Sinai with a dip in the Red Sea. I’d been organising numerous events which somehow were food-oriented whatever the theme or wherever the destination may be. I believe we Malaysians are born to live to eat. My foreign counterparts can hardly fathom that I eat 6 times a day (if I can). The night of chivalry at The Terrace was memorable. And so was the moment when I went on stage to receive my recognition certificate from the Deputy Minister for my contribution to the Malaysia in 24Hrs – Underwater Sceneries at the National Art Gallery. I started contributing to Asian Diver magazine too & some of the things the editor assigns us to write about are amazing.

In between earthquakes, I was in Padang, West Sumatera to map out gastronomical delights, Japanese war tunnels & dive sites to bring new places to the people I serve. I still feel the same way about detailing about my work here but I’m sure you must’ve noticed an increase in sponsored reviews lately. I’ve gone from one end of Indonesia to the other when I accepted a quick assignment from Travel360 inflight magazine to cover South Sulawesi. I was challenged to endure the bursting, fiery flavours of Makassarese culinary delights & to immerse into as much culture as I could while I’m there. An unplugged version of experience can be found here.

Both my blogs, Pummkin’s Pitch & Amazing Journey, are getting recognised as niche blogs, a specialty & expertise that I offer from the perspective of a professional diver/photographer, editor & a frequent traveller. I am still the same person as when I detailed about how I felt towards being commissioned to far-off places here. That part didn’t change. What did was my outlook on things that I would use to make my travels better. I will be highlighting specific products & services that I come across as indispensable items for travel & stuff that would greatly benefit you & address your challenges as it did mine! This means products would be selected & accepted for review only if it serves me well. Having worn out pants, tools, bags etc., it pays to know what you should pay good money for. Click Here to Advertise on My Blog.

It’s January, the first month of a new decade & I’m excited already! Remember to bookmark/RSS/Atom both my blogs to never miss an adventure!

28F66UGF67JR