Sunday, 31 August 2008

Marhaban Ya Ramadhan

"Wahai orang-orang yang beriman, telah wajib ke atas kamu berpuasa sebagaimana telah diwajibkan ke atas umat-umat yang sebelum kamu, semuga kamu menjadi orang yang bertakwa."
Surah Al Baqarah, ayat 183

Ditegaskan oleh Rasulullah SAW melalui sabdanya yang diriwayatkan oleh Ahmad, An- Nasa'i dan Al Baihaqi dari Abu Hurairah, yang bermaksud:

"Sesungguhnya telah datang kepada kamu bulan Ramadhan bulan yang penuh berkat. Allah telah fardhukan ke atas kamu berpuasa padanya. Sepanjang bulan Ramadhan itu dibuka segala pintu Syurga dan ditutup segala pintu neraka serta dibelenggu segala syaitan......."

(petikan dari blog Hynhar - Endless Love)

Selamat berpuasa kepada family, sahabat handai dan semua Muslim...

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Transfer Order

I've received transfer order to go to Research Division effective 1 September 2008. I was quite shocked at first as I was told (thru the grapevine, actually) that I would go to International Promotions, seeing that I've got good PR (ahem!). Personally, I wanted to go to Domestic Division as I would learn and experience a lot of local tourism products and destinations. Being in the Convention Division for 6 years now, I realized the importance of knowing your local tourism products as I always get to meet top decision makers from around the world. This is where my PR skills become handy as I would bluff my way through conversations pertaining to local products & destinations from reading brochures and hearing colleagues describing about it.
Research Division have never crossed my mind, I must admit that I'm a bit scared of what lies ahead. Going to Reserach is something that is totally new to me and I would have to learn research techniques, SPSS, not to mention new environment, new challenges, new boss and new colleagues. Feels like I'm ready to move....I should move....I have to move since I have already served one division more than 4 years now.
I'm now trying to tie all loose ends on my future projects, hand it over to my colleague, start packing all my things. Most of my contacts and colleagues said that it's a waste that I'm going to Research. Its like I'm being put to cold storage. But I don't think of it that way. I think having a Research background, dealing with facts and figures would strenghten my knowledge in the tourism industry. I start with a clean slate and try to learn as many things as I can.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Turning the big 30

Yesterday was my birthday. I'd turn 30, but I still feel the same ole me. Oh well, age is just a number as the saying goes. Anyway, there were some things that I've thought about achieving when I turn 30:

1. Have a Master's degree;
2. Have kid/s;
3. Buy car.

Obviously, no 3 is easy enough as I've just bought a proton Saga sometime in June. So that's done. I was suppose to do no 1 this year, but due to some financial situation, I had to put it off for the moment. Plus, I'm not so keen on the idea of going back to school, especially when I'm struggling with work. And I realize that I've only been thinking about it but I have not actually desired it enough to actually go for it. I just needed a Master for my own satisfaction of having a Master and be in the same league with people who already have it. Does that makes sense?

No 2 is more tricky. We are not planning not to have a baby, but we still haven't got one yet. Not that we really want it desperately and subject ourselves to all the things that can get one preggers pronto. Maybe it's not my cuppa yet, but who knows in the future. So no 2 is subjective. I don't object to people having babies, but I abhor people forcing me to have one too. Just for the sake of having a baby because I'm already turning 30. Please don't force your ideals on me. I will only have a baby when I'm ready to have a baby. 'nuff said on the subject.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Weekend happenings

Didn't have time to catch up on my DVD collection this week. Over the weekday had my aunty and little cousin at my mum's house, so I pop in for a quick visit on Wednesday and late Friday afternoon. Had Potluck on Thursday to bid farewell to yours truly as I was going to be transferred to Research Division effective September. Sad to go but looking forward for a new challenge.

My sis-in-law came over during the weekend, so I spent all day Friday cleaning the dishes, doing laundry, cleaning out my house especially the spare room into livable condition. She was suppose to receive her scroll in Bachelor of Management from Open University Malaysia. My hat goes off for her as she managed her career, family and study for four years to complete this particular degree. Seeing her and all the other graduates in the Merdeka Hall, PWTC almost make wanna go back to school.

After her convo, we went to Petaling street (to celebrate?!). Same old same old Petaling street only a little bit of improvement with the covered walkway but more Bangladesh/Indonesian/ Thais are peddling their fares. Bought a RM50 Gucci watch from original price of RM120. Tip to buy in Petaling street:
1. Never ask for the price of the item unless you want to buy the item;
2. Always bargain at least 50% of the price;
3. If you have bargained for the item, you must be prepared to buy it or feel the wrath
of the owners - heard horror stories about this like there were snipers on top of the
Petaling street buildings to take out annoying customers. May be true, may be an urban
legend, who knows.
4. Best time to shop in Petaling street is when they have just started to open up, slightly
around 7pm. Best time to bargain ridiculously low as the Chinese believed that the first
customer will bring luck and more business, so they are more willing to part with their
goods at lesser price.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Weekend movies marathon

Weekends were meant to be for the movies, or in my case, catching up on my collection of DVDs. I think that my personal pirated DVD peddlar, Raja, is very, very happy with me. I spend at least RM100 to buy his DVDs every month. My choice for last weekend's movies marathon are:

Lars and the real girl
A story about Lars, an introvert guy who has a whole load of intimacy and insecurity issues that lead him to buy a sex doll for his companion. Lars named the doll 'Bianca' (who incidentally looked a lot like Angelina Jolie!) and brought "her" everywhere he goes. Because everybody in his town loved Lars, they decided to humor him in this delusion. Ryan Gosling is brilliant as the withdrawn Lars and notable supporting casts are Emily Mortimer who played the sweet and well intentioned sister in-law, Patricia Clarkson as the local doctor/shrink, Paul Schneider as Lars's brother Gus. The movie is slow at times and a bit on the dark humor side, but it showed the main character slowly and surely finds his own self. Only watch this if you are prepared to follow the story through because the ending is quite sweet.

The overall feel and theme of this movie is a lot like 8tv's series"Pushing Daises". In Pushing Daisies, the main character have a special gift in reviving dead people and like Penelope, regards this as a curse. Penelope's curse is that she was born with ears and nose that looks like a pig! Not until she finds true love with "one of her own kind" i.e. the blue bloods. So her mother tries very hard to match make her with all the blue bloods that they could find, right until they meet with Max Campion, played by James Mc Avoy. This story is very fairytale-like. I would've like it better is James McAvoy used his scottish accent rather than using an American accent, sorta losing the romantic factor in my opinion and he was suppose to be play a blue blood. I've yet to watch him in "Wanted" (Angelina Jolie is so overrated!), but he was very intense in Hallmark's remake of Shakespeare's Macbeth.

This is a really cute movie in terms of dialogue and humor but the issues faced by the main character in the movie is heavy and real. It's about teen pregnancy and giving away the baby to a suitable adopting parents. I really love the characters dialogue especially between Juno, her dad, step mom and best friends. I doubt it in real life you can talk as cool as that. Like when Juno's dad and stepmom (played by Allison Jenney) referred to Juno as " stupid and irresponsible daughter" not in an angry tone but rather resigned. I have to say that I'm a bit dissappointed that Justin Bateman's character turned out to be an ass (spoiler alert!). I loved him in Arrested Devlopment, always trying to be the responsible and sane person in the series.
You Don't Mess with the Zohan
Either you'll love it or you hate it, that's what the reviews said. And it's not because of the Israel-Palestine factor (don't wanna dwell on that). With all the hype about this movie, I expected more from Adam Sandler's movie but I was dissappointed with Mr Sandler. For one thing, his accent in the movie is really atrocious - you can tell that the script are American words but spoken in bad middle eastern accent, nothing much on the storyline, the slapstick comedy is just stupid (banging old ladies in hair saloon!?!!) and what's with his crotch bulging out of propotions??!! Don't expect too much from this movie.
Other DVDs that I plan to watch this coming weekend: Hancock, Wanted, Sex and the City.

Monday, 11 August 2008

A walk down memory lane 2: Kuching

Aerial view of Kuching from Merdeka Palace
I was in Kuching from 6 - 8 August for a conference. There were 4 of us from the office and we stayed at the 3 bedroom suite in Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites right in front of Padang Merdeka, Kuching. I was very excited to go for this trip because Kuching was another place where I grew up. It really did bring a lot of nostalgic memories, seeing the somewhat familiar places and streets where I used to walk, hearing the oh-so-familiar Sarawak language being spoken everywhere and eating the oh-so-sedap mee short, I was happy to be back in Kuching.
We arrived in the afternoon on 6th August and immediately checked in Merdeka Palace. That same afternoon we went for a city tour and one of the places we get to visit was the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre. We went there to observe the orang utan during its feeding session around 3pm. I was gawky eyed, eventho' I used to live in Kuching but I've never seen a wild orang utan up close. Of course they were dangerous but we were able to observe them in their natural habitat. We were told that there was a dominant alpha male called Ritchie, who weighed around 100kg. Other orang utans were afraid of him, therfore during feeding time the others would run away when Ritchie came. We were told that the difference between a Borneo orang utan and the Sumatran orang utan is that the Borneo orang utan would grow cheek pads as they get older. Thus the younger orang utans look more or less like a monkey, only bigger in size.

Ritchie during feeding time

Orang utan with a 2-week old baby gripping hard to its body

Another highlight during this conference was its headhunter's theme party. We were taken to an Iban Longhouse in the Sarawak cultural village at 8pm. Upon arrival, we were dressed in a native top and kain batik bottom and a headress. Weird combination but it did got us in the mood to party, Iban style!
The native gear

Then, an Iban warrior, or Sea Dayaks, as they were known, gave our group a blessing in Iban language. They were a lot of "ooohaaaa" going round which was a form of greeting other people.
The Iban warrior

Setting in the Iban longhouse, seating on the floor

The Sarawak cultural village troupe entertaining us with traditional sape and singers

Proud of my Sarawak pouch which I bought for RM10 at Waterfront

Later, we were asked to dance following the steps of the Iban warrior and there were some games played. All in all, a very memorable night with a lasting impression on Sarawak's culture. Sadly, I was in Kuching only for 3 days and our conference schedule was very hectic with dinners. I wish that I had more time to walk again around Kuching going to all the old haunts which I'd love. I'd walk from pasar Satok through the National Library, through Jalan India and past the Charles Brooke memorial, through the Main Bazaar and waterfront....the good old days....

Right now listening to cd called "The Primitive Sound" compilation of traditional music of Sarawak ethnic group.....aduh...rinduk hati.......

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Snorkelling in Pulau Lang Tengah

View in front of the resort

Two weeks ago I went snorkelling in Pulau Lang Tengah, in the east coast state of Terengganu. The island was only about half an hour away from another well-known island in Terengganu, which is Redang. Lang Tengah Island was a relatively untouched and less people visited it than Redang.

It all started when I bought the Redang Lang Island Resort package in MATTA Fair in 2006 for RM257, which I thought was a steal because it included two-way boat transfer, accommodation, 2 snorkelling trips and meals. Two colleagues joined for the trip and we were all so excited as it was our first time to go to Terengganu by bus! The ride was surprisingly pleasant and cheap (only RM30 via Sani Express) and also very scenic. Going up the east coast, we saw a lot of places in between like Kemaman, Cherating with all the resorts including Club Med, and passed by Paka & Kertih, awed by the oil refinery.

Enroute to Kuala Terengganu, we stayed one night in Awana Kijal resort, where an old uni friend worked in the Sales department and broughts us round the resort. Too bad we were only staying for one night because the resort is so beautiful and the pool was just so tempting!

The next morning we contined via hired car straight on to Merang Jetty. If you are travelling to the islands in Terengganu, make sure you have the proper name of the jetty. A common mistake even the locals make is being confused between Merang jetty and Marang jetty. The two jettys with identical names brings you to different island - Merang jetty brings people to Redang and Lang Tengah. Whereas, Marang will bring you to Kapas island.

Anyway, we boarded an overcrowded boat to the island which was supposed to carry only 12 pax but it carried almost 50 pax on that trip! This is a very hazardous condition to the passengers because the engine of the boat might have an internal combustion due to the overweight condition. This was something that we didn't foresee and we should have insisted for another boat to come, instead of boarding the overcrowded boat. My advice if a similar thing happens to you, please insist for another boat.

Note: Overcrowded ferry, not enough space to sit, no ventilation, people got sick and puked.

Two hours later, we arrived at the resort which was basically a two-story chalet complete with air-cond and in house bathroom. There was only a communal tv and karaoke room, but then who needs tv when you are on an island as beautiful as Lang Tengah.

The horror of the boat transfer almost forgotten, we went round island snorkelling! We found rainbow coloured fish and live corals. The marine park in Redang island was also fantastic because of the variety of fishes. The water was so unbelieveably clear that you can see the inai on my feet.
This picture was taken on top of the jetty.

The jetty
Footsteps in Lang Tengah

Terengganu is a really nice place to unwind, get out from the hustle and bustle of the city and just enjoy the next trip to Terengganu will be to Tasik Kenyir or Pulau Tenggol for diving. First, gotta get the diving licence first.........